After spending two days at sea cruising from Tasmania, we arrived in the South Island of New Zealand. Our first stop was the beautiful fjords of Milford Sound. Known for towering peaks and waterfalls which plummet down its sheer sides. Our captain said it’s prettiest when it’s raining. We got lucky that morning as it was pouring!

The next stop along our cruise was Dunedin, the Scotland of New Zealand. It’s a college town with Victorian and Edwardian architecture. The city is home to colonies of albatross, sea lions and rare yellow-eyed penguins.

The beautiful beach town of Akaroa was next on our cruise. Akaroa is about an hour drive to Christchurch. My hearts goes out to those of Christchurch who lost so many in the attack in February. Christchurch already had its hands full with the earthquake of 2011 that left many structures still in ruin.

Moving up the coast we arrived in Napier. A lovely coastal town that was rebuilt after the 1931 earthquake in art deco style. The downtown streets reminded me of Disneyland. We spent two days in Napier. One of those days we went white water rafting on the Mohaka River. That was a blast.

For those of you who are Hobbit and Lord of the Ring movie fans, you would love Hobbiton. The movie set was so charming, it became a tourist attraction after filming the movies. You feel like you are walking around a real Hobbit village. The houses are just facades with only a foot or two behind the doors. I’ve included a photo of us for you to see.

Our last stop on our cruise was Auckland, located on the north island. Auckland has stunning views as it’s surrounded by two harbors. Auckland’s population is 1.6 million. The entire country of New Zealand only has 4 million residents, making it one of the worlds least populated countries. If you go to Auckland plan on taking a 35 minute ferry ride to the island of Waiheke. You’ll find 30 wineries on that small island with wine tasting options, beautiful views and great restaurants. A hop on hop off bus is available for transportation to all of the wineries.

We spent 14 nights on an Azamara Club Cruise called the Quest. With less than 800 passengers and all inclusive pricing, it was a perfect choice for us.

Next Month: Cruising the Danube in luxury.