Adventures New Zealand
New Zealand’s South Island is split by the snowcapped spine of the Southern Alps, fringed with karst cave systems and wild beaches, laced with gorgeous fjords, and iced with glaciers. It’s no wonder that the “adventure capital of the world” is found here. Set off on a multi-sport adventure, paddling along the pristine northern coast in a sea kayak, hiking coastal trails between soaring mountains and the Tasman Sea, trekking across a glacier that descends through a rain forest, and black-water rafting on a subterranean river. Get to know the charm and personality of towns like Nelson and Wanaka, and opt to try bungee jumping in Queenstown, birthplace of the commercial sport. Then cap off the adventure with an overnight