Embarking on a picturesque voyage south from Napier, National Geographic Orion navigated the legendary Cook Strait before unveiling the pristine beauty of the Abel Tasman National Park. Guests enjoyed captivating talks by renowned National Geographic photographer Andrew Coleman, who delved into the art of capturing untamed landscapes, and cultural specialist Ebony Peeni, who explored the Maori story in her presentation, “Te Ao Maori.”

As National Geographic Orion turned the corner into Abel Tasman National Park, tranquil waters and abundant sunshine set the stage for a day of exploration. Splitting into hiking and kayaking groups, guests encountered the elusive weka birds, witnessing the adorable sight of their chicks. Amidst the melodic symphony of bellbirds, local guides shared their knowledge on the diverse flora and fauna of the region. Engaging with intrepid campers who had hiked to the beach we sailed into, guests shared sightings of giant stingrays gliding through the turquoise shallows.

The landscape is blanketed with the iconic silver fern, which holds profound cultural significance in New Zealand. Representing strength, resilience, and connection to the land, the silver fern, or ponga, is a cherished national symbol embodied by the spirit of Aotearoa. Rightfully, it is the emblem of the world champion New Zealand national rugby team, which is commonly called ‘All Blacks.’