The Southern Circuit and Westland Mountain Country
Door to Door pickups, Flights, Transport, Accommodation, All Tours, Meals as listed (B breakfast, MT Morning tea, L lunch, D dinner)
DAY ONE D
This morning we fly high above the Southern Alps all the way to the deep south, landing at Queenstown Airport nestled amongst the snow-capped mountains. From here we will take the scenic lakeside drive through the hustle and bustle of Queenstown, along the edge of Lake Wakatipu to Glenorchy Village. Along the way, time permitting we will enjoy the 10min Beech Forest Walk to Bob’s Cove and a photo stop at Bennett’s Bluff. On our return to Queenstown we will check into our hotel and enjoy a lovely meal at the onsite restaurant.
DAY TWO B, D
With our cooked breakfast energising us for the day we set sail. A scenic drive up onto the alpine landscape of Coronet Peak offers superb views. We spend the rest of our morning exploring the magical Arrowtown streets and historic Chinese gold mining camps. Have lunch at a café of your fancy. After lunch, we will continue on through the tussock clad mountains, stopping in at the Historic Cardrona Hotel before arriving at Lake Wanaka and our accommodation. Time permitting a drive around to view some of the many new building developments taking shape. There will be plenty to discuss as we gather for a social evening and dinner.
DAY THREE B, MT, D
By now we will be getting quite used to these cooked breakfasts. Today, weather permitting we plan to take our morning tea with us and boat cruise to the remote and magical Mou Waho Island nature reserve, which is predator–free and home to the rare flightless Buff Weka (extinct on the mainland since 1920). Sit back, relax and enjoy the birdlife at the beach and shelter at the island base with your own morning tea. Drink in the vibrant birdsong and the panorama of the Southern Alps spread out before. Plant a native tree as part of your eco-experience. This is a unique opportunity to give back to this special island and New Zealand’s environment. We will cruise further up the Lake enjoy mountain views only a few get to enjoy. Lunch will be taken at a café of your own choosing on our return to Wanaka. Time for a stroll around the lovely shops before we meet again and travel to Warbirds & Wheels Museum which houses New Zealand’s best collection of luxury American Classic cars and Vintage vehicles. The extensive upgrade showcases how classic cars, warbirds and people’s lives have changed through the major conflicts of the 20th century through to modern times. The attraction also boasts six fighter aircraft from World War 1, World War 2 through to the impressive Skyhawk and more modern jets. Included is a display on local aviation legend Sir Tim Wallis, Ralph Watson Workshop and Grahame Sydney lithographs. After a lot of fun, it will be time for us to head back to our accommodation.
DAY FOUR B, D
This morning, pointing the compass west we head back into the mountains. Driving alongside the many spectacular kilometres of Lakes Hawea and Wanaka to arrive at Makarora Lodge, a great place for a cuppa and very informative stop covering this awe-inspiring landscape. After lunch, we continue up the Makarora Valley to Haast, passing along and over famous rivers Makarora, Haast and Landsborough. As an option we will enjoy some lovely 5-minute short walks, through beech forest (please note they are optional). These short walks will visit the Fantail and Thunder Falls along the way as we drive our way to the Roaring Billy Falls and as every holiday should include a jet boating experience. We take a jet boat tour in a fully enclosed riverboat. Great visibility is ensured, yet you remain warm, dry and comfortable, making this a unique and safe experience suitable for anyone of any age to participate in and enjoy. We will ride down the Haast River through the South Westland World Heritage area. Learn from our local and highly experienced jet boat driver/guides about the physical attributes of this remarkable glacial valley, where temperate rainforest thrives. Hear stories of the Kiwi spirit that enabled the Haast community to survive on the edge of the wilderness. We'll stop so you can get out of the boat so that you can reflect on the fact you are in one of our last frontiers. While the scenic value is terrific on a sunny day, the valley is equally awesome during rain with mist shrouding the forest, waterfalls in full flow and light reflecting the multiple shades of green. Arriving at Haast we will book into our accommodation. Before dinner we meet once again around the crackling fire to relive the highlights from the day.
DAY FIVE B, MT, L, D
Sleeping in a little longer today. We have a little of South Westland to explore. The plan will be hatched over breakfast and at a civilised time we will depart for our destination of Jackson Bay. This rugged coastline, which is covered in driftwood, lined with flaxy swamps and backed up against rain forest clad mountains certainly makes for a marvellous setting and lives up to the name of the “Wild West Coast”. After a bit of beach combing and lunch, we will be qualified to post judgement on Jackson Bay’s iconic cuisine. We will then head back to Haast paying a visit to the Department of Conservation Visitor Centre before returning to our Hotel for the evening.
DAY SIX B, D
Today we start our journey up the West Coast, stopping in at Ship Creek Lookout, taking a lovely short walk through wetlands, moving onto Knights Point and then to the shores of the inky black waters of Lake Paringa. We will enjoy morning tea at South Westland Salmon and Café nestled up against podocarp forest and offering great views off the deck across the salmon ponds and mountains in the distance. We travel onto Fox Glacier Village with some free time to look around the village, find a place to sit down for some lunch at one of the many cafes before a drive-up Glacier View Road, for a peak of the Fox Glacier. Time permitting, we will travel to the Fox Glacier carpark, and for those wanting a little exercise they can take the walk to the base lookout. We will then book into our lodgings for the evening and enjoy another lovely meal together.
DAY SEVEN B, D
Hokitika is the destination today but first we stop in Whataroa, where we will take a boat tour to the only known nesting site for White Herons in New Zealand. Situated along the banks of the Waitangiroto River. It’s thought the first White Herons were windblown across the Tasman Sea from Australia and why the White Herons have only one nesting site or why in this location, remains a mystery of nature. We will experience the untouched beauty of the prehistoric Kahikatea Rainforest and the natural Flora in one of our country’s special places. Our afternoon will see us visiting the new Treetop Walk. A safe, exhilarating treetop adventure among temperate rainforest giants. Life with the birds, high in the ancient Rimu and Kamahi tree canopy. Easy access for all to enjoy along a steel platform 20 meters high and over 450 meters long. We will enjoy a leisurely 45 minute to one-hour stroll through the beautiful rainforest treetops. Walk complete we travel through to Hokitika for the night.
DAY EIGHT B, D
This morning will see us travelling to the wonderful Hokitika Gorge, a fine example of nature’s power in water. We will then make our way by road back to the East Coast traversing the Southern Alps mountain road up and over Arthur’s Pass, stopping for lunch in the pass. We will wind our way back down to the green flat plains of Canterbury time permitting we will have some free time in the CBD area then on to our hotel in Christchurch. Tonight, our last night together, we will meet before dinner and relive the great few days away and celebrate the new friendships formed.
DAY NINE B
After breakfast, we will make our way to the Airport and catch our flight home, say our farewells and be delivered home, another adventure complete and lots of new experiences to share with friends and family.
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