Fine Tours New Zealand
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Call us FREE in New Zealand on 1855 277 3818

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Accommodation style: Boutique lodges & hotels

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15 day South Island Natural Discovery self drive tour

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Natural New Zealand

Auckland to Christchurch, 25 days 24 nights self drive tour, staying in Boutique lodges & hotels

Natural New Zealand
Natural New Zealand
Natural New Zealand
Natural New Zealand

Tour map

Explore and enjoy some of New Zealand's unique flora, fauna and scenery on this 25 day tour. Even our largest city of Auckland is only a short drive from large tracts of untouched wilderness. Enjoy the chance to explore these remote regions, and in Rotorua you have the very special opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes tour of a successful kiwi nursery and hatchery, where over 1000 kiwi birds have been born. Further south, two amazing wilderness retreats await you, and in Doubtful Sound you will experience an outstanding overnight cruise in one of the most beautiful corners of the world.

The approximate total driving distance and time for this itinerary is: 3120 kms / 1935 miles, 38.6 hours

You can expect to spend around NZ$450 in fuel cost on this itinerary based on an intermediate sized car.

 

Day 1

Arrive into Auckland City, transfer to your accommodation and rest of day at leisure

Personal meet and greet, and private transfer to your accommodation

On arrival you will be met by one of our team and driven to your Auckland accommodation.

Your tour documentation pack and support

Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support

Once you touch down in New Zealand your detailed tour pack will be hand delivered by one of our trusted representatives. The pack contains everything you need for the duration of your stay. It will include a comprehensive, printed and bound version of your itinerary as well as clear driving instructions and maps for each leg of your journey. It also contains all the reservation details for your accommodation and activities - along with relevant brochures and information. While in New Zealand we offer 24 hour support - details on how to contact us at any time will be well documented.

Welcome to Auckland City

Welcome to Auckland City
Welcome to Auckland City
Welcome to Auckland City
Welcome to Auckland City

Auckland, New Zealand’s self-proclaimed ‘City of Sails’ is the country’s largest metro area. Resting between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, this urban paradise has something for everyone. Surrounded by native bush, rainforests and an abundance of beaches, Auckland is a playground for both the city savvy and those with an eye for adventure. Explore the central museums and galleries on foot, or take a drive through one of over 800 regional National Parks to see deserted beaches, waterfalls and native forest.

Your accommodation - Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

Style: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: onsite paid parking NZ$35-NZ$45 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • Swimming pool
  • Gym/fitness centre
Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
 

Day 2

Explore West Auckland's beaches and ranges with Bush and Beach

Bush and Beach Coast and Rainforest Full Day Tour

Bush and Beach Coast and Rainforest Full Day Tour
Bush and Beach Coast and Rainforest Full Day Tour
Bush and Beach Coast and Rainforest Full Day Tour
Bush and Beach Coast and Rainforest Full Day Tour

Your full day excursion takes you first to the Arataki Visitor Centre - gateway to the Waitakere Ranges and a short drive from Auckland Central. Enjoy panoramic views - extending from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean - as you absorb the area's history and admire the magnificent traditional Maori carvings. Walk the regenerating rainforest where your experienced guide will detail local flora and fauna. Take in the giant tree ferns, bubbling streams and cascading waterfalls before venturing onto a wild west coast beach. Enjoy a picnic lunch before your eco-tour ends in an area of untamed original rainforest. Here, mature 1,000 year old kauri trees have developed separately from the rest of the world for millions of years and this part of the rainforest is particularly rich in bird life due to a successful programme to eradicate pests.

Your accommodation - Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

Style: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 3

Collect your rental car this morning and head to Waitomo to visit the famous Glow Worm Caves

Driving distance and time: 178 kms / 111 miles : 2.1 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Today collect your rental vehicle for your Fine Tours New Zealand holiday

Today collect your rental vehicle for your Fine Tours New Zealand holiday
Today collect your rental vehicle for your Fine Tours New Zealand holiday
Today collect your rental vehicle for your Fine Tours New Zealand holiday
Today collect your rental vehicle for your Fine Tours New Zealand holiday

Collect your rental vehicle for your Fine Tours New Zealand holiday.  You can choose from an extensive range of late model cars and 4WD vehicles, from Europcar, Budget or Hertz.

GPS navigation system

Use the latest GPS technology as you tour New Zealand. Your portable GPS features a simple touch screen interface with automatic route calculation and turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions including street name announcement. The automotive-grade GPS unit is easy to use and has multiple language options.

Auckland to the caves of Waitomo

Auckland to the caves of Waitomo
Auckland to the caves of Waitomo
Auckland to the caves of Waitomo
Auckland to the caves of Waitomo

The drive south from Auckland takes you into the rolling farmland and rich dairy pastures of the Waikato - before arriving in the limestone hills of the Waitomo countryside, home to a huge underground network of caves.

Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

Waitomo Glow Worm Caves
Waitomo Glow Worm Caves
Waitomo Glow Worm Caves
Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

Explore a 30 million year old cave network spread across three levels. You'll travel deep underground through the limestone caves viewing stalactites and stalagmites as well as and hearing about the caves historical and geological significance. You'll then hop into a boat and glide silently through the glow worm grotto - a galaxy of tiny living lights.

Your accommodation - Kamahi Cottage

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 30 mins +
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Dinner service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking
  • Apartments serviced weekly
Kamahi Cottage
Kamahi Cottage
Kamahi Cottage
Kamahi Cottage
 

Day 4

Drive Waitomo to Rotorua. This afternoon take a floatplane to Orakei Korako Hidden Valley thermal region

Driving distance and time: 139 kms / 86 miles : 1.9 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Waitomo to Rotorua

Waitomo to Rotorua
Waitomo to Rotorua
Waitomo to Rotorua
Waitomo to Rotorua

Today cross the lush farmland of the Waikato as you make your way inland to Rotorua. Pass through several small farming towns such as Otorohanga and Putaruru, before the region’s geothermal activity signals your arrival into the city of Rotorua.

