Deluxe Wilderness Explorer

Travel Idea:

Deluxe Wilderness Explorer

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Length of trip:

14 days

Approximate price of this trip per person:

from $ 6495

Best travel dates to go:

January, February, March, April, September, October, November, December


Detailed Description of this trip:

Our Deluxe Wilderness Explorer is for travelers who want to go deep into a variety of environments and experience all that New Zealand has to offer. On this two-week-long journey, you will explore both New Zealand’s North and South Islands in the company of seasoned, brilliantly informed guides. From Auckland, you will travel through the historical Coromandel Peninsula to the Bay of Plenty. You have the opportunity to explore Rotorua and its geothermal wonders before flying onward to Christchurch, “the Garden City.” Next, you will witness the spectacular scenery of Arthur’s Pass and Fox Glacier. Then, 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 - Auckland

    Auckland/Coromandel Peninsula.
    Sightseeing

    Upon arrival at the airport in Auckland, you will be met by your guide, who will then drive you south through picturesque farmland and coastal scenery to the beautiful, historic Coromandel Peninsula. Along the way, you will stop at the old goldmine town of Thames, the gateway to Coromandel, where the streets are lined with old wooden houses and pubs dating from the 19th century.

    Mountain Climbing

    You then climb steeply over mountains, clad with dense rainforest to the Pacific coast of the peninsula with stops for photos along the way.

    Beach

    From here, it is a short ride to the quiet coastal town nestled beside a crystal clear harbor and a lovely beach with many islands just off the coast, where you will stay for the next 2 nights. Meals: Lunch.

    Hotel

    Lodging: Puka Park Lodge (or similar).

  • Day 2 - Coromandel

    Coromandel Peninsula.
    Sightseeing

    Begin your exciting adventure with a walk through the rainforest along forgotten paths to the incredibly scenic Puketui Valley to visit goldmines, where you can see the glowworms in the old caves and even visit an underground jail!

    Beach

    You then follow the coast with its stunning views and white sandy beaches to Cooks Beach, named after Captain Cook where he observed the transit of Mercury in 1769. Your guides know and have loved this region since childhood and will share their vast knowledge with you.

    Beach

    A delightful picnic lunch will be enjoyed at one of your guide's "favorite picnic spots." Tide permitting, you will stroll to the unique "Hotwater Beach," where you can dip your toes in the hot springs.

    Hotel

    Return to your hotel. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch. Lodging: Puka Park Lodge (or similar).

  • Day 3 - Rotorua

    Coromandel/Bay of Plenty/Rotorua.
    Sightseeing

    Depart Coromandel in an ever-changing panorama of forests, mountains, beaches, and islands, and enter the Bay of Plenty, home to plantations of kiwi fruit, citrus, avocados, flowers, and deer farms.

    Sightseeing

    You will see the "mural town" of Katikati, with its open-air art on the area’s history, and visit a private working orchard growing kiwi fruit, avocados, and export flowers.

    Sightseeing

    After a delightful lunch, you pass the lakes to Rotorua, a city built in the crater of a huge volcano. Your guide will give you an overview of this fascinating region before arriving at your accommodation. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch.

    Bed & Breakfast

    Lodging: Local hotel or bed & breakfast.

  • Day 4 - Christchurch

    Rotorua/Christchurch.
    Commercial Flight

    Your morning is free to explore Rotorua before flying south to Christchurch, the "Garden City."

    After you are transferred to your hotel or bed & breakfast.

    Sightseeing

    Enjoy the ambience of this very "English" city. It is sometimes said to be “more English than England.” Founded by English settlers in 1850, Christchurch became a city by Royal Charter in 1856, which makes it the oldest officially established city in New Zealand. Meals: Breakfast.

    Bed & Breakfast

    Lodging: Local hotel or bed & breakfast.

  • Day 5 - Christchurch

    Sightseeing

    Today is a day on your own to explore. The peace, the open spaces, the lush colors and rich textures of a city, where a leisurely pace still prevails, never fail to capture the imagination. Located on the east coast of the South Island, Christchurch is a city of contrasts. Officially known as the “Garden City,” Christchurch has over 3,000 hectares of parklands, which include Hagley Park and the famous Botanical Gardens. Located next to these gardens is the Christchurch Arts Centre, which is the hub of Christchurch art and the headquarters of many art, craft, and recreation associations and groups. Christchurch is perfect for exploring on foot because it is attractive, fascinating, and flat! The central city is a particularly dynamic place, offering numerous opportunities to shop, sightsee, and socialize. And it’s surprisingly easy to get about. You can hop aboard one of the beautifully restored vintage trams, hire a bicycle, enjoy a punt on the Avon River, or simply stroll about on foot. The great variety of cafes and bars offer an excellent street-side vantage point from which to enjoy a glass or two of local wine, freshly brewed coffee, or an amazing array of international cuisine.

