January 13th – January 26th 2014
March 31st – April 13th 2014
December 1st – December 14th 2014
January 12th – January 25th 2015
March 30th – April 12th 2015
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scenery and culture New Zealand has to offer. With activity choices
available, you can tailor the trip so it’s perfect for you. The result? An
individualized, unique New Zealand experience within a small group tour.
- Experience Milford Sound fiord by sea kayak
- White-water raft beautiful river valleys
- Soak in relaxing hot springs
- Explore a glacier
- Take in Aoraki / Mount Cook
- Scenic flight over Southern Alps
- Hike the legendary Routburn Track
Christchurch — Lewis Pass National Park
We’ll gather in Christchurch and depart for our adventures by 10 a.m. We head north toward the Amuri Plains and then inland into Lewis Pass National Park. After climbing over the pass, we drop down to the valley floor to spend the night in a small remote hotel nestled by the Maruia River and surrounded by native beech forest. After dinner, natural thermal hot springs await. Take a relaxing soak under the stars as you unwind after your first day’s journey.
Lewis Pass National Park — Punakaiki
After a hearty breakfast, we’ll begin a 3 hour hike onto the Lewis Pass Tops. Starting in beech “goblin forest,” the trail breaks out of the bush line and follows a rolling ridgeline to finish at an alpine tarn. You’ll gain 2100 ft in a few hours for five-star views. Refreshed from this stunning hike, we make our way through farm lands to the West Coast and the small coastal town of Punakaiki. Surrounded by intense native forests, limestone formations, beautiful rivers and pounding surf, Punakaiki is the perfect way to end the day. We’ll check out the limestone rock formations of Pancake Rocks and the powerful vertical blowholes and follow the short Truman Track through thick native forest to the coastal swept shoreline.
Punakaiki — Fox Glacier
We get an early start and drive a short distance south along the coast to Greymouth.
You have three options for how you wish to spend your morning.
1. Black Water Rafting — Only in New Zealand! Take an inner tube and turn the lights out by going underground into a cave system. Check out amazing formations and luminescent glow worms as you float through this underground world.
2. White Water Rafting — A pleasant and easy Grade II trip on the Arnold River. Pass through podocarp rainforest and farmland for one and a half hours of river fun. This is a great trip if you are new to rafting and or just want to take it easy.
3. Heli-rafting — Following a 6 min helicopter flight into the mountains, you’ll have 3 hours of river paddling time, including three gorges on the Hokitika River. This is true wilderness paddling! Typical grades include one Grade V, two Grade IV and sixteen Grade III rapids. Add $120 USD + tax.
Following your morning adventures, we continue traveling south down the coast to the town of Fox Glacier where we’ll spend the night.
Fox Glacier — Haast
Fox Glacier is a small coastal town with a population of about 400 people. Named for the 7 ½ mile long glacier that stretches from the mountains of the Southern Alps to the lush rain forests, Fox Glacier sits only 980 feet above sea level.
You have three options for exploring the glacier:
1. Glacier Hike – Walk up the valley to the terminal face of the glacier where you’ll gain some height before walking on the glacier for about one hour. Explore ice crevasses and ridges. Moderate fitness required.
2. Heli-hike – After taking a helicopter flight up to a remote part of the glacier you spend 2 hours exploring amazing ice formations and ice caves. Add $150 USD + tax.
3. Scenic Helicopter Flight – Explore the Fox Glacier and Southern Alps by helicopter. The fl ight can be customized between 10 min to 40min in length, with the option of a glacier landing. Add $50 – $150 USD + tax, package depending.
Following lunch, we head south on the west coast to Haast.
Haast — Wanaka
Today’s journey starts with a scenic 90 minute jet boat ride up the Haast River into the South Westland World Heritage Area. Learn about this glacial valley, its temperate rain forest, mountains and the challenges of living in this remote region.Following lunch we leave the coast behind and travel over Haast Pass into Aspiring National Park, stopping to check out Thunder Creek Falls, a graceful 90 ft waterfall. We’ll arrive for dinner in lakeside town of Wanaka.
Wanaka — Queenstown
After breakfast, we travel back into Aspiring National Park via the Makukituki Valley. Our day begins with a walk along the Matukituki River. After crossing a swing bridge, we head into a beautiful gorge filled with lush vegetation and a snow-capped peak directly ahead. After climbing through beech forest, we’ll emerge from bush line into an open meadow, with Rob Roy Glacier and waterfalls forming an impressive backdrop as the Rob Roy Stream fl ows through the meadow. We’ll enjoy lunch and take in the views. A challenging climb in places, the day hike will take about 3 hrs with plenty of breaks. We’ll make our way back to the van and you’ll have time to relax as we head over the Crown Range to spend the night in Queenstown.
