Wonderous Walks of New Zealand
New Zealand has an extensive network of walking trails for all abilities and is a real treat for lovers of the great outdoors. There are a huge variety of walking opportunities, from more relaxed gentle strolls to challenging day walks through sub-tropical bush or energetic treks into alpine environments. This 14 day tour includes walks in both the North and South Island and offers options for those who don’t wish to walk or may want to rest up.
Thursday 26 November – Wednesday 9 December 2020 (14 Days)
Day 1 Thursday 26 November 2020 – HOME CITIES TO NATIONAL PARK (D)
Today we commence our travel south travelling to Rotorua, with our first stop being Waimangu Volcanic Valley. Your guided walk in the Waimangu Volcanic Valley takes you on an ecology-focused adventure of the craters of this beautiful valley. As you walk through the youngest eco-systems in the world you will view a range of geothermal activity, native plants and bird-life. There are many walks, mainly downhill, for you to choose from. Options include Echo Crater, and Frying Pan Lake, the world’s largest hot water spring. The mysterious and dramatic Inferno Crater and its beautiful blue hot lake will take your breath away. At any stage of your walk you can take the courtesy shuttle bus, which regularly circles the valley, back to the Waimangu Visitor Centre. There is a café onsite for you to purchase your lunch. This afternoon we depart Waimangu and drive through the Kaingaroa State Forest, one of the largest planted forests in the world, to Wairakei. Here steam ensuing after contact with hot rocks beneath the earth’s crust is harnessed to generate electricity at two power stations. Stop at Huka Falls and marvel as the mighty Waikato River thunders through the narrow canyon. Continue the short distance to the resort town of Taupo on the shores of Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake. From Taupo travel around Lake Taupo to the Tongariro Volcanic Plateau in the Tongariro National Park, a UNESCO cultural and natural World Heritage Site. The volcanoes of Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro dominate the landscape of the Central North Island. Tonight we’ll enjoy a group dinner at the hotel.
Accommodation: The Park Hotel, National Park – 2 nights
Day 2 Friday 27 November 2020 – Tongariro National Park (BD)
Today you get the option to choose the walk you would like to complete in the Tongariro National Park.
Option One: Taranaki Falls (6km, 2 hour walk): A walk through open tussock and forest to the falls which plunge over the edge of an ancient Lava flow. A good area to observe small native birds flitting among the mountain beech trees in search of insects.
Option Two: Tama Lakes (5-6 hour, 17km walk): This walk continues from Taranaki Falls to the Lower and Upper Tama Lakes, offering fine views of Mount’s Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu
Day 3 Saturday 28 November 2020 – NATIONAL PARK TO WELLINGTON (BD)
After breakfast this morning we depart National Park and travel to Wellington. Pass through Waiouru and Taihape and descend through the Mangaweka Hills to the Manawatu Plains. Continue down the Kapiti Coast and arrive in Wellington early-afternoon. Wellington is built on the hills around a magnificent natural harbour. This afternoon we enjoy a sightseeing tour including Parliament Buildings, Old St Paul’s Cathedral, Victoria University, the views from Kelburn and the lovely Botanical Gardens. Some of you may wish to stroll through the botanical gardens back to our centrally located accommodation. Dinner tonight will be at the hotel.
Accommodation: Novotel Wellington
Day 4 Sunday 29 November 2020 – WELLINGTON TO PICTON (BD)
This morning we visit Te Papa, New Zealand’s National Museum which offers visitors a unique and authentic experience of New Zealand’s treasures and stories. Time to explore Te Papa independently to learn about the shaping of its land, the spirit of its diverse peoples, its unique wildlife, landscapes and its distinctive popular culture. There will be time to have lunch here in the café (own cost). This afternoon we depart onboard the Interislander Ferry for the 3-hour cruise to Picton. The city of Wellington is set around a magnificent harbour and there is no better way of appreciating its grandeur than from the ferry as it cruises south towards Cook Strait. This narrow stretch of water named after the explorer Captain James Cook can be extremely turbulent due to the high winds that are funnelled between the South and North Islands. The ferry is only in the Strait for a short time before entering Queen Charlotte Sound through Tory Channel. The cruise down the calm waters of Queen Charlotte Sound to Picton is sure to be a highlight as the hills surrounding the Sound are particularly picturesque. We arrive in Picton in the early evening and settle into our accommodation for the next two nights. Dinner tonight is at our hotel.