Orakei Korako Hidden Valley with Volcanic Air Safaris by floatplane

Orakei Korako Hidden Valley with Volcanic Air Safaris by floatplane
Orakei Korako Hidden Valley with Volcanic Air Safaris by floatplane
Orakei Korako Hidden Valley with Volcanic Air Safaris by floatplane
Orakei Korako Hidden Valley with Volcanic Air Safaris by floatplane

On this spectacular scenic flight you'll take a floatplane over the Crater Lakes District and the volcanic rift of Mt Tarawera. You'll then continue south via the Waimangu and Waiotapu Thermal Park to land in the Hidden Valley of Orakei Korako. Transfer by boat across the lake to explore the hot springs, gushing geysers and natural beauty of this geothermal wonderland before rejoining your aircraft for the return trip to Rotorua.

Your accommodation - Peppers on the Point

Style: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Please note: Check in is ONLY between 2-5pm unless otherwise arranged
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Breakfast service available
  • Dinner service available
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • Gym/fitness centre
Peppers on the Point
Peppers on the Point
Peppers on the Point
Peppers on the Point
 

Day 5

Visit the Kiwi recovery programme at Rainbow Springs this morning, explore at leisure this afternoon

Rainbow Springs and Behind the Scenes Kiwi Encounter

Rainbow Springs and Behind the Scenes Kiwi Encounter
Rainbow Springs and Behind the Scenes Kiwi Encounter
Rainbow Springs and Behind the Scenes Kiwi Encounter
Rainbow Springs and Behind the Scenes Kiwi Encounter

At Rainbow Springs you'll have the chance to see some of New Zealand's native flora and fauna within the majestic forests of Rotorua. Wander the beautiful tree-lined park and take in the flourishing bush, ferns, flowers and plants. Come face to face with, and learn more about, New Zealand’s precious wildlife. See the spring-fed pool with rainbow, brown and tiger trout, then visit the on-site aviaries - home to New Zealand species such kea, kaka, tui, kereru and kiwi. The tuatara, known as New Zealand's living dinosaur can also be seen here.Go behind the scenes with New Zealand's national animal at the purpose built Kiwi Conservation Centre - created solely to try and stop the extinction of this unique species. Here you will gain first hand insight into the conservation efforts being made to increase the numbers of kiwi eggs being hatched and returned to the wild.

Explore Rotorua

Explore Rotorua
Explore Rotorua
Explore Rotorua
Explore Rotorua

Peppered with natural hot springs, boiling mud pools and steaming geysers, Rotorua sits within one of the worlds most active volcanic regions. But geothermal landmarks aside, this city of sulphur has a rich indigenous history. Home to several prominent Maori tribes, a visit to the Mitai Maori Village should be high on your agenda, as should an excursion to the Polynesian Spa for an invigorating soak in its natural mineral hot springs.Live on the edge when you hop aboard a helicopter bound for White Island, New Zealand’s most active volcano. Spike your adrenaline at Agroventures on stomach-dropping attractions such as static skydiving, or a giant swing reaching 130 km per hour. Go up the Gondola for soaring lake views, and ride the luge at night for an extra thrill.Fans of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit should drive to nearby Matamata and experience the actual movie set ‘Hobbiton’. Make the most of your time in Rotorua with an excursion through the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, one of the area’s most colorful volcanic attractions.

Your accommodation - Peppers on the Point

Style: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 6

Drive through heartland New Zealand to the 'coolest little capital in the world', Wellington

Driving distance and time: 452 kms / 280 miles : 5.6 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Rotorua to Wellington

Rotorua to Wellington
Rotorua to Wellington
Rotorua to Wellington
Rotorua to Wellington

The drive from Rotorua to Wellington takes you via the township of Taupo home to New Zealand’s largest lake. Following the lakeshore South you’ll pass Turani and then ascend the central plateau onto the high country Rangipo Desert. Skirting the edge of Tongariro National Park, you’ll reach the military town of Waiouru before descending through rich farmland and the rural towns of Taihape And Mangaweka. Follow the coast through Paraparaumu, Paekakariki and Plimmerton to arrive at your destination, Wellington.

Your accommodation - Bolton Hotel Wellington

Style: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: valet paid parking NZ$20-NZ$30 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Swimming pool
  • Gym/fitness centre
Bolton Hotel Wellington
Bolton Hotel Wellington
Bolton Hotel Wellington
Bolton Hotel Wellington
 

Day 7

Today explore the city at leisure this morning. This afternoon take a Seal Coast Safari and this evening visit a wildlife sanctuary

Seal Coast Safari

Seal Coast Safari
Seal Coast Safari
Seal Coast Safari
Seal Coast Safari

Your guide for the day will introduce you to the other guests, check he has enough gourmet muffins to satisfy your hunger pangs, and set off, pointing the powerful Landcruiser in the direction of the ocean.  Within minutes you have left the city behind and your 4WD adventure has begun!  You traverse a private farm to access the sea, enjoying spectacular views and scenery along the way. The highlight of the safari is the New Zealand Fur Seals, Arctocephelous forsteri, or Kekeno as they are known in Maori.  These large, furry marine mammals used to be common all around the coastline of New Zealand , but with human impact their numbers dwindled.   But the good news is that they are increasing in numbers every year. Fur seals spend a lot of their time on rocky shores, at sites called haul-outs. Every year, these sociable animals return to the same area for the breeding season.

Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour

Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour
Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour
Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour
Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour

Taking a night tour of Zealandia wildlife eco-sanctuary is an unforgettable experience and one that comes highly recommended. A conservation success and safe haven for some of New Zealand's rarest native animals, Zealandia is home to many remarkable species of birds, reptiles and insects living wild within a beautiful 225 hectare (one square mile) valley - just 10 minutes from the central city. Your tour begins with an interactive exhibition before you walk through the gates of Zealandia predator-exclusion fence into the sanctuary. Your guide will then lead you on a torch-light walk through the native New Zealand bush. Possible sights include Kiwi foraging on the forest floor, tuatara hunting for food, glowworms shining, tiny Maud Island frogs in their enclosure, pateke (brown teal) ducks feeding at night and kaka (parrots) coming in to roost. Zealandia is one of the best places to see kiwi in the wild. Over 100 of these nocturnal birds live freely in their natural environment inside the safety of the sanctuary valley - so your chances of seeing one is very good.

Your accommodation - Bolton Hotel Wellington

Style: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 8

Take the interislander ferry to Picton through the stunning Marlborough Sounds

Driving distance and time: 0 kms / 0 miles : 0.0 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton

Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton
Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton
Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton
Interislander ferry Wellington to Picton

The 92 km journey between Wellington and Picton takes around 3 hours and has been described as 'one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world'. Leaving Wellington Harbour you pass many interesting points such as Pencarrow Head on top of which is New Zealand's oldest lighthouse (1859). Red Rocks is home to a seal colony and Oterangi Bay is the site which recorded the country's highest ever wind speed of 268 kph (167 mph).

From the Cook Strait spectacular views of the Kaikoura Ranges on the South Island can be enjoyed and dolphins and many sea birds are often seen. Around one hour of the cruise takes you through the Marlborough Sounds and this region of bush covered mountains, small islands, crystal clear waters and secluded bays offer remarkable photographic opportunities. The final leg of your cruise travels through Queen Charlotte Sound before coming to an end in the picturesque town of Picton.

Today collect your rental vehicle for your Fine Tours New Zealand holiday

Today collect your rental vehicle for your Fine Tours New Zealand holiday
Today collect your rental vehicle for your Fine Tours New Zealand holiday
Today collect your rental vehicle for your Fine Tours New Zealand holiday
Today collect your rental vehicle for your Fine Tours New Zealand holiday

Collect your rental vehicle for your Fine Tours New Zealand holiday.  You can choose from an extensive range of late model cars and 4WD vehicles, from Europcar, Budget or Hertz.

Your accommodation - McCormick House

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 20-30 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
McCormick House
McCormick House
McCormick House
McCormick House
 

Day 9

A day to explore the wildlife of Kaikoura. First view whales from the air and then take to the ocean to see the Albatross and other birdlife

Driving distance and time: 143 kms / 89 miles : 1.8 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Picton to Kaikoura

Picton to Kaikoura
Picton to Kaikoura
Picton to Kaikoura
Picton to Kaikoura

From Picton head south on State Highway One towards Blenheim, and the wine producing region of Marlborough. Ideally located to enjoy an afternoon sampling the local produce, stop for a guided wine tour with Sounds Connection Wine Tours.

Crossing the dry hills of the Marlborough ranges you head towards one of the most spectacular coastlines of the South Island, the Kaikoura Coast. The road hugs the shore for around 50 kilometres and offers many chances to view the native wildlife such as seabirds and New Zealand fur seals. To the east is the Pacific Ocean and to the west you'll follow alongside the Kaikoura Ranges before arriving into the bustling Kaikoura Township.

Wings over Whales

Wings over Whales
Wings over Whales
Wings over Whales
Wings over Whales

In a typical 30 minute flight you will see the majestic Sperm Whale preparing for his next dive and up to 500 Dusky Dolphins cavorting with each other. On occasion sightings include Southern Right, Humpback, Fin, Sei, Brydes, Pilot, Southern Bottlenose and the mighty Blue Whales, and also Common, Hectors, Risso's and Southern Right Whale Dolphins and of course, Orca, although these are all less frequent visitors to the area. You may also fly over the Kaikoura Peninsula and see evidence of Maori fortifications (Pa sites), New Zealand Fur Seals resting and the Kaikoura township itself.

Albatross Encounter Tours

Albatross Encounter Tours
Albatross Encounter Tours
Albatross Encounter Tours
Albatross Encounter Tours

A world renowned marine reserve, Kaikoura is brimming with marine life and ocean-going birds. It is the Albatross capital of the world and has up to 14 different species visiting the area throughout the year. You’ll be taken by boat, 15 minutes off the coast where a huge range of elusive and usually inaccessible albatross can be sighted. You’ll also see penguins, gannets, skuas, shearwaters petrels and terns. You’ll travel in a dedicated albatross encounter vessel, adapted specifically for maximum wildlife viewing opportunities.

Your accommodation - Manakau Lodge

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 10:30 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 30 mins +
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Breakfast service available
  • Hairdryer
  • All rooms non smoking
Manakau Lodge
Manakau Lodge
Manakau Lodge
Manakau Lodge
 

Day 10

A short drive to Christchurch City. Spend some time at the fascinating International Antarctic Centre

Driving distance and time: 178 kms / 111 miles : 2.5 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Kaikoura to Christchurch

Kaikoura to Christchurch
Kaikoura to Christchurch
Kaikoura to Christchurch
Kaikoura to Christchurch

Today you continue down the coast before heading inland through the North Canterbury wine region - the Waipara Valley. As you drive through this area you’ll be greeted by one of New Zealand's most notorious animals, the sheep. If you’ve time on your hands we recommend taking a detour to Hanmer Springs for relaxing dip in its thermal pools. Arriving into Christchurch you'll see a new and improved city, steadily rising from the ruins of the 2011 earthquake.

