Traveling in a small vehicle (maximum 8 travelers) and carrying mountain bikes, sea kayaks, snorkeling gear, body boards and a few other toys, you can explore the South Island at a reasonable pace, with time to relax and take it all in! Driving times are kept to a minimum, accommodations are comfortable and wonderful fresh food is prepared each day by your guide to keep everyone happy!
Day 1: Marlborough Sounds / Queen Charlotte Track.
Arriving in Wellington we travel to our accommodation on the waterfront in the Marlborough Sounds. The Sounds, formed by the sea invading its deep valleys after the Ice Ages, provides the perfect playground for our toys. We take advantage of this and spend the evening and next morning exploring the area by sea kayak, mountain bike or on foot. The Queen Charlotte Walkway offers excellent mountain biking to those who chose this option. From the water there is a good chance you'll spot dolphins and Little Blue Penguins. In the evening we will cook up a feast of fresh local seafood. Included: (D).
Days 2-3: Abel Tasman National Park.
This morning we’ll drive west to Abel Tasman National Park, stopping in Nelson - a beautiful town, nestled between stunning beaches and mountains. Local artisans and craftspeople abound and you’ll get the chance to pick up some original pieces the area is so well known for. The Abel Tasman National Park was created in 1942; exactly 300 years after the Dutch Explorer Abel Tasman sailed into what is now known as Golden Bay, at the northern tip of the Park. On that unfortunate day in December 1642, the Europeans were met by Maori canoes and four of Tasman’s men were killed in the ensuing skirmish. Abel Tasman sailed away without setting foot on the land now named in his honor!
Today’s visitors to the Park can expect a much warmer welcome, and you’ll soon discover why the Abel Tasman Coastal Track is the most popular “Great Walk” in New Zealand. The track hugs the picturesque coastline with its pristine golden sand beaches and calm turquoise waters, climbing up to awesome views, then down again for a refreshing swim or picnic. Or, you can experience the park coastline from a seal’s-eye view, in a kayak. If you like, you can hike out, and then kayak back for the best of both worlds! Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 4: Hokitika / Punakaiki / Pancake Rocks.
Today it’s on to the wild West Coast. At Cape Foulwind we hike to a seal colony that offers stunning views of the Tasman Sea and mighty Southern Alps. Similarly you can relax and play on one of the coasts more famous surf beaches. Entering Paparoa National Park, explore miles of deserted beaches, the famous Pancake Rocks and blowholes, and a number of forest walks in the area. Two other great options are a kayak trip on the Pororari River, or ride mountain bikes alongside the limestone cliffs and giant tree ferns of Bullock Creek. This evening we will enjoy a BBQ on the beach as the sun sets into the Tasman Sea. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Day 5: Fox Glacier.
Begin the day with an early drive south along the rugged West coast stopping along the way at the craft center of Hokitika, the nation’s center for greenstone carvers. In the afternoon hike to the terminal face of the Glacier or take an optional walk on the ice. 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. “Calving” is a common occurrence at the glacier terminal, and in a dramatic display of the power of nature, large chunks of ice separate from the glacier and crash to the ground. After dinner, we will see New Zealand’s famous glow-worms in the rainforest surrounding the town of Fox Glacier. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Days 6–7: Wanaka / Mount Aspiring National Park.
Start the day with an early walk around Lake Matheson revealing the reflections of New Zealand's highest peaks: Mounts Cook and Tasman. After breakfast we wind our way along the World Heritage Highway. A rainforest hike brings us to an isolated beach where we may catch a glimpse of nesting penguins. Then it's up and over the 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 before continuing on to Wanaka.
The next day we will drive through the Matukituki Valley to hike in Mt Aspiring National Park. This is a World Heritage Area of majestic mountains and natural rainforest, and our favorite day hike in New Zealand. We hike up through a narrow gorge beside a crystal clear stream for a couple of hours to a clearing. All around us glaciers cling to cliff faces, broken by a myriad of waterfalls. Occasionally an ice avalanche will shatter the silence. In the afternoon drift downstream on the currents of the Matukituki River while enjoying some of the best mountain scenery in New Zealand. That evening explore the vibrant town of Wanaka and sample some of the great local cuisine. Included: (B), (L), (D) / (B), (L).
Day 8: Milford Sound Overnight Cruise.
Drive to Te Anau on our way to Milford Sound. Enjoy a short walk along the Kepler Track, or a kayak in Lake Te Anau. After passing through the Homer Tunnel Mountain bike one of the most stunning roads in the world as you descend into Milford Sound. Here we will meet our waiting vessel for an overnight cruise of the Sound. You will cruise the full length of Milford Sound before anchoring for the night. Beneath the towering presence of Mitre Peak, you can kayak around sheltered bays, venture ashore in the tender craft or simply sit back and unwind. As the day draws to a close, enjoy a delicious meal and share stories of the day’s adventures. Included: (B), (L), (D).
Days 9–10: Routeburn Track / Queenstown.
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 as well as mountain biking and kayaking opportunities 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); (B), (D).
Day 11: 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. If on the other hand you have fallen in love with New Zealand by now, we can direct you to our local Immigration office! Included: (B).
Tour Cost (All Prices Include New Zealand Taxes):
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