New Zealand by Sea

Join a team of guest speakers, including Peter Hillary, aboard the 57-cabin Caledonian Sky and experience the natural beauty of New Zealand. Visit dynamic Queenstown for two nights. Enjoy up-close access to the towering granite cliffs and tumbling waterfalls of Doubtful and Milford Sounds and remote Stewart Island. Experience Rotorua’s spouting geysers, bubbling mud pools and volcanic crater lakes. Spend time with Maori elders for a welcome ceremony and traditional hangi lunch. Observe some of the world’s rarest birdlife on Ulva Island and walk the beginning of the Queen Charlotte Track.

Jan 27 - Feb 9, 2020  (14 Days)

from $6,990 per person, based on double occupancy

For more Information

(415) 597-6720

Monday–Wednesday, January 27–29
Home / Queenstown

Depart home on an overnight flight to Queenstown, New Zealand, gateway to the South Island’s breathtaking alpine and glacial scenery. Lose one day crossing the International Date Line. This evening meet fellow travelers at a welcome reception with views of Lake Wakatipu. Novotel Queenstown Lakeside Hotel (R)

Thursday, January 30

Following an introductory lecture, embark on a private cruise across scenic Lake Wakatipu to Mt Nicholas High Country Farm for a private, behind-the-scenes visit of this 100,000 acre, family-run merino sheep farm, with the option of an easy cycle ride with panoramic alpine views at every turn. The afternoon is at leisure to relax, explore the downtown Queenstown scene, or perhaps ride the Skyline Queenstown Gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak for wonderful views over the town. Novotel Queenstown Lakeside Hotel (B,L)

Friday, January 31
Milford Sound / Embark Caledonian Sky

Drive to spectacular Milford Sound via the shores of Lake Te Anau to Fiordland National Park. On arrival at Milford, board a small boat and cruise close to the towering cliffs and cascading waterfalls before embarking the Caledonian Sky. Celebrate the first evening on board with a Captain’s welcome reception and dinner while crusing New Zealand’s iconic Milford Sound. Caledonian Sky (B,L,D)

Saturday, February 1
Doubtful & Dusky Sounds

When the glaciers covering Fiordland retreated 14,000 years ago, they left behind an extraordinarily serrated coastline, plunging fiords, and deep branching lakes, further enhanced by mist-shrouded mountains, cascading waterfalls, and vast beech forests. This is New Zealand at its wildest, most remote, and most beautiful. It’s also an area rich in history, Captain Cook landed here on HMS Resolution in 1773. Explore these unspoiled waterways, only accessible by sea, and well known for abundant wildlife, including fur seals and pods of bottlenose dolphins. Caledonian Sky (B,L,D)

Sunday, February 2
Stewart Island (Raikura)

Anchor in Paterson Inlet to visit Stewart and Ulva islands. Stewart Island (Raikura), the southernmost inhabited outpost of New Zealand with a population under 500, is a quiet, seldomvisited wilderness oasis and an ornithologist’s delight. Ulva Island is a sanctuary for both birds and plants, including species that are rare or extinct on mainland New Zealand. Naturalist guides lead bush walks of varying lengths that may include sightings of weka, kākā, the flightless Stewart Island kiwi, silvereyes, and fantails. Weather permitting, an optional ocean fishing excursion will be offered (for an additional cost). Caledonian Sky (B,L,D)

Monday, February 3

Cruise this morning into the beautiful harbor city of Dunedin, regarded as New Zealand’s architectural heritage capital. Built on the gold rushes of the 1860s, today Victorian and Edwardian buildings can still be seen at every turn. Embark on a guided tour of this beautifully preserved city including a visit to the spectacular Dunedin Botanic Garden, with over 6,800 plant species, and the Otago Museum, for superb insight into the natural history of the South Island, as well as its industries and its peoples. While in Dunedin, drive to Taiaroa Head on the tip of the Otago Peninsula to see northern royal albatrosses, the largest seabirds in the world. This is the only mainland location in the world. Special viewing areas have been constructed for observing these birds without disturbing their natural activities. Alternatively, ride the rails on a vintage train with open air viewing platforms through the beautiful Taieri Plains before climbing into the rugged Taieri Gorge, a narrow and deep ravine carved out by the ancient Taieri River. As the ship departs Dunedin, come out on deck to birdwatch at sunset along the Otago Peninsula. Caledonian Sky (B,L,D)

