11 - 25 Oct
26 Oct - 9 Nov
30 Nov - 14 Dec
24 Jan - 7 Feb
8 Feb - 23 Feb
7 - 21 March
Day 1: Meet and briefing in Auckland 'City of Sails’. Travel south east out of the city to Waihi Hike between towering hills and alongside the Ohinemuri River in the Karangahake Gorge. Catch the historic Goldfield steam train into Waihi from Waikino. Then further east on to Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty.
Day 2: White Island Marine Volcano expedition – This trip out to an active volcano is one of the most exciting natural experiences in NZ. The surroundings are surreal and the scenery spectacular - like walking on a moonscape. Travel on to Rotoiti to a Maori homestay. Evening traditional welcome on to a small, local Maori Marae with hangi food and concert.
Day 3: Orakei Korako – the Hidden Valley geo-thermal reserve, walking around bubbling pools, gushing geysers, steaming vents, mudpools and some of the largest silica terraces in the world. Heading further South we’ll stop at the Huka Falls, a series of turquoise rapids at the beginning of the Waikato River (biggest in NZ). Walk into Taupo from the Falls. Travel on to stay in Turangi.
Day 4: Two beautiful half day walks around Turangi. The first along the Tongariro River, deemed to be one of the best fly fishing rivers in the world. For a switch of scenery, we will move into a lovely area of native forest and circumnavigate Lake Rotopounamu. Then off to Tokaanu Pools for a hot soak in natural mineral waters.
Day 5: Traveling down to the capital of New Zealand, Wellington - perched on the edge of a spectacular harbour, encircled by green towering hills. It combines the stimulation and sophistication of a big city with the quirkiness of a charming village. Visit to Te Papa, the National Museum of New. We stay at the Mermaid Guesthouse in a historical part of Wellington.
Day 6: Morning ferry over to the South Island across Cook Strait. Explore picturesque port, Picton, then we’ll take a Water Taxi to the Portage Resort Hotel in a remote part of the Queen Charlotte Sound.
Day 7: Guided sea-kayak around the Kenepuru Sound for the entire day. Visit a mussel farm, paddling past an old shipwreck, likely seeing dolphins along the way. Stop on a tranquil beach for a leisurely lunch, go for a swim or a short bush walk before paddling back to Portage Bay foreshore. Relaxing evening at the Hotel.
Day 8: Mountain-biking on the Queen Charlotte Track from the Portage Resort Hotel to Anakiwa before catching the Water Taxi back to Picton. All the equipment provided and with knowledgeable guides. The track is renowned for its stunning scenery and a track purpose-built for bikers.
Day 9: Travel down the West Coast via Murchison, arriving in the afternoon at Punakaiki. We’ll walk to the Pancake Rocks - columns of limestone etched by sea, wind and rain to create formations resembling stacks of pancakes. At high tide with a heavy swell running, seawater is forced upwards through blowholes creating thunderous plumes of seawater. Stay at Punakaiki with an evening’s beach walk to, hopefully, spot a penguin or two. The Blue Penguins always return to shore to sleep in amongst the stones and caves of the shoreline before heading back out to sea at first light.
Day 10: Heading further south, we’ll stop at Hokitika to visit the pounamu/greenstone before driving on down to Franz Josef for a guided glacier hike – an incredible experience, amidst the world's most spectacular and challenging glacier environments. From high in New Zealand's Southern Alps, the Franz Josef Glacier descends and in a matter of kilometres ends up deep in the lush rainforest of Westland's National Park.
Day 11: Head off towards Queenstown through part of the World Heritage Mount Aspiring Park via the Haast Pass - the lowest elevation through the Southern Alps. Take in waterfalls, native bush tracks and views of Lakes Hawea and Wanaka. Both lakes are glacier-formed - long and skinny but with beautiful, clear waters. Afternoon exploring or resting in Queenstown.
Day 12: Whitewater rafting trip on the Shotover River which gained prominence in the 1860’s as one of the world's most lucrative gold bearing rivers. Float past some breathtaking scenery and thrilling rapids before the final Oxenbridge Tunnel. After hot showers and food we’ll head back to Queenstown.
Day 13: Cruise on the TSS Earnslaw steam ship across beautiful Lake Wakatipu. On the other side of the Lake we will mount horses for a ride across rivers, along valleys and through tranquil beech forests, crossing the Rees and Dart Rivers at the Head of the Lake. Cruise back to Queenstown.
Day 14: Head up north to Mt Cook/Aoraki – NZ’s highest mountain, towering above other massive snow-clad peaks that make up the Mount Cook National Park. Afternoon/early evening hike with our local ranger/ecologist giving us an interactive interpretation about the ever-changing environment - off-the-beaten-track on locals’ trails. Bubbles and a gourmet picnic dinner before returning to the Alpine Lodge for our last night together.
Day 15: Finally, we travel through to ‘The Garden City’, Christchurch stopping off for morning-tea at Lake Tekapo. Then onwards for lunch and then farewells and departure from Christchurch in the afternoon.
Available: 1 Apr - 14 Apr
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