Day 1: Drive south to Thames at the base of the Coromandel Peninsula. Drive north along this idyllic pohutukawa (NZ Christmas tree) coast. Explore a kauri forest grove of towering ancient trees before crossing over the ranges to the east coast. Picnic lunch on the white sands of Hot Water Beach before an afternoon sea kayak (optional - $95*) or hike along the beautiful Cathedral Cove coast. Sea kayakers paddle through a marine reserve, where you may observe fish and if you’re lucky dolphins, in the sparkling clear waters. In the late afternoon drive south to your accommodation. You may like to indulge in an evening stroll to an open ocean beach.
2 hours hiking/4 hours kayaking. L
Day 2: Driving south, stop to clamber down the cliffs to one of the beautiful Pacific coast beaches for a swim before heading inland to Rotorua. Stop for a picnic lunch and a walk through lush native bush beside the thundering Kaituna River. There is the option to take a 1 hour rafting trip (optional - $99*) on the Kaituna River. This trip is for the wild at heart as it travels down one of the highest commercially rafted waterfalls in the world. In the afternoon or the following morning explore one of the incredible thermal areas near Rotorua. Marvel at the bubbling mud, sulphurous smells and mineral-induced colours of the rock and lakes. Stay at lodge accommodation nearby.
2 hours hiking/4 hours kayaking. BL
Day 3: Drive east through the huge Kaingaroa forests of plantation pine trees to the natural Whirinaki Forest Park. Pack up your kit for the two-day hike through this spectacular Jurassic-like rainforest. You’ll feel as though you’ve stepped back in time, to where the dinosaurs roamed, as you splash through streams and soak up pure wilderness. Learn river-crossing techniques from your capable guide. Stay overnight at a hut/camp, preparing delicious wholesome food to sustain you well through the hiking. Laze around a campfire, share travel stories and later fall asleep to the sounds of the river.
1 hour rafting/1 hour hiking. BLD
Day 4: FShoulder your now familiar pack for the second day of hiking, following alongside the beautiful Whirinaki River. This remote wilderness is completely off the tourist trail. Rare blue ducks and robins are often seen; hear kaka (a large bush parrot) and hike beneath majestic tree ferns. On our drive towards Taupo there’s time to have a dip in a natural hot river, one of those secret spots only the locals know about. Look at the powerful Huka Falls, feel the spray on your face, before relaxing in the lodge near Tongariro National Park.
5 hours hiking. BLD
Day 5: After being dropped off at the trail start, hike through waving tussock-grasslands between the volcanoes to a hut set in an enclave of native beech forest. After lunch traverse across stony deserts to an alpine hut at 1400 metres, perched on the edge of an old lava flow. From this hut you get fantastic views of the three main peaks in the park; Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe. It’s an extraordinary landscape of active volcanoes and lava valleys, dynamic and changing even in recent years. Revel in the experience of sharing a basic alpine hut with like-minded travellers passionate about the outdoors.
5 hours hiking. BLD
Day 6: Hike up through a moon-like valley of contorted lava flows and ash fields before climbing up a steep section to the Emerald Lakes for lunch. Cross the volcanic plateau, which boasts lava valleys and steaming explosion craters, flanked by the brooding volcanoes, before descending on the western side. In good conditions, there is an option to climb one of the volcanic peaks. Tongariro National Park is full of landscapes the likes of which are found nowhere else in New Zealand. An evening drive takes you to a lodge beside the park with great views back on the volcanoes. Enjoy a beer and a meal out in the alpine village.