Accommodation: Picton Beachcomber Inn – 2 nights
Day 5 Monday 30 November 2020 – QUEEN CHARLOTTE TRACK (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 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.
Furneaux Lodge to Punga Cove (4 hours, 11km walk)
Returns to Picton at 4.30pm
Step ashore at Furneaux Lodge and take a walk on part of the Queen Charlotte Track (Furneux Lodge to Punga Cove, 4 hours, 11km) through magnificent virgin forest with breath-taking views of the Sounds. This coastal walking track passes through lush coastal forest, historic bays and along skyline ridges with unsurpassed views of the Marlborough Sounds. A picnic lunch will be included for you to eat during your walk. Upon arrival at Punga Cove Resort relax on the deck of the Boat Shed Café with a well-deserved beverage (own cost) before boarding the water taxi for the journey back to Picton. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
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 takes us on their Sounds Delivery Cruise. You can enjoy 80km of beautiful coastline 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 6 Tuesday 1 December 2020 – PICTON TO CHRISTCHURCH (BD)
Travel south through the vineyards of the Marlborough Wine Country surrounding the town of Blenheim on State Highway 1 and continue south along the eastern coastline hugging the Pacific Ocean to Kaikoura where the mountains meet the sea. The Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway track crosses the peninsula’s clifftop, with excellent views of the Seaward Kaikoura Range, ocean and coastline, to South Bay. Arrive Whalers Bay from where a ten minute track follows a former whalers’ route down the cliff to the shoreline. 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. (2 hour walk). Time out for lunch in Kaikoura (own cost) before reboarding the coach and continuing your journey south through the newly established wine region of Waipara and the farmlands of North Canterbury to Christchurch, where we will enjoy an orientation tour of the city. Dinner tonight is at the hotel.
Accommodation: Quality Hotel Elms, Christchurch – 2 nights
Day 7 Wednesday 2 December 2020 – CHRISTCHURCH AT LEISURE (B)
The day is at leisure to enjoy the ‘Garden City’, which has also been described as “the most English city outside England”. You may wish to stroll through the Botanic Gardens and along the banks of the meandering Avon River, visit the shops and stalls of the Arts Centre, ride the historic tram around the city circuit (extra cost) or visit the Canterbury Museum and the new Christchurch Art Gallery. Dinner tonight is at your leisure.
DAY 8 Thursday 3 December 2020 – CHRISTCHURCH TO TWIZEL (BD)
Today we travel south across the fertile Canterbury Plains. The area is New Zealand’s major crop producer as well as sheep and cattle farming. We will stop in the charming boutique village of Geraldine, visiting the Four Peaks Plaza which is home to an array of speciality shops offering imaginative giftware, quality clothing and locally made gourmet delights. We continue our journey with our next stop being Fairlie, the eastern gateway to the Mackenzie Country, where we will stop for lunch (own cost). The road travels climbs over Burkes Pass into the MacKenzie Country named after a 19th century sheep stealer. The climatic change is dramatic with vast tussock covered plains framed by the Southern Alps as a backdrop. Pass the turquoise coloured glacier fed waters of Lakes Tekapo and Pukaki with views of the Alps to the west. See the quaint Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo. We will stop in Tekapo for photo opportunities before continuing to Twizel where we stay for the next two nights.
Accommodation: Mackenzie Country Inn, Twizel – 2 nights
Day 9 Friday 4 December 2020 – TWIZEL – MOUNT COOK – TWIZEL (BD)
This morning we retrace our steps drive along the shores of Lake Pukaki into Mount Cook National Park and Mount Cook village where you can view Mount Cook itself (conditions permitting). At the heart of New Zealand’s most spectacular alpine region is Mt Cook, at 3743 metres, it is the highest mountain in New Zealand. The Mount Cook National Park comprises 70,013 hectares of ice, snow, rock, sub-alpine scrub, tussock and riverbeds. Our day will be spent walking near Mount Cook, taking a spectacular route along the Hooker Valley (3 hours,10km walk) with views to Mount Wakefield, Footstool and the south face of Mount Cook. This popular route leads towards Mount Cook, crossing two swing bridges and continues to the terminal of the Hooker Glacier. After our walk we stop in at the Hermitage for you to purchase lunch (own cost). Later this afternoon we drive back alongside Lake Pukaki and return to Twizel for the evening. Dinner tonight will be at our hotel.
