Please see Holiday Information Sheet for this holidays individual departures itinerary (located under View Departures & Book tab)
Day 1 to 2
Depart London Heathrow for Auckland via Singapore with Singapore Airlines.
Day 3 to 4
We land in Auckland around lunchtime, where we stay for two nights. We spend our time exploring and sightseeing in the ‘City of Sails’ and take the ferry across to Devonport to walk along the magnificent coastline overlooking the skyline of New Zealand’s principal city between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasmanian Sea.
Leaving Auckland we travel south via Waitomo, where we visit its famous caves lit by ‘glowworms’, and then on to the Maori and thermal centre of Rotorua where we stay for one night.
This morning we visit the hot springs, erupting geysers and Maori culture at the Te Puia Thermal Reserve, in the Whakarewarewa Valley. In the afternoon we continue, via the spectacular Aratiatia dam and the Huka Falls (where we have a 2 hour walk) to the Tongariro National Park. We stay at the Chateau Tongariro for two nights giving us time to walk in the wild country which forms the Park with its active volcanic peaks of Ruapehu (2780m), Ngauruhoe (2277m), and Tongariro (1956m).
Today you may choose to do the Tongariro Crossing day walk. Due to the National Park regulations we are not able to offer the Tongariro Crossing as part of the itinerary, however it is an option which you can book, at a supplement, to add on to your holiday (please talk to our Sales & Reservations department for further details).
Those not choosing to walk the Tongariro Crossing can join your tour leader on a walk through Whakapapa Village, before the Taranaki Falls walk, which rewards us with open views of Mt Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro, as well as the Lower and Upper Tama Lake viewpoints. It is simply breath-taking day out amongst a striking landscape.
We leave the Tongariro National Park and drive south to Wellington; New Zealand’s capital, from here we take the ferry across the Cook Strait through the Queen Charlotte Sound to Picton, on the shores of the Marlborough Sound, where we spend one night. The 3 ½ hours crossing and the coastal views from the ferry as we leave Wellington and cruise along the Queen Charlotte Sound are spectacular.
After a morning’s walk along the Marlborough Sound shore, we continue to Blenheim to visit a local winery before moving on to the alpine village of St Arnaud, for two nights.
We have a full days walking in the beautiful surrounding alpine countryside of the Nelson Lakes National Park near Mt Robert and Lake Rotoiti. This unspoilt area is rarely visited by tour groups, making it a very special experience.
We leave Nelson Lakes and travel across the ‘great divide’ mountainous spine of the South Island. We stop, enroute, at the resort of Hanmer Springs, where we have the opportunity to bathe in the natural hot springs pools. We finally reach Christchurch where we stay for two nights. It is the second largest city, known as the Garden City of New Zealand. Founded in 1850 as a model church settlement, the founders envisaged recreating an English town – echoed in the Gothic Architecture of its early buildings and the hundreds of acres of parkland surrounding the city.
Here we will meet up with those travelling on our South Island Discovery holiday.
A free day to explore Christchurch. You may like to visit the city centre (under active restoration since the recent earthquake), the Cardboard Cathedral or the Botanic Gardens. We may also walk along the Godley Head walkway with lovely coastal views; this headland was where the original English settlers arrived in the 1860s after their 4 month voyage in the middle of the 19th century.
We cross the Great Divide again, traversing spectacular gorges and the ancient forest of Arthur’s Pass National Park, where we enjoy a short walk in the park before continuing to the West Coast and Hokitika with its wild windswept beach covered in driftwood. From there, we enter Glacier Country and stop in the tiny village of Franz Josef.
We start the day with an early morning walk around Lake Matheson - famous for its post-card reflections of the Southern Alps – then we drive inland so we can walk to view the glacial face of Fox Glacier which lies in a magnificent wide glacial valley. After lunch, we return to Franz Josef to walk the face of its own glacier before returning to our hotel.
We continue our journey south along the coast via Haast, turning inland over the Haast Pass and through wonderful country (with stops at the startling blue Lake Wanaka and the even bluer Lake Hawea) to the charming town of Wanaka (known affectionately as ‘Queenstown’s little brother) where we stay for two nights.
Today we will walk in the Mount Aspiring National Park. Here we may hike the Minaret Burn Track, or the Diamond Lake and Rocky Mountain track. Both tracks offer some of the best mountains & Lakes views that NZ has to offer.
We continue south to Queenstown, where Ben Lomond and the ‘Remarkables’ mountain range tower above Lake Wakatipu. We stay for three nights. Today, we will have an afternoon orientation walk to include a lakeside walk and the memorial gardens, plus the opportunity for a leg-stretch up Queenstown Hill for a birds-eye view. Dinner for our first evening in Queenstown is spent high above the town after taking the gondola up to Bolos Park to the ‘Skyline’ restaurant.