International Antarctic Centre General Admission

International Antarctic Centre General Admission
International Antarctic Centre General Admission
International Antarctic Centre General Admission
International Antarctic Centre General Admission

The International Antarctic Centre aims to recreate the atmosphere and environment of Antarctica, providing visitors with an interactive, fun and educational experience. Feel the full Four Seasons of Antarctica, where you'll experience a custom-built snow and ice experience, then warm up in the Scott Base interior exhibit, a replica Antartic field camp or other informative displays in the gallery. You'll also learn about life in modern day Antarctica, view real little blue penguins and experience a thrilling ride in a Hagglund all terrain vehicle.

Your accommodation - Merivale Manor House

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 1-2 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking
Merivale Manor House
Merivale Manor House
Merivale Manor House
Merivale Manor House
 

Day 11

Travel over the Port Hills the French settlement of Akaroa. A cruise will take you to see the worlds smallest dolphins

Driving distance and time: 71 kms / 44 miles : 1.0 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Christchurch to Akaroa

Christchurch to Akaroa
Christchurch to Akaroa
Christchurch to Akaroa
Christchurch to Akaroa

The Banks Peninsula offers a great contrast to the South Island's largest city. Just around a 1 1/2 hours drive from the city centre are rolling green hills, streams, golden sand beaches and small settlements that offer a unique insight into New Zealand's history and development. Just on the other side of the Port Hills is Lyttelton, a busy port town that was crucial to the development of Christchurch and the Canterbury Plains. Following the road around the beautiful natural harbour the names, such as Magazine Bay, Battery Point, Corsair Point and Governers Bay, remind of the importance the navy placed on this harbour. The Banks Peninsula itself is actually the remains of a long extinct volcano, the rim of which collapsed some time ago allowing the sea to flood into and create what is now the Akaroa Harbour. In 1840 French colonists settled in Akaroa in a bid to stake a claim for the South Island. Unbeknown the British had already declared sovereignty and a long drawn out dispute ensued with the British eventually being given government. However the French stayed and made this stunning part of the South Pacific their home and still to this day the town boasts French street names and every year a French Festival is held. The Harbour itself is teeming with wildlife and a nature cruise is a must do activity. One of the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, hectors dolphin, are often seen and cruises also offer excursions with the chance to swim amongst them.

Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise

Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise
Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise
Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise
Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise

A leisurely 2 hour cruise in the sheltered Akaroa Harbour. Cruising aboard a modern catamaran, the 60 feet / 20 meter Black Cat is perfect for viewing the natural wonders of the harbour. The vessel is the largest and most luxurious on the harbour. There's lots of space on the 2 decks for unimpeded viewing and inside you will find a bar and toilets. The vessel offers comfortable, safe and stable comfort. The highlight of this trip is undoubtedly the sighting of one of the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, the Hector's or New Zealand Dolphin. These friendly and inquisitive mammals meet the boat most days throughout the year and their calves can be seen between October and March. Also on the trip you will catch glimpses of the White Flippered Blue Penguin, the smallest penguin in the world. There are many different bird species in the harbour, including five different cormorant species and the chance of sighting the endangered yellow-eyed penguin. You'll also see the New Zealand Fur Seal sunning themselves on the harbours rocks near the entrance at Seal Bay and you also get to stop at Lucas Bay to see at a salmon farm where thousands of salmon from fingerlings to adult fish are farmed in a series of cages. This is where the world-famous 'Akaroa Salmon' are raised. 

Your accommodation - Beaufort House Akaroa

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 5-10 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking
Beaufort House Akaroa
Beaufort House Akaroa
Beaufort House Akaroa
Beaufort House Akaroa
 

Day 12

Cross Mackenzie country Mt Cook National Park, a World Heritage Area. Take a glacier explorers tour and visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre

Driving distance and time: 383 kms / 238 miles : 4.7 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Akaroa to Mt. Cook National Park

Akaroa to Mt. Cook National Park
Akaroa to Mt. Cook National Park
Akaroa to Mt. Cook National Park
Akaroa to Mt. Cook National Park

Today you head into the heart of the South Island. Crossing the vast Canterbury Plains along the inland scenic route the first township of Geraldine offers an ideal refreshment stop before you head into Mackenzie country.

Passing through places such as Beautiful Valley it's not hard to understand where the names originate. Ascending Burkes Pass and onto the high country plateau and the picturesque town of Lake Tekapo, the first of the large Southern Lakes. It's a great place to take a scenic flight, enjoy a guided horse trek, a boat trip on the pristine lake or just enjoy the magnificent views.

Lake Pukaki is just another 30 minutes from Lake Tekapo and its from here you can be rewarded with spectacular views the full length of the lake and into Mt. Cook National Park. In Mt. Cook Village a myriad of activities are available from glacier landings by ski plane or helicopter, kayaking on a glacial lake and a host of walks to suit all abilities and time frames. At The Hermitage Hotel the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre is a must see. Please note there are no food or shops at Mount Cook you will need to stock up prior to arriving in Mount Cook if you wish to self cater.

Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook
Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook
Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook
Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

Experience 500 year old icebergs up-close on the Mt Cook terminal lake. The Glacier Explorers tour is the only one of its kind in New Zealand - and one of only three in the world! Very few glaciers terminate into lakes and even fewer of them are accessible. See towering ice cliffs and floating icebergs from the safety of a specially designed boat.  These boats provide a safe way to view unseen and inaccessible areas of New Zealand's largest glacier - The Tasman.

Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass

Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass
Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass
Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass
Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre Explorer Pass

A tribute to New Zealand's Sir Edmund Hillary - humanitarian, ambassador and one of the world's greatest explorers - the centre showcases the Aoraki Mount Cook region and its people within a comprehensive museum as well as a 126-seat custom-designed theatre and Digital Dome Planetarium.