    Food and Dining

    And then there are many fine restaurants to experience.

    Optional
    Nightlife

    Perhaps as a prelude to a night’s entertainment at the theatre, cinema, nightclub, or the casino. Meals: Breakfast.

    Bed & Breakfast

    Lodging: Local hotel or bed & breakfast.

  • Day 6 - Christchurch

    Christchurch/Arthur's Pass.
    Sightseeing

    Your guide will meet you and take you through Christchurch and up onto the Port Hills, the flanks of one of the ancient extinct volcanoes that form the Banks Peninsula. From the hills there are spectacular views of the city, and the Kaikoura Range can be seen far to the north, while the Pacific Ocean sparkles to the east. To the south and west the vast Canterbury Plains stretch to the horizon, and in the distance, the Southern Alps beckon you to discover them. Escape the city and start your journey west across the Canterbury Plains. Crossing Porter’s Pass, a dramatic landscape change occurs as you enter the high country, a high tussock grass basin bounded by the Torlesse Mountains to the east and the Craigieburn Mountains to the west.

    Sightseeing

    Traveling through the Arthur's Pass region you will pass glacial-formed lakes, the limestone formations of Castle Hill that dominate the landscape, and the wide expanse of the Waimakariri River.
    Meals: Afternoon Tea, Dinner.

    Hotel

    Lodging: Arthur’s Pass Wilderness Lodge.

  • Day 7 - New Zealand

    Arthur's Pass.
    Sightseeing

    This is a day to discover the real high country - a day where you can explore and learn about the alpine landscape, the plants, and the animals, and take in the spectacular Southern Alps.

    Sightseeing

    A tour of the high country sheep farm that is part of the lodge will enable you to visit the woolshed, see a sheepdog demonstration, and help with the day-to-day activities.

    Canoeing

    Walking, canoeing, and mountain bike riding are available.

    Optional
    Relaxation

    Perhaps you would rather just relax in the lounge and gaze at the surrounding peaks.
    Meals: Breakfast, Morning Tea, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner.

    Hotel

    Lodging: Arthur’s Pass Wilderness Lodge.

  • Day 8 - Hokitika

    Arthur's Pass/Hokitika/Fox Glacier.
    Sightseeing

    After breakfast, travel through the Arthur’s Pass National Park and depart Canterbury province for Westland (“The West Coast”). Originally used by the Maori to move greenstone from the west coast and later as a link to the gold rush fields, this route will reveal great mountain valleys and you will marvel at the road as it winds its way down the spectacular Otira Gorge – a geographer’s dream. Follow rivers that flow to the West Coast and observe the changes to the rainforest and the many varieties of ferns that contribute to their character.

    Sightseeing

    Travel on a backcountry road, walk through old gold miners' tunnels, and be amazed at the tenacity of the miners in their quest for gold. Visit Hokitika, once the capitol of Westland, a roaring gold mining town and also a place where the Maori sought their treasured greenstone (jade). Greenstone is a feature in the town’s bustling center of art and craft shops. As you journey south you will be able to visit the Bushman's Centre where you can meet some "coasters" in a village with a population of two! Heading farther south see the West Coast bush and further evidence of the last Ice Age in the kettle lakes created by the melting ice sheets.

    Hotel

    Arrive at Fox Glacier - a truly amazing natural wonder! Meals: Breakfast, Morning Tea, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner. Lodging: Te Weheka Lodge.

  • Day 9 - Fox Glacier

    Fox Glacier/Lake Moeraki.
    Sightseeing

    Today you will explore the glaciated landscape of the Fox Glacier region. Walks are available to the terminal face of the Fox Glacier or to a glacier viewpoint to witness the glacier’s descent down the mountain into the rainforest.

    Hiking

    Here, you can experience a guided hike on the Fox Glacier with an alpine guide, making it a highlight of the tour.

