QE, New Zealand Q103E ex Melbourne Return

South Pacific & New Zealand


25 Night cruise sailing roundtrip from Melbourne onboard Queen Elizabeth.

25 Night cruise sailing roundtrip from Melbourne onboard Queen Elizabeth.

Cities versus seascapes: this stunning Melbourne roundtrip to New Zealand and Tasmania features majestic fiords, subalpine forests, and intricate islands, interspersed with world-famous skylines.

Highlights of this cruise:

Melbourne, Australia
Originally part of New South Wales, Victoria became a colony in its own right in 1851. The discovery of gold and the development of agriculture launched Melbourne’s rise to prominence and prosperity.

Flower gardens and graceful, tree-lined boulevards give Melbourne its refined air, and it is considered the hub of Australia’s cultural, intellectual and financial life. Certainly by Melbournians.

Sydney, NSW, Australia
The stunning harbour city, Sydney, is Australia’s oldest and largest urban centre. Its fascinating modern history began in the year 1788 with the arrival of the ‘First Fleet’ of 760 British convicts.

Gold mining and sheep breeding propelled Sydney’s development, and today it’s the largest port in the entire South Pacific. Mark Twain called it “the wonder of the world”.

Fiordland National Park, New Zealand (Cruising)
As you sail through parts of Fiordland National Park, you will appreciate how it has mesmerised and intrigued travellers and tourists over the centuries, with its graceful and mostly untouched beauty.

Amongst and beyond the glacier-carved fjords of Doubtful and Milford Sound, stand impressive snow-capped peaks, luscious green slopes and forests that are home to unusual and unique species.

Dunedin, New Zealand
Dunedin is the second-largest city on New Zealand’s South Island and principal of the Otago region. Its population boomed during 1865, with a steady stream of new settlers arriving in search of gold.

During your time here, the outstanding Dunedin Railway Station is a must-visit, and a ride on the world famous Taieri Gorge Train is a scenic experience you’ll cherish for years to come.

Christchurch (tours from Lyttelton)
Nestling on the lower slopes of a steep sided extinct volcano, the historic port town of Lyttelton is overflowing with trendy cafés and quirky shops. It’s also the gateway to nearby Christchurch.

Lyttelton has a long, colourful history and was the point where the first European settlers, bound for Christchurch, came ashore in 1850. Today the centre of Christchurch is just over eleven kilometres away, thanks to the 2-kilometre-long Lyttelton road tunnel, which burrows through the Port Hills.

The entire Canterbury area was devastated in the 2011 earthquake, but is gradually being rebuilt, with new shops and buildings opening everyday. The small Lyttelton museum is maritime themed and boasts a fascinating Antarctic gallery, as the city was the launching point for South Pole expeditions at the turn of the last century.

One of the city’s proudest features is its neo-Gothic Timeball Station. Built in 1876 to keep Greenwich Mean Time and to signal the time to ships in the harbour. In use until 1934, this outstanding example of Victorian technology is one of only five still operating around the world. It was badly damaged in the earthquake, but was painstakingly rebuilt and is once again in working order.

If you are in town on a Saturday morning don’t miss the farmers market, which sells everything from fresh vegetables, artisanal food, and freshly baked cakes, to vintage clothes and antiques. There is a great vibe and plenty to eat as you stroll around the stalls, with great views over the harbour and live jazz playing in the background.

Lyttelton Harbour is a wonderful place to explore by boat. As well as the scenic splendours of the city surrounded by gorgeous volcanic peaks, the region is abounding with wildlife. You may encounter the playful Hector’s dolphins, or spot some of the many native birds including mollymawks, fantails, and even penguins. Stopping on Quail island, you can step back in time as you explore the shipwrecks dotting the island and visit the former leper colony.

Walk up into the Port Hills above the city for stunning, panoramic views of Lyttelton and the bay, Christchurch City, and the Southern Alps. The area is rich in Maori history and home to a spectacular range of native wildlife, as well as the unique rock formations of Castle Rock. In the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve you can witness more of the natural side of New Zealand and meet the endangered kiwi.

