South Island Adrenalin Junkie, 12 Days
Selected travel dates 20 February 2019 - 28 March 2020
12 day tour departing Christchurch.
11 nights accommodation in high end Hostels.
Continental breakfast daily.
Guided tour of every location.
Learn to carve your own greenstone Tikii pendant.
Take a ferry between the South and North islands across the iconic Cook Strait.
Stay for two nights deep in the rain forest on the South Island's West Coast.
Spend time in the stunning Abel Tasman National Park.
Learn to paddle a waka (Maori canoe).
Service of a passionate Kiwi guide.
Transport by comfortable bus.
Day 1 Christchurch to Tekapo. This morning we'll explore iconic downtown Christchurch and your Haka Guide will show you the cool ways the city has reunited and is being rebuilt after the 2011 quake. With lots of quirky shops, cool cafes and spots to dine, along with a young fun Kiwi culture, Christchurch shouldn't be missed. After lunch we leave the city behind and head for MacKenzie Country, named for James MacKenzie, one of New Zealand's most enduring folk heroes. There's even a statue of his faithful dog at today's destination - Lake Tekapo. The lake's breathtaking turquoise colour and mountain backdrop is a photographer's dream come true. The iconic Church of the Good Shepherd stands right at the water's edge. Grab some confetti and congratulate any passing brides - couples travel from all over the world for wedding shots in front of the chapel. If you're feeling energetic, hike up to the summit of Mt John. With awesome views of the Southern Alps, you'll feel like you're on top of the world. Or take a scenic flight over the mountains, glaciers and lakes of this beautiful part of the world. Thanks to the super clear skies, the area around Tekapo has been declared a "Dark Sky Reserve" and it's the best place in New Zealand to see the stars and galaxies on a clear night. Sit back, relax and enjoy.
Day 2 Tekapo to Queenstown. Today's drive to Queenstown is a show-stopper. From the golden tussocklands of MacKenzie country - where the epic battles of Return of the King were filmed - to the dramatic mountain peaks of the Southern Alps surrounding us, it's like you're driving into a postcard. We'll pause to admire these stunning views so get ready to give those camera batteries another workout. Whether you're an adrenalin junkie, an avid hiker, wine taster or scenery lover, Queenstown has something for absolutely everyone. With two nights and one full day here, get ready - this town certainly knows how to party.
Day 3 Queenstown. With a full day in Queenstown, it's time to get cracking on your bucket list. There are many different options to choose from: paragliding, mountain biking, bungy jumping while your Haka friends cheer you on, horse riding through some stunning Lord of the Rings locations in Glenorchy, and swinging through a canyon are all on offer. Queenstown is also home to New Zealand's most famous burger: Fergburger. Why not grab one with your new friends as you explore the town? For scenery lovers, Milford Sound is not to be missed. Whether you choose a scenic flight or a cruisey coach trip, you'll love the scenic journey as much as the destination. Once on the Sound, sailing around the fjords beneath thundering waterfalls and towering cliff faces, you'll understand why some call it the "8th Wonder of the World". Beautiful in rain or shine, Milford takes the biscuit as one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful areas of the South Island. Back in Queenstown, with around 40 bars to choose from, there are plenty of spots to catch up with your travel buddies, share stories of your day, and party the night away.
Day 4 Queenstown to Wanaka. After all the excitement of Queenstown, today is a chance to chill. Wanaka is Queenstown's slightly quieter little sister, only an hour's drive away. A year round destination, Wanaka is blessed with towering mountains and a glacial blue lake. It's widely regarded as one of New Zealand's most beautiful mountain towns. There are stunning hikes and bike rides all around the area for a welcome change of pace. One of the best ways to admire Wanaka is from the air. Treat yourself to a skydive or a scenic flight in a vintage plane - you can even take a flying lesson, Or if you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, stroll around the lake and check out the famous Wanaka Tree, standing all alone in the water. It's up to you.
Day 5 Wanaka to Franz Josef. After a free morning in Wanaka, the journey to Franz Josef is an absolute stunner - many of our Haka Guides rate it as their favourite drive in New Zealand (and they should know). From mountain passes to cascading waterfalls to classic Kiwi coastal views, you won't even dare to take a nap on the bus in case you miss anything. Your Haka Guide will have some epic surprise stops for you along the route as well. Between September and December it's whitebait season (a small fish that's a delicacy in New Zealand). Fried up with eggs and served on toast, it's a local treat and shouldn't be missed. We'll stop at one of the local spots to try it out. We roll into Franz Josef around late afternoon/early evening. This world heritage area is famous for its spectacular glacier, just 5km from town, which is begging to be explored tomorrow.