Please note that if you choose to take the option of hiking the Milford Track (see the information below for the Milford Track option, days 1-5), you leave the main group to start your adventure tomorrow. PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS ABOVE THE ADVERTISED GRADE FOR THIS HOLIDAY AND IS MORE INLINE WITH OUR GRADE 6 CATEGORY.
Today we catch a gondola cable car to above the tree-line, then hike up a good mountain track towards the summit of Ben Lomond (with options of reaching the ‘saddle’ or the top, as this is an out-and-back walk). There are far reaching 360 degree views throughout the day and you can relax after the walk at the Skyline restaurant and café by the upper gondola station before riding back down to town and the hotel.
Milford Track option day 1: You’ll be picked up at our Queenstown hotel, and drive in the ‘Real Journeys’ tour bus from Queenstown to a wharf on Lake Te Anau, where You’ll take an afternoon scenic cruise to the start of the famous Milford Track long distance trail. A short walk of just 1 mile brings you to Glade House for an overnight stay. The local guides will show you some interesting flora and fauna along the way.
You will be ready to have a free day to yourself! Queenstown is the outdoor activity and sightseeing capital of NZ and your options include a lake trip on the SS Earnslaw steam ship (built 1912), an exhilarating jet boat ride, a self-guided local walk, or simply a lie-in followed by a relaxing ‘day out’ – perhaps enjoying a lunch in the many eateries in this lovely town.
Milford Track option day 2: You’ll cross the Clinton River and walk through mountain beech forests and open clearings to the Hirere Waterfalls. You then continue onto a grassy plain (known as the Prairie) where the views open out into Clinton Canyon. A rocky but well made path takes you up to Marlene’s Creek and then to Pompolona Lodge. A good day hike with 10 miles distance over an ascent of 400m.
This morning we visit Arrowtown, a pretty gold rush village with a ‘wild west’ feel to it. We then continue south to Te Anau; set on a lake of the same name, where we stay for three nights. In the heart of the Southern Lakes region from where we can walk alongside the Lake and explore the magnificent Fjordland National Park.
Milford Track option day 3: Today You will reach the head of the Clinton valley and walk over the Mackinnon pass. The hardest day, this is around 9 miles but with 720m of ascent. You’ll have a chance to visit the Sutherland Falls, the world’s fifth highest waterfall with a drop of 580m.
Today we visit the world famous Milford Sound. Even our drive there is along one of the most spectacular roads in the world, with dramatic lakes, cliffs and mountains. We enjoy short scenic walks en route, then a boat trip on the Milford Sound simply takes your breath away. We sail out on deep waters between towering spires of rock surrounding the narrow inlet, with unforgettable views of the sheer mile-high Mitre Peak and the thundering Lady Bowen Falls. A picnic lunch is included.
Milford Track option day 4: Today’s walk gives you a wonderful view of the Lady of the Snows, a distinctive mountain at the head of Green Valley. The 13 mile walk covers a long distance, but is comfortable with only 125m of descent. The interest never wanes as you pass various hills, flats and waterfalls on our way to the end of the Track at Sandfly Point. From there, we are collected by motor launch across the Milford Sound to Mitre Peak Lodge.
Today we visit the National Park Visitor Centre, then walk some of the famous ‘Kepler Track’ – a fabulous hike through NZ rainforest with all the sights and sounds that make these areas so special.
Milford Track option day 5: Take a boat trip on the Milford Sound out on the deep waters between towering spires of rock surrounding the narrow inlet, with unforgettable views of the sheer mile-high Mitre Peak and the thundering Lady Bowen Falls. You’ll then enjoy a scenic coach ride back to Te Anau where You’ll rejoin the main group
We leave Te Anau and travel north through the centre of the island into the sparsely populated MacKenzie Country to our hotel in the tiny village of Twizel, our gateway to the Mt Cook region.
We spend today walking in the area around Mount Cook (3741m), which dominates this spectacular alpine region. We walk up the Hooker Valley, crossing three swing bridges, towards the base of Mt. Cook with views of the hanging glaciers of Mount Sefton and Mount ‘Footstool’. Our walk reaches the glacier terminal moraine where we take some unforgettable photographs of the icebergs in the glacial lake.
Today we leave Mount Cook and travel north, stopping briefly to admire the astonishing electric blue Lakes Pukaki and Tekapo. We then continue on to Christchurch airport to check in for our flights home to London Heathrow via Singapore.