6-8 hours hiking. BL
Day 7: Morning drive to Wellington, arriving in the early afternoon. Wellington is New Zealand’s wonderful harbour capital. The giant fault-created harbour almost encircled by steep suburbs gives it a giant ‘coliseum’ feel. Nowhere is very far in this stylish city. You have free time to enjoy walking around. You may like to visit the museum of New Zealand, called Te Papa, or the beehive (Parliament House). Wellington is well known for its vibrant café scene and its accessible downtown area. People come into the city to enjoy the lively atmosphere. BL
Day 8: Meet the group and your South Island-based guide at either the Picton Ferry terminal or the nearby airport at Koromiko. Travel from here through to Nelson and on to Kaiteriteri. This picturesque beachside village is the gateway into Abel Tasman National Park. Board a water taxi here for a 30 minute ride into one of the most beautiful campsites in the park, Tonga Quarry. On arrival tents are set up and there is time for a wander along the beach, or a swim before enjoying dinner prepared by your guide. LD
Day 9: Start the day with a walk along the Abel Tasman coastal track to Bark Bay; sea kayaks and a local guide meet you there for a paddle exploring the bays and coast back to Anchorage. From Anchorage board the water taxi once more for the return journey to Kaiteriteri. Kayaking is optional, should you prefer to hike instead. Drive to St Arnaud village, situated on the shores of Lake Rotoiti with a dramatic backdrop of mountains.
1.5 hours hiking, 3 hours kayaking. BLD
Day 10: Start the day with an optional pre-breakfast walk around the Rotoiti Mainland Island reserve. Intensive pest eradication schemes are in place in this area of beech forest in an effort to restore native bird populations to a pre–European state. After breakfast take a short drive up on to the Robert Range to start our hike. From the car park the track climbs steadily on to the crest of the Robert Range. Wide expansive views of mountains and lakes are the reward for the climb. Have lunch at Bushline Hut, which is perched on a grassy ledge high above Lake Rotoiti. Return to the vehicle via a different track and then drive over the Southern Alps at Lewis Pass to Hanmer Springs thermal resort. The next two nights are spent here, so plenty of time to take advantage of the great hiking and mountain biking available, not to mention the hot springs! Option to dine out in local restaurant tonight or self cater at accommodation. We stay at Green Acres Resort, a park like setting on the slopes of Conical Hill.
5 hours hiking. BL
Day 11: After a leisurely breakfast we hike up Mt Isobel, the nearby mountain, which dominates the skyline behind the village. Enjoy the superb views of the Amuri basin before descending down a different route through alpine tussocks to Jacks Pass. In the afternoon there is the option of hiring a mountain bike (optional - $35*) and exploring the trails that wind their way through the park-like setting of exotic forest species. Alternatively taking a wander around the village and visiting the cafes, then soaking in the mineral and aqua therapy pools at the hot springs resort is also good option! For dinner tonight we cook and eat together, usually al fresco style at the accommodation. Time for a soak tonight if you have been hiking and biking all day. Enjoy a second night in the well appointed chalets and spacious grounds overlooking the village.
5 hours hiking/2-3 hours biking. BLD
Day 12: Depart Hanmer Springs and drive south across the edge of the Canterbury Plains before turning back into the mountains again. Drive over Porters Pass and through the Craigeburn Range. A morning hike up nearby Bealey Spur where you will enjoy smoko (afternoon tea) at an old ‘Musterer’s Hut’. The hike offers excellent views looking up the wide braided river bed of the Waimakariri River and the glaciated peaks of Arthurs Pass National Park. The vegetation ranges from mature beech forest, regenerating manuka (Tea Tree), and sub alpine clearings dotted with tarns (small alpine lakes). After the hike it is just a short drive to our accommodation at Flock Hill Station, well appointed accommodation in the high country. In the early evening when the light is at it's most dramatic, we take a stroll around the large limestone out crops at Kura Tawhiti (Castle Hill). This area was an important meeting place and food gathering area for early Maori people, today it is very popular with climbers who like to climb the vertical rock walls.
