South Island Explorer

Travel Idea:

South Island Explorer

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Length of trip:

9 days

Approximate price of this trip per person:

from $ 4595

Best travel dates to go:

Oct 01, 2008 to Oct 09, 2008; Feb 21, 2009 to Mar 01, 2009; Nov 17, 2008 to Nov 25, 2008; Apr 13, 2009 to Apr 21, 2009; Mar 16, 2009 to Mar 24, 2009; Oct 13, 2008 to Oct 21, 2008; Dec 15, 2008 to Dec 23, 2008; Nov 05, 2008 to Nov 13, 2008; Mar 30, 2009 to Apr 07, 2009; Mar 04, 2009 to Mar 12, 2009; Jan 29, 2009 to Feb 06, 2009; Jan 05, 2009 to Jan 13, 2009; Oct 24, 2008 to Nov 01, 2008; Jan 17, 2009 to Jan 25, 2009; Dec 01, 2008 to Dec 09, 2008; Feb 09, 2009 to Feb 17, 2009;


Detailed Description of this trip:

Our South Island Explorer is for travelers who want to go deep into a variety of environments in the company of a seasoned, brilliantly informed guide. The accommodations are small and magnificently sited and are reserved by our operator two years in advance. Each day brings new activities, new vistas, and new experiences. Evenings bring good food and warm conversation that inevitably heighten understanding of the region and its people. You'll find your hosts to be open, good-spirited, and deservedly proud of their precious birthright, New Zealand. On this South Island adventure, you will first explore Christchurch and witness the spectacular scenery of Arthur’s Pass and Fox Glacier. Next, take in the sights of Lake Moeraki, experience the natural beauty of the surrounding rain forests, and observe the flora and fauna of the area. From here, you will pass by glacial lakes on your way to Queenstown, where you will have a full day to enjoy any number of activities from hiking to shopping. Finally, you will visit Milford Sound, an absolutely breathtaking section of Fiordland National Park, filled with glaciated valleys, lush rain forests, and stunning alpine views.



Trip Itinerary:

  • Day 1 - Christchurch

    Upon arrival in Christchurch, you will be met at the airport. After an introduction tour to Christchurch, you will travel west across the vast Canterbury Plains into the mountains.

    Hotel

    Here in the heart of the "High Country" is the Arthur’s Pass Wilderness Lodge, where you will stay for the first two days of your South Island adventure. Meals: Afternoon Tea, Dinner.

  • Day 2 - New Zealand

    Arthur's Pass.
    Sightseeing

    This is a day where you can explore and discover the alpine plants and animals of Arthur’s Pass, and take in the spectacular Southern Alps. Experience the workings of a high country sheep farm and help with the day-to-day activities such as feeding out, mustering, or working with the dogs.

    Mountain Biking

    Walking, canoeing, and mountain bike riding are activities available at the lodge, or, if you prefer, just relax and enjoy the views of the Southern Alps. Meals: Breakfast, Morning Tea, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner.

  • Day 3 - Fox Glacier

    Arthur's Pass/Hokitika/Fox Glacier.
    National Parks

    After breakfast, cross the pass that was once used as a gold rush link and by the Maori in their search for greenstone, and travel through Arthur's Pass National Park, home of the kea, the world's only alpine parrot. Continue down the spectacular Otira Gorge, follow the rivers to the West Coast, and walk an old gold miner's trail.

    Sightseeing

    Visit Hokitika, once a very large gold mining town, and walk through an ancient coastal forest. At the Bushman's Centre, meet a "Coaster" and some of the locals. Heading further south, see the west coast bush and the kettle lakes that were created by the melting ice sheets at the end of the last Ice Age.

    Bus

    Then, travel to Fox Glacier - a truly incredible sight!

    Hotel

    Stay overnight at Te Weheka Lodge. Meals: Breakfast, Morning Tea, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner.