Tuesday, February 4

Akaroa meaning, ‘Long Harbor’, in Maori, is a historic French and British settlement, nestled in the heart of an ancient volcano on the Banks Peninsula. In the morning, choose between a guided walk through the charming colonial town and surrounding native bush of the Garden of Tane or a guided 4x4 drive to a private farm to see the largest Australasian Little Penguin colony on mainland New Zealand and an inspiring example of private individuals saving an endangered species. Or if you prefer you can simply wander in the town and enjoy the alluring French atmosphere of this seaside retreat. Return to the ship for a relaxing afternoon at sea and a continuation of our lecture series. Caledonian Sky (B,L,D)

Wednesday, February 5
Marlborough Sounds / Wellington

Sail across Cook Strait between the North and South Islands and enter a world of pristine natural beauty. This morning anchor at Ship Cove, where Captain Cook arrived aboard the Endeavour in 1770. Explore the islands and inlets by Zodiac and during short walks on the famed Queen Charlotte Track. Keep an eye out for some of the wildlife Cook described in his reports, as well as rare birds such as the South Island saddleback, the bellbird, and the New Zealand robin. Arrive in Wellington for a briefing at the U.S. embassy (schedule permitting) followed by a free evening off the ship. Stroll along the picturesque waterfront and enjoy the option of dining ashore at a restaurant of your choice in town. This evening, (available at extra cost), choose to travel to Zealandia for a private night tour through this protected predator-proof ecosanctuary that is home to some of New Zealand’s rarest species, including kiwis. Caledonian Sky (B,L,D)

Thursday, February 6

Wellington is New Zealand’s capital city, where colorful Victorian houses perch on steep hills overlooking one of the world’s loveliest harbors. Tour the city’s lush botanical garden and visit the spectacular waterfront museum TePapa Tongarewa (Maori for “Repository of Things Precious”). Discover how the Maori navigated the Pacific to arrive on these islands and learn about their myths and traditions. Return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon of cruising as we continue our lecture program. Caledonian Sky (B,L,D)

Friday, February 7
At Sea

Enjoy a day at sea, with onboard lectures and time to relax, as the Caledonian Sky cruises along the east coast of the North Island. Caledonian Sky (B,L,D)

Saturday, February 8
Tauranga / Rotorua

Dock this morning in Tauranga and disembark for a drive to Rotorua, the heartland of New Zealand’s Maori culture. Enjoy a private gathering with Maori elders at a special powhiri (welcome) ceremony in a Maori village nestled within a native Tawa forest. Observe Maori weaving, carving, face tattooing, and food preparation activities. Also learn about warrior training and the fearsome haka posture dance as part of an exhilarating cultural performance. After a traditional hangi lunch, visit some of Rotorua’s famed geothermal features, where boiling mud pools and colorful hot springs provide remarkable evidence of the still-hot magma just beneath the earth’s surface. Back on board, celebrate your New Zealand adventure with fellow travelers during the Captain’s Farewell reception and dinner. Caledonian Sky (B,L,D)

Sunday, February 9
Auckland / Home

Arrive in Auckland, the “City of Sails,” and disembark for an overview tour of the city’s highlights including a stop at Bastion Point offering magnificent views back to Auckland. Enjoy lunch at a seaside restaurant with free time for exploring independently before transferring to the airport for flights home, regaining the day lost on the inbound journey. (B)

Queenstown Jan 26–29

Fly into Queenstown two days early for the chance to journey through the dramatic Lord of the Rings landscapes of Central Otago and meet wine makers from the world’s southernmost winemaking region. Queenstown is the gateway to over 200 vineyards producing some of the world’s best wines, which you’ll enjoy during wine tastings and a lunch in this picturesque region. On the way, stop in historic Arrowtown for a guided tour of this community that sprang to life in the 1860s following the discovery of gold in the Arrow River and still retains 60 of the original gold-rush buildings. The following day, travel to Glenorchy to take a wilderness jet boat trip up the glacier-fed, turquoise water Dart River to witness the stunning scenery of the World Heritage Area of Mount Aspiring National Park, the flora and fauna of which has become the world’s best example of ancient Gondwana Land. You’ll also have the chance to walk among old-growth beech trees, which form a natural wonderland.

