It was a beautiful, sunny morning when the first groups of our National Geographic Orion explorers set out for the golden, sandy shores of Abel Tasman National Park. Dutch navigator Abel Tasman was the first European explorer to set foot here in 1642. In the Maori language, the northern region of the South Island of Aotearoa is called Te Tauihu o Te Waka o Maui, the prow of Maui’s canoe.

Local guides led our groups on hiking trails. Guests were treated to beautiful scenery, spectacular views, rich flora, and a multitude of birds of different species, which the national park is known for. It was a great way to burn off the extra calories after our first week of enjoying National Geographic Orion’s cuisine.

A kayak adventure awaited another group. Guides helped our explorers discover a natural environment brimming with wildlife. Lucky guests crossed paths with a short-tailed stingray that seemed to enjoy the interaction as much as our kayakers did.

A weather front blew in some clouds, covering the site and helping our hikers cool off after the one-and-a-half-hour trek. Some guests even took the opportunity to swim in the cool water.

On-board festivities for the 20th anniversary of National Geographic Orion were just starting. At teatime, crew members greeted guests returning from the morning adventure with champagne and cake. After a hearty dinner, it was time for guests to put on their dancing shoes to celebrate two decades of adventure with the staff.