4-5 hours hiking. BLD
Day 13: Depart Hanmer Springs and drive south across the edge of the Canterbury Plains before turning back into the mountains again. Drive over Porters Pass and through the Craigeburn Range. A morning hike up nearby Bealey Spur where you will enjoy smoko (afternoon tea) at an old ‘Musterer’s Hut’. The hike offers excellent views looking up the wide braided river bed of the Waimakariri River and the glaciated peaks of Arthurs Pass National Park. The vegetation ranges from mature beech forest, regenerating manuka (Tea Tree), and sub alpine clearings dotted with tarns (small alpine lakes). After the hike it is just a short drive to our accommodation at Flock Hill Station, well appointed accommodation in the high country. In the early evening when the light is at it's most dramatic, we take a stroll around the large limestone out crops at Kura Tawhiti (Castle Hill). This area was an important meeting place and food gathering area for early Maori people, today it is very popular with climbers who like to climb the vertical rock walls.
4 hours glacier hiking. BLD
Day 14: Drive down the coast this morning to Fox Glacier, one of the few places in the world where you can see glaciers descending right down into rainforest. Here you have the option of taking a half-day guided hike (optional - $123*) up on the glacier. Local guides fit you out with special crampons that fix to your boots giving you extra traction on the ice. After the hike enjoy the world class scenery driving south through the South Westland World Heritage Area. Final destination for the day is the village of Haast with a stop at Ship Creek, a coastal walkway where Hector’s Dolphins (world’s smallest marine dolphin) are often spotted playing in the surf.
3 hours hiking. BLD
Day 15: Crossing the Southern Alps for a third and final time today at Haast Pass takes you into a markedly different landscape. Lush rainforests give way to high mountain peaks and vast glacially formed lakes and valleys. A stop in the resort town of Wanaka gives you time to wander around and enjoy the awe-inspiring vistas before heading off on an overnight hike into Mt Aspiring National Park, part of the South Westland World Heritage Area. Your afternoon hike follows the wide valley floor of the Matukituki River to Aspiring Hut. This large stone hut offers comfortable yet basic accommodation in incredible surroundings. For those that prefer camping there is a sheltered campsite nearby.
3 hours hiking. BLD
Day 16: Enjoy a leisurely breakfast in this majestic mountain setting, before a hike up a side valley to view the Rob Roy Glacier. On return to the vehicle the drive takes you over the Crown Range, where you can stop off for a drink at the historic drover’s hotel at Cardrona and arrive into Queenstown late afternoon.
5 hours hiking. BL
Day 17: Today is either a free day in Queenstown or you may want to use this day to visit Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park. Your guide can arrange coach and cruise or fly and cruise options. If staying in Queenstown there will be plenty of adventure activities to keep you entertained. Your guide is happy to advise and organise these on your behalf.
Day 18: You have a free day to take advantage of all the adventure activities available in Queenstown. Or you can join the guide for a day hike to the summit of Ben Lomond, which overlooks Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.
6-8 hours hiking.
Day 19: Leave Queenstown and drive through the MacKenzie Country and on to Aoraki/Mt Cook. Arriving at Mt Cook Village at midday gives you the whole afternoon to hike up to Sealy Tarns, and for the more energetic, on to the crest of Mueller Ridge. An alternative, easier but no less spectacular walk is also available up the Hooker Valley to view the Hooker Glacier. Both hikes afford amazing views of New Zealand’s tallest mountain, Aoraki Mt Cook at 3754 metres.
4 hours hiking. BLD
Day 20: More time in Mt Cook this morning to do one last hike, a hike around the terminal morraines of the Tasman Glacier, or up to the Red Tarns below Mt Sebastapol are some of the options. Alternatively there is time to visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, and learn more about the fascinating history of this area. We depart for Christchurch in the early afternoon arriving in Christchurch around 5pm.
3 hours hiking. BL
- All of the accommodation and some of the food on this trip is included in the trip price.
- Optional activities must be paid for during the tour.
- It is possible to do the North Island only (NZ$1915 - 7 days) or South Island only (NZ$3750 - 13 days) portion of this trip.
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Australia and Oceania New Zealand Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking Volcano Tours
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