    Sightseeing

    For those who would like something a little more passive, perhaps an exciting helicopter ride to view the Southern Alps with a snow landing on the upper reaches of the glacier. (Please note that the optional glacial hike and helicopter trips are not included in the tour cost and are subject to the weather).

    Sightseeing

    After lunch, you can take a beautiful and tranquil walk around the edge of Lake Matheson, where incredible reflections of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman towering on the horizon above the lake can often be seen.

    Sightseeing

    Alternatively, you can enjoy a drive through the lush rainforest to a remote beach on the Tasman Sea for views of the Alps. Here, you can also look for the rare Hectors dolphins.

    Hotel

    From Fox Glacier, travel south to the Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge, an area of pristine rainforest and spectacular coastline, set in the heart of Te Wahi Pounamu – the southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area. This lodge is a Tourism Award Winner and provides a first-class wilderness experience. Meals: Breakfast, Morning Tea, Afternoon Tea, Dinner.

  • Day 10 - New Zealand

    Lake Moeraki.
    Sightseeing

    Spend the day at Lake Moeraki, a nature lover's paradise. Untouched lowland rainforests spread between pristine lakes and rivers that drain the snow-capped Southern Alps. Few places on earth can match the unique natural setting of Lake Moeraki. This special place is home to breeding colonies of the rare Fiordland Crested penguin (seasonal), the Hectors dolphins, and numerous native birds.

    Beach

    Visits can be made to wild and remote beaches and activities include guided walks to get close to the wildlife, to learn about the forest, and to experience amazing scenery.

    Canoeing

    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.

    Hotel

    Lodging: Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge.

  • Day 11 - Wanaka

    Lake Moeraki/Wanaka/Queenstown.
    Sightseeing

    Depart for Wanaka with a stop at Ship Creek, where there is a good chance of seeing the rare Hectors dolphin playing beyond the surf. You can also walk through a swamp forest to see ancient "dinosaur" trees, view a coastal lagoon, and search for greenstone on the remote beach. Continue east, following the Haast Highway, and observe how the landscape again changes dramatically as the road climbs over the Haast Pass from the dense rainforest of the west coast to the drier tussock lands of Otago. On the way, there are short walks to see waterfalls, and if there has been recent rainfall, the Haast River passing through the gorge (known as the Gates of Haast) can be truly spectacular. Shortly after the Haast Pass the road skirts first along the banks of the headwaters of Lake Wanaka.

    Sightseeing

    Then it makes a slight turn and rises over a ridge, and Lake Hawea is before you. The road follows the shoreline of this lake, and then you reach Wanaka, a quiet mountain resort on the shores of Lake Wanaka. From here, head over the rugged and remote Crown Range, the site of gold diggings in the 1860s.

    Sightseeing

    Arrive in Arrowtown and visit the old Chinese gold miners' settlement and view this quaint old village tied into the history of gold.

    Hotel

    It is then a short drive to your Queenstown accommodation. Meals: Breakfast, Morning Tea, Afternoon Tea, Dinner. Lodging: Millbrook Country Resort (or similar)

  • Day 12 - Queenstown

    Adventure

    You will have a free day to experience some of the many activities that Queenstown has to offer. Your guide will be available to advise and assist with transfers to the venues and activities in the Queenstown area of your choice.

    Adventure

    Enjoy a relaxing cruise on the old steamship Earnslaw, the lady of the lake. For those wanting more excitement, try an exhilarating jetboat trip through the Shotover Canyon. Another New Zealand experience is a bungee jump at the Kawarau Bridge, the first bungee jumping site in the world. There are wineries to visit and also an arts and crafts trail around the district to visit some of the many artists and craft studios. Golf and horseback riding are other possibilities available in Queenstown.

    Shopping

    For some, this is an ideal opportunity to do some shopping.

    Hiking

    A ride up the gondola offers spectacular views across to the mountains known as the Remarkables. For those who wish to hike, a climb up Queenstown Hill offers wonderful views.

    Relaxation

    Perhaps you might enjoy a leisurely stroll around a remote and beautiful glacial lake.
    Meals: Breakfast.

    Hotel

    Lodging: Millbrook Country Resort (or similar)

  • Day 13 - Queenstown

    Queenstown/Milford Sound Excursion.
    National Parks

    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 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.

    Sightseeing

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

    Hotel

    Lodging: Millbrook Country Resort (or similar)

  • Day 14 - 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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