Your accommodation - Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium

Style: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • All rooms non smoking
Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
 

Day 13

Travel to Twizel and visit the very rare Black Stilt visitor hide. Continue to Dunedin, the 'Edinburgh' of the South

Driving distance and time: 312 kms / 194 miles : 3.6 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Mt. Cook National Park to Twizel

Mt. Cook National Park to Twizel
Mt. Cook National Park to Twizel
Mt. Cook National Park to Twizel
Mt. Cook National Park to Twizel

A short drive south along the spectacular Mt Cook Highway to join the main road south and onto Twizel. Twizel occupies a central location in the Mt. Cook/ Mackenzie region, with the Southern Alps as a backdrop, the town is close to five picturesque lakes, including a world-standard rowing course and Formula One class boating area at Lake Ruataniwha. It’s a fishing mecca so if catching salmon, brown or rainbow trout is what you dream of then don’t go past any of Twizel's rivers, lakes or canals. For the adventurous Twizel's terrain is ideal for skydiving, rock and mountain climbing and close by is Ohau ski field and in Tekapo Round Hill ski field is ideal for families. Twizel has a rich but brief history linked to the development of the massive Waitaki Valley hydroelectric scheme. The town started life as a temporary place for the workers on the scheme and when completed the land and buildings were sold off in government lotteries. Now it’s a holiday home paradise.

Twizel to Dunedin

Twizel to Dunedin
Twizel to Dunedin
Twizel to Dunedin
Twizel to Dunedin

The next town south is Omarama and the wrinkly rams cafe makes an interesting coffee stop. Heading down the Waitaki valley, from Omarama, you follow the hydro power generating system towards the east coast. The town of Oamaru is most famous for its white stone buildings, constructed with the local 'Oamaru Stone'. From the harbour, you can see blue penguins come ashore at dusk as they return from their day at sea. Further south the Moeraki Boulders are a unique geological feature and worth the short detour to the beach to view. Arriving into Dunedin, you can appreciate the city's Edwardian and Scottish heritage through its fine buildings particularly around the Octagon.

Your accommodation - Fletcher Lodge

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2:30 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 10-15 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking
Fletcher Lodge
Fletcher Lodge
Fletcher Lodge
Fletcher Lodge
 

Day 14

Explore Dunedin Peninsula and visit one of the world's rarest birds, the Yellow Eyed Penguin

Monarch Wildlife Cruises Half day tour and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve

Monarch Wildlife Cruises Half day tour and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve
Monarch Wildlife Cruises Half day tour and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve
Monarch Wildlife Cruises Half day tour and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve
Monarch Wildlife Cruises Half day tour and Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve

A half day tour of the Otago Peninsula and its unique wildlife including a cruise through Dunedin Harbour. A unique environment, this tour includes a visit to The Penguin Place to view the rare and unique yellow eyed penguin. The tour also includes a scenic bus tour and the wading bird wetlands.

Your accommodation - Fletcher Lodge

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 15

Drive through Southland farmland scenery to Te Anau, Gateway to Fiordland National Park. This evening visit the glow worm caves.

Driving distance and time: 387 kms / 240 miles : 4.7 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Dunedin to Te Anau

Dunedin to Te Anau
Dunedin to Te Anau
Dunedin to Te Anau
Dunedin to Te Anau

The drive to Te-Anau takes you through classic Southland farming scenery. Head off-the-beaten-track today and follow the coastline instead of the inland route. Go through The Catlins area and be sure to take a detour to Kaka Point to view its majestic cliffs and pounding surf.  Continue through Invercargill to Riverton and Colac Bay, and then head north to Manapouri. From here you can embark on a day or overnight cruise to the remote Doubtful Sound - renowned for its natural beauty. Just a short way further will bring you to your lakeside destination of Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound.

Te Anau Glowworm Caves

Te Anau Glowworm Caves
Te Anau Glowworm Caves
Te Anau Glowworm Caves
Te Anau Glowworm Caves

Begin your Te Anau Glowworm experience with a scenic cruise across lake Te Anau on board the luxury catamaran, Luminosa, to the western side of the lake. On arrival you'll enter the caves through Cavern House, where informative displays detail the history of this 12,000 year old underground network.You'll then explore by limestone pathway while your guide points out hidden whirlpools, sculpted rock formations and a rushing underground waterfall. See a magical display of thousands of glowworms as you glide through the darkness in a small boat.

Your accommodation - Te Anau Lodge

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 15-20 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Laundry facilities: On site
Te Anau Lodge
Te Anau Lodge
Te Anau Lodge
Te Anau Lodge
 

Day 16

Today embark on a 24 hour adventure to Doubtful Sound. Explore the area and spend the night in this pristine wilderness

Driving distance and time: 18 kms / 11 miles : 0.2 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Te Anau to Manapouri

Te Anau to Manapouri
Te Anau to Manapouri
Te Anau to Manapouri
Te Anau to Manapouri

This short drive takes you along the lake edge of Te Anau and across lush southern farmlands to the small township of Lake Manapouri, gateway to Doubtful Sound.

Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise

Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise
Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise
Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise
Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise

Take in the tranquility of remote Doubtful Sound on this unique overnight wilderness cruise. Beginning in Manapouri with a short boat ride across the lake, you'll be taken by coach over the Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove, Doubtful Sound. Board the Fiordland Navigator, a purpose-built vessel designed like a traditional coastal trading scow. Be accommodated in a private cabin with an ensuite bathroom or a quad-share bunk room with shared bathroom facilities. The Navigator has a large spacious deck for viewing the scenery and wildlife as well as a dining saloon, bar and observation lounge. As you take in the stunning scenery of the Fiord, you'll be provided a running commentary of the area and its history, points of interest and wildlife. You'll have the opportunity to see dolphins, fur seals and - if you're lucky - rare Fiordland penguins. After anchoring in a sheltered cove, choose to explore the shoreline by kayak or stabicraft, or if you're really brave - take a dip in the water. In the evening enjoy a three course buffet dinner prepared on board and served in the dining saloon. Enjoy beer and fine wines from the licensed bar, and spend time star gazing on the upper deck. Following hearty cooked breakfast the next morning you will spend your remaining time exploring other parts of the fiord before returning to Deep Cove for the trip back to Manapouri.

