Top of the South Walking Tour
From $2490.00 per person
This six-day tour encompasses two of the South Island’s well known spectacular day walks with options for passengers not wishing to complete the walks. Explore the golden beaches, turquoise blue waters and luscious green forests of the extraordinary Abel Tasman National Park with a scenic cruise and walk. We also visit Queen Charlotte Sound for a scenic cruise and walk enjoying the panoramic views of the Marlborough Sounds, thriving native bush and encounters with the likes of weka, fantail, wood pigeon and even seals found within the sounds. Our journey also takes us south through the seaside town of Kaikoura travelling down the recently rebuilt State Highway 1.
Friday 22 March – Wednesday 27 March 2019 (6 Days)
Day 1 Friday 22 March 2019 HOME CITIES TO NELSON (D)
Today we fly from Auckland to Nelson, where on arrival we are greeted by our driver and embark on an orientation tour of Nelson. Welcome to Nelson – New Zealand’s largest fishing port and one of the country’s sunniest cities. The city is located on the top of the north-west corner of the South Island and is home to a fascinating community of beach, bush and art Iovers. There will be time available to browse the local shops before being transferred to our accommodation for the next two nights. Dinner tonight will be at our hotel.
Accommodation: The Hotel Nelson – 2 nights
Day 2 Saturday 23 March 2019 ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK (BLD)
This morning, we depart our hotel and travel to Kaiteriteri for a day of exploring the Abel Tasman National Park, which is New Zealand’s smallest National Park. On arrival in Kaiteriteri, we check in at Abel Tasman Sea Shuttles for the Discover Day Cruise. The Discoverer Day is the ultimate boat cruise and walk combination in the Abel Tasman National Park. With two different walk options, this trip offers the best of the Abel Tasman National Park with a Full Park scenic cruise, visit to Split Apple Rock and a Fur Seal colony, golden beaches, forest walking and wildlife encounters all in one day out. For those not wishing to complete the walk, you will enjoy the scenic cruise around the park, before having some leisure time in Kaiteriteri. A picnic lunch is included for passengers to enjoy either on-board the cruise, or during the walk. For those passengers not completing the walk, you will be transferred back to Nelson by coach, and for those completing the walk, you will be transferred back to Nelson by Abel Tasman Sea Shuttles.
Option A: Astrolabe Beaches and Bays (7km, 2.5 hour walk)
Returns to Kaiteriteri at 4.30pm
Following a Full Park Scenic Cruise, disembark at Apple Tree Bay at 12.00pm for a self-guided walk through to fabulous Anchorage Beach with time to visit five different beaches along the way. There is also the option to add the 1 hour Pitt Head Loop track to Te Pukatea beach. A great choice for beach lovers!
Option B: Forest and Swing-Bridge (10.5km, 4 hour walk)
Returns to Kaiteriteri at 4.30pm
Following a Full Park Scenic Cruise, disembark at Medlands Beach at 11.30am for a rewarding and varied walk to Anchorage Beach including the scenic highlights of the South Head lookout, the famous Falls River swing-bridge and Cleopatra’s Pool.
Non – Walking Option:
Full Park Scenic Cruise (3-4 hour cruise)
Returns to Kaiteriteri at 2.00pm
View world-famous Split Apple Rock, New Zealand Fur Seals, golden sands and the turquoise waters of Anchorage, Bark Bay, Tonga Quarry, Awaroa and Totaranui Beach before returning to Kaiteriteri. Enjoy a comprehensive commentary from their guides and watch the comings and goings of the park.
Day 3 Sunday 24 March 2019 NELSON TO PICTON (BD)
Departing Nelson this morning, we travel over the Whangamoa and Rai Saddles through the bush to Rai Valley. Rai Valley is now little more than a rest stop for buses travelling the 115km between Nelson and Blenheim, though once it boasted a cheese factory of high repute and a bakery, which achieved national fame for the length of its loaves. We will make time to stop at Pelorus Bridge where some may like to do the short bush walk to stretch your legs (5-10 minute return walk). Continuing on, we travel through Havelock and make our way to Blenheim. On arrival, there will be time for you to purchase some lunch and browse the local shops. This afternoon, we visit Wither Hills, one of Marlborough’s top wine producers for a wine-tasting in the special atmosphere of the Barrel Hall – let your senses absorb the scent of oak and yeast at work as you sample a selection of the Wither Hills range. After our wine tasting, we depart Blenheim and travel to the bustling port town of Picton located at the head of picturesque Queen Charlotte Sound where we will stay for the next two nights. Dinner tonight will be at our hotel.
