New Zealand – Auckland to Milford Sound



Now here is a cruise that you won’t want to miss! 12 night cruise from Auckland discovering the best of New Zealand aboard a small expedition vessel with just 72 guests!

This incredible New Zealand cruise departs from Auckland in November 2020, navigating the east coast taking in iconic New Zealand sights such as geothermal hotspots, the site where Captain Cook first came ashore and the art deco town of Napier before crossing to the breathtaking Marlborough Sounds. 

Tranquil and serene, you’ll explore coastal towns and locations only accessible by boat, discovering plentiful birdlife and the beautiful native flora and fauna.

As we venture further south, keep your eyes peeled as we explore the ocean in search of the Great Sperm Whale off the Kaikoura coast, renowned as one of the best whale watching areas in the world.

A stop at the gorgeous township of Akaroa, once a bustling French colonised whaling community and then we’re off further south to Dunedin, gateway to the Otago Peninsula. Rare penguins, albatross, seals and more can be found along the peninsula.

Next stop is Stewart Island. A mecca for nature lovers, the Raikura National Park is a haven for bird lovers. Spectacularly pretty yet most mainland New Zealanders have never been to Stewart Island!

Finally, we head up the western coast of New Zealand’s South Island bound for the dramatic Dusky Sound. You’ll be in awe of the sheer rugged beauty found here! Towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls… you’ll want to have your camera ready at every turn.

Of course, just when you think you’ve seen it all, we head into the incredible Doubtful Sound – Fiordland’s most spectacular and deepest waterway.

The finale of this incredible journey is cruising the length of Milford Sound, with the iconic Mitre Peak. After disembarking, a coach will take you through the gorgeous route back to Queenstown. You can fly home that day but we highly recommend adding an extra couple of days to explore this vibrant town!

Aboard the Coral Discoverer, you’ll enjoy the company of a maximum of just 72 guests and an attentive crew who delight in introducing you to these special parts of the world. Due to the small size of the ship and the fleet of zodiacs, you’ll duck into coves the larger ships can’t visit. This is a down-to-earth exploration voyage with an all-Australian crew. (Find out more about Coral Expeditions below).

Your cruise price includes: 

  • 12 night Expedition Voyage from Auckland to Queenstown aboard Coral Discoverer
  • Expert Expedition Team
  • Daily guided excursions on the Xplorer and Zodiac tender vessels and kayaks when conditions allow
  • All meals throughout your cruise, prepared fresh by our chefs
  • Showcase wines and selected beer, as well as soft drinks, with lunch and dinner service
  • Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Events, and Open Bridge Access with our Captain
  • 24 hour coffee and selection of teas
  • Guided sightseeing in each destination
  • All entrance fees to National Parks and Ports
  • Post-cruise transfer to Queenstown

PLUS! Also includes chauffeur driven luxury car transfers to/from your nearest airport (within 35km).

Prices start from A$10,960pp share twin. All prices are subject to availability.

Flexible Booking Option:
Complimentary Deposit Protection* will be offered to all new bookings made from 12 March 2020 until 15th June 2020. In the event that you are unable to travel on the cruise originally booked due to Covid-19 related restrictions, you will be able to transfer your deposit to another future cruise.

*Terms & Conditions apply to Deferral and rebooking policies. Deferrals and rebookings are subject to availability. 

Coral Expeditions

A 35-year-old Australian pioneering expedition cruise company, Coral Expeditions operate and manage a fleet of four small expedition ships taking guests to some of the most beautiful, yet undiscovered, regions of Australia, Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Islands. Over 8,000 travellers from all over the world travel with Coral Expeditions every year who are attracted by the relaxed small ship atmosphere and itineraries which larger ships cannot replicate. The bespoke operations may sometimes not be commercially justifiable but result in a more personal product that guests appreciate.

At a time when the cruise industry is moving to larger and less personal ships, Coral Expeditions has limited the size of their ships to maximise the expedition experience. Their small-batch cuisine is freshly prepared onboard with a simplistic and generous approach to quality and freshness, accompanied by quality Australian wine. Coral Expeditions operate to high Australian standards of safety with Australian crew wherever they go. They were the first to offer interpretive programs reflective of the destinations they visit and to employ Expedition Leaders, Guest Lecturers, Marine Biologists, and SCUBA Instructors – a tradition that continues today.

Cruise Highlights


Enjoy views of mysterious and beautiful Inferno Crater which rises and falls as it heats and cools. See the delicate sinter terraces growing from minerals solidifying out of the hot spring water. Waimangu Volcanic Valley is home to Frying Pan Lake, one of the largest hot water springs in the World.

Brilliantly coloured microbes cloak the hot rocks. Tiny springs and geysers play. Immerse yourself amongst the rare and unusual plants that grow on the hot earths of Waimangu, amongst the regenerating native forests.