Your accommodation - Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound

Style: Bed & breakfast (B&B)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation features

  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Includes dinner
  • Bar on site
Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound
Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound
Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound
Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound
 

Day 17

You cruise returns to Manapouri at midday then head north to Wanaka

Driving distance and time: 225 kms / 140 miles : 2.9 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Manapouri to Wanaka

Manapouri to Wanaka
Manapouri to Wanaka
Manapouri to Wanaka
Manapouri to Wanaka

Your Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise returns to Manapouri at midday.

Crossing the rolling tussock lands you pass through Mossburn, the deer capital of New Zealand. Continue north through Southland countryside towards Lake Wakatipu. The road now hugs the lake edge and the Remarkable mountain range towers over you as you approach Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand. The old gold mining township of Arrowtown is worth a detour (well signposted) before you head over the Crown Range Road. At 1076 metres (3530 feet)  it is the highest sealed road in the country and offers spectacular views over the Wakatipu basin from the many vantage points. Approaching Wanaka the wonderful alpine lake welcomes you to the town. Despite its size Wanaka has a wide variety of activities available. In winter it is without doubt New Zealand's premier ski destination with its very close location to Treble Cone and Cardrona. Mt Aspiring National Park sits to western edge of the lake and offers some wonderful walking tracks for all abilities. Fishing, sailing and kitesurfing are popular pastimes on the lake and the many beach access points provide some great picnic and relaxing spots.

Your accommodation - Lime Tree Lodge

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 30 mins +
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • All rooms non smoking
Lime Tree Lodge
Lime Tree Lodge
Lime Tree Lodge
Lime Tree Lodge
 

Day 18

Explore beautiful Mou Waho nature reserve

Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk

Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk
Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk
Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk
Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk

Lying close to the center of Lake Wanaka is Mou Waho Island Nature Reserve. A unique glacial remnant of the last ice age, the island is also the historic site of early shipbuilding and used to be a stopping place for the steamers and log rafts that once plied the lake. Accessible from Wanaka by a 35 minute boat cruise, the landing is on the eastern side of the island where the remnants of early settlement remain; a stone wharf and a hut. A well-formed track leads from the landing and climbs steadily through native bush to near the top of Tyrwhitt Peak. Just before the top we see Arethusa Pool, a small lake on the island with small islands in it - very intriguing! From the top we have a sweeping 360-degree view of Lake Wanaka, its surrounding mountains and valleys, and below Arethusa Pool. The perfect spot to stop for a tea or coffee. Going back down the track gives us more time to take in our surroundings, listening to and watching the lively bird-life, and just enjoying this unique wildlife reserve. You will feel well rewarded as you re-join the boat for the cruise back to Wanaka. Total cruise time is 1.5 hours. The trip runs subject to weather and lake conditions.

Your accommodation - Lime Tree Lodge

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 19

A drive through Mt. aspiring National Park to Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge

Driving distance and time: 168 kms / 104 miles : 1.9 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Wanaka to Lake Moeraki

Wanaka to Lake Moeraki
Wanaka to Lake Moeraki
Wanaka to Lake Moeraki
Wanaka to Lake Moeraki

The route follows the shores of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea before you enter the township of Makarora, the gateway to Mt. Aspiring National Park and the Blue Pools here are a wonderful 30 minute walk through pristine native beech forest. Descending into Mt. Aspiring National Park and towards the Haast Pass, crashing rivers and waterfalls are around every corner. Crossing the Haast River you are now truly on the wild West Coast, a 600 kilometre stretch of bush, rainforest and podocarp forest. The tranquil bush surroundings of Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki are just a further few extra kilometres.

Your accommodation - Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki

Style: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10:30 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Includes dinner
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking
Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki
Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki
Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki
Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki
 

Day 20

A superb day enjoying the unique West Coast flora and fauna in and around the lodge

Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki

Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki
Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki
Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki
Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki

The Lodge is a paradise for nature lovers and for a relaxing retreat away from the pressures of the modern world. On arrival you are given maps and information on the walk network, forest and seacoast trails and canoeing.

Walks Network & Lake Canoeing

The Lodge walk's network covers 10km (6 miles) and enables you to explore the Lower Moeraki Valley and seacoast. Canoe the gentle lake waters or walk the network of Lodge and World Heritage rainforest and coastal tracks.

  • Lakeside Walk – an easy 20 minute return forest walk to the outlet of Lake Moeraki with great mountain views. Giant Rimu Walk winds down the Moeraki Valley above rapids to giant rimu trees and a lovely Lodge lookout and continues to the Moeraki lagoon.
  • Monro Beach Walk – an 80 minute return walk through ancient rainforest to the wild and beautiful Tasman sea where large penguins can be seen August to December.

Canoes (and lifejackets) are provided for guests – for use on the lake but not the river. Canoe right around scenic Lake Moeraki or fish for brown trout.

Daily Complimentary Guided Nature Trips

Every day, a naturalist guides offer two guided activities each about an hour long, included in the Lodge tariff. Learn about the rainforests, discover ferns, orchids, giant native pigeon, bellbird and tui. Take a night walk to see glowworms, the Southern Cross and freshwater crayfish. Walks include historical talks and you can learn easy canoeing … and if you fall out you can feed local giant tame eels! This programme changes every day.

