More tourists are choosing to see New Zealand by cruise ship. Here are some of the ports they'll pull into and what they might expect to see.

Cruise ships are becoming a familiar sight on our shores, and it's not just about dropping off travellers at the main centres. Here are some of the most scenic pit stops around the country.

1 Akaroa, Banks Peninsula

The historic French town, 75km from Christchurch, is well known for its charming colonial architecture and picturesque harbour. Visitors will find plenty to keep them entertained, including boutique shops, cycle tours, walking tracks and wildlife cruises, where you'll hopefully spot the rare Hector's dolphins that call the harbour home.

The Akaroa Lighthouse is one of the few remaining examples of early wooden lighthouses in New Zealand.
The Akaroa Lighthouse is one of the few remaining examples of early wooden lighthouses in New Zealand.

2 Fiordland National Park


A World Heritage Site, this stunning national park includes Milford, Doubtful, and Dusky Sounds. Cruise ships stop at a main port area, where passengers can board smaller boats for tours of the picture-perfect surrounds. If you visit after heavy rain, you'll see hundreds of waterfalls spilling over the dramatic cliffs in the park.

3 Bay of Islands

Not just a pretty spot for holiday snaps, there are heaps of things for visitors to do in the Bay of Islands. Tour the harbour, try yachting or parasailing, wander the shops at Paihia, or visit some of Russell's historical sites, including Christ Church and Pompallier House.

4 Napier

Architecture buffs will love the Spanish Mission, deco and classical buildings in the town that's been dubbed the art deco capital of New Zealand. Check out the shops and galleries in the city, grab a bite at the hip neighbourhood of Ahuriri, and take in the sights of the tree-lined Marine Parade.

5 Picton

Conveniently close to one of the country's top grape-growing areas, visitors can jump off the boat at Picton and head towards Blenheim for a range of wine tastings. Or tour Queen Charlotte Sound for some jaw-dropping scenery and possibly some dolphins, too.