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Hiking Highlights 19 Day Flexible Hiking Tour North-South

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 19 day(s)
Group Size: 13 people
Destination(s): New Zealand  
Specialty Categories: Hiking & Trekking  
Season: March - April
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 4995 New Zealand Dollar (NZD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 4995 New Zealand Dollar (NZD)

New Zealand is the “down-under” paradise for nature lovers. Where else in the world can you find as many different landscapes, climate zones and vegetations so close together as in New Zealand. Bushwalking is the best way to explore NZ‘s natural beauty. Therefore this tour includes many walks in the most beautiful National Parks. You will discover extinct as well as active volcanoes, secluded beaches, deep mountain lakes, geysers and thermal activity areas as well as fiords and rainforests. Experience the multi culture of the Polynesians, Maoris and European settlers with their different traditions, and feel the cosmopolitan flair of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Fitness Requirements: If possible there will be daily walks depending on the tour itinerary. The average walking time is between 3-4 hours, except the Tongariro Crossing, which will take 7-8 hours and is rated medium to hard.

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: Auckland. After your arrival in Auckland, you will be dropped off at your downtown hotel. In the afternoon there will be a sightseeing tour through the ‘City of Sails‘. Among other things you will see the Harbour Bridge, Waitemata Yacht Harbour and Mount Eden, from where you can see the Skytower.

Day 2: Auckland – Whitianga (190km). You leave Auckland, the largest population centre of New Zealand and drive about 3 hours onto Coromandel Peninsula to the small village of Waiomu. On a 2 hour hike with several rivercrossings or swingbridges you will see some of the few Kauri trees (local giant) left.

Day 3: Whitianga (Coromandel Peninsula). This Peninsula has a diverse landscape on a small scale. On one side you find bare mountains of volcanic origin and on the other side a rugged coastline with beautiful beaches.

This day has a lot to offer, from kayaking, riding or hiking some of the local bush walks, to an excursion to Hot Water Beach, so named because a hot spring bubbles up through the sand, making it a lovely warm place to relax at low tide and watch swimmers enjoying the sea and surf.

Day 4: Whitianga – Rotorua (240km). At the beginning of the 19th Century this region was in a gold rush. A walk through Broken Hills near Pauanui is a reminder of the turbulent times. Today the tour travels to Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty. The mild climate is excellent for kiwi fruit growing. The route takes you through the unspoiled Kamai Mamaku forest and past Lake Rotorua before you reach Rotorua, the most unique and active thermal area in the country.

Day 5: Rotorua. The morning is free for you to explore the active thermal valley, or take a walk along the lake shore with a visit to the historic St. Faith`s Church and its beautiful woodcarvings. Around 4pm visit the Maori Cultural Centre, Te Puia, which is famous for its active wonderland of geysers, colourful terraces, hot springs and boiling mud pools.

In the early evening there is the optional ’Hangi and Cultural experience’ at one of the popular Maori Villages, where the successor of the first Polynesians present their culture. It is a relaxed evening including a series of song and dance performances followed by a banquet or Hangi (food cooked in the traditional earthfire oven).

Day 6: Rotorua – Tongariro National Park (200km). Early in the morning you will drive along Lake Taupo, New Zealand`s biggest Lake. Weather permitting, you have the option of the Tongariro Crossing, which is one of New Zealand's premier day hikes. This is a non guided walk, which takes you on a fascinating journey through a variety of vegetation zones, over scorer-scattered moonscapes, past the most beautiful turquoise blue lakes, solidified molten rock pillars and boiling hot springs. There are some spectacular panoramas over the surrounding countryside (7-8hr trek). If you are unlucky and the weather is unfavourable, there are a number of alternative shorter walks of 2-3 hours in the National Park.

Day 7: Tongariro National Park - Wellington (348km). You leave the small National Park village with amazing views of the largest volcanoes in the country. The tour then travels to New Zealand`s capital. During your sightseeing tour through the city, euphemistically known as the "Windy City”, you will see among other things the Parliamentary Buildings and the historical district with its St. Paul Cathedral.

You will be driven to Mount Victoria, from where you can enjoy fantastic views of the city and the harbour. Afterwards there may be time to visit one of the most innovative museums of the world, the National Museum ‘Te Papa’. Departure in Wellington for those participants who have booked the North Island only and arrival in Wellington for those who have booked the South Island only.