Accommodation: Beachcomber Inn Hotel, Picton – 2 nights
Day 4 Monday 25 March 2019 QUEEN CHARLOTTE SOUND (BLD)
After breakfast this morning, we walk down to the Picton Wharf to board a Cougar Line vessel to cruise Queen Charlotte Sound. The Queen Charlotte Track runs almost the entire length of New Zealand’s Queen Charlotte Sound. The track stretches from Ship Cove to Anakiwa: 71 kilometres (approximately 45 miles) of spectacular walking track passing through historic sites, secluded bays and lush coastal bush. Today there is once again a walking and non walking option and all passengers receive a picnic lunch to enjoy along the way. On arrival back in Picton, the remainder of the afternoon is at leisure. Dinner tonight is included at our hotel.
Resolution Bay to Furneaux Lodge (10km, 3 hour walk)
Returns to Picton at 4.30pm
For those wanting to walk the Queen Charlotte track, cruise by water taxi on Queen Charlotte Sound then step ashore at Resolution Bay, to begin the 3 hour walk to Furneaux Lodge. This gentle coastal walking track passes through lush coastal forest, historic bays and along skyline ridges with unsurpassed views of the Marlborough Sounds. On arrival at Furneaux Lodge you are able to relax at their restaurant and bar over a beverage (own cost), or simply enjoy looking out over the calm, clear waters of Endeavour Inlet. A Cougar Line vessel will collect you from Furneaux Lodge and transfer you back to Picton.
Non – Walking Option:
Sounds Delivery Cruise (3 hour cruise)
Returns to Picton at 1.00pm
For those not wishing to complete the walk, sit back, as Cougar Line take us on their Sounds Delivery Cruise. You can enjoy 80km of beautiful coast line in 3 hours going into coves and hidden bays, not seen from the Interisland ferries, delivering walkers to the Queen Charlotte track and freight and fresh supplies to the remote homes and resorts along the Queen Charlotte Sound. Enjoy the skipper’s commentary on the natural environment and local history. At the completion of the cruise, the remainder of your day is at leisure in Picton.
Day 5 Tuesday 26 March 2019 PICTON TO CHRISTCHURCH (BD)
This morning, we depart Picton, and travel along the rugged coastline through to Kaikoura. This stretch of highway was closed following the Seddon Earthquake in November 2016 and reopened in December 2017. The earthquake pushed the land up by up to seven metres, and at Ohau Point 160,000m3 of slip material had covered the highway. This will be a great opportunity for you to see the newly built road and the engineering work that this massive task involved. The seaside settlement of Kaikoura, is overlooked by majestic mountains, which are snow-capped for many months of the year. On arrival in Kaikoura, you will have the option of walking the Kaikoura Peninsula Walk.
Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway (7km, 2 hour walk)
The Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway track crosses the peninsula’s cliff top, with excellent views of the Seaward Kaikoura Range, ocean and coastline, to South Bay. Arrive at Whalers Bay from where a ten minute track follows a former whalers’ route down the cliff to the shore line. Return back up via the same cliff track and continue to South Bay View Point. Leave South Bay View Point to walk to the South Bay car park for coach to pick up.
Non Walking Option:
For those not wishing to complete the walk, you will have some leisure time in Kaikoura browsing the local shops, before driving around the Peninsula to collect the passengers completing the walk. For those interested, take a Whale Watch experience by modern purpose-built catamaran for an exciting close-up encounter with the Giant Sperm Whale in their natural environment. The upwelling of nutrient rich waters around Kaikoura support an abundant and diverse fauna of vertebrates, fish and marine mammals. At times you may also see Dusky Dolphins and the rare Hector Dolphins, NZ fur seals, sea lions and a large variety of seabirds including the smallest of the penguins, the little Blue Penguin. The whalewatching excursion is an additional cost and needs to be requested at time of booking.
Departing Kaikoura, we continue our travels south following the indentations of a wild coastline affording constantly changing seascapes as it skirts an exposed rock strewn shore at the foot of the Seaward Kaikoura Mountains. There are spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. At Oaro the road turns inland and quickly climbs into the Hunderlee Ranges then descends into the rolling farmland of North Canterbury passing through a number of small country towns before entering the northern suburbs of Christchurch and arriving at our accommodation for the evening. Tonight we’ll enjoy a farewell dinner at our hotel.
Accommodation: Quality Hotel Elms, Christchurch – 1 night
Day 6 Wednesday 27 March 2019 CHRISTCHURCH TO HOME CITIES (B)
After breakfast this morning, we’ll travel into the Christchurch CBD for a sightseeing tour. Highlights include the River Avon, Christchurch Art Gallery; Bridge of Remembrance; the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial and the Art Deco New Regent Street. Learn about the effects of the 2011 Christchurch Earthquakes and how the city is rebuilding. After the sightseeing tour, our driver will stop at the Canterbury Museum and Botanic Gardens, where you will have the opportunity to explore the city at your leisure. You may like to take a stroll through the beautiful gardens, or visit the Canterbury Museum to learn about the past, present and future of Canterbury. Around midday, we will reconvene as a group and travel out to Christchurch Airport for our flight home.