Short trips include:

  • Ancient Rainforest Trees, Tree Ferns and Birds … a voyage of discovery.
  • Freshwater Life in the Wilderness Lodge Rainforests … and feeding time for our giant tame eels and trout
  • Easy Canoeing in the Sheltered Inlets of Lake Moeraki … in safe, stable minnow canoes
  • Living in the Wilderness … in harmony with the environment
  • Glowworms, Morepork Owls, Freshwater Crayfish and the Southern Cross … an after dinner night walk

Longer Optional Guided Adventure Trips

Guided wilderness adventure programmes are offered year-round. Join a small group and accompany skilled nature guides. On safe, well-planned adventures you will get close to wildlife, learn about the forest, experience amazing scenery and friendly company.

Wilderness Seacoast, Fiordland Crested Penguin and New Zealand Fur Seals Tramping Adventure – This is a dramatic and challenging wet footed walk. It involves wildlife viewing, scrambling over beach rocks and along beaches and, at the end, a 400 foot steep hill climb.

Wilderness Seacoast, Hector's Dolphin, Rainforest, Tree Fern and Goldminers Walk – There is a huge variety on this walk; a lovely seacoast rich in rock pools, greenstone, Hector's dolphins (the worlds smallest dolphin) and occasionally New Zealand Fur Seals. Magnificent rimu, beech and kahikatea rainforest and a historic goldminer's path that traverses fern filled river gorges.

Ancient Rainforest Guided Walk and Canoe Safari to the Lower Moeraki River and the Tasman Seacoast:

  1. Option A: Easy - Canoe the Moeraki Lagoon – Nature guides take you on a 30 minute walk down the valley through giant rainforest trees, past some historic cottages and across freshwater springs and wetland moss forest. Canoes and life jackets are waiting at the Moeraki lagoon our. We paddle down river beneath the forest and out into the Moeraki lagoon.
  2. Option B: Moderate - Hard - Canoe the Moeraki Rapids– This trip is only suitable for people who are fit/experienced canoeists/good swimmers. Although the rapids are easy, trees in the river create some hazards. Nature guides instruct you in down river canoeing in front of the wilderness Lodge. You practice navigation and procedures for descent. Reach the Tasman beaches and walk to the Tasman seacoast where you enjoy refreshments and fossick for gemstones, shells and driftwood and look for Hector's dolphin, the world's smallest.

The Moeraki Mountains, Historic South Westland Pack Track, Moeraki Rapids and Blue Hut

The Moeraki valley was the last valley in South Westland to be accessed by road in 1965. Prior to this the only way south to Haast by land followed a historic pack track at the foot of the mountains. Drive 8 km up the valley to the start of this walk. The track crosses a series of small steams as the noise of the Moeraki rapids grows louder. When you reach these spectacular rapids, you cross on a high swing bridge then walk for 15 minutes to Blue Hut. Enjoy lunch either at the hut with a roaring fire and billy tea or beside a huge pool in the Moeraki River.

Trout Fishing

The lake and rivers have good numbers of Brown Trout and in March & April Quinnat Salmon. The lodge has basic rods with lures but NO fly-fishing equipment. Local guides can be arranged with notice but please check with us if fishing is to be the focus of your stay at the lodge. You cannot fish in front of the Lodge where we have giant tame brown trout.

Your accommodation - Wilderness Lodge, Lake Moeraki

Style: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

 

Day 21

Lake Moeraki to Franz Josef and the West Coast Glaciers

Driving distance and time: 111 kms / 69 miles : 1.4 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Lake Moeraki to Franz Josef Glacier

Lake Moeraki to Franz Josef Glacier
Lake Moeraki to Franz Josef Glacier
Lake Moeraki to Franz Josef Glacier
Lake Moeraki to Franz Josef Glacier

Continuing along the wild west coast you pass through ancient podocarp forests. At Knights Point Lookout an interesting display tells of shipwrecks in the region and at the right time of year you can see elephant seals basking on the far beaches. First Fox Glacier welcomes you to the glacier region and Lake Matheson, the famous reflection lake, is a five minute drive west of Fox Township. Historic Gillespie's Beach, a wilderness of crashing surf and distant snow capped mountains, known for its seal colony and colourful gold mining history, is 25 minutes west by car. Access to Fox Glacier is well signposted from the highway and a short walk will reward you with some great views of the largest of the West Coast glaciers. Franz Josef township is just a further 45 minutes and a great way to experience the glaciers is with The Helicopter Line or Mt. Cook ski planes.

Your accommodation - Westwood Lodge

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10:30 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 15-20 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • All rooms non smoking
Westwood Lodge
Westwood Lodge
Westwood Lodge
Westwood Lodge
 

Day 22

There is only one way to truly see the glaciers. Land by helicopter and take a guided walk!

Franz Josef Glacier Helihike with The Helicopter Line

Franz Josef Glacier Helihike with The Helicopter Line
Franz Josef Glacier Helihike with The Helicopter Line
Franz Josef Glacier Helihike with The Helicopter Line
Franz Josef Glacier Helihike with The Helicopter Line

Take a scenic flight over all three Franz Josef glacier icefalls. Landing high on the glacier take a two hour guided trip through some of the most beautiful terrain in the country. Your guide will choose the route as you go through a wonderland of blue ice and frozen pinnacles. You'll have endless views of the surrounding mountains and rainforest as well as plenty of opportunities to take photographs. Sure to be one of the most memorable experiences you have while you are in New Zealand. Should weather not be suitable to take this flight you are able to transfer your booking onto a similar tour on any of the Helicopter Line operations in Queenstown or Mt Cook.

Your accommodation - Westwood Lodge

Style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

 

Day 23

Continue north before heading into the Southern Alps and Arthurs Pass National Park

Driving distance and time: 233 kms / 145 miles : 2.8 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Franz Josef to Arthur's Pass National Park

Franz Josef to Arthur's Pass National Park
Franz Josef to Arthur's Pass National Park
Franz Josef to Arthur's Pass National Park
Franz Josef to Arthur's Pass National Park

Driving north on State Highway 6 you pass through many small West Coast towns. Hari Hari is the township that Guy Menzies decided to land in (or rather crash land) as he became the first person to fly solo across the Tasman. Ross is the site of an old gold mining town and some of the old buildings remain. You can even pan for gold. The craft and gift stores in Hokitika are excellent with a great range of locally made items and if you want to explore further here then the Hokitika Gorge is worthy of a detour.

