Under the Southern Cross: New Zealand to Melanesia

Under the Southern Cross: New Zealand to Melanesia

From AUD $18,950


Following in the wake of Captain Cook, we will journey from New Zealand’s North Island to the Solomon Sea. Delve into a fascinating history of intrepid explorers, convicts, and traders, and learn about the rich cultures of the Maori and the Melanesians. Examine traditional carved houses and ancient caves and meet villagers on some of the most remote islands of the South Pacific. Along the way, don your snorkel and fins to discover incredible coral reefs and lagoons.

Trip Name
Under the Southern Cross: New Zealand to Melanesia
Vessel Type: Luxury Expedition Length: 103 metres Passenger Capacity: 102 (in 53 cabins) Built: 2003 / Refurbished 2014 Engineered for maximum comfort and safety, Orion is equipped with the latest technology including large retractable stabilizers, sonar, radar, and an ice-strengthened hull. A shallow draft plus bow and stern thrusters provide the convenience of being able to maneuver close to shore. 14 Zodiacs ensure quick disembarkation and offer the ideal transport for up-close exploration. National Geographic Orion meets strict specifications for environmental protection and the on board waste management systems meet the stringent Antarctic operational standards enabling us to travel to the most pristine environments. A host of advanced design features and technology ensures sustainable marine environmental practices. National Geographic Orion accommodates 102 guests in 53 cabins, including several with balconies. She is spacious and modern, with a variety of public rooms that offer panoramic views of the passing landscape. Friendly and informal, Orion fosters a welcoming atmosphere where like-minded guests share in exceptional experiences and enrichment. Her public rooms include a dramatic window-lined main lounge, as well as an observation lounge and library perched at the very top of the ship, with plentiful observation decks. The spacious lounge is the heart of our expedition community, and is suited for spirited cocktail hours, informative presentations and our nightly tradition of Recap. In addition, a dedicated theater provides a unique setting for specialist presentations or films and slideshows. Both the main dining room and outside buffet easily accommodate all guests at once for open seating dining. On selected nights, weather permitting, our dining room menu is also available on the outside deck. While Orion interiors are elegant, life aboard is always casual, with no need for formal clothing. And you’ll find shipboard services like laundry, in-room cabled internet, and public-area wifi.