Queenstown — Te Anau
Take the morning and part of the afternoon to explore Queenstown, known as New Zealand’s “Adventure Capital of the World.” Your options are almost endless and totally up to you, from checking out the cafés and shops or partaking in some of the adrenaline surging activities famous to Queenstown: jet boating, bungee jumping, sky diving and river surfi ng. You are free to arrange your own lunch at one of the many restaurants or cafés. Your guide will be on hand with recommendations. We leave around 3.30 pm for the lakeside town of Te Anau. After dinner, you’ll have a chance to walk alongside the lake and explore town.
Te Anau — Milford Sound
We’ll drive into Milford Sound early to experience the calm morning waters of the fiord. With more rainfall than any other part of New Zealand, Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound provide spectacular scenery. Described as the “8th Wonder of the World,” Milford Sound is surrounded by sheer granite rock walls that rise a vertical mile from the ocean, creating towering waterfalls. You may catch a glimpse of the New Zealand fur seal, Fiordland Crested Penguins and Dusky and Bottlenose dolphins.
You have two choices for activities in Milford Sound:
1. Sea kayaking – The best way to experience and explore Milford Sound, this fully guided trip is led by local professional guides who will amaze you with their stories and knowledge. We spend about 3 to 4 hours on the water paddling and drifting at a leisurely pace.
2. Boat Cruise – Take a two-hour boat cruise traveling the full 9 mile length of the fi ord out into the Tasman Sea. Not quite as intimate as a sea kayak, but still an amazing time and a different perspective on the fiord. Following lunch, take the afternoon to explore Milford Sound and its surrounding area. We spend the night in the Milford Lodge. While more rustic than our normal accommodation, this choice allows us to truly experience Milford and gives us a chance to rest and prepare for the next day’s big adventures.
Milford Sound — Routeburn Track
Today begins the spectacular three-day hike on the Routeburn Track – your chance to explore New Zealand’s Southern Alps. We’ll travel with a track guide for about 20 miles over 3 days. We stay in luxury lodges and hike in comfort. Considered a “Great Walk,” this track ranks as one of our favorites due to its variety and time spent out of the forest, above bush line, with amazing views. The Routeburn Track traverses wild and scenic mountain country between the Hollyford and Dart Valleys. The variety of landscapes is varied: mountainous peaks, sheer rock faces, alpine basins, pristine lakes, cascading waterfalls, luxuriant forest and turquoise rivers. All lodges have drying rooms, fl ush toilets and hot showers. In addition, the lodge kitchen treats you to three-course dinners and cooked breakfasts. What more could you ask for in such a beautiful and remote setting? Our packs (fi lled only with personal clothing and a packed lunch) are only 10-14 lbs, as we do not need to carry sleeping bags or food. You will stay in bunk rooms which are shared with 4 – 6 people and shared bathrooms. Some private rooms may be available with private bathrooms for an additional charge.
On our second day on the Routeburn Track, we’ll climb over Harris Saddle (with an optional ascend of Conical Hill for a panoramic vista).
Routeburn Track – Queenstown
Our final day on the Routeburn Track, we’ll descend from Routeburn Falls Lodge into lush beech forest and out to road end. We get back to Queenstown about 4pm, traveling through Glenorchy and along Lake Wakatipu.
Queenstown — Bannockburn
Today we take a 4WD vehicle and mountain bikes to travel the Nevis Valley road from Garston to Bannockburn – New Zealand’s highest public road (Duff er’s Saddle at 4265 ft). You can ride either all or part of the 20 mile dirt road – with some great down hills, a few long up hills and some pleasant valley riding. This magnificent, remote valley was once a rich area for gold mining with upper and lower sections separated by a gorge. We take most of the day to explore this valley, take in the views and enjoy some great riding with nearly no vehicles in sight. Later, relax for dinner in Bannockburn and enjoy some of the area’s fine wines and local cuisine.
Bannockburn — Lake Tekapo
Today is a day of spectacular open country as we travel into the tussock and grass-covered Mackenzie Basin, framed by the towering snow and glacier-capped Southern Alps. We do a spectacular four-hour hike from Mt Cook Village to Sealy Tarns. This alpine hike gives spectacular views of the Hooker Valley and the many peaks of the area including Aoraki/ Mount Cook. While steep at times, the abundance of seasonal alpine fl owers and the view from the tarns (alpine lakes) make the eff ort worthwhile. Following our hike, we travel north through the Mackenzie Basin to the small town of Lake Tekapo, where we’ll celebrate our trip with a farewell meal.
Lake Tekapo – Christchurch
We leave Lake Tekapo early for Christchurch. We’ll be at the International Airport by 1 p.m. — if you’re arranging a flight, please do not schedule domestic flights prior to 2.30 p.m. and international flights prior to 3.30 p.m. Most direct flights to North America usually leave in the late afternoon / evening.