Day 6 Franz Josef. With Aoraki (Mt. Cook - New Zealand's highest mountain) twinkling behind the glaciers, Franz Josef is about as beautiful a setting as you can find in New Zealand. Te Wahi Pounamu (which means 'the place of greenstone' in Maori) is the name given to the this part of the West Coast because of the abundance of greenstone (jade) to be found here. Included in your tour today is the chance to carve your very own greenstone souvenir to take home. There are heaps of ways to enjoy Franz Josef Glacier; weather permitting, to get up onto the bluest ice you can take a scenic helicopter flight and hike onto the glaciers. Maybe you'd prefer to kayak on a glacial lake; or just relax in the steamy hot springs down below. As well as the awesome glacier activities you could also try out quad biking, horseback riding and even a bit of group karaoke tonight in Franz Josef
Day 7 Franz Josef to Punakaiki. Driving along the incredible coastal road and exploring the lush forests around Punakaiki, it almost feels like you've stepped back in time. It's a rare treat to see such remote prehistoric landscapes these days, so make the most of this awesome opportunity to unplug from the world outside. Get excited; our trusty guides always have some surprises up their sleeves for this part of the trip, including a spot or two to get your feet wet. We'll visit one of the famous artisan greenstone factories in Hokitika as we make our way north, as well as passing through some old gold mining towns before arriving in Punakaiki. One of Punakaiki's many natural wonders is the subtropical rainforest. We are staying in the heart of it for the next two nights at the gorgeous Te Nikau Rainforest Retreat. Cook up a group dinner in your rainforest paradise, and be sure to end the day watching the sun set over the ocean tonight.
Day 8 Punakaiki. The West Coast is known for its laid-back vibes and hey, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Whether you decide to soak up the sun on the unspoilt beaches or stroll through the rainforest to a chorus of birdsong, you'll shed all your cares in this magical place. A short walk to Punakaiki's Pancake Rocks is definitely on the cards - these astounding formations developed over 30 million years as immense water pressure solidified the limestone. You'll see what water pressure can do when the waves power through some seriously impressive blowholes - watch out for that spray Around Punakaiki there are opportunities for kayaking and for exploring the region's underground caves by raft. There are also opportunities for horseback riding in the Paparoa National Park. On a clear night, head to the beach with your buddies and watch the stars come out to play - seriously, is there a better way to end the day?
Day 9 Punakaiki to Abel Tasman. Cruising up north from Punakaiki, the scenery and weather gets better and better. The powerful untouched coastline gives way to rivers and gorges before we drive over the hills towards the bays of Nelson. We return briefly to civilisation to stock up on some final supplies before continuing on to our next remote hideaway in Marahau, the gateway to Abel Tasman National Park. Golden beaches, tranquil lagoons and crystal clear waters water make Abel Tasman the perfect contrast to our time in the mountains. Why will you fall in love with Abel Tasman?. Lush forests, sandy beaches, sheltered bays, and jaw-dropping views not to mention the resident wildlife. Get ready to lose your heart to the most popular National Park in New Zealand.
Day 10 Abel Tasman. Abel Tasman you beauty. Whether it's adventure or relaxation you're looking for, you can find it here. You could tackle part of the Abel Tasman Coast Track - one of New Zealand's nine Great Walks - or explore the bays with a leisurely kayak trip. For thrills and spills you can abseil down waterfalls on a canyoning expedition. Included in your time here is an awesome opportunity to learn to paddle a Waka (Maori canoe) together with your group. It's so much more than a boat trip - you'll work as a team together and learn the Maori blessings and etiquette associated with Waka - a truly unique cultural experience. In the warmer months we'll stay at a 'floating backpackers' on a former army boat moored in Anchorage Bay. Dive off the side and swim to your heart's content before enjoying a classic Kiwi BBQ as the sun goes down. In winter we drive a little further and stop in the artsy town of Nelson for the night.
Day 11 Abel Tasman to Wellington. After a few days in the wild it's time to get back to civilisation. Nelson, known as the sunniest place in New Zealand, is a traveller's paradise. From beautiful beaches and bays with drastic tidal flows, to bright blue skies and more vineyards than you can imagine, Nelson has a lot to offer. In addition to beautiful landscapes, Nelson also has great cafes, unique art galleries and boutique shops waiting to be discovered. Our road trip continues along the northern edge of the South Island this afternoon. There are wineries we could explore and a chance to taste some famous New Zealand mussels in Havelock as we wind our way towards Picton to catch the evening ferry to Wellington. As the lights of Picton harbour fade into the night, relax on board together and swap contact details as the final day of our tour approaches.
Day 12 Wellington. Our tour ends today after breakfast.
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