Wellington, New Zealand
Perched in the hills surrounding a sparkling bay, Wellington’s beautiful setting and the crispy weather is akin to that of San Francisco. The tiny white sails mingling with the cargo ships in the bay.

Charming Edwardian architecture complements an impressive and contemporary skyline of concrete and glass, while the cultural side of the city is said to surpass even Auckland.

Picton, New Zealand
Picton stands on the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island. Offshore lies the beauty of the Marlborough Sounds, while inland you’ll find the internationally acclaimed Marlborough wine region.
The town itself is full of charm. It’s built around a sheltered harbour, whose curved flanks hold the sparkling blue waters in their dark green embrace. The seafront here has several spots to sip a drink, have a bite to eat and take it all in. There are several galleries and shops too, when you can tear your gaze away from the views. You may even have a chance to appreciate Maori traditions at the Omaki Marae, a local meeting house that often showcases elements of their rich culture.

Should you intend to be more at one with the natural beauty all around you, the Queen Charlotte Track is a major local attraction. It has a variety of trails you can follow on foot or by mountain bike through stunning countryside and with frequent viewpoints onto the water.

The water in question belongs to the Marlborough Sounds, an expanse of ancient river valleys that now creates over 900 miles of Pacific shore, where forested hills rise steeply from the sea and curve around sandy bays. Exploring by kayak or paddleboard is an energetic yet immensely peaceful way to admire nature’s work close up. Penguins and fur seals frequent the waters, alongside various sea birds. Dolphin watching cruises are popular and keen divers might consider descending to numerous sites around these parts.

Step aboard the Edwin Fox, one of the oldest ships in existence. Built in 1853 of teak and saul timber, her service included transporting troops and other personnel during the Crimean War, and Florence Nightingale is said to have been among her passengers. Various other duties included carrying convicts to Western Australia, before she retired to Picton in 1897. She has remained there ever since and now forms a maritime museum.

Picton occupies a point at the edge of an alluvial plain between the ocean and the rippled valleys, where the Maori once hunted and grew crops. In 1873 a Scot planted the first small vineyard here; exactly a century later, recognising the harmonious blend of conditions, viticulture arrived on a commercial scale. The area now accounts for up to three quarters of New Zealand wine, and has achieved worldwide acclaim thanks to its sauvignon blanc and pinot noir in particular. It would seem almost churlish not to call at one of the wineries here for a tasting.

Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand (Cruise-by)
Within the vast expanse of inlets in the northeast corner of South Island are steep wooded hills, peaceful bays and rocky islets that are home to the rare New Zealand king cormorants.

New Plymouth, New Zealand
Lying at the base of New Zealand’s most perfectly formed volcano – Mount Taranaki – sunny New Plymouth is brimming with vibrant art galleries and gorgeous parks.
At 2,500 metres Mount Taranaki dominates the skyline of New Plymouth. Covered in a veritable maze of hiking trails, the dormant volcano is surrounded by thick forests filled with lush waterfalls, rainforests, and mossy swamps.

New Plymouth is famous for its sunny climate and has a reputation as one of the best places for surfing in New Zealand. But the city also has an artistic side, with its acclaimed Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, the country’s only contemporary art museum.

On the waterfront you’ll find Puke Ariki, an excellent museum and heritage centre with an extensive collection of Māori artefacts and much more. Pukekura Park is a great place to relax and enjoy nature, with 49 hectares of gardens, playgrounds, trails, and waterfalls. You may also like to stroll along the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway, a 11 kilometre long promenade offering stunning views, as well as an impressive selection of restaurants.

Auckland, New Zealand
In a nation where stunning scenery is a given, this water wonderland ‘City of Sails’ sparkles in the sunlight, surrounded by more than 48 extinct volcanoes in wild mountainous scenery. A natural joy.

An undulating succession of bays and inlets stretches along the seemingly endless shores of spacious Auckland, with its downtown area featuring expansive farm-like parks.

Tauranga, New Zealand
Tauranga is the largest and most populated port in the Bay of Plenty region. This is an appropriate name due to the abundant beaches, rolling white waters, hot mineral springs and even kiwi orchards.

From here visit the thermal wonders of Rotorua, where geysers spout, mud boils and steam escapes through cracks in the pavement. Maori people have used the healing hot springs since the 14th century.