Day 1 - DAY 1: Auckland, New Zealand
Arrive in Auckland, New Zealand, where we checkinto our hotel. Join us for a welcome briefing thisevening to meet your fellow travelers.
Day 2 - DAY 2: Auckland / Embark
Have breakfast at the hotel before joining a tour ofthis vibrant city center. We’ll stop for lunch middaybefore embarking National Geographic Orion inthe late afternoon. (B,L,D)
Day 3 - DAY 3: Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands is an area encompassing morethan 140 subtropical islands, boasting anabundance of wildlife and fascinating history. Visitthe Waitangi Treaty Grounds, a place ofimmeasurable cultural, spiritual, and historicalsignificance, and learn of the historical events forwhich these grounds are remembered. (B,L,D)
Day 4 - DAY 4: At Sea
Take advantage of a full day at sea to settle intothe relaxed pace of life on board. Watch for marinelife from the deck, study our route on thenavigational charts, and attend talks by ourexperts. (B,L,D)
Day 5 - DAY 5: Norfolk Island, Australia
Explore Norfolk Island, discovered by CaptainCook in 1774. Covered in dense forests of pines, itwas initially valued as a ready source of shipbuilding lumber. Later, it became a British penalcolony and then a settlement for Pitcairn Islanders,who themselves were descendants of themutineers from the famous Bounty. Explore theruins of the prison and enjoy walking around themain settlement at Burnt Pine. Later, take a longnature hike in Norfolk National Park to look for theendemic tree ferns and land birds. As we depart,look for large groups of seabirds alongside thedramatic island scenery. (B,L,D)
Day 6 - DAY 6: At Sea
Relax on deck as we make our passage toMelanesia or attend talks by our expert expeditionand photo teams. (B,L,D)
Day 7 - DAY 7: Isle of Pines, New Caledonia
Swim or snorkel in the beautiful Oro Natural Poolor walk through a beautiful rainforest to the site ofQueen Hortense’s Cave, filled with limestonefeatures and a variety of tropical vegetation.Alternatively, take a hike to the summit of N’GaPeak to see incredible views over the island andthe surrounding sea or join our naturalists for abirding walk through the dense canopy of theforest. (B,L,D)
Day 8 - DAY 8: Port Vila / Lelepa, Vanuatu
Clear into Vanuatu at Port Vila. Later, go ashore atLelepa to visit Vanuatu’s first and only UNESCOWorld Heritage site, the final residence and burialsite of 17th-century Chief Roi Mata. Here, we’ll bewelcomed with traditional songs and dance, andenter the impressive Fels Cave. (B,L,D)
Day 9 - DAY 9: Ambrym
Ambyrm is known for its active volcanoes, blacksand beaches, and mystery and magic. Arriveashore to witness the striking Rom dance,traditionally a secret event. Involving incrediblemasks and elaborate outfits that represent spirits,this is a cultural experience specific only to thisisland. (B,L,D)
Day 10 - DAY 10: Espiritu Santo
Captain James Cook named the islands ofVanuatu the “New Hebrides” because theyreminded him of the rugged isles off Scotland’scoast. On the main island of Espiritu Santo,experience one of the best wreck dives in theworld: the S.S. President Coolidge, a luxury cruiseliner used as a troop carrier during World War II, orenjoy a serene canoe paddle to the Riri Blue Hole,a jewel-blue freshwater source surrounded byjungle. (B,L,D)
Day 11 - DAY 11: Loh Island, Torres Group
Arrive to the small village of Loh Island by Zodiac,meandering along a beautiful mangrove lagoon.Meet the lovely villagers and experience some ofthe local kastom dances. Hike across the island toa cave and look for wildlife along the way. Ifconditions permit, snorkel in along the beautifulfringing reef of the island. (B,L,D)
Day 12 - DAY 12: Tikopia, Solomon Islands
Tikopia is an unusual island. Just under 2 milessquare, it is the caldera of an extinct volcano andboasts dramatic scenery. Officially a part of theSolomon Islands of Melanesia, it was settled byPolynesian people, whose descendants still residethere today. Made up of several villages led bydifferent chiefs, the island retains many of itstraditional practices. We will visit one of thevillages to meet the local people and learn aboutthe unique culture of the island. Afterward, take ahike along the ridgeline of the caldera to see anaerial view of the island and its lagoon. (B,L,D)
Day 13 - DAY 13: Utupua
Located in the Santa Cruz Island group, Utupua isa high volcanic island surrounded by a lagoon anda fringing coral reef. Zodiac to the village ofNimbau for a welcome song and danceperformance. Take a walk through the village withthe locals and see a display of their fantasticfishing canoes. Take a Zodiac ride along theshores, lined with dense mangroves and boastinga variety of wildlife. (B,L,D)
Day 14 - DAY 14: Owaraha Island
On the tiny isle of Owaraha (formerly known asSanta Ana), we’re greeted with a traditional danceperformed by villagers in elaborate costumes,body paint, and masks. Walk across the smallisland to Nafinotoga to see Spirit Housescontaining the skulls and bones of ancient chiefsof the Snake Clan and the Turtle Clan. (B,L,D)
Day 15 - DAY 15: Honiara / Disembark / Brisbane, Australia
Our expedition concludes in Honiara, a formerU.S. supply depot and a strategic WWIIbattleground. Tour around the outskirts of the cityto see sites well known from the Battle ofGuadalcanal in 1942–43. See the shores of RedBeach and the vital airbase at Henderson Field.Visit the hills above Honiara, where some of thefiercest battles took place. Then transfer to theairport for our flight to Brisbane, where we willovernight at a local hotel. (B,L)
Day 16 - DAY 16: Depart Brisbane
Depart this morning for your flight home. (B)
Day 17 - Please note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
16-12-202231-12-2022AUD $18,950Category 1
16-12-202231-12-2022AUD $22,990Category 2
16-12-202231-12-2022AUD $26,650Category 3
16-12-202231-12-2022AUD $28,430Category 1 Solo
16-12-202231-12-2022AUD $29,420Category 4
16-12-202231-12-2022AUD $35,470Category 5
16-12-202231-12-2022AUD $39,980Category 3 Solo
16-12-202231-12-2022AUD $41,180Category 6
27-02-202314-03-2023AUD $27,450Category 3
27-02-202314-03-2023AUD $29,280Category 1 Solo
27-02-202314-03-2023AUD $30,300Category 4
27-02-202314-03-2023AUD $36,530Category 5
27-02-202314-03-2023AUD $41,180Category 3 Solo
27-02-202314-03-2023AUD $42,420Category 6
27-02-202314-03-2023AUD $19,520Category 1
27-02-202314-03-2023AUD $23,680Category 2
26-10-202310-11-2023AUD $19,520Category 1
26-10-202310-11-2023AUD $23,680Category 2
26-10-202310-11-2023AUD $27,450Category 3
26-10-202310-11-2023AUD $29,280Category 1 Solo
26-10-202310-11-2023AUD $30,300Category 4
26-10-202310-11-2023AUD $36,530Category 5
26-10-202310-11-2023AUD $41,180Category 3 Solo
26-10-202310-11-2023AUD $42,420Category 6
31-01-202415-02-2024AUD $19,520Category 1
31-01-202415-02-2024AUD $23,680Category 2
31-01-202415-02-2024AUD $27,450Category 3
31-01-202415-02-2024AUD $29,280Category 1 Solo
31-01-202415-02-2024AUD $30,300Category 4
31-01-202415-02-2024AUD $36,530Category 5
31-01-202415-02-2024AUD $41,180Category 3 Solo
31-01-202415-02-2024AUD $42,420Category 6


    • Encounter an impressive diversity of cultures from the Maori of the Bay of Islands to the spear dancers of the Solomons, and delve into their artistic and spiritual traditions
    • Venture to the former penal colony of Norfolk Island, now a UNESCO World Heritage site boasting the unusual trees called Norfolk Island pines
    • See the stunning limestone geology of New Caledonia at Isle of Pines and visit a cave filled with primitive tree ferns
    • Visit important World War II sites, including the wreck of the S.S. President Coolidge and the Battle of Guadalcanal
    • Come ashore at Tikopia. Meet the local chiefs of the traditional villages and learn about the cyclone that almost devastated the island in 2002—without any loss of life
    • See the fantastic fishing canoes of the people of Utupua and take a Zodiac ride along their mangrove-studded lagoon