If there are two things New Zealand isn’t short on, its activities and beautiful scenery. Fjords, snow-capped peaks, glaciers you can walk on, silky blue lakes, rain forests laced with beech trees and feathered with ferns, as well as mountains green with wild thyme and tall pines were just some of the reasons New Zealand’s South Island lures you in. A Princess Cruise alone will show you many highlights of this region from the Milford Sound to a closer view of the extensive natural beauty to an encounter with the local Maori tribe. Make the most of every port and excursion, by seeing everything you can. Some ports will offer you plenty of time for inland excursions, but if you’re still wanting more consider adding a few days to the end of your cruise for these inland explorations.
New Zealand is a perfect, something-for-every-age-group choice with its wacky soft adventures, gorgeous scenery, sophisticated wineries, good shopping, and wonderful walking trails. Here’s some of what you might discover during your cruise or on an extended stay.
From Queenstown, enjoy a scenic a three hour drive (about 100 miles) to Te Anau, the lakeside town that serves as the base for “tramps” (walks/hikes) on the Milford Track, part of Fjordland National Park. Reaching the trailhead required an hour-long lake cruise. This scenic cruise will have you captivated by the numerous waterfalls cascading down cliffs and crowned by rainbows Although the Milford Track, dubbed “the finest walk in the world,” extends for 34 miles, there’s also a shorter 6.6-mile easy loop. Here you can amble through beech tree forests covered with mosses, pause for a picnic lunch alongside the fast-moving Clinton River, then walk a boardwalk trail laced with waist-high ferns that open up to a glade rimmed with mountain peaks.
Did we mention the sheep? In New Zealand, sheep outnumber humans 10 to 1 and on every drive you’ll see meadows full. At one of the region’s many sheep farms, you can kneel in a meadow, holding the front legs of a wiggly ewe dubbed Dolly to admire their thick, curly locks. While watching how the sheep dogs, impressively respond to different whistles, herding Dolly and a flock of her mates into a tight circle. In the national park, you can also saunter along easy paths that wind along the river and through the forest. You’ll spot yellow mistletoe in a grove of beech trees, the peaks of Black Mountains, soaring 6,600 feet, and a gurgling stream to a clearing showcasing the snow-covered, 8,000-foot high Bealey Spur.
Of course sheep aren’t the most famous of animals in New Zealand, you’ll find those during a stop at the Melbourne Healesville Sanctuary. This is your chance to get up close to iconic Australian animals like Koalas, Kangaroos, Platypus, Dingoes, Wombats and Emus. Healesville Sanctuary is also home to the Australian Wildlife Centre, a hospital which treats more than 2000 sick and injured native animals every year and is an important training center for wildlife veterinarians. You can enjoy a number of talks here to learn more about what they do, along with keepers sharing more about each of these amazing animals in their different environments. From a great glass of wine to an adventurous hike to moments of pure awe, you’ll find it all on your New Zealand vacation.