Christchurch (tours from Akaroa), New Zealand
Akaroa means ‘long harbour’ in Maori, and the town certainly lives up to its name. Overlooked by a dormant volcano on its thin peninsula, the sheltered Akaroa is a popular resort with stunning views.

Akaroa harbour provides boat tours that feature the South Island’s diminutive dolphins – and the town has several welcoming bars or restaurants. Christchurch is 52 miles away by road.

Dunedin, New Zealand
Dunedin is the second-largest city on New Zealand’s South Island and principal of the Otago region. Its population boomed during 1865, with a steady stream of new settlers arriving in search of gold.

During your time here, the outstanding Dunedin Railway Station is a must-visit, and a ride on the world famous Taieri Gorge Train is a scenic experience you’ll cherish for years to come.

Hobart, TAS, Australia
Wave goodbye to any preconceptions you may have of Australia, as you say hello to wonderful Hobart on the southeastern coast of Tasmania. Revel in the capital's splendid heritage, scenery and culture.
Hobart has a distinctly European look and feel, and a unique local character. Capital of Australia’s Island State, with Mt. Wellington as its backdrop, it has plenty to offer the adventurous and the inquisitive.

After Sydney, Hobart is the second-oldest capital city in the country, having been established in 1804 as a penal colony. Its location in the estuary of Tasmania’s Derwent River means it is sheltered and calm, although its southern latitude means it often experiences cooler climates than on mainland Australia.

Hobart may be a small city, but it is tightly packed with history, culture, art and an emerging food scene that is quickly gaining national attention.

Known originally as Hobart Town or Hobarton, Tasmania’s capital city was named after the Colonial Secretary at the time of the town’s settlement, Lord Hobart.

Before Europeans arrived in Tasmania, the region was inhabited by indigenous peoples known as Muwinina, and in their language, the mountain that towered over the area was called kunanyi. Today it is known as Mount Wellington.

Although convicts were some of the earliest European settlers in Hobart, local opposition to the transport of more prisoners began in the 1840s. By 1853, no more penal colonies were brought to Tasmania, then known as Van Diemen's Land.

Hobart is the home port for Australian and French Antarctic activities, with nearly 2,000 tons of cargo leaving the port for Antarctica each year.

One of the first sights that will greet Hobart cruise passengers is Mount Wellington, the city’s natural backdrop and an incredible viewpoint to see Hobart from a bird’s-eye perspective. The mountain towers over 4,000 feet above the harbour its peak dusted in snow in winter and covered in lush greenery for the rest of the year. Shuttle buses regularly make the 25-minute journey from the centre of Hobart to Mount Wellington.

The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens offer visitors 14 hectares of landscaped natural beauty, made up of flora from all over the world. It is a tranquil escape from the city, and ideal for a romantic stroll or some quiet reflection.

Get a feel for Hobart’s European influences at Battery Point, where Georgian and Victorian architecture dominate the historic streets. There are plenty of cafés and boutiques to explore, but to learn more about the area’s history and culture, take a walking tour of Battery Point. Led by a local guide, these tours allow visitors to take in the picturesque surroundings of the historic precinct while learning about its inhabitants and heritage.

If you are visiting Hobart on a Saturday, head straight to Salamanca Place, where you will find the bustling Salamanca Market. Beginning life as just 12 stalls in 1972, the popular street market now has over 300 vendors, and over 25,000 visitors each week. It is the ideal place to pick up some fresh local produce or locally-made handicrafts as a souvenir.

The Museum of Old and New Art, or the MONA, is located on the grounds of the Moorilla Winery in Hobart, and is home to over 400 works of art from founder David Walsh’s private collection. As a highly acclaimed attraction in a small city, Hobart’s MONA has been likened to Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum.

Port Arthur, TAS, Australia
No call at Port Arthur is complete without visiting its once-feared and ever-infamous prison colony, a UNESCO historical site. Explore the fascinating ruins, once booming dockyard and restored houses.

After a spell in prison, you might like to visit the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Park, where you’ll get to meet some notoriously bad-tempered and increasingly rare marsupials.

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