Day 8: Wellington - Queen Charlotte Walkway. In the morning the journey takes you on the Interislander Ferry via Cook Strait, through Tory channel and Marlborough Sounds across to Picton. From this little fishing village you take a boat through the picturesque Queen Charlotte Sound to Mistletoe Bay, which is the beginning of the same named walking track. This afternoon you hike along the coast through dense rainforest with its gigantic tree ferns to Portage.

Day 9: Queen Charlotte Walkway - Picton. This morning we are transferred by a small boat further up the Queen Charlotte Sound to Resolution, where we begin today`s walk. It takes 4-5 hours and takes you through natural scenic reserves with lush coastal forest and over mountain ridges, with splendid views of the Sound. At 3pm you are picked up from Furneaux or Punga and taken by boat back to Picton where your luggage is already waiting for you.

Day 10: Picton - Westport (292km). We stop for some wine tasting at one of the well known vineyards in this region of Marlborough, before driving down the Wairau Valley on the way to St Arnaud. This quaint village is located on the edge of Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson Lakes National Park. There may be time for a short (2 hr) walk before continuing our drive alongside the Buller River until we reach the West Coast. If there is time, we can drive out to Cape Foulwind (just a few kms from Westport), to visit a seal colony before checking in to our Motel in the town of Westport.

Day 11: Westport – Fox Glacier (305 km). If we didn’t have time to visit the seal colony at Cape Foulwind yesterday, we can do that this morning. We then drive south along the spectacular coastal road before stopping for a walk along the Pororari River (approx. 2hrs return, or a shorter walk of 40 mins). It takes you through sub-tropical forest with many of those remarkable Nikau palm trees and lime stone cliffs.

Further south we stop at Punakaiki to see the well-known pancake rocks, which to many will be a highlight of the day. In Hokitika there may be time to visit a Greenstone factory, where you have the opportunity to buy jade carvings and jewellery at reasonable prices. Pounamu is the Maori name for Greenstone. In the afternoon you drive to Franz Josef Glacier and then walk to the glacier lookout, before continuing to Fox Glacier township.

Day 12: Fox Glacier - Wanaka (265km). There may be time for an optional scenic helicopter flight over the glaciers (incl. landing), before we drive to Haast and take a short walk through beech forest at Haast Pass. The journey continues alongside Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka. First through dense rainforest on the border of Mount Aspiring NP followed by arid countryside, before arriving at the small resort town of Wanaka.

Day 13: Wanaka - Mount Aspiring NP - Wanaka (109km). After a short drive into the Matukituki Valley your hiking trek takes you to the Rob-Roy Glacier, from where you have splendid views of the surrounding lakes and mountains (4-5hr trek). If conditions aren’t suitable for the Rob Roy hike, the alternative is the walk up Mt Iron.

Day 14: Wanaka – Milford Sound (351km). Today you drive over the Crown Range, New Zealand’s highest road. A little detour to Arrowtown, an old gold rush village provides the opportunity to visit the first Chinese settlement, before continuing our drive to Milford Sound. About 4pm we board a cruiseship (Milford Wanderer) for an amazing journey through the deep glacier carved Fiords of Milford Sound. In the evening you will be served a delicious dinner while anchoring in one of the tranquil bays. The on-board sleeping rooms have multiple beds per cabin – an unforgettable experience.

Day 15: Milford Sound – Te Anau (121km). We disembark around 9am and drive back towards Te Anau. You might spot cheeky Keas (Mountain Parrots) at rest areas next to the road. There are many great walks in this area such as the Routeburn, Hollyford & Key Summit. Depending on the weather the guide will suggest the best option(s) for the day.

Day 16: Te Anau - Queenstown (168km). There may be time to do an optional morning excursion to the Manapouri Underground Power Station. Alternatively there is a walk to the bird sanctuary, a 3hr walk on the Kepler Track, kayaking or just relaxing. The guide will make suggestions depending on the weather. We retrace our steps along the shores of Lake Wakatipu until we reach Queenstown.

Day 17: Queenstown (Rest Day). Queenstown is an outdoor adventurer’s playground. Options could be a lake ride aboard the historic steamship Earnslaw, jet boating on the Shotover River, white water rafting, tandem paragliding, or a visit to the Kiwi house to see New Zealand's national icon in the flesh.

