Take your time. Escape. Indulge
An all-encompassing South Island journey through picture perfect coastal areas at the top and bottom of the Island.
Golden sand beaches with crystal clear water define the Abel Tasman area, whilst beautiful coves and inlets with turquoise waters and lush rain-forest await in the Marlborough Sounds. We’ll stay in secluded, comfortable lodges here and on the Hollyford Track, which starts and ends with a spectacular helicopter ride between Milford Sound and the isolated and mesmerising Martins Bay.
Queenstown provides the perfect anecdote to the tranquillity of these areas with its cosmopolitan hustle and excitement. If you’re looking for a broad and varied experience, want to relax as well as walk, and enjoy the unique aspects of our finest coastal areas, then look no further.
DAY 1 – Visit winery, Abel Tasman National Park
Head to a local winery, experiencing award-winning wine and food in a region known for its Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. After a sumptuous lunch we’ll head north to the small coastal settlement of Kaiteriteri, the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. From here we’ll catch a water taxi to our accommodation in the heart of the National Park where your luggage will be waiting for you. (L, D)
DAY 2 – Scenic boat journey, walk on Abel Tasman Coast Track
We’ll begin the day by boarding a boat bound for Tonga Quarry and our first Great Walk, the Abel Tasman Coast Track. Enjoy the fresh coastal air, gaze out into Tasman Bay, perfect golden sand beaches, birds singing in the native bush, and a rugged landscape to explore. We’ll walk from Tonga Quarry, at first along the coastline, then under the canopy cover back to our accommodation. (B, L, D)
DAY 3 – Walk the Queen Charlotte Track, Marlborough Sounds
Today we’ll re-trace our water taxi route from our accommodation to Kaiteriteri, and head for the untouched beauty of the Marlborough Sounds. On the way we’ll stretch our legs near the Pelorus River, and then head on to Picton for a cruise, via Ship Cove, to our accommodation, Furneaux Lodge. Once we’re checked in you’ll have the choice of a walk on the beautiful Queen Charlotte Track, or just some time to relax in this genuine slice of paradise. The track passes through lush coastal forest, around peaceful coves and inlets, and along hilly ridges offering uninterrupted views of the Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds. (B, L, D)
DAY 4 – Walk the Queen Charlotte Track
This morning our boat will pick us up for a short trip across Endeavour Inlet to Punga Cove, the start of our walk for the day. This section follows the beautiful coastline around the Inlet, and your guides will find a good place to stop for a paddle or a swim on the way for anyone who’s keen. The trail then passes through native bush regenerating after use as farmland; there used to be an Antimony Mine in this area too, so take some time to read the informative panels on this delightful walk back to our accommodation. (B, L, D)
DAY 5 – Forrest Estate Winery, walk Kaikoura peninsula
We’ll start today with a water taxi back to Picton, bound for Sauvignon Blanc country and our second outstanding Marlborough vineyard – this time it’s the idyllic setting of Forrest Estate Wines. At the cellar door we’ll sample a selection of different wines, and enjoy a delicious lunch spread. Next it’s on to Kaikoura, a place name which translates as ‘meal of crayfish’. Delicious seafood abounds here, and the town’s unique setting on the Kaikoura Peninsula offers us an opportunity for a short walk to view a colony of native New Zealand fur seals, before heading out to a restaurant of your guides’ choice to enjoy fresh produce straight from the ocean.
DAY 6 – Whale watch Kaikoura, fly to Queenstown
We’re in for a real treat this morning – we’re boarding a catamaran to head a short distance out into the Pacific Ocean in search of whales. The Hikurangi Trench is a staggering geological feature of the seabed off Kaikoura, and it provides a food source for thousands of marine animals. Today we’re on the lookout for whales, specifically sperm, humpback, blue, mink, southern right, and beaked whales. If we’re lucky we might also see some local dolphins and New Zealand fur seals. Once we’re back on dry land we’ll head down the east coast to Christchurch for a short flight to Queenstown, the Central Otago resort town famous for adventure activities, wine, and outstanding dining. (B, L, D)
DAY 7 – Queenstown, free day
Elegant, exciting, welcoming, compact and always beautiful, Queenstown is a place for everyone and everything. On the shores of Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by stunning peaks, you’ll find a quiet sanctuary indoors or outdoors here, or an activity that will assault your senses. Dine, indulge, drink, walk, fly, float, ride – just let your guide know how you’d like to spend your time here. Be sure to soak in the beauty and bustle of Queenstown and forget about the world outside this amazing place.
DAY 8 – Visit Te Anau, nature cruise Milford Sound
Mossy beech forest, native birdsong, deep valleys and stunning granite tops characterise Fiordland National Park. We’ll start our day with a visit to Te Anau on the border of the park. We’ll explore a bird park for old or injured birds, a great opportunity to see some of New Zealand’s more endangered birds, such as the takahe. Your guides will prepare a delicious lunch spread, and punctuate the dramatic drive into Milford Sound with several short walks in the Eglinton Valley, and then ‘The Chasm’ – a jaw-dropping loop track through native forest. We’ll see seemingly immovable rock formations shaped by the power of the Cleddau River tumbling over and through them. The impermeable nature of the granite mountains means that when it rains, and it rains a lot, thousands of waterfalls cascade down the faces of the hills. Once we arrive at the Milford Sound Wharf, we’ll board our vessel for a nature cruise past the waterfalls of Lady Bowen and Stirling, and out to the Tasman Sea before returning up the opposite side of the fiord. Our dramatic journey for the day ends at Milford Sound Lodge, where we’ll check into our delightful chalets on the banks of the river, and enjoy dinner together. (B, L, D)
DAY 9 – Walk the Milford Track, Helicopter Flight to Martins Bay, view seal colony
Today is a day you won’t forget. After an early breakfast we’re heading onto the world-famous Milford Track, our second Great Walk of the trip. We’ll stroll for around 3 hours in total on the track, towards Lake Ada alongside the Arthur River. We’re jumping on a helicopter next, bound for Martins Bay, one of the most secluded locations in the whole of Fiordland National Park. The flight in will only be exceeded by the comfort of this beautiful lodge. First though, we’ll take a stroll to Long Reef Point, where we’ll observe a seal colony. To top off this action-packed day, we’ll board a jetboat to take us to our accommodation, Martins Bay Lodge. At the beautifully appointed lodge in the Fiordland wilderness, we’ll be greeted by our lodge hosts and treated to a delicious home-cooked meal of Kiwi delicacies. (B, L, D)
DAY 10 – Jet boat along Lake McKerrow & walk the Hollyford Track
A leisurely start with a delicious breakfast will make it hard to leave Martins Bay Lodge, but once we’re underway, this part of Fiordland shows itself off in fine form. A jet boat ride along Lake McKerrow brings us to Jamestown, where we’ll walk the undulating trail through stunning beech and podocarp forest back to the lodge, where we’ll indulge in morning tea. To finish our incredible wilderness experience we’ll board another helicopter for our flight back to Milford Sound and civilisation. Finally, we’ll drive back to Queenstown via a lunch stop at your guides’ favourite picnic place, and head out for a farewell dinner together to share our stories, photos, and memories from a life-changing trip. (B, L, D)
DAY 11 – Depart
All good things come to an end, unless you’re staying on for some more time in Queenstown of course – we’ll be happy to help you out with many options here. (B)
This trip has a maximum of 12 guests, plus two experienced Active Adventures guides.
No Forced Single Supplement
Most other travel companies charge all solo travellers a single supplement fee. We don’t! When it comes to accommodation, our trip fares are based on a twin-share rate, which means we’ll match you up with another person of the same gender to share a room with. If there’s no one suitable to share with, there’s no forced single supplement! Having said that, if you specifically request your own room, you can opt to pay the additional single supplement fee.
Images courtesy of Active Adventures