Embark Day: Santana Adventures’ New Zealand Cycling Cruise embarks in Christchurch, the “quaint” South Island metropolis with New Zealand’s second largest airport.
The most popular club ride for the city’s cyclists is along the rim of the ancient volcano that separates Christchurch from its seaport.
A series of earthquakes allowed the sea to reclaim the center of the caldera, which became the perfectly-protected harbor for the South Island’s largest city.
Our embark day ride out of Christchurch will let you take in the majesty of this massive volcano by cycling the perimeter. Those who don’t care to start with a long and gentle climb can use a shuttle to reach the lofty lip.
Day 2: Described as “a ride through God’s photo album,” New Zealand’s most celebrated annual cycling event is the GrapeRide. A metric century that attracts thousands, the best part of this circular course that starts and ends in the Marlborough Wine Valley is the scenic roadway along the edge of the Queen Charlotte Sound.
Santana’s use of a yacht-sized cruise ship allows us to start with a few miles along an additional (and nicer) fjord before we reach the vineyards. Moreover, our non-circular route with a pair of fjords is a bit shorter, and finishes with the GrapeRide’s best segment; all while avoiding the harsh climb on a busy highway. In summary, another celebrated ride you’ll never forget.
Instead of rides linking hotels that are up to 100 miles apart, a ship that relocates up to 200 miles while we sleep allows a less-frantic way to enjoy better cycling, and a wider range of New Zealand’s diverse sights.
Day 3: A morning without cycling? One of the world’s most famous hikes is the 4-day “tramp” along Queen Charlotte Track, a trail that traces the shore of Queen Charlotte sound. Our ship allows us to sample the prime portion of this trail linking Furneaux Lodge with Ship Cove, a tidal inlet where British explorer James Cook returned during successive multi-year voyages of discovery to “haul out” his sailing ship in order to clean the hull. If 10.6 miles seems too far for a morning hike, an optional retrieval from Resolution Bay trims the distance and provides more time to explore a waterfall and Cook’s Monument.
Our post-lunch cruise anchors in a calm bay near Cook Strait, a place named for the Captain who witnessed a spectacular wildlife show staged by resident dolphins. Although Cook’s final departure from this favored spot occurred in 1775, the obliging troupe of dolphins who entertained him have remained in the area.
In this calm South Seas anchorage the Star Breeze will be able deploy its signature water-sports platform with kayaks and paddle boards. The ship’s fleet of zodiacs will allow us to explore adjacent bays. With a bit of luck, we’ll be welcomed by a friendly escort of leaping dolphins.
Day 4: In Nelson, a city famous for museums, a choice of coastal rides view the famous beaches of Tasman Bay. All routes pass the tall monument marking the geographic center of New Zealand before pausing at botanical gardens and a wildlife sanctuary to gain an understanding and appreciation for New Zealand’s plants and animals.
Nelson is not only located at the very center of New Zealand, it’s also the country’s second-oldest British settlement. At the New Zealand Heritage Center we’ll tour a village with relocated buildings, and learn about colonial life through live docents in period costumes who play the role of early settlers.
Day 5: Crossing to the North Island we’ll dock at the center of Wellington, New Zealand’s lively capital. Today’s rides offer an eclectic mix of bayside and urban cycling. Our routes cruise through trendy Cuba Street, pass in front of New Zealand’s Parliament, cycle the National Mall, and pause for a famous cable-car ride that climbs to a viewpoint above the city. In a country that recently zoomed to the top of the wine world, New Zealand’s brewers refuse to be left behind. In a colorful capital with over a dozen craft breweries, we’ll stop for a tour and tasting at our favorite.
If you feel the need to add miles on this otherwise easy day, continue along Wellington’s Bay for a gentle climb along the Hutt River on New Zealand’s most scenic cycle path. For the truly athletic we found a great return route that traces a high ridgeline with wondrous views and hilltop estates. As always, this day includes GPS guidance and a wide choice of routes—all with recommended stops. Santana’s format allows you to enjoy a healthy, unhurried, and un-herded vacation in your own way and at your own pace.
Day 6: A second day of North Island Cycling loops through Hawke’s Bay Vineyards and pauses for a tasting of celebrated wines before returning to Napier, where the world’s finest collection of Art Deco architecture is the result of a San Francisco scale 1931 earthquake that leveled the entire town.
