Port and Shore Excursions
There is an Airport Shuttle from the Airport to Downtown for $14 one way. Pickup is outside door nine in the international terminal and we paid the driver. The bus was a typical city-type bus and the driver announced which hotels were served at each stop.
We used Gray Line Tours for a one-day bus tour of the North Island that included the Glow Worm caves in Waitomo and the thermal park in Rotorua. They pick up right in front of the Crowne Plaza so it was easy to coordinate. The glow worms are inside a cave and are visible on the ceiling. After walking through the cave area, you get in a raft and silently move towards the dark cave where the glowworms are nestled in the ceiling. The scene resembles a planetarium with the dots of Glow Worms on the ceiling. In Rotorua, the Thermal Park and Maori Concert at Te Puia were nice. Included was a guided tour of the mud pots and geysers. There was also a Kiwi at the park but since they are nocturnal it was almost impossible to see it in the darkened display. A light lunch was served on the bus as well as a snack on the way back to Auckland. This is a good way to see the north island and the thermal areas for far less than a ship excursion.
Docked in Akaroa- This is a Tender port. There were plenty of local vendors dockside as we arrived who were selling tours. You can pay cash to the vendors directly or pay the dockside I-site rep with a credit card. We used Akaroa tours for the $45 round trip to Christchurch with a drop off at the I-site next to Canterbury Museum. No need to take the shuttle to the red zone for an additional $15 unless you are unable to walk the four blocks to Cathedral Square. You can walk through most of the damaged area along the sidewalk although all the destroyed /damaged buildings are fenced off. Follow the river along Oxford Terrace for the Re:Start Mall shopping area made from shipping containers.
Akaroa is rich in French history and has many small Cafe's and a beach near the dock.
Dunedin- docked in Port Chalmers. This was the only port in NZ that required both a picture ID plus a cruise card for access to the port and the ship. The disembarkation and return was also a bit chaotic here with no walkways for passengers and no clear directions for passengers taking the bus tours. Princess offered a $15 Shuttle which drops off in Dunedin in front of the Robert Burns statue at the Octagon. Some passengers got off their tour buses in town and only used the shuttle one way for $10.
The Speight's Brewery tour is $25 with tour times of 10, 12, 2, 4, and 6. The tour lasts 90 minutes. Unlike the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, this is a tour of an actual working brewery. We walked right in at 10am with no reservations. There was nothing fancy about the first half of the tour which included some history and a few small dioramas, but the second half of the tour was spent walking through the actual brewery facility. The last 20 minutes of the tour is in the tasting room which has five beers on tap, one cider, and a few nonalcoholic options. You have about 20 minutes to pour as many as you like wielding your 8oz glass. The brewery is downtown within walking distance of both the I-site and shuttle drop off and is easier to do-it-yourself without taking the Ship excursion.
The Cadbury factory has a small museum/tour which is free. There is also the $25 tour of the factory itself. Part of the tour area was not available on our day in town so we skipped it. Note that the prices at the Cadbury gift shop are slightly higher for the same candy that you can find in nearby grocery stores. (There is a Countdown Grocery store right across the street!)
Docked at the Station Pier. There are two main methods to enter the city from the port. The #109 tram runs every 10-20 minutes from near the food store just outside the port. There is also a free one-way shuttle from the Visitor's Center at the Dock into town which drops off in front of the Victoria Arts Center. The free shuttle and tourist bus was actively pushed at the tourist center in the port, along with directions on how to pick up the tourist shuttles. When we were there both the free downtown visitor tour bus and free city circle tram were packed so tightly with Tourists that it was almost impossible to see anything. Both take just over an hour to make a circuit. Regardless of which way you decide to get to town, you will need a Myki card to return on the 109 Tram unless you have an excursion or private tour booked.
Princess docked at Circular Quay in the Overseas Terminal. A cab from the ship to our post-Cruise Hotel in the city center near Queen Victoria market was only $9. There was also train or bus service from the Circular Quay station which is only a short walk from the ship. If going straight to the Airport, the Airport Express bus runs from Circular Quay to the airport for $16 one way. There are also numerous Airport Shuttle companies that pick up from the Hotels for a few dollars less. Your Hotel should be able to book this for you.
At Paddy's Markets you can find many Australia Souvenirs much cheaper than you'll find in other Australian Cruise Ports.
Things to see are The Rocks, Darling Harbour, the Queen Victoria Building, numerous inner-city "Arcades" (Malls), Chinatown, The Sydney Fish Market(early visit suggested) and Hyde Park.
If staying Pre or Post-Cruise, Bondi Beach and Manly Beach are must-sees.
There are lots of small shops and beach type snack cafes at both Tauranga and Mt. Maunganui. At the "Cargo Shed" there are several craft vendors and the best and also freshest Fish and Chips are right next door. There is a HoHo, Bethlehem Coach Lines, which is $25 for all day until 3:00 vs. $15 RT for the Ship's Shuttle to Tauranga-only. The HoHo stops are the Hot Pools, Town center, Aviation museum, Cargo Shed, Tauranga city center, and the Elms Mission House. There is also a local bus.
Both beaches in Mt. Maunganui are within walking distance from the ship and the furthest point is about a half mile, or you can take the HoHo and get off at stop 1 which is the hot water Salt Baths. There is an Aviation museum in Mt. Maunganui for $10 but it is only $5 if you show your HoHo ticket. For those interested, there is an F-86 on display and you can sit in the cockpit. The museum also has a small gift shop. I would recommend doing the Aviation Museum and Cargo Shed early when there is 30 minutes between buses. After 12:00, the HoHo schedule changes to every hour.
Tuaranga has a few nicer shops than Mt. Maunganui which is more attuned to the beach traffic.
The Ship docked right next to WestPac stadium. Princess offered a $10 shuttle into town, but from where we were docked, for us it was easily walkable into town. From the Stadium into City Center was a 15-20 minute walk.
The city earns its name of "windy Wellington". As the Capitol of New Zealand, there didn't seem to be as many "Touristy" things to do. The Wellington cable car is worth doing but know if you tour the Botanical gardens and walk down the marked path from the top it leaves you at the Parliament Building, not where you boarded the Cable Car. You'll need to find your own way back to the city center. The Te Papa Museum of New Zealand is across the Harbor from where the Ship is docked.