As the mercury reaches 30 and we sail into the 2016/17 cruising season Viator, a TripAdvisor company, have released their top ten shore excursion tours for ships bound to the South Pacific and New Zealand.
Last season (2015/16) over 100,000 Australians cruised to New Zealand with most ocean liners offering regular sailings from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. A popular stop is Tauranga on the east coast of the North Island, whether there for the day or overnight you can’t look past Viator’s 7 hour Tauranga Shore Excursion: Rotorua Highlights tour. You’ll first travel to one of New Zealand’s most well-known farming regions of the North Island taking in the landscapes as well as Whararewarewa’s thermal springs before visiting Okere Falls at the Bay of Plenty and an authentic Maori village. This was Viator’s second highest selling shore excursion tour of the 2015/16 season. AUD$138 per person.
An overnight sail from Tauranga and another stop on all North Island sailings is the art deco town of Napier, whilst ashore the Half Day Ultimate Wine Tour is the perfect way to see the landscapes od the coastal town. On this tour, you’ll experience some of New Zealand’s finest blends directly from the barrel. As well as tastings at all 3 wineries, you’ll tour through the cellars and learn about the wine making process from start to finish- tasting as you go; before heading to New Zealand’s only wine museum to learn about the art of food and wine matching. AUD$115 per person.
Just a short cruise over to the South Island of New Zealand sits the port of Picton, which stands as a gateway to the Marlborough region famous for world class produce including wine, cheese, honey, fruit and other decadent spoils. Don’t miss the Highlights of Marlborough from Picton tour, where you’ll step off your ship and onto a shuttle that will take you on a short and stunning scenic journey to Blenheim where you’ll spend the day learning about the regions rich cultural history and sample local gourmet treats at winery gardens and cafés. AUD$115 per person.
Viator’s most popular shore excursion last season was the Dunedin Shore Excursion: Taieri Gorge Railway Tour and City Sightseeing, towards the south of the south island of New Zealand. On this tour, you’ll journey on New Zealand’s longest railway through the Taieri Gorge where your train passes over century old wrought-iron viaducts and you can soak up panoramic views of the Taieri river. After lunch in Dunedin, you board a coach for a sightseeing tour where you’ll learn of Dunedin’s rich history and visit all the city’s most interesting sites. AUD$158 per person.
The South Pacific’s most popular stop for all ships is New Caledonia. Make the most of this spectacular country with a Guided Country Tour from Noumea, the perfect way to explore the scenic and cultural surroundings of the area. Your guides will take you to the Tjibaou Cultural Centre, where you’ll experience Melanesian customs before experiencing the areas vast natural beauty reminiscent of prehistoric times. Before returning to your ship you’ll stop at ‘Plum Spring’ to taste mineral water directly from the source. AUD$110 per person.
When cruising to Vanuatu, escape the hustle of Port Vila and experience the beauty of the jungle from above with a Zipline Canopy Tour in the Vanuatu Jungle from Port Vila. Disembark your ship and get into four wheel drives that will take you to the jungle via authentic off-road tracks. Once you arrive you’ll strap into your harnesses and fly along 6 ziplines taking you over the jungle canopy and an 80-meter canyon! In between ziplines you’ll enjoy breathtaking views of greater Port Vila and the ridgeline down to the stunning Mele Bay. AUD$110 per person.
In Fiji, take a break from your cruise with a different type of boat tour to experience the highlights of Fiji’s Sigatoka region aboard a Jet Boat Safari on the Sigatoka River, where you’ll learn the rich history and significance of the area, and then be immersed into Fijian village life. This once in a lifetime experience takes you deep into the ‘Heart and Soul’ of Fiji, transporting you deep into the interior of the island. You can immerse yourself in Fijian culture and share a meal with the local villagers, before returning to your jet boat and go through some signature manoeuvres on the way home. AUD$159 per person.
On the far side of the south pacific the lush island paradise of Tahiti is a must-see. If you’d like to shake off your sea legs, there’s no better way to see the wonders of Tahiti like on board a Tahitian Helicopter Tour. After take-off, you’ll fly over the natural wonders on offer providing unique and breathtaking aerial views of scenic marvels such as Mont Orohena, the spectacular turquoise lagoon of Punaauia and the Fataua Waterfall, one of the highest waterfalls in the world. AUD$246 per person.
Australia is the 4th largest cruise market in the world with over 1 million people cruising outbound in 2015/16 to the South Pacific, New Zealand Europe, Asia, Alaska, Caribbean and Hawaii as well as other international destinations. As we head into the 2016/17 season more Australians are expected to set sail with bookings already surpassing the records of this time last year. By 2020 the number of Australian cruisers is expected to hit 2 million.