The Best Cruise Shore Excursions in Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland, based around 2 large harbors, is a major city in the north of New Zealand's North Island. In the center, the iconic Sky Tower has views of Viaduct Harbor, which is full of superyachts and lined with bars and cafes. Auckland Domain, the city's oldest park, is based around an extinct volcano and home to the formal Wintergardens. Near Downtown, Mission Bay Beach has a seaside promenade. The greater Auckland region encompasses the city proper and the gorgeous surrounding towns and landscapes. There's plenty to see and do right in the heart of the city, but travelling further afield opens the opportunities considerably. You can't miss getting out onto the waters of the Haruki Gulf and exploring its many islands. One of the closest to the mainland is Waiheke Island, home to emerald waters and world-class wineries. Further north lies Goat Island Marine Reserve, a thriving and accessible aquatic ecosystem. The natural delights on offer go beyond the area's beautiful waters. Rainforests, thermal springs, sprawling parks and volcanic cones are just the start. With all of these fabulous attributes, Aukland is a great place to experience, and there are several options for budget friendly shore excursions and tours for while you are in port here.
When your cruise ship pulls into port, set out on a small-group shore excursion in Auckland, dubbed the 'City of Sails.' Start your 3-hour sightseeing tour with port pickup by mini-coach. Your guide provides informative commentary on notable landmarks, starting with a drive along Queen Street in the Central Business District . View Auckland University and the 185-acre (75-hectare) Auckland Domain, Auckland's oldest park, before your tour continues past lovely Victorian structures in the nearby suburb of Ponsonby. Crossing the Harbor Bridge, your guide delivers you to the North Shore. Upon reaching the town of Devonport, get out to stroll Narrow Neck Beach, which boasts views of the extinct volcanic cone of Rangitoto Island. Enjoy a bit of free time in Devonport or Takapuna before driving to the top of Mt Victoria for sweeping views over Auckland. Returning across the Harbor Bridge, discover the Westhaven marina and visit the Auckland Fish Market for a glimpse of local fishmongers selling fresh seafood. Finish your tour at the lively waterfront of Viaduct Harbor before drop-off at the cruise port.
See New Zealand's coastal rainforest and black-sand beaches on a full-day shore excursion from the Auckland port. When your ship pulls into port in Auckland, enjoy a full-day shore excursion exploring the rugged west coast of the North Island. After pickup near the cruise terminal, climb inside a comfortable vehicle for the drive to the Waitakere Ranges, Auckland's largest regional park. You'll make a stop at the Arataki Visitor Centre, where customary Maori carvings stand guard. From the outdoor decks, take in a coastal panorama of the Tasman Sea, with views reaching all the way to the Pacific Ocean. At your next stop, disembark for a moderate walk through a coastal rainforest. Follow your guide on a forest path alongside burbling streams and gaze up at giant tree ferns as you get acquainted with New Zealand's native flora and fauna. Finish with a stroll along a black-sand beach and work up an appetite for your picnic lunch at a picturesque spot. After you've refueled, continue your journey to an untouched forest of virgin kauri trees, some as mature as 1,000 years old. Listen for birdsong amid the canopy and hear from your guide some fascinating tidbits of New Zealand natural history. Feel free to ask any questions about the country's unique plant life, 70 percent of which evolved in isolation and are found nowhere else in the world. Your shore excursion ends with the return drive to Auckland and drop-off at the port.
Visit the home of Bilbo Baggins on a small-group shore excursion to Hobbiton, a New Zealand farm-turned-filming site for 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'The Hobbit' trilogies. LOTR fans won't want to miss this shore excursion to Hobbiton while at port in Auckland. After a convenient port pickup, you're driven south past the rolling hills of the Waikato region, stopping along the way for a morning tea break. Stroll past colonial buildings on the tree-lined streets before continuing on to the Hobbiton Movie Set, located near Matamata. On arrival at the working sheep farm chosen by Peter Jackson to depict the Shire in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings movie series, follow an entertaining guide on an enlightening tour. Hear stories about the making of the box-office hits while you peer at cozy hobbit holes and pose for photos at recognizable sites such as the double-arch bridge, the Mill, the party tree and the Green Dragon Inn. After your tour of Hobbiton, enjoy lunch served at the Green Dragon Inn before ending your shore excursion in Auckland.
Start your small-group shore excursion with port pickup in Auckland before heading to the Matakana Coast, located less than an hour's drive away. Your first stop is the Honey Centre in Warkworth, a family-run establishment boasting the largest display of live bees in New Zealand. Watch the buzzing insects at work and taste an array of natural honeys, such as manuka and clover, along with mead (honey wine) and fruit wine. Continue your wine tasting at a local winery, where your guide points out the complex aromas, flavors and textures of award-winning wines. Visit Brick Bay Wines and their Sculpture Trail for a wine-tasting and art extravaganza. Sensitively sited along an easy walking trail, around 45 carefully chosen sculptures are given room to breathe in a stimulating interaction between the natural environment and the artistic impulse. Return to Brick Bay's Glass House and sample their handcrafted wines followed by a delicious platter lunch made from many locally-sourced ingredients as you reflect on your experience of 'art and wine entwined' at Brick Bay. Next, tantalize your taste buds at Chocolate Brown with a sampling of decadent handmade chocolates along with a refreshing tea or coffee. Finally (time allowing), stop at the Parry Kauri Park and view some spectacular Kauri trees in a magnificent bush setting before completing your full-day tour with the return to Auckland and drop-off back at the cruise port.
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