Our guided walking tours with local experts allow you to appreciate the harmonized result of an amazing civic rebirth that remains an intense source of local pride.
Day 7: A day that starts in Gisborne explores the East Cape region, a friendly corner of New Zealand that remained a Maori stronghold.
Today our choice of routes include an inland loop through Maori farmlands to reach village stores and bakeries where English is a foreign language.
Long riders will get up early to add shoreline miles along a forested coast.
Day 8: Another highlight of this tour is the tropical Coromandel Peninsula, the top-rated recreational getaway for vacationing New Zealanders.
The Coromandel is a relaxing natural wonderland where our coastal routes skirt a volcano cone and pass through a towering fern forest.
This carefree final day of cycling includes opportunities to explore Hot Water Beach, Cathedral Cove, and Shakespeare Cliff. All routes end at a river inlet, where we’ll use a small ferry to reach Whitianga, the resort town where we’ll repack our bikes.
Day 9: We’ll disembark Windstar’s Star Breeze at the center of Auckland, where our tour concludes with a 15-minute shuttle to AKL International Airport.
Since most flights leave in the late afternoon or evening, it’s easy to check bikes and luggage before spending the day exploring a beautiful city that reminds many of San Diego. Due to the international date line, most will arrive home before their flight departs.
Would you care to arrive early?
Until you’ve visited the “Adventure Capital of the World,” we don’t blame you for wondering if Queenstown can live up to the hype. It does.
Although this Aspen-like resort town is too far inland to appear on any cruise ship itinerary, this exceptional 10th region includes amazing activities and a pair of days with epic cycling. Options that make Santana’s 3-night Queenstown PreTour a “don’t miss” extension to your cruise.
No need to decide now, we’ve already blocked a boatload of rooms at our favorite lakefront resort. Our Queenstown PreTour offer with full details will be delivered five months prior to the cruise.
MS Star Breeze
New Zealand Cycling Cruise 2024
Christchurch to Auckland
The Star Breeze is an ALL-SUITES motor yacht!
The smallest suite, at 280 sq.ft., is twice as large as staterooms found on other new cruise ships.
Beautiful new bathrooms in every single suite
10 different suite categories, all with an exterior view, makes it easy to find one that’s right for you.
Ocean View Suite
A total of 5 gourmet restaurants provide a variety of fresh culinary options. Jan wants you to know that 24-hour room service is a no-cost extra!
The Star Breeze has a 1:1.5 crew-to-passenger ratio to provide award winning service.
Santana has worked with Windstar since 2010. With this win-win relationship, Santana obtains the lowest pricing and best availability. Their yacht-sized fleet allows Santana’s charters to use small ports that are better suited for cycling. We’ve now worked with Windstar to create custom-for-cycling itineraries in the Mediterranean, Baltic, Tahiti, British Isles, Japan, and Australia—and now for the first time, New Zealand!
Santana and our participants love the intimate size of Windstar’s yachts, as does the cruising public and industry critics. Year after year, Windstar wins all the major awards for small ship cruising, and scores the highest return-client loyalty.
In 2020, the Star Breeze was withdrawn from service to take part in Windstar’s “Star Initiative Project”—a quarter billion dollar stretch of their 3 motor yachts (they’re triplets). After cutting the Star Breeze into front and rear halves, a precursor to the installation of quieter new eco-friendly motors and generators, they replaced the entire ship’s decor and furnishings—Every single suite has been rebuilt like new. Before buttoning things up, they slid in a new 84-foot midsection.
The Star Breeze we’ve chartered for New Zealand is essentially a new ship with larger additional public areas, a tripled-size ocean-view swimming pool, new tenders, new lifeboats, and a fleet of expedition-worthy zodiacs.
The Compass Rose Lounge
The new Lounge
The new Sun Deck & Pool
Existing suites have all been completely rebuilt, now have enhanced soundproofing, and feature all-new bathrooms. Added suites include new categories at both ends of the price range. After relaunch you’ll not only have a wider range of staterooms to choose from, the Star Breeze will have five gourmet dining venues to provide a wider range of fresh cuisine.
Owner’s Suite (Living Room)
Ocean View Suite
The new Star Grill
The Yacht Club
The new Cuadro 44 Restaurant
Frequently Asked Questions
New Zealand Cycling Cruise 2024
Christchurch to Auckland
Q: What are the exact dates?