Sydney, Australia Feb 9-12

Extend your trip with three nights in cosmopolitan Sydney, Australia. Activities include a private tour of the iconic Sydney Opera House; a walking tour of the Rocks District, Sydney’s historic center that has been sensitively revitalized; a viewing of the aboriginal art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales; and a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens, plus time for independent exploration.

The following rates are per person, based on double occupancy



Reduced Rate


Castle Deck (Standard Forward)
244 sq. ft. with 2 portholes, shower



Castle Deck (Standard)
244 sq. ft. with 2, 3 or 4 portholes, shower



Caledonian Deck (Superior)
232 sq. ft. large window, bathtub, shower (except #329, #330, #331, shower only)



Promenade Deck (Premium)
217 sq. ft. large window, shower (#431 & #432 with bathtub and shower)



Bridge Deck (Deluxe Balcony)
215 sq. ft. plus 45 sq. ft. private balcony, sliding glass door, walk-in wardrobe, bathtub, shower



Promenade Deck (Premium Balcony)
217 sq. ft. plus 60 sq. ft. private balcony, sliding glass door, walk-in wardrobe, shower



Promenade Deck (Owner’s Balcony)
243 sq. ft. plus 60 sq. ft. private balcony, sliding glass door, 2 portholes, walk-in wardrobe, shower


Per person, based on single occupancy



Castle Deck (Standard)
244 sq. ft. with 2, 3 or 4 portholes, shower



Caledonian Deck (Superior)
232 sq. ft. large window, bathtub, shower (except #329, #330, #331, shower only)


Included in Trip Cost
Full program of briefings, lectures, and presentations by study leaders and local guides; Two nights accommodations in Queenstown; Nine nights aboard the Caledonian Sky; All meals as specified in the itinerary; All excursions, including entrance fees, as specified in the itinerary; Scheduled transfers on group arrival and departure days; Baggage handling; Gratuities to porters, guides, drivers, and ship’s crew for all group activities; Port fees and embarkation taxes; House wine, beer, and soft drinks at lunch and dinner on board the Caledonian Sky and at group meals off the ship; Welcome and farewell wine receptions; Bottled water on excursions; Complete packet of pre-departure information; Professional tour manager throughout

Not Included in Trip Cost
U.S. domestic and international airfare; Passport and visa fees; Medical expenses and immunizations; Trip cancellation/interruption and baggage insurance; Optional excursions or deviations from the scheduled tour; Excess-baggage charges; Meals not specified in the itinerary; dishes and beverages not part of the included meals; Alcohol or soft drinks except where indicated as included; Private transfers or transfers not on program arrival and departure days; Personal items such as room service; email, telephone, and fax charges; and other items of a personal nature.

Pre-Tour Extension
Queenstown, Jan 26–29, 2020
$1,250 per person, double occupancy
$1,490 per person, single occupancy

Post-Tour Extension
Sydney, Australia, Feb 9-12, 2020
$1,790 per person, double occupancy
$2,890 per person, single occupancy

What to Expect

You will experience varying weather conditions during this trip, with temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to the mid-60s Fahrenheit. Rough seas are always a possibility, and intermittent rain showers are common year-round. The pace of this program is moderately active, with up to two miles of walking often over uneven terrain, or where stairs are unavailable or do not have handrails. Participants will need to climb into and out of Zodiacs for some shore excursions (staff and crew members will be on hand to assist). Participants must be in good health and able to keep up with the group without assistance from tour staff.

Hear from guest lecturers aboard the ship throughout the voyage.