Day 18: Queenstown - Christchurch (490km). This morning we travel past fruit stalls along Lake Dunstan, one of the newest artificial lakes and continue the journey over Lindis Pass. During our picnic lunch on the shores of Lake Pukaki you will be treated to magnificent views of New Zealand's Southern Alps.
In Tekapo you can do an optional scenic flight over Mt Cook, or Aoraki, the cloud piercer or walk up Mount John (approx. 2hrs). After Burke Pass (671m) you drive across the flat, alluvial Canterbury plains. Once in Christchurch, known as the most English city in the country, we head to a short sightseeing tour.

Day 19: Christchurch and Departure. The last day is for your own leisure. You will be transferred to the airport late afternoon (last transfer is at 4pm from the Hotel).

Please note that your trip may differ from the above itinerary either to better suit the needs of the group, or due to circumstances beyond our control such as the weather.

Price Includes:
- Airport transfers
- Day 1 only: Auckland (between 7am & 2pm from the Airport)
- Day 19 only: Christchurch (between 7am & 3.30pm from the Hotel)
- Transfers outside these days/times are your own arrangements
- Accommodation: 18 nights in 3–4 star (NZ standard) hotels & motels
- Meals: 1 breakfast & 1 dinner (Milford Overnight cruise)
There is an option to contribute to a group kitty for the occasional
breakfast and many picnic lunches. For those that are interested
(purely optional), the Tourguide will collect approx NZ$100pp
- Tour guide (who is also the driver)
- Support vehicle (Coaster Bus) with luggage compartment (for 1 bag pp)
- Overnight cruise in Milford Sound
- Boat transport in Queen Charlotte Sound (with luggage transfers also)
- Ferrycrossing Picton to Wellington (normally early morning crossing)
- Te Puia general entrance in Rotorua
- All National Park and other entry fees, except the “optional“ ones
- Wine tasting in Marlborough region.

Tour Excludes:
- International flights & airport taxes
- Airport transfers outside the days/times specified above
- Travel Insurance
- Meals (except 1 breakfast & 1 dinner as specified above)
- Drinks (except daily drinking water), phone calls & Minibar expenses
- Personal expenses (including any specific medical related requirements).

Tour Grading = Moderate to Medium
1= Easy, 2=Moderate, 3=Medium, 4=Challenging, 5=Extreme

Optional Akaroa & Kaikoura extension:

Day 1: Christchurch. Arrival in Christchurch. Shuttle transfer to your hotel in the central city.

Day 2: Banks Peninsula/Akaroa day excursion. You will be picked up at 8.30am. The bus will drive on a panoramic route to the first French settlement, Akaroa. On the way there are numerous photo stops, as well as a visit to the cheese factory of Barry`s Bay. Once in Akaroa you will have time to do a harbour cruise (optional) or just stroll through this beautiful village. You will be back in Christchurch at about 5.45pm.

Day 3: Kaikoura day excursion. You will be picked up at 7.30am. The bus will travel through the rolling hill country of North Canterbury and further along the fantastic coastal road to the fishing village of Kaikoura. You have the choice of whale watching or swimming with the dolphins. In the afternoon you will visit a seal colony where fur seals may be viewed at close quarters. A wine tasting has been arranged in one of Canterbury vineyards on your return journey. Arrive in Christchurch at about 7pm.

Bay of Islands extension:

Day 1: Auckland/Bay of Islands. Travel across the Auckland Harbour Bridge, north via the Hibiscus Coast to the beautiful Bay of Islands. Arrive in Paihia and visit the historic Waitangi Treaty House. The rest of your day is at leisure. Accommodation in the Bay of Islands - Scenic Circle Bay of Islands Hotel (2 nights).

Day 2: Cape Reinga Excursion. Your tour departs in the morning and takes you through Puketi Kauri Forest. Travel along the aptly named Ninety Mile Beach to the northern most point of New Zealand, Cape Reinga. A BBQ lunch is included followed by an afternoon museum visit, before returning to Paihia.

Day 3: Bay of Islands/Auckland. This morning you will board the Fullers Cruise for a memorable trip to Cape Brett and Piercy Island. Travel through the famous "Hole in the Rock" (weather permitting).

On your return, disembark in Russell, the first capital of New Zealand, and enjoy a sightseeing tour of this historic township. Board the ferry back to Paihia, then rejoin your coach for the return journey to Auckland.

Airfare is not included in the tour price.

- Tour Total NZ$ 4995.00
- Single Surcharge: NZ 1275.00.