A: The best season for a New Zealand Cycling Cruise is during their summer, which aligns with winter in North America. The best time for North Americans to enjoy challenging days of riding is the post-holiday time of year when you’re itching for an excuse to get back on your bike. After testing New Zealand’s summer cycling, we fell in love. This cycling cruise will take place in New Zealand’s mid-summer, when daily highs are in the mid-70s, coastal lows are in the low-70s, and the landscape is every shade of green. Our carefully selected dates are January 12-20, 2024. You’ll have two full seasons to get in great shape, and no need to rush your December 2023 Holidays.
Q: What’s the cost?
A: Due to Santana’s friendship with WindStar, our per-person pricing for this 9-day event on the ALL-SUITES Star Breeze in New Zealand starts at $5,199. Premium suite categories cost more. Booking early is easy and RISK FREE. Our reservations page shows pricing of available staterooms.
Q: Is this a good deal?
A: It’s an incredible deal. Imagine the luxury of a cruise ship for the same price as an inn-to-inn tour. The starting price for Santana’s 9-day New Zealand Cycling Cruise of both islands is less than what the leading US and Canadian Cycle Tour Providers currently charge for van supported inn-to-inn tours of only one island and sample less than one third of New Zealand’s diversity.
Q: What’s “Early-In” Pricing?
A: To manage the risk of chartering entire cruise ships, couples who commit early are rewarded with discounts of up to $2,000 per stateroom. Lowest pricing in every category is limited to the first few rooms. Booking early is easy and RISK FREE.
Q: What about tipping?
A: Santana’s cruise hosts don’t accept tips. Santana’s comprehensive “cruise extras” fee of $800 per person includes cycling-specific extras, support teams, admissions, guides, and Sergio’s Coach (our non-rider coach bus). Government mandated Port Fees are $225 per-person. Shipboard gratuities, collected at the event, are $180 per person, and go to the ship’s crew.
Q: All Suites?!
A: Every stateroom is an exterior suite. About 40% have balconies. Pricing varies by location and floor plan (see the Stateroom Reservations section for pricing details).
Q: Are there differences between the suites?
A: Certainly. The Star Breeze features deluxe bedding and spacious floor plans. The suites have a private bathroom with a double-vanity & double-sinks, air-conditioning with adjustable thermostat, and are soundproofed. All Star Breeze staterooms are located on the exterior, and offer exquisite views or balconies. The smallest room/suite on the ship is 280 square feet—HUGE by cruise ship standards!
Q: Has anyone done this before?
A: Santana Adventures is the first and only company to host a New Zealand Cycling Cruise. The entire ship is ours, which allows a cycling-specific itinerary that makes use of the Star Breeze’s yacht-size dimensions.
Q: What’s the next step?
A: A near-immediate sell-out of this event is anticipated. Pricing listed on the Stateroom Reservations section is the current pricing. Refresh your browser to see any changes that may have occurred if you delay booking after loading this page. To lock-in availability and the lowest pricing on a RISK-FREE basis, reserve your space through our secure website. Santana’s website is open 24 hours per day, accepts all major credit cards, and automatically adjusts for remaining stateroom availability. Reserving your spot is RISK-FREE. In each category the prime location staterooms will be assigned in the same order as the time stamp of your booking.
Q: What do you mean by RISK-FREE?
A: When you use your credit card and book through our website, we’ll give you 14 risk-free days to think it over and clear your schedule. If you change your mind, send an email to Cancellations@SantanaAdventures.com within two weeks to cancel the transaction and obtain a full refund. Here is a full listing of Santana Adventures’ Terms & Conditions.
Q: What if we change our minds after 14 days?
A: Because full-boat charters are binding, non-cancelable contracts, Jan and I will only enter into this charter based on your confirmed-through-deposit commitment. In effect, we undertake a huge risk by guaranteeing full payment on your behalf. After entering into this obligation, we cannot afford for you to back out—for any reason. This is no different than the clear written policy that existed for all of Santana’s prior chartered-ship cruises. Here it is (again) in writing:
Santana’s acceptance of your registration and non-refundable deposit for this event is subsequent to your agreement to pay the remaining balance in full. While Santana allows limited refunds on rallies and tours, Santana’s cruises are non-cancelable and non-transferable. When the possibility of paying yet not attending is unacceptable, Jan and I recommend Travel Guard trip insurance. For the past 25 years hundreds of our clients have relied on Travel Guard coverage without complaint. An informative application will be mailed with your invoice; and further information is available online. Here is a full listing of Santana Adventures’ Terms & Conditions.
