New Zealand's outstanding landscape includes huge mountain chains, steaming volcanoes, far-reaching coastlines, deeply indented fiords and lush rainforests. Similar in size to Britain or Colorado but with a population of only 4 million, it is one of the least crowded countries in the world. A haven for those seeking peace, rejuvenation and relaxation as well as a playground for thrill seekers and adventurers, its temperate climate and marginal seasonal variation makes it an ideal year-round ocean or river cruising destination.
The capital city, Wellington, is set on the edge of a stunning harbour surrounded by rolling hills at the southern tip of North Island. It's a bustling modern city with a compact downtown area easily explored on foot. It's also New Zealand's arts and culture capital, with galleries and museums, notably the national museum, Te Papa Tongrewa, on the waterfront.
Nearby is the Parliament building and the National Archive where the original Treaty of Waitangi is displayed; this is the Treaty between the British government and chiefs of the indigenous people, the Maori, the founding document of the modern nation-state of New Zealand. The Treaty Grounds at Paihia, north of Auckland, are the country's most important historic site. You can take a trip aboard a traditional Maori canoe to the sacred island of Motu Maire for a close encounter with New Zealand's native culture.
Visit the South Island and you can get close to nature cruising Milford Sound, a fiord with spectacular scenery and waterfalls. A visit to the Milford Deep Underwater Observatory takes you 30 feet below to view breathtaking marine life. You can also take a cruise boat to explore the Marlborough Sounds at the northern end of South Island, a very special part of New Zealand.