South Island Alpine Adventure

About the Experience

“I’m going to New Zealand.” This little phrase has been tucked away with your other daydreams for years. You’ve tried to imagine actually strolling through the majestic splendour of this landscape, like you are on a quest to find an unspeakable treasure.

You’ve seen the vast skies and jaw-dropping vistas in movies and shows filmed in New Zealand – scenes from Lord of the Rings and Xena the Warrior Princess haunt your imagination. It seems to always be the setting for a magical, fantastical place on the big screen. And now that you are in the scene, staring at the astounding white tipped majesty of Aoraki, the highest mountain in New Zealand – your head thrown back in awe – you can see why.

Each day brings a memory that will follow you for the rest of your life. The feeling of adventure is palpable everywhere. The way your heart pounds as you reach the peak of the towering Ben Lomond. The way the candlelight flickers in the backcountry as you sit to eat dinner near the otherworldly cauldron of Lake Crucible.

The thrill as you coast over Mount Aspiring on a small plane, like you’re exploring a tiny corner of heaven that has been secretly opened to you through a special portal. Or the night in the high country, when you walk into the darkness and the sky above is an explosion of glitter. Never before have you seen so many stars…

Once home, you will remember the gentle rock of the kayak in the cobalt waters of Milford Sound where dolphins danced around your boat. And at night, when you close your eyes, you will see the mystical twinkling of the glowworm caves, and remember the way you felt like a space explorer visiting your own private galaxy.

But first – first you must pull this phrase from your daydreams, and speak it aloud, a promise to yourself: “I am going to New Zealand.” And you are. One of the greatest adventures of your life is out there – waiting for you. It is time.

Click here to see the full itinerary!
South Island Alpine Adventure

About the Experience

“I’m going to New Zealand.” This little phrase has been tucked away with your other daydreams for years. You’ve tried to imagine actually strolling through the majestic splendour of this landscape, like you are on a quest to find an unspeakable treasure.

You’ve seen the vast skies and jaw-dropping vistas in movies and shows filmed in New Zealand – scenes from Lord of the Rings and Xena the Warrior Princess haunt your imagination. It seems to always be the setting for a magical, fantastical place on the big screen. And now that you are in the scene, staring at the astounding white tipped majesty of Aoraki, the highest mountain in New Zealand – your head thrown back in awe – you can see why.

Each day brings a memory that will follow you for the rest of your life. The feeling of adventure is palpable everywhere. The way your heart pounds as you reach the peak of the towering Ben Lomond. The way the candlelight flickers in the backcountry as you sit to eat dinner near the otherworldly cauldron of Lake Crucible.

The thrill as you coast over Mount Aspiring on a small plane, like you’re exploring a tiny corner of heaven that has been secretly opened to you through a special portal. Or the night in the high country, when you walk into the darkness and the sky above is an explosion of glitter. Never before have you seen so many stars…

Once home, you will remember the gentle rock of the kayak in the cobalt waters of Milford Sound where dolphins danced around your boat. And at night, when you close your eyes, you will see the mystical twinkling of the glowworm caves, and remember the way you felt like a space explorer visiting your own private galaxy.

But first – first you must pull this phrase from your daydreams, and speak it aloud, a promise to yourself: “I am going to New Zealand.” And you are. One of the greatest adventures of your life is out there – waiting for you. It is time.

 

DAY ONE: QUEENSTOWN & WAKATIPU

Your trip starts in Queenstown, a small lakeside town set among the mountains of the South Island. Get picked up at either The Station Building at 9am or the Queenstown airport at 10am and head south to the shores of Lake Wakatipu and through rural Southland.

Your first stop is to explore Fjordland’s stunning wilderness by foot. This afternoon, you’ll hike part of the famous Kepler Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. Beginning at Rainbow Reach, you follow the track through mountain beech forest and all along the Waiau River.

Sort through the views collected in your head tonight as you stay on the edge of Lake Manapouri, enjoying the scenery, and the delicious local fare.

Hike Duration: 7.3 km/4.5 mi, up 20m/65ft then down 20m/65 ft, 2 – 3 hours

 

DAY TWO: GLOWWORM GROTTO

This morning, experience Fjordland by boat. As New Zealand’s largest and perhaps most spectacular national park, you appropriately begin with a cruise in Lake Te Anau, where you’ll journey the lake’s incredible glowworm caves. This underground world is astonishing. By geological standards, the caves are very young (12,000 years) and are still being carved out by the force of the river that flows through them. The result is a twisting network of limestone passages filled with sculpted rock, whirlpools, and a roaring underground waterfall. Deep inside the caves, beyond the roar of the water, you’ll be taken by small boat into a silent hidden grotto inhabited by thousands of glowworms. In the subterranean darkness, they produce a glittering display that’s nothing short of extraordinary.

Later, you hike part of the Routeburn Track for unsurpassed views of the Hollyford Valley, as well as Lake Marian and Mt Christina. You will enjoy a short drive through the Homer Tunnel and emerge at the top of a spectacular glacier-carved valley for a memorable descent to the shore of Milford Sound. Rudyard Kipling rated this fiord as the eighth natural wonder of the world, with its steep granite walls plunging over a thousand metres to the Tasman Sea and waterfalls cascading into inky deep water.

Hike Duration: 6 km/3.7 mi, up 450m/1475 ft then down 450m/1475 ft, 2 – 3 hours

 

DAY THREE: MILFORD SOUND KAYAK

Most people see Milford Sound from the deck of a ship but we’ve got a better way – gliding along in sea kayaks, by chance meeting friendly fur seals and dolphins along the way. You have an early start for this awesome trip, run by specialist kayak guides, and the paddling here is equally suitable for beginners and experts.

