This adventure trip visits five National Parks and the South-West New Zealand World Heritage area. Sea kayak along deserted golden beaches, hike through ancient rainforests, over an active glacier, and hike hut-to-hut along the world famous Abel Tasman Track. Enjoy an overnight luxury cruise of Milford Sound with opportunities for kayaking or just relaxing and taking in the visual delight of the Southern Alps and Milford Sound. This is the ultimate New Zealand adventure tour which visits the best locations in the South Island and includes all the activities for the ultimate New Zealand experience!
This active adventure is suitable for anyone of average fitness. There will also be plenty of time to relax or enjoy optional activities and excursions. Meals are served by our hosts, enjoyed in restaurants, or, in the case of some picnic lunches, prepared by our guide. Lodgings are the best available in keeping with the unique character of these special areas... cozy bed and breakfast inns and boutique lodges, unique hotels, and remote lodges.
Day 1: Arrive in Nelson
Arrive in Nelson, renowned as the sunniest part of New Zealand and surrounded by magnificent beaches. Take some time to explore the artisan's workshops of Nelson. Tonight you will meet your guide, and fellow travelers having dinner at a seafood restaurant overlooking the Bay. Included: (D).
Day 2: Hike Abel Tasman National Park
Today we begin with a coastline cruise along the Abel Tasman National Park. We may spot seals, dolphins and even little blue penguins as we pass countless secluded beaches. Landing on Totaranui beach we will hike through some of the oldest forest in the National Park to Anapai Bay. In the afternoon, we will head south to our comfortable lodge. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 3: Explore Awaroa
This day can be as relaxing or as energetic as you like. Take advantage of the largest tidal estuary in the Abel Tasman National Park. Explore it by canoe or on foot, visiting the various early European and pre-European sites, or just unwind on the beach and soak up the feeling of emptiness. Tonight enjoy a meal by the fire and the hospitality of our Awaroa Lodge. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 4: Hike or Sea Kayak Abel Tasman National Park
We leave Awaroa and walk over the Tonga Saddle to Onetahuti. From here you have the choice to sea kayak or hike for the duration of the day beach hopping south to Torrent Bay, taking plenty of time out to relax, explore, swim or sunbathe. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 5: Explore Torrent Bay
Today you can explore Torrent Bay and its beautiful surroundings. A day of choices! Our guide offers a wonderful walk inland among breathtaking first generation forest, up to the waterfalls on Falls River. There are many other beautiful short walks available, including a hike to Cleopatra's Pool, a favorite swimming hole. Or get back on the water and explore the Torrent Bay estuary and river by canoe. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 6: Hike or Sea Kayak Abel Tasman National Park
Coastal hiking at it's best! Climb through regenerating Manuka forests up to a ridge saddle affording spectacular views of the pristine golden sand beaches and calm turquoise waters. This section of the coast boasts many beautiful beaches and small bays, most of which were named by French Explorer Du'mont Durville during his expedition in 1827. Once we leave the track we head inland to overnight in Murchison - the White-water capital of New Zealand. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 7: Murchison / West Coast / Paparoa National Park
Optional rafting or other white-water trips in the morning, and then it's on to the wild West Coast. At Cape Foulwind enjoy a coastal hike and views of the Tasman Sea and surrounding Southern Alps. This time of the year, the Alps are at their most magnificent covered in a white mantle of fresh snow. New Zealand fur seals inhabit the rocky coastline and sea birds soar about the cliff tops. We'll enjoy a relaxed lunch at a cafe overlooking the breakers before heading off to Paparoa National Park.
Our hike takes us along the Pororari River through limestone landscapes and sub-tropical rainforest – almost another world from the alpine surrounds we left behind. Eventually we emerge from the palm and fern-filled forest to the sea. Take off your shoes and walk barefoot in the sand to our lodgings for the night. That evening we enjoy dinner at a restaurant overlooking the breakers. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 8: Pancake Rocks / Fox Glacier / Westland National Park
A morning walk along the beach and a visit to the famous Pancake Rocks and blowholes is a perfect way to start the day. Then it's on to Westland National Park, Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers stopping along the way at the old gold mining town of Hokitika , now a centre for local crafts. That afternoon we enjoy a walk through a temperate rainforest for stunning views of the glaciers and surrounding mountains. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 9: Fox Glacier
This morning an early walk around Lake Matheson reveals the reflections of New Zealand 's highest peaks: Mounts Cook and Tasman. Then after a hearty breakfast it's on to the glacier! Hoisting our alpenstocks, we follow the guide as he cuts steps into the ice, leading us on a journey of discovery through crevasses and over moraines. In recent times, the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers have advanced far down the mountains cutting a path of destruction through the surrounding rock and rainforest. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 10: Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area / Lake Wanaka
We begin the day by winding our way along the World Heritage Highway. A rainforest walk brings us to an isolated beach where we may catch a glimpse of nesting penguins. Then it's up and over Haast Pass and along the beautiful shores of Lakes Hawea and Wanaka. In the afternoon we'll make a brief stop to sample local wines at a picturesque winery. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 11: Lake Wanaka / Aspiring National Park
After a morning drive through the Matukituki Valley our hike takes us to stunning viewpoints of Lake Wanaka , Twin Falls , and the glaciers and mountains of Mt Aspiring National Park. One of New Zealand 's largest and most dramatic national parks, Aspiring is a perfect setting for an extended alpine day hike. Other options include downhill skiing at either Treble Cone or Cardrona ski areas, or cross country skiing at Wairoa Snow Farm. Included: (B), (L).
Day 12: Milford Sound / Fiordland National Park
Drive through upended land which was carved, tumbled and jumbled by grinding glaciers during the last ice age. Stop for short walks at areas of interest in Fiordland National Park on the way to Milford Sound. In the afternoon, board our vessel for a cruise through the Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea. Anchor for the night in sheltered Harrison Cove beneath the towering Mount Pembroke. Before sunset, explore the fiord by kayak or tender craft or simply relax on the deck of the vessel. Overnight onboard our luxury vessel with private cabins & ensuite bathrooms enveloped by the majesty of Milford Sound – simply the best way to experience Milford Sound! Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 13: Milford Sound / Routeburn Track / Fiordland National Park
After a relaxed breakfast on board, we drive to Queenstown, “The Adventure Capital of the World”. We'll stop along the way to walk part of the famous Routeburn Track up to the Divide for spectacular views of Te Wai Pounamu World Heritage Area. When you get to Queenstown, you can choose from an exciting array of optional activities including rafting, jet boating, bungy jumping, fly-by-wire, canyoning, tandem paragliding, hang gliding, sky diving, horse trekking, river surfing, fishing, vintage plane flights, glider flights, or take a goldfield or sheep station tour. Alternatively, just relax and enjoy the atmosphere of sidewalk cafes in this alpine resort. If you'd rather do some hiking around Queenstown there are a number of excellent walks which your guide will be happy to accompany you on. On our final night we will enjoy a “Farewell Dinner” and share stories of our adventures. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 14: Depart Queenstown
A final relaxing gourmet breakfast with the group is the perfect way to end your time in Queenstown. There is usually time for another activity or some last minute shopping before your transfer to the Queenstown Airport for flights home or to continue another adventure. Included: (B).
Also see tour packages in:
Australia and Oceania New Zealand Nature & Wildlife National Parks Ecotourism