Day 10 Saturday 5 December 2020 – TWIZEL – TE ANAU (BD)
After breakfast this morning we depart Twizel and travel south through the small town at Omarama. At the southern end of the Mackenzie Country, the road climbs through bleak rugged hills to the summit of the Lindis Pass before descending into Central Otago. The road follows the mighty Clutha River into recently created Lake Dunstan then through the spectacular rugged Kawarau Gorge to Queenstown. After our lunch stop near Queenstown (own cost), we drive around the eastern shores of Lake Wakatipu and across the picturesque Southland countryside to Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland National Park and starting point for some of New Zealand’s most famous walking tracks. Te Anau is set on the shores of Lake Te Anau, the largest freshwater lake in the South Island. On arrival in Te Anau, we will check into our accommodation. Dinner tonight will be at our hotel.
Accommodation: Distinction Luxmore, Te Anau – 2 nights
Day 11 Sunday 6 December 2020 – TE ANAU (B)
Today we board the Fiordland Jet for a fast and thrilling jet boat ride across Lake Te Anau, the largest of the southern glacial lake, surrounded by majestic mountains and ancient forests. Marvel at the Murchison Mountains, which rise a staggering 1400 metres above the lake surface as we skim across the pristine waters towards Dock Bay. At Dock Bay we disembark the boat and enjoy some time on shore to look for Mohua and Korimako and admire different species of moss and marvel at the beech forest up close. There will be plenty of time for photos, so make sure your camera is fully charged with plenty of memory space. You then have the option to return via jet boat or return to Te Anau via the self-guided Kepler Track. It is approximately two hours walk back to Te Anau, and you can walk this at your own pace. On arrival back in Te Anau, the remainder of the day is at leisure.
Day 12 Monday 7 December 2020 – TE ANAU – MILFORD SOUNDS – QUEENSTOWN (BLD)
Depart and journey into the dramatic landscape of the Fiordland National Park to Milford Sound. Stop at the Mirror Lakes to see the near perfect reflections of the mountains in the calm waters, see the Disappearing Mountain as you drive down ‘The Avenue’ then take a short walk to the Chasm and see where the waters disappear into the rocks before arriving in Milford Sound. Cruise the fiord past Mitre Peak to the Tasman Sea enjoying the stunning scenery of cascading waterfalls, dense rainforest, steep cliff faces and marine life that inhabits these waters. A Picnic box lunch is included and your nature guide will give a commentary on the interesting features of the area. At conclusion of the cruise, we retrace our steps back to Te Anau travelling via the Cleddeau Gorge, Homer Tunnel and the lovely Eglinton Valley. From Te Anau we travel through the quaint settlements of Mossburn, Athol and Garston then travel along the shores of Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown. On arrival in Queenstown, we enjoy an orientation tour before checking in at our accommodation. Dinner tonight is at our hotel.
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel, Queenstown – 2 nights
Day 13 Tuesday 8 December 2020 – QUEENSTOWN AT LEISURE (B)
Today is at leisure. Queenstown has a plethora of optional sightseeing activities available from jet-boating on the thrilling Shotover Jet; a jet-boat excursion along the scenic and remote Dart River; winery tours to the premier Central Otago wineries; 4WD tours into unforgettable Skippers Canyon; scenic flights; fly-fishing or if you dare – bungy jumping or tandem sky-diving! Extra cost for optional sightseeing excursions. Dinner tonight is at leisure.
Day 14 Wednesday 9 December 2020 – DEPART QUEENSTOWN (B)
Today you will be transferred from the hotel to Queenstown Airport for your flight to your home city.