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 the Southern Alps 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, on a former sheep farm, 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 the Southern Alps 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, on a former sheep farm, 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. Meet your group at the Heartland Hotel in the main lobby by late morning. We will leave our luggage at the hotel and head for lunch. After lunch we’ll be heading to Arrowtown (in the Wakatipu Basin), to check out the remnants of the Chinese Gold mining village, and walking the trail along the Arrow River. There’s time this afternoon to settle in and explore Queenstown -­ the adventure capital of New Zealand. Reconvene for evening orientation and dinner.

Hike Duration: 6 km, +500/-­500m, 2-­3 hours 

 

DAY TWO: BEN LOMOND SADDLE

Queenstown is defined by the incredible waters of Lake Wakatipu and the peaks that surround it. One of the defining peaks of Queenstown’s skyline is Ben Lomond, which rises sharply directly behind the town. You’ll set off this morning from town, hiking through Douglas Fur trees, into the alpine tussock area. The hike up the ridge line towards Ben Lomond Saddle and to the peak is heart pumping, with the views getting better with every step.  Arriving at the summit,  (1748 m) you’ll  be greeted with  360-degree views of Queenstown, the entire Wakatipu basin, and the surrounding mountains to the West.

Hike Duration: 13 km, +1450/-1450m, 3-­6 hours

 

DAY THREE: ALPINE VIEWS

This morning you are heading for the Crown Range into the Cardrona Valley. The alpine landscape here is tussocky and arid, but this gradually changes as you move into Wanaka and Mt Aspiring National Park. You’ll arrive in the tiny settlement of Makarora and hike the Mt Shrimpton track. It’s a steep hike with a 750 meter (2500 feet) elevation gain, but just wait until you see the views from above the treeline! You’ll drop back down to Makarora, where you will settle in for the evening.

Hike Duration: 10 km, +1700/-­1700m, 3-5 hours 

 

DAY FOUR: SIERRA VALLEY

If you like the idea of staying in one of New Zealand’s most isolated mountain huts, then this is a day to remember! You’ll start with a scenic flight alongside the snowy Southern Alps to the Siberia Valley airstrip, a short hike from tonight’s home. After dropping packs off, you can hike up the trail to Lake Crucible, a cauldron-­like glacial lake with fantastic views of the valley below.

Tonight you’ll be served a candle­‐lit dinner in one of the most glorious places in the world. This is also one of the few backcountry huts where you can chat with a resident hut ranger from New Zealand’s Department of Conservation. Rangers are often keen for a yarn around the campfire and can offer further insight into the flora and fauna of Mt Aspiring National Park.

Your load will be little more than a day pack – as your guides will carry the lion’s share. Your backpack will have a sleeping bag, a few spare clothes and some food – no need for any more than that, although tents and so on will be provided if you’d prefer to camp out under the stars.

Hike Duration: 7 km, +550/-­550m, 4‐7 hours 

 

DAY FIVE: SOUTHERN ALPS

After an early start, we spend the morning hiking to The Forks, at the head of the Wilkin River, where we’ll be met by a jet boat for an exhilarating ride back to Makarora.  We’ll get back on our comfortable bus and head to Manapouri, on the shores of the lake baring the same name. The views from our accommodation are stunning, with the glistening waters of one of the South Islands most beautiful bodies of water.

Hike Duration: 6.6 km, +40/-­340m, 2-­3 hours

 

DAY SIX: GLOW WORM GROTTO

This morning, you set off for your largest and most spectacular national park, Fiordland. On the way, you’ll take a trip to the incredible glow worm caves of lake Te Anau. This underground world is astonishingly beautiful. 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 will be taken by small boat into a silent hidden grotto inhabited by thousands of glowworms, unique to New Zealand. In the subterranean darkness, they produce a glittering display that is nothing short of extraordinary.

Later, you’ll hike part of the Routeburn Track for unsurpassed views of the Hollyford Valley, as well as Lake Marian and Mt Christina. You’ll take 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 steep granite walls plunging over a thousand meters to the Tasman Sea and waterfalls cascading into the deep inky water.

Hike Duration: 4.6 km, +380/‐380m, 2‐3 hours 

 

DAY SEVEN: 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 out to explore more of Fiordland’s wilderness on foot. Take a hike this afternoon on the famous Kepler Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. Beginning at Rainbow Reach, you’ll follow the track through mountain beech forest and along the Waiau River. Tonight you’ll stay on the edge of Lake Manapouri, enjoying the scenery and the delicious local fare.

Kayak Duration: 4-5 hours with breaks

 

DAY EIGHT: MOUNT COOK

This morning we’ll return to Queenstown. There are a couple of hours to get some lunch, do any last minute shopping, send postcards home, or whatever you might need to do before heading back into the wilderness for the remainder of your trip.

Then we’ll drive through the tussock-country of Lindis Pass to Lake Pukaki and on to Mount Cook village at the foot of New Zealand’s highest mountain – Aoraki Mount 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 our clients have told us this was one of their favorite places on the whole trip – just the place for your last couple of nights in New Zealand!

Hike Duration: 5.5 km, +220/-­220m, 3-­4 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 bit of a hike, but you’ll remember the view of the glacier and the surrounding peaks forever! 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 we head back to Mount Cook Village for the last night of your trip. We’ll enjoy a celebratory dinner and drinks as we sit outside and watch the sun set on Aoraki/Mt Cook.

Hike Duration: 7.2 km, +1020/-­1020m, 6-­7 hours 

 

DAY TEN: MACKENZIE TO QUEENSTOWN

After breakfast, you’ll head south back through Mackenzie Country, and on to Queenstown, arriving in time for late afternoon flights. 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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