Trip Educators
Peter Hillary
Peter Hillary is the son of Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to reach the summit of Mount Everest with his climbing partner Tenzing Norgay in 1953. Peter is also is the first second-generation to climb Mt Everest, has climbed the Seven Summits (the highest mountain on each of the seven continents) and he has been on over 40 mountaineering expeditions around the world. Peter is a speaker, author, entrepreneur, and philanthropist who is active with several Himalayan foundations that build and run schools, hospitals, forestry and environmental programs in the Himalayan region of Nepal. He actively supports outdoor youth leadership programs and New Zealand conservation efforts, including protecting the kea, the world’s only mountain parrot. Peter is excited to share his experiences regarding international conservation, philanthropy, leadership, and the future prospects of New Zealand during the program.
Neville Peat
Neville Peat is an award-winning New Zealand writer and adventurer who has published nearly forty books on geography, biography, history, and the natural environment, the most recent being The Invading Sea. A Dunedin city councilor, Neville has accompanied ship-based tours of mainland New Zealand and the New Zealand Subantarctic Islands for the past 15 years as a lecturer and guide. He also chairs the trust board for Dunedin’s Orokonui Ecosanctuary, an ecological island wildlife reserve. A very popular lecturer, Neville infuses travelers with his passion for and encyclopedic knowledge of New Zealand’s natural wonders.
Mark Van Baalen
Mark Van Baalen, Associate in Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard, has served the University in a variety of roles since 1962. Since 1995 he has been a Lecturer and Associate in the Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences. He taught popular courses in physical and environmental geology, and acted as mentor to many undergraduates. Mark’s research has included field-based projects in New England, California and the Swiss Alps, all focusing on details of the origin of ancient ocean basins and their associated mountain belts. More recently he has studied the interactions between human activities and the inexorable process of climate change. In addition to these strictly scientific interests, Mark has a deep interest in history, including the exploration of remote regions of the world. On these trips, Mark lectures on the natural history of the regions being visited, as well as painting a broader picture of human interaction with its environment, now and in the past.

Complete Terms & Conditions will be sent to participants upon confirmation and are available to prospective travelers upon request. As a condition of participant, each passenger will be required to sign a Release of Liability, which will be sent along with the Terms & Conditions.

We strongly recommend the purchase of trip cancellation insurance, which is available for coverage of expenses in conjunction with cancellation due to illness or accident. Baggage insurance is also recommended. In the event that you must cancel your participation in a travel program, trip cancellation insurance may be the only source of reimbursement.

Reservations & Payments
A deposit of $1,000 per person is required to reserve space on this program. You may complete the reservation form included in this brochure and mail it with your check or credit card information to: 110 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105. You may also fax the form to (415) 597-6729 and your reservation will be held pending receipt of your check or credit card information. If you have questions, please call (415) 597-6720 or email Final payment deadline is September 30, 2019. For those who register after September 30, 2019, full payment is due upon registration.

We require membership to the Commonwealth Club to travel with us. People who live outside of the Bay Area may purchase a national membership. To learn about membership types and to purchase a membership, visit membership or call (415) 597-6720.

Cancellations & Refunds
Upon payment of the $1,000 per person deposit, all reservations are subject to the cancellation provisions set forth below and by which the passenger agrees to be bound. Cancellations shall not be in effect until they are received in writing and confirmed by the Commonwealth Club. Deposits are refundable (less a $250 per person administration fee) if written notice of cancellation is received within 30 days of reservation; after that, deposits are 100% nonrefundable. Cancellations after final payment deadline of September 30, 2019: All payments are 100% nonrefundable, regardless of booking date. Trip cancellation insurance is strongly recommended. Note: Neither the Commonwealth Club nor Criterion Travel, the tour operator, accepts liability for any airline cancellation penalties incurred with the purchase of nonrefundable tickets.

Air Arrangements
U.S. domestic and international airfare is not included in the program rates. Round-trip economy-class airfare from New York to Queenstown, with return from Auckland, is approximately $2,200 per person as of February 2019 and is subject to change without notice. Valerie Wilson Travel, Inc., can help with airline arrangements for this trip and can be reached at (877) 376-1754. You are also welcome to book your air transportation through your local travel agent, an online travel site, or the airline of your choice.

Group Size
This program is limited to 94 participants, including travelers from the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, National Trust Tours, Harvard Alumni Travels, and Smith College.

Itinerary Changes
The itinerary presented for this tour is subject to modification and change by the Commonwealth Club and Criterion Travel. Every reasonable effort will be made to operate the program as planned; however, should unforeseen world events and conditions require the itinerary to be altered, Commonwealth Club and the tour operator reserve the right to do so for the safety and best interest of the group. Any extra expenses incurred in this situation are the responsibility of the participant.

California Seller of Travel Program CST #2088800-40