  • Day 4 - Fox Glacier

    Fox Glacier/Lake Moeraki.
    Sightseeing

    Today you will explore the glaciated landscape of the Fox Glacier region, where you can take a hike up to the ice with an experienced alpine guide. For those who would like something a little more passive, enjoy a walk to a glacier viewpoint or take an optional helicopter ride to view the Southern Alps, with a special landing on the upper reaches of the glacier.

    Sightseeing

    After lunch, you can take a beautiful and tranquil walk to Lake Matheson, where incredible reflections of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman can often be seen. From Fox Glacier, journey farther south to Lake Moeraki, an area of pristine rainforest and spectacular coastline. This is the breeding place of the rare Fjordland Crested penguin (seasonal) and also hosts a seal colony, Hectors dolphins, and numerous native birds.

    Hotel

    Stay overnight at the Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge, a Tourism Award Winner.
    Meals: Breakfast, Morning Tea, Afternoon Tea, Dinner.

  • Day 5 - New Zealand

    Lake Moeraki.
    Adventure

    Your day will be spent at Lake Moeraki, a nature lover's paradise. Here, you will experience spectacular beaches that are home to fur seals and crested penguins and see untouched lowland rainforests. These rainforests are interspersed among pristine lakes and rivers, which drain the snow-capped Southern Alps. Activities include guided walks to get close to the wildlife, to learn about the forest, and to experience the amazing scenery.

    Relaxation

    If you prefer to have a restful day, then you can take a canoe out on the tranquil lake or just relax in the lodge.
    Meals: Breakfast, Morning Tea, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner.

  • Day 6 - Queenstown

    Lake Moeraki/Wanaka/Queenstown.
    Sightseeing

    Depart for Wanaka crossing over the Haast Pass where you will notice the land changing dramatically as the road climbs from the dense rainforest of the West Coast to the drier tussock lands of Otago. Pass Lakes Hawea and Wanaka, ancient glacial lakes, before heading over the rugged and remote Crown Range, the sight of gold diggers in the 1860's then on to Arrowtown.

    Sightseeing

    Visit the old Chinese gold miners' settlement and view this quaint old miner's village.

    Hotel

    Afterwards, continue on to Queenstown where you overnight at the Millbrook Country Resort for the next three nights.
    Meals: Breakfast, Morning Tea, Afternoon Tea, Dinner.

  • Day 7 - Queenstown

    Adventure

    You will have a free day to experience some of the many optional activities that Queenstown has to offer. Enjoy a relaxing cruise on the old steamship Earnslaw, the lady of the lake, or perhaps try an exhilarating jetboat trip through the Shotover Canyon.

    Shopping

    Shopping, staking in the spectacular views from the gondola, bush walks, or an arts and crafts trail are just of the few things you can do here.

    Hiking

    For those who wish to hike, a climb up Queenstown Hill offers spectacular views. Your guide will be available to assist with transfers as required.
    Meals: Breakfast.

  • Day 8 - Queenstown

    Queenstown/Milford Sound Excursion.
    Sightseeing

    The road to Milford Sound through the Fjordland National Park is absolutely breathtaking with its sheer U-shaped glaciated valleys, waterfalls, and lush, temperate rainforests. The Homer Tunnel, entry to the Cleddau Valley and Milford Sound, is a tribute to the engineers' skills in the 1930s.

    Sightseeing

    Explore the fjord on a cruise through deeply carved glacial valleys, past ancient forests and incredible rock formations before heading back to Queenstown. Catch a glimpse of the extremely rare Takahe, a flightless bird, at a sanctuary in Te Anau, and take a short walk to see waterfalls, alpine views, and lakes.

    Optional
    Sightseeing

    Optional alternatives include a helicopter trip which can include a snow landing or perhaps a return to Queenstown by scenic flight (not included in tour cost).
    Meals: Breakfast, Morning Tea, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner.

  • Day 9 - Queenstown

    Queenstown/Onward.
    Shopping

    After breakfast, you will have time for some last minute shopping or to experience that last piece of adventure before you bid farewell to New Zealand.
    Meals: Breakfast.

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