Immersive adventure & special access to rare and abundant wildlife--see how
Part research vessel, part grand hotel, the expedition ship National Geographic Orion will be your base for this unforgettable New Zealand adventure. Travel to a part of the world where the landscapes are breathtaking, the air and water pristine, and the wildlife rare and abundant. The ship was purpose-built to explore the most remote places while providing maximum comfort and safety, and in no time it will feel like home as you discover all the nooks and crannies and enjoy the welcoming atmosphere it so readily fosters.
Equipped with plenty of cool tools from Zodiacs to kayaks, Orion allows effortless access to postcard-perfect coastlines and secluded islands. With expert naturalists we’ll observe fascinating and rare endemic flora and fauna on land and in the Tasman Sea and Southern Ocean, and with cultural guides and historians we’ll learn about the country’s Maori and European history and culture through up-close and in-depth encounters and excursions to important sites. Through city tours, museum visits, and tastings at a vineyard, we’ll get a fuller picture of New Zealand through its art, architecture, and world-renowned wines.
Zodiac cruise, kayak, hike, and walk: There's nothing passive about our expedition style. Our captain’s knowledge and dexterity and our Expedition Leader’s experience and savvy allow us to get you out daily, often twice a day on forays, when not at sea. Head off in a Zodiac to walk along a deserted white horseshoe-shaped beach or hike into a rare podocarp forest. Kayak into hidden coves, perhaps greeted by curious dolphins. Observe the country’s remarkable endemic plant life on guided walks in rainforests, arboretums, and botanical gardens. On remote islands, be one of the few humans among thousands of birds, seals, and penguins. The pleasures of city life are not overlooked on our New Zealand expeditions. With time at leisure in friendly urban areas known for their quality of life, roam freely to follow your interests and discover shops with handcrafted items, gastro pubs serving exquisite local food and drink, and picturesque palm tree-lined oceanside promenades.
If you prefer to stay aboard to read in the stillness of the library, indulge in a massage at the spa, or soak in the hot tub, these pursuits are equally encouraged. There’s no one-size-fits-all scheduling ever: You choose your activities, exertion levels, and staff members to join daily.
Part of the expedition team, the undersea specialist suits up and dives—or operates an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) able to descend to 1,000 feet, far beyond the range of divers—and brings back footage of life beneath the ship. Enjoy a rare glimpse into sub-aquatic activity that’s projected in vivid high-definition on plasma screens in the Lounge. We guarantee you will be astonished by the fascinating life forms of these sub-Antarctic waters.
The first human inhabitants of New Zealand were Maori, Polynesians who first settled here around the late 13th century. As many as 20,000 Maori inhabited the region in fortified villages called Pa and held sacred meetings in maraes. We visit a marae and also the location where the country’s founding document, the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, was signed by the British Crown and 540 Maori chiefs. Throughout our expedition we will learn about Maori traditions and history as well as the influences of British, Dutch, and French explorers and settlers.
Each evening at cocktail hour the entire expedition community gathers in the lounge for a ritual we call Recap. As you enjoy cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, naturalists give talks, the undersea specialist may show video, and your expedition leader will outline the following day's schedule.
When you're back aboard, catch the day's Recap, read, write, organize photos on your laptop, or socialize over drinks or dinner. Orion’s panoramic windows and decks bring the ever-present scenery of ocean, shoreline, and snowcapped peaks inside. Utilize the fitness room or the sauna, soak in the whirlpool hot tub, or simply take in the jaw-dropping scenery.
When the ship is underway, you can stand on the bow with a naturalist, National Geographic photographer or photo instructor. You are always welcome to visit the bridge to watch the calm, serious business of navigation.
You're sure to find the company of the like-minded others on board interesting, whether fellow guests, members of the expedition team, a National Geographic photographer, or a guest speaker. And the on-board talks, slideshows, and presentations will provide in-depth background to more fully understand and appreciate the region’s intriguing flora and fauna, landscapes, history, and culture.
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