Q: Have you ever relaxed your refund policy?
A: Jan and I have willingly resold a number of fully prepaid staterooms for a fee of $1,000 per stateroom—which was waived when a vacating couple found someone to take their place. When there has been more than one pending resell request, those who paid-in-full earliest had their space resold next. Using this non-guaranteed method (which is grossly inferior to trip insurance) Jan and I have cheerfully refunded over $500,000 in otherwise non-refundable and non-transferable cruise fares. Here is a full listing of Santana Adventures’ Terms & Conditions.
Q: How are staterooms assigned?
A: In any category all rooms are identical. Using the payment timestamp, those who reserve earliest get staterooms closest to the center of the ship. If friends desire a pair of adjacent staterooms the timestamp of the first reservation determines the location of both rooms. In short, we will not take requests for specific room numbers. Those who book early obtain prime positioning.
Q: How do we get to and from the tour?
A: Detailed info by February ’23. Those who arrive and leave on the embark and disembark days will receive FREE Airport transfers.
Q: Are rental bikes available?
A: Yes. If you own a nice bike that fits, however, bringing it with you is relatively easy and inexpensive. More info on this in Bill’s Travel Tips. Single bike rentals will be arranged: rental includes delivery to Christchurch (or Queenstown PreTour) and retrieval at the end of the last ride. We will email rental info to participants about 45 days prior to the event—so there’s no need to make up your mind until then. E-bike rentals will be available.
Q: How many miles each day?
A: In addition to our daily pair of zero-mile options (remaining on the ship or exploring New Zealand via our panoramic-window coach), every day has multiple cycling routes. Anyone who can ride a gentle 35 miles will be able to enjoy cycling every day. If you prefer hills or want to spend additional hours in the saddle, we’ve got you covered. At each morning’s breakfast you’ll get a map charting the day’s cycling routes and recommended stops. During a brief route talk you’ll hear about each route’s grades and difficulty. For more info on the GPS units we recommend, take a look at our GPS Guide: SantanaAdventures.com/gps/
Q: What’s the difference between a SAG-wagon and Santana’s SOS/treasure vans?
A: Most tour companies use SAG-wagons that haul luggage and “sweep” the route between overnight stops. The drivers refill water-bottles, fix flat tires, and retrieve riders who can’t manage the easiest route between the widely spaced hotels. The problem, of course, is that the roving vans tend to be annoying until you actually need help. At that point it’s common to wait for two or more hours until one shows up. Although SAG drivers can fix a flat, they don’t have the tools or know-how to handle serious mechanical problems. Instead, they drive you to a bike shop (which explains why SAG-wagons disappear for hours at a time). This tour’s SOS vans are driven by pro bike mechanics who bring tools and spares. When you phone them with the coordinates from your GPS, they’ll arrive in a flash to get you back in the saddle. Because Santana expects participants to fill their own bottles, fix their own flats, and choose a ride they can finish, our SOS drivers are underworked, and have time to retrieve your shopping treasures.
Q: Are beverages included?
A: Alcohol is not included but can be charged to your room. Soft Drinks, Coffee, Espresso Drinks, and Juice are all complimentary all day long.
Q: Which meals are included?
A: During Santana’s earlier charters of Windstar cruises the culinary staff appreciated our appetites as much as we appreciated their multi-course gourmet meals. A 5-star chef will curate a new menu for each meal which always includes a surprising selection of local fruits and produce, regional specialties, the freshest-possible seafood, vegetarian options, and grilled-to-order meats. A changing assortment of desserts and pastries are produced aboard each day. The Star Breeze has five restaurants! Breakfast and Lunch are served buffet style, perfect for active cyclists. If you get back too late for lunch, the ship offers all-day snacking and 24-hour room service. Dinner is a plated multi-course menu with plenty of gourmet options for all of our participants.
Q: Does the Star Breeze offer WiFi?
Q: Does the Star Breeze have an elevator?
Q: Will there be menu selections for vegetarians, vegans and picky eaters?
Q: What if we have more questions?
A: The quickest and easiest way to get help is to use Santana’s Contact Form. One of our team members will follow up with you as soon as possible.