State Highway 73 is the main road between the West Coast and Christchurch and the scenery is spectacular - even in the rain - and there is pretty good chance of rain in the high alpine mountains. With hundreds of waterfalls cascading down the bush clad hillsides it's not a road to be rushed. Originally the road was a pass used by Maori as they made tier seasonal passage to look for the greenstone abundant in the West Coast mountains. When the gold rush hit the West Coast in the late 1800's then a road was quickly developed and not soon after the train. Today the main use for the track is transporting coal to Lyttelton Harbour but once a day the now world famous Tranz Alpine Scenic Train takes a few hundred tourists and visitors between the two oceans.

The Otira Gorge on the Western side of Arthur's Pass features a remarkable piece of engineering with the road passing high on a viaduct through this large valley. This is a recent addition to the route as the old road was washed away in a rock fall a few years ago. There are numerous lookout points giving great views of the valley and its engineering feat but watch out for the local residents, the kea. this bird is the worlds only alpine parrot and can be extremely cheeky.

Arthur's Pass Township is bustling place in the peak season with many walkers and adventurers using it as a base for the forays into the mountains of Arthur's pass National Park. The Department of Conservation centre here has an excellent display of the local history and is a great source of information for the many short walks in the area.

Your accommodation - Wilderness Lodge

Style: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site paid access
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Includes dinner
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • All rooms non smoking
Wilderness Lodge
Wilderness Lodge
Wilderness Lodge
Wilderness Lodge
 

Day 24

A full day to enjoy the magnificent Wilderness Lodge at Arthurs Pass

Wilderness Lodge, Arthur's Pass

Wilderness Lodge, Arthur's Pass
Wilderness Lodge, Arthur's Pass
Wilderness Lodge, Arthur's Pass
Wilderness Lodge, Arthur's Pass

Nestled in mountain beech forest, midway between Christchurch and the West Coast, Wilderness Lodge Arthur's Pass offers stylish accommodation, great food and warm hospitality in a spectacular mountain setting.

Set on a 4000 acre working sheep farm and nature reserve in the heart of the Southern Alps, a daily program of guided activities will be the highlight of your visit. Join naturalist and farmer guides to hike alpine trails, kayak wildlife refuge lakes and experience life on a working farm.

Complimentary Guided Activities

Twice daily complimentary guided trips provide a wonderful introduction to the wildlife, landscapes and history of the Southern Alps. Some of the trips include:

  • Sheep Farm Discovery: Join a guide to watch sheep dogs in action, handfeed lambs, see traditional blade shearing and learn about growing merino wool for the fashion industry. This trip happens every second afternoon and is a highlight for many guests
  • Birds and Special Plants of the Mountain Beech Forest: Explore with a naturalist guide and learn the secrets of these remarkable moss forests surrounding the lodge
  • McKay Moa Forest Hike: Visit a special nature reserve on the Wilderness Lodge farm. Take in spectacular mountain scenery, see bizarre ‘moa plants’ and learn their fascinating history.
  • Stars of the Southern Night Sky: A gentle stroll after dinner to see the starry night sky. Identify planets, satellites and constellations including the Southern Cross.

Longer Charged Guided Activities

  • Upper Otira Glacier Adventure: A superb challenging summer hike. Climb high into a glacial basin and enjoy mountain panoramas, alpine flowers, cascades culminating in a mountain picnic below Mt Rolleston.
  • Limestone Castles & Easy Kayaking:  A relaxed guided tour/walk to a landscape made famous by the Narnia film 'The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe'. Paddle a gentle mountain lake and enjoy lunch amongst natural limestone castles.
  • Southern Alps Mountain Hike: Traverse beech forest to open mountain tops high above the Waimakariri River. Learn about alpine plants and enjoy lunch at a historic hut which once sheltered shepherds when this area was part of the Wilderness Lodge farm, now Arthur's Pass National Park.
  • Wonderful Waterfalls of Arthur's Pass: A special trip for waterfall and photography enthusiasts. Visit waterfalls and cascades throughout Arthur's Pass National Park and explore 'bonsai' mountain beech forests. Picnic beside a mountain stream.

Self-Guided Activity Options

  • Explore a 30km network of forest, farm and mountain walking trails. You hosts can provide maps and suggestions and you may like to order a picnic lunch
  • Explore neighboring Arthur’s Pass National Park on your own.
  • Relax in peace and tranquillity and take in the spectacular mountain scenery

Your accommodation - Wilderness Lodge

Style: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

 

Day 25

Today just a short drive to Christchurch where your journey concludes

Driving distance and time: 128 kms / 80 miles : 1.6 hours

 

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

 

Arthur's Pass to Christchurch

Arthur's Pass to Christchurch
Arthur's Pass to Christchurch
Arthur's Pass to Christchurch
Arthur's Pass to Christchurch

Descending into the valleys of the Waimakariri this drive offers some spectacular views of the braided river valleys. Castle Hill Scenic Reserve sits in limestone country and the area is dotted with remarkable rock outcrops. A popular place with climbers it was also an important place for Maori in past years as they provided shelter on their seasonal journeys between the coasts. There is a network of walking paths allowing you to explore. Descending onto the Canterbury Plains the rich farmland that attracted and helped settlers prosper becomes apparent as you head into the city of Christchurch.

Depart Christchurch today

Explore more of Christchurch before dropping your rental car at the airport depot and continuing your onward journey.