This 12 day tour explores the dramatic Kaikoura and West Coasts, peaceful Marlborough Sounds, white sandy beaches of the Abel Tasman National Park and Golden Bay, and the enchanting Nelson Lakes National Park at a relaxed pace- (Also includes a 4 day Heaphy Track walking option).
Day 1: Christchurch – Kaikoura. We depart Christchurch and head north over the vast Canterbury Plains, New Zealand's flattest area. Our first stop is for a gentle coastal hiking trip that leads across secluded beaches, around bluffs, and alongside native forest. We continue up the rugged eastern coast to the seaside town of Kaikoura. Explore the local crafts and cafes, and enjoy a short afternoon walk around the peninsular looking out for the resident New Zealand fur seals on the rocks below and the dolphins and whales in the waters beyond. Relax over a bbq at our secluded cottage accommodation. Includes: (L), (D).
Day 2: Kaikoura - Marlborough Sounds. Experience a glimpse of the iconic whale-tail as it descends into the Pacific at sunrise on the whale-watching cruise. Alternatively swim with the seals, experience an Albatross encounter (the largest seabird in the world), or help check crayfish nets with a local fisherman. We depart Kaikoura and drive up the coast to the premier wine-growing region of Marlborough. A picnic and wine-tasting stop gives you the chance to sample the world-renowned Sauvignon Blanc. We make our way to a quiet secluded bay in the Marlborough Sounds by water taxi and spend the next two night’s at a lodge in the beautifully isolated bay. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 3: Marlborough Sounds. Today is a free day for you to relax and enjoy the stunning Marlborough Sounds. Activity options for the day include hiking in the native bush that fringes the sea, kayaking, mountain biking, golf or fishing. Or you may simply wish to relax under a tree, take in the views and write postcards. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 4: Marlborough Sounds – Golden Bay via Abel Tasman National Park. We drive to the Abel Tasman National Park where our water taxi takes us into the heart of the park. Joining the coastal trail, we take an unforgettable hiking guided tour through native bush with stunning views of enchanting bays below and along sandy beaches where our vehicle awaits. Alternatively, you can opt to explore the bays by sea kayak. We drive to our secluded lodge in Golden Bay, stopping for dinner at the famous Mussel Inn restaurant. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 5: Golden Bay. Today is a free day to explore this remote tip of the Island. Hike along the spectacular coastline or take a nature tour to Farewell Spit, the longest natural sandbar in the world. Do a horse trek on the Cape, or simply take time out to relax on the beach and write postcards. Heaphy Track Option. There is the opportunity to hike the ‘Heaphy Track’, an 82 km hike through the beautiful Kahurangi National Park, one of NZ’s ‘Great Walks’. Starting the hike on Day 5, you spend 3 nights in basic but quaint backcountry huts, picked for their amazing locations.
On this hike you are required to carry your equipment and food for the duration of the walk, so you need to be capable of carrying a 10-15kg rucksack. You’ll meet up with the group again at Karamea on Day 8, after an incredible and rewarding hike - a truly kiwi experience. (More information is available if you are interested in this option). Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 6: Golden Bay - Nelson Lakes National Park. We begin the day with a short hike alongside the crystal clear waters of Pupu Springs. We leave Golden Bay and head inland over Takaka Hill to the Nelson Lakes National Park. In the afternoon relax beside the beautiful Lake Rotoiti or take a gentle hike along its shores in the native beech forest. We stay in a lodge by the lake for the next 2 nights. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 7: Nelson Lakes National Park. Today is free to spend exploring the park. Hike through the beech forest and discover the hidden bays of Lake Rotoiti, or venture beyond for an optional overnight hike to a cosy backcountry hut, the ultimate kiwi experience. Alternatively, opt to try your hand at fishing on the Lake or in the trout filled rivers, or simply relax by the Lake. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 8: Nelson Lakes - Karamea. We head towards the West Coast along the mighty Buller River, stopping for a short walk through native bush at the site of an old gold-mining town, still littered with relics of the bygone era. Continuing up the beautiful palm fringed coast to the seaside village of Karamea, we spend the afternoon hiking through the lush palm groves and white beaches of the Heaphy Track, reuniting with the rest of the group. Our accommodation tonight is in bungalow style rooms in the tiny village. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 9: Karamea - Punakaiki. Enjoy a leisurely walk along the coast to view a New Zealand fur seal colony at play. Continuing along the wild coastal road, we reach the enthralling village of Punakaiki, perched between the unrelenting coast and the rainforest clad limestone cliffs of the Paparoa National Park. After viewing the blowholes of the famous Pancake Rocks, hike along side (or kayak up) the beautiful Pororari River, dwarfed by towering limestone cliffs and gently weaving through the lush tropical rainforest. Relax in our hilltop accommodation, with views of the rough seas below. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 10: Punakaiki - Christchurch. We start the day with an exhilarating hike through lush rainforest with glimpses of the roaring ocean below. Relax in Greymouth before the drive over the spectacular Arthur’s Pass, stopping for a short walks to stretch our legs on the way back to Christchurch and the end of the tour. Alternatively opt to take the TranzAlpine train across the Pass, acclaimed as one of the best alpine train journeys in the world. Includes: (B), (L).
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