After kayaking the Sound, you’ll enjoy a tasty lunch before heading back to Queenstown through Fiordland and into the rolling hills of Southland.

Kayak Duration: 2-3 hours

 

DAY FOUR: BEN LOMOND OPTION

Today you have two options – a full day hike or a free day to yourself.

For those keen for an alpine hike, you’ll meet your guide at reception at 9am, ready to head up the Ben Lomond Track. You’ll take a short gondola ride up to Bob’s Peak, 450 metres above Queenstown. Now you head out along the trail through alpine tussock-land towards the summit of Ben Lomond. From this vantage point, you’ll find yourself immersed in amazing views over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, which are dwarfed by the surrounding mountains, including Mt Aspiring.

As an alternative, you can have a free day to explore on your own. Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand (if not the world!) and all the comforts of civilization are packed into this tiny resort town: restaurants galore, sidewalk cafés, stylish lounge bars, day spas, and boutiques. You’ll also find incredible activities here including horse trekking, kayaking, fishing, winery tours, hang gliding, mountain biking, bungee jumping, jet boating and skydiving. Or, you can just soak up the atmosphere and lounge about reading a book. Your guides will happily share their favourite haunts and point you in the right direction for your day today.

Hike Duration: 8 km/ 5mi, up 975m/3200 then down 975m/3200 ft, 4 – 5 hours

 

DAY FIVE: SAM SUMMERS

This morning,  you will walk a short trail through stunning beech forest to Sam Summers hut, providing a fascinating glimpse of life as a gold prospector. Relics include a large sluiced canyon and a tail race tunnel. In the early days of the gold rush, water was used as a tool to blast gravel off the cliffs. The gold-bearing gravel was then washed through a tail race tunnel. The tunnel you see on this walk is spectacular – 24 metres long, a metre wide and 10 metres high. Later, you’ll head to Arrowtown to check out the remnants of the 18th century gold mining community on the banks of the mineral rich Arrow River. A short drive over the spectacular Crown Range brings you to Wanaka – a laid back version of Queenstown with incredible lake and mountain views!

Hike Duration: 5.5 km/3.4 mi, up 220m/722 ft then down 220m/722 ft, 2 – 3 hours

 

DAY SIX: DIAMOND LAKE & WINE

Wanaka and its surroundings are blessed with spectacular, varied natural beauty. You’ll walk above one of its tussocky valleys and up to the secluded Diamond Lake. High peaks of the Southern Alps give way to sweeping wide grassland valleys. While surrounded by massive mountains, the valley is broad – this is big wide open country and a gift to the senses. Later, you’ll visit a locally owned family winery and sample some of the region’s best wines, including Pinot Noir, for which the Central Otago region is world famous. Your last stop for the day and destination for the evening is Makarora, on the edge of Mt Aspiring National Park.

Hike Duration: 2.5 km/ 1.5mi, up 374m/1230 ft then down 374m/1230 ft, 3-4 hours

 

DAY SEVEN: SIBERIA VALLEY

This morning, you’ll head out for a mind-blowing scenic flight into Mt Aspiring National Park, with a bird’s eye view of the lower Southern Alps, landing in the remote Siberia Valley. From here, you’ll hike downstream along the Wilkin River, through beautiful silver beech forests to a jet boat rendezvous. Then, it’s a thrilling ride back to Makarora for dinner and perhaps a well-earned drink at the Makarora pub.

Hike Duration: 6.4 km/ 4 mi, up 131ft/81m then down 340m/1115 ft, 2 – 3 hours

 

DAY EIGHT: MOUNT COOK

Walk through native beech forest to the spectacular Blue Pools of the Makarora River. The deep crystal clear water of this gorge is a magical sight against the backdrop of the green forest above its rock walls.

Later, we’ll drive through the tussock-country of Lindis Pass to Lake Pukaki and on to Mt Cook Village at the foot of New Zealand’s highest mountain – Aoraki Mt Cook. The village here is surrounded by the biggest mountains in New Zealand piercing the sky. With no lights for miles around, the stars on a clear night are like nothing you’ve ever seen. Many of Wild Women have told us this was one of their favourite places on the whole trip – just the place for your last couple of nights in New Zealand!

Hike Duration: 0.6 km/ 0.4 mi, up 40m/130 ft then down 40m/130 ft, 1 – 2 hours

 

DAY NINE: GLACIER HIKE

Mt Cook, named Aoraki or ‘cloud piercer’ by South Island Maori, is the highest mountain in New Zealand. Directly opposite the mountain, there is a stunning and little-­known day hike to the main ridge above Mueller Glacier. It’s a challenging hike, but you will remember the view of the glacier and the surrounding peaks for the rest of your life! The weather conditions are very important in this area, as it’s a true alpine climate notorious for sudden weather shifts.

If you aren’t able to do the Mueller hike, or you’d like to take it a little easier, there’s an impressive hike up to a glacial lake (complete with icebergs!) at the base of the Hooker Glacier.

Then you head back to Mount Cook Village for the last night of your trip. Enjoy a celebratory dinner and drinks as you sit outside and watch the sun set over Aoraki.

Hike Duration: 7.2 km/4.5 mi, up 1019m/3346 ft then down 1019m/3346 ft, 5 – 6 hours

 

DAY TEN: MACKENZIE TO CHRISTCHURCH

After breakfast, head north through Mackenzie Country and on to the Canterbury Plains, arriving in Christchurch in time for late afternoon (3-4pm) flights. You can choose to be dropped off at the airport at 2pm or anywhere in downtown Christchurch around 3pm.

This is the end of your trip and we’ll leave you refreshed and invigorated from the good food, exercise, rest and great times you’ll have had with us in New Zealand!

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