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11 Stunning Backpacker Cruises in New Zealand


Just try and keep us out of the water!

Staying out of the water is just not the Kiwi way. With loads of islands, sounds and lakes to be explored, there are plenty of reasons to hop on a boat. Some intriguing New Zealand landforms can only be seen from the water.

New Zealand’s waters are also filled with unique and endangered wildlife. The best way to see these species, like dolphins, whales and seals, is by cruising with the professionals.

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1. Milford Sound Cruise

This unmissable cruise through the “8th Wonder of the World” will get you up close to waterfalls and famous fiords.

Location: Fiordland National Park, South Island

2. Pelorus Mail Cruise

Deliver mail to isolated houses along the Marlborough Sounds, while cruising through deep blue water, past luscious rainforest, and golden sand beaches.

Location: Havelock, South Island

3. Whale Watching Cruise

Spot whales, and most likely dolphins, seals and albatross, in one of the world’s best places to see whales.

Location: Kaikoura, South Island

4. Cook Straight Ferry

Another “unmissable cruise” is actually your most affordable chance to cross the ditch between the North and South Island.

Location: Picton, South Island or Wellington, North Island

5. Maritime Museum Cruise

The cheapest cruise you’ll find in Auckland, and in New Zealand for that matter. NZ$29 gets you into the Maritime Museum, showcasing New Zealand’s great historic voyages, and a harbour cruise.

Maritime Harbour Cruise, Auckland

6. Lake Rotorua

Embrace the power of the Earth by cruising through the Waimangu Volcanic Valley.

Location: Rotorua, North Island

7. Stewart Island Ferry

Make it to New Zealand’s 3rd island by, well we would say by cruising but it is more like bobbing, from Bluff to Stewart Island. On the way, you may see Dog Island Lighthouse and many smaller islands.

Location: Bluff, South Island

8. Paihia Dolphin Cruise

144 islands are scattered around the Bay of Islands. Their waters are populated by playful dolphins waiting only one thing: for you join them in the water to play with them. That’s what they’re waiting for, right?

Location: Paihia, North Island

9. Doubtful Sound Cruise

Often overlooked due to being less accessible than Milford Sound, the Doubtful Sound cruise is a great insight into the real New Zealand wilderness.

Location: Fiordland National Park, South Island

10. White Island Harbour Tour

One of the most fascinating and accessible volcanoes on Earth, White Island is New Zealand’s only active marine volcano. You can walk along the crater of this volcano once you make the cruise across from Whakatane.

Location: Whakatane, North Island

11. Waiheke Island Ferry

Leaving the downtown Auckland ferry terminal multiple times a day, the ferry will transport you to a totally different atmosphere far from the city. Dolphin pods are regularly seen from it too.

Location: Auckland, North Island

There’s more on the water!

Choose from these other methods of taking to the New Zealand’s waters:

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