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Setting sail from Auckland
Auckland offers a buzzing waterfront and a vibrant arts scene, and provides a fascinating introduction to New Zealand's proud cultural heritage. The centre is home to excellent shopping and a number of fantastic restaurants, while the north of the city has a distinctly more laid-back vibe, and to the west is the city's oldest wine region.
It’s not all about the city; there is stunning natural beauty within easy reach, including black sand beaches, islands and extinct volcanic cones.
New Zealand: Tauranga
Tauranga is the largest city on the Bay of Plenty, and is said to be one of the sunniest spots in the whole of New Zealand. There’s a real boom town feel here, with new restaurants, bars and hotels opening all the time, and neighbouring Mount Maunganui is a popular beach destination.
New Zealand: Wellington
New Zealand’s cosmopolitan capital is arguably the country’s most likeable city. Hemmed in by forest-clad hills, Wellington is compact and easily walkable, with a lovely waterfront area where you’ll find the must-see Te Papa national museum. The city is also renowned for its strong winds, so make sure you hold on to your hat!
New Zealand: Picton
The pleasant little town of Picton, situated on a sheltered bay at the north eastern tip of the South Island, is the arrival point for ferries arriving from Wellington, and serves as the gateway to the stunning flooded river valleys of the Marlborough Sounds.
New Zealand: Kaikoura
Kaikoura sits amongst spectacular South Island scenery, and is renowned as a marine wildlife hotspot. The meeting of subtropical and cold southern ocean currents sustains an abundance of species including sperm whales, orcas, pilot whales, humpbacks, dolphins and seals, as well as birds including albatross, shearwaters and penguins.
New Zealand: Akaroa
The name Akaroa means ‘long harbour’ in Maori, and this sleepy town on the southern side of the Banks Peninsula is situated on a beautiful natural harbour created when a volcanic crater collapsed into the sea. The first Europeans to settle here were French, and the town still has a decidedly Gallic flavour.
New Zealand: Dunedin (Port Chalmers)
Visitors to Dunedin are amazed by the extraordinary Victorian and Edwardian buildings dating back to the gold rush, which bring to mind the city's Scottish roots - not least when the sound of the pipes echoes through the streets.
New Zealand: Stewart Island
Stewart Island is New Zealand’s rarely visited third island. A landscape of lush rainforest and beautiful beaches is home to abundant birdlife, and it’s one of the best places in the country to see kiwis in the wild. You can also have a drink at New Zealand’s southernmost pub in Oban, the only town on the island.
New Zealand: Fiordland National Park
The vast wilderness of Fiordland is home to New Zealand’s most spectacular and iconic landscapes, a dramatic tableau of jagged mountains, plunging fjords and vast lakes. Most of the region is a protected national park, and the native wildlife includes dolphins, fur seals and Fiordland crested penguins.
Culturally sophisticated and fashionably hip, Melbourne combines edgy street art with gold rush era architecture while offering excellent restaurants and top museums. If you have time, check out some of Victoria's other attractions, including the beautiful 12 Apostles and the excellent wines of the Yarra Valley.
Australia: Geelong (Melbourne)
One or our favourite cities in the world, we love pretty much everything about Sydney. Offering outdoor living at its best, the city is known for the excellent beaches but offers so much more, including a thriving and varied food scene inspired by Asian and European flavours.
The wonderfully named Mooloolaba stretches along a beautiful golden beach on Queensland’s idyllic Sunshine Coast, and it’s a popular destination for a weekend escape from Brisbane. The seafront Esplanade is the place to be, lined with cafés, boutiques and upmarket restaurants.
Australia: Moreton Island
Australia: Hamilton Island (Whitsundays), Townsville
Cairns is a buzzing tourist hub, gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. A snorkelling trip out to the reef is the most obvious excursion to take here, but other options include riding the Skyrail cableway over the rainforest canopy or swimming in the croc-free saltwater lagoon.
More of a large town than a city, Darwin is less about what’s contained within the city limits and more about the huge expanse of wild landscape that’s outside it. Closer to Jakarta than Sydney, the city really does feel remote in its tropical perch.
Indonesia: Komodo Island
Komodo Island is situated within an area of spectacular natural beauty, home to the famous Komodo dragon. The stunning beaches are tinged with pink thanks to the high concentration of red coral just offshore, and the waters draw intrepid divers from all over the world.
Quieter and less developed than neighbouring Bali, the island of Lombok is an appealing alternative. To the north, the landscape is dominated by the huge crater of Gunung Rinjani, while the south and west coasts are home to some stunning beaches. Lembar is the principal port, with good connections to the island’s main sights.
Arriving in Benoa (Bali)
It's no surprise to us that Bali remains Indonesia's most popular tourist destination; though the island is not the undiscovered gem it once was, it's still a wonderful place to travel. The beaches, spectacular volcanic scenery and lush green rice terraces lend Bali a natural beauty that seems to dovetail perfectly with the island's distinct Hindu culture, which adorns the landscape with stunning temples. We advise steering clear of the backpacker beaches around Kuta, and heading instead for the quieter south coast resorts or the charming inland town of Ubud, the spiritual centre of the island.
Bali is seriously busy – it’s a long way for us, but just on the doorstep for Australians. The central mountains, or north and west coasts, are quieter.
Your home from home
Once again Seabourn leaps ahead, expanding the most modern luxury fleet with the innovative Seabourn Encore and Ovation.
What we love
When Seabourn introduced the three sisters, they changed the face of luxury cruising. Seabourn Encore (and her sister Seabourn Ovation, due to be completed in 2018), with 604 guests on board, will take things a step further, with lots of new thinking and special additions, continuing Seabourn's magical ability to surprise and delight.
The contemporary décor appeals to a sophisticated and cosmopolitan crowd. With lots of outside space, you can enjoy an al fresco experience if you choose.
|Year launched||2016 (Seabourn Encore) / 2018 (Seabourn Ovation)|
Tailor-make your trip
Where to stay in Auckland
There are some great luxury lodges within easy reach of the city. In the city itself we like the Langham.
If you have time, make the slightly complicated journey via Labuan Bajo on to Rinca to see the Komodo Dragons.