Gisborne is rich in historical significance. It is where the first Polynesian canoes landed, where captain cook first came ashore from the Endeavour and where Maori and European settlers first encountered each other. Venture to a small marae (Maori meeting place) where we will be treated to a traditional Maori welcome and the Kapa Haka cultural show. After the show you will have the opportunity to explore Gisborne; undertake a self-guided journey through the city’s gorgeous gardens, tour wineries or sample first-rate produce.


This morning we cruise into Hawke’s Bay, home to one of the purest art deco cities in the world, Napier. Here you will have time to explore the city at your own leisure.

In 1931 Napier was destroyed by an earthquake that shook Hawke’s Bay for more than 3 minutes, flattening the city. Rebuilding began almost instantly, and modern buildings reflected the architectural styles of the times – stripped classical, Spanish mission and art deco.
Napier is also known for its award-winning red wines and is home to one of the world’s largest mainland gannet colonies at Cape Kidnappers (optional guided tours at extra cost).


Explore the spectacular waterways of Marlborough Sounds including the fjord-like Queen Charlotte Sound. Follow the path of Captain Cook’s exploratory voyages, including a stop at Ships Cove. You will enjoy a considerable number of interpreted explorations on the Xplorer and zodiac vessels, guided by the expedition team and guest lecturers. On our travels, we will visit Moturoa Island with its plentiful native birdlife and other remote coastal towns and locations often only accessible by boat.


The picturesque town of Kaikoura is located between rugged mountain ranges and the Pacific Ocean. Renowned as possibly the best whale watching destination in the world, Kaikoura is one of the very few places it is possible to observe the Giant Sperm Whale. Aboard a small specialised vessel, we explore the ocean in search of the Giant Sperm Whale and hoping to see more amazing mammals like fur seals, other migratory whales and dolphins.


Today we sail into the Banks Peninsula, named for botanist Joseph Banks, and discover the history of Akaroa. This scenic village, built on the edge of a sunken volcanic crater, was once a bustling French colonised whaling community. A leisurely walk through the village discovering its obscure French history, friendly cafes and great craft stores. Optional shore excursions are offered at Akaroa, such as swimming with the smallest and rarest dolphin – the Hectors Dolphin.


Before docking in Dunedin, we are welcomed to the Otago Peninsula with sights of the world’s only mainland breeding colony of northern royal albatross and a colony of the world’s rarest penguin, the yellow-eyed penguin and various other unique species.
Dunedin City is regarded as New Zealand’s architectural heritage capital. You will have time to explore all that the city has to offer including the Victorian and Edwardian structures, art galleries and botanical gardens.


Stewart Island (Rakiura) is New Zealand’s little known third island. There is a very small settlement of people on the island, but most ‘mainland’ New Zealanders have never ventured to the curious wild land. Ulva Island is also found within the Rakiura National Park, offering a predator-free environment for rare and endangered birds including South Island Saddleback, Yellowhead, Rifleman, Stewart Island Robin, and the iconic Kiwi; the Stewart Island Brown Kiwi birds are known to venture out in daylight. On Ulva Island, we take a guided walk to encounter this vast array of birdlife and hopefully spot a few fur seals lazing on the shore during the tour.

An optional tour can be taken ashore Stewart Island at additional cost.


We enter the Fiordland National Park at the dramatic Dusky Sound. You will be in awe of the sheer rugged beauty of the Fiordland. We cruise among towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, pass some of the 365 small islands and explore the depths of the inlets in the zodiacs.
Later in the evening we head north and drop anchor at the beautiful Doubtful Sound.


Awake to the magnificent scenery of Doubtful Sound. Today we explore the Fiordland’s most spectacular and deepest waterway. Board the Xplorer and cruise through a maze of hidden channels home to dolphins, seals and penguins. We sail from Doubtful Sound into Thompson Sound to discover further scenes of breathtaking wilderness in these ancient glacial fiords. Tonight, enjoy the Captain’s Farewell Dinner while we steam to our last port of call.


Cruise the length of Milford Sound and view iconic Mitre Peak, towering some 1600 feet above the glassy waters.


DEPARTURE DATE:  26 November 2020 from Auckland



Bridge Deck Balcony Stateroom


Promenade Deck (Category A)


Main Deck (Category A)


Main Deck (Category B)


Cruise Category
  • Expedition
  • Gratuities
  • Shore Excursions
Itinerary Map Image

Trip itinerary

Waimangu Valley
Marlborough Sounds
Stewart & Ulva Islands
Dusky Sound

Technical Details

  • Tonnage 1779
  • Crew 24
  • Capacity 72
  • Length 63M

Cruise Category

  • Luxury Expeditions
  • Soft Adventures

Coral Discoverer

Fully equipped with latest technology active stabilizers, modern safety and navigation equipment, tender vessel that can seat all 72 passengers, an Australian and New Zealand crew, Coral Discoverer was built to the exacting international SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) standards and specifications in Cairns, Australia, with one aim in mind; to create the ultimate small ship cruising experience. Images courtesy of Coral Expeditions