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adventure travel trip to New Zealand
New Zealand is known for its stunning coastlines
  • Oct 28-Nov 10, 2014
  • Nov 9-22, 2014
  • Dec 1-14, 2014
  • View all trip dates
  • Duration 14 days
    Group Size 4-6
    Land Cost $9,895 Details
    Single Supplement $2,295
    Lodging 4 stars
    Grade I-II
    Best Time

    Deluxe Wilderness Explorer

    Explore North and South with a superb guide and staying in the finest ecolodges

    Day 1      Auckland/Coromandel Peninsula

    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. You then climb steeply over mountains, clad with dense rainforest to the Pacific coast of the peninsula with stops for photos along the way. 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
    Lodging: Puka Park Lodge (or similar)

    Day 2      Coromandel Peninsula

    Begin your exciting adventure with a walk though 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! 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. 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 before returning to your hotel.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Puka Park Lodge (or similar)

    Day 3      Bay of Plenty/Rotorua

    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. 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. 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
    Lodging: Local hotel or bed & breakfast

    Day 4      Rotorua/Christchurch

    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, sit back and 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
    Lodging: Local hotel or bed & breakfast

    Day 5      Christchurch

    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. And then there are many fine restaurants to experience, perhaps as a prelude to a night’s entertainment at the theatre, cinema, nightclub, or the casino.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Local hotel or bed & breakfast

    Day 6      Canterbury Plains/Arthur's Pass

    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. 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: Breakfast, Afternoon Tea, Dinner
    Lodging: Arthur’s Pass Wilderness Lodge

    Day 7      Arthur's Pass

    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. 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. Walking, canoeing, and mountain bike riding are available, or perhaps you would rather just relax in the lounge and gaze at the surrounding peaks.

    Meals: Breakfast, Morning Tea, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner
    Lodging: Arthur’s Pass Wilderness Lodge

    Day 8      Arthur's Pass/Hokitika/Fox Glacier

    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. 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. Arrive at Fox Glacier - a truly amazing natural wonder!

    Meals: Breakfast, Morning Tea, Afternoon Tea
    Lodging: Franz Josef or Fox Glacier Lodge

    Day 9      Fox Glacier/Lake Moeraki

    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. Here, you can experience a guided hike on the Fox Glacier with an alpine guide, making it a highlight of the tour. 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). 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. 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. 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, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner
    Lodging: Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge

    Day 10      Lake Moeraki

    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. 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. 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
    Lodging: Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge

    Day 11      Ship Creek/Wanaka/Arrowtown

    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. 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. Arrive in Arrowtown and visit the old Chinese gold miners' settlement and view this quaint old village tied into the history of gold. It is then a short drive to your Queenstown accommodation.

    Meals: Breakfast, Morning Tea, Afternoon Tea
    Lodging: Millbrook Country Resort (or similar)

    Day 12      Queenstown

    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. 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. For some, this is an ideal opportunity to do some shopping. 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. Perhaps you might enjoy a leisurely stroll around a remote and beautiful glacial lake.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Millbrook Country Resort (or similar)

    Day 13      Milford Sound Excursion

    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. 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. 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
    Lodging: Millbrook Country Resort (or similar)

    Day 14      Queenstown/Onward

    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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