South Island Off-Grid


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    Experience the South Island like a local, for an authentic & unplugged discovery of heritage sites, retreats & adrenaline pumping activities. Walk on a glacier, kayak in the Marlborough Sounds, learn yoga at an eco-retreat and bungy jump in Queenstown – and that’s a small sample of the adventures awaiting you. This is the South Island unplugged, and it’s utterly unforgettable.

    Itinerary

    DAY 1 – WELLINGTON TO MARLBOROUGH SOUNDS
    After meeting and greeting in the compact cultural hub of Wellington this morning, we’re catching the ferry to the wild and wonderful South Island.

    Arrive in the Marlborough Sounds where it’s time for our first Special Stay – only accessible by water. Lochmara Lodge is more than just a place to stay, it’s a natural haven, and a unique way to experience the magic of the Marlborough Sounds. There’s no road access and no TVs – just gorgeous views, nature walks, art and wildlife and, at night, clear starswept skies. Facilities include free kayaks and paddleboards, hammocks, a beach, and world-famous nature trails. There’s also the Underwater Observatory, where we’ll get a tour from a marine biologist who will tell us all about their work to replenish fish populations of the sounds. We’ll also take the sculpture and art trail along 10 acres of a ‘living gallery’ with mixed media art by renowned global artists.

    DAY 2 – MARLBOROUGH SOUNDS
    We’ve got a full day to explore the sounds. Go kayaking or stand up paddle boarding, hike to the Queen Charlotte Sound or take the Seafood Odyssey Cruise. Featuring Regal salmon, Cloudy Bay clams and Greenshell mussels with local Sauvignon Blanc for the perfect food and wine match, you’ll also get to enjoy the beauty of the sounds as you cruise aboard a luxury launch. Bliss.

    DAY 3 – MARLBOROUGH SOUNDS TO CHRISTCHURCH
    Christchurch is still recovering from the devastating 2010 earthquakes that destroyed its centre, but it remains a vibrant city steeped in its European heritage. We’ll check out the local sights of this city in transition with an included tour before retiring and getting ready for our next venture into nature.

    DAY 4 – CHRISTCHURCH TO MT COOK
    Get ready for your next Special Stay in Mt Cook – but first, we have a unique stop on the agenda – Lake Tekapo. We’ll stop off to see the intense milky blue waters of glacially-fed Lake Tekapo, and here, we’ll also get to enjoy an unforgettable Dark Sky experience. You’ll be blown away by this interactive multimedia exhibition that mixes stargazing, science and traditional Māori astronomy, teaching us how the Māori people originally used to use stars to harvest food, and about the importance of limiting light pollution.

    Our next Special Stay is a lodge located in Mt Cook National Park, a majestic landscape of glaciers, terminal lakes, turbulent rivers and Australasia’s tallest peak, the mighty Aoraki (Mt Cook) soaring above at 3,724 metres. There’s endless adventures to choose from today – walk some of the famed hiking trails or take a scenic flight over the glacier followed by a snow landing and glacier walk. If heights aren’t your thing, take a cruise up close to the glaciers, where you to touch and taste 300-500 year old glacial crystals. As the pitch-black night draws in, opt for a unique stargazing experience.

    DAY 5 – MT COOK TO GLENORCHY
    Rise and shine! You won’t want to miss our morning hike to Kea point, to watch a golden sunrise stretch over the mountains. Hungry? We’ve definitely earned a buffet breakfast, and we’ll enjoy floor to ceiling views of Mt Cook as we dine in the Heritage Hotel.

    Whether or not you have any room left after breakfast, you’ll be happy to know we have a quick stop off for lunch in Arrowtown, New Zealand’s historic gold-mining town. A bit like a New Zealand version of the Wild West, Arrowtown is full of charming wooden-fronted shops, cafes and remnants of the goldrush era. Be sure to check out the replica miner’s huts, buy some flakes of gold, wade in the river where people still go gold-panning, or buy some old-timey sweets from the Remarkable Sweet Shop on the main street.

    Arriving in Glenorchy we’ll get a guided tour of our eco-retreat Special Stay. Nestled among some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery, this place celebrates nature through buildings designed with non-toxic construction materials, native plantings, and creative touches from New Zealand artists and craftspeople. State-of-the-art technology helps to reduce water and energy use. We’ll enjoy an included BBQ dinner before turning in for the night. We’ve got a big day of exploration tomorrow. (B, D)

    DAY 6 – GLENORCHY
    We’ve got a day to explore the great outdoors! Lucky us. Maybe start the day with some free yoga; after that the opportunities are limitless. Get the ultimate thrill with some tandem skydiving; take an e-bike tour of the Routeburn track; maybe take the safari kayak adventure and explore the islands of Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by the spectacular Southern Alps…New Zealand is the gift that keeps on giving, and we’re not done yet.

    DAY 7 – GLENORCHY TO QUEENSTOWN
    Framed by the aptly named Remarkable Mountains, the birthplace of bungee gets the pulse racing in more ways than one. We’ll take an orientation tour, and then there’s a menu of adventures to choose from. So, where to start? You might be the one trailing through wine country and doing a spot of horseback riding, or you may insist on cramming in a bungy jump, a skydive and a heliraft. It’s your adventure – run wild as you see fit.

    DAY 8 – QUEENSTOWN
    With our last day in adrenaline city ahead of us, this is the time to push yourself to the limits. We recommend the exhilarating Shotover Jet experience, where you can throw those hands in the air as you fly through narrow Shotover canyons at speeds of up to 85 kph. For those who did their dash yesterday, a day staying mellow and enjoying the beautiful wineries, cute cafes and incredible mountains is fine too!

    DAY 9 – QUEENSTOWN
    This morning our adventure comes to an end here in Queenstown, or you can take an optional transfer back to Christchurch.

    TTC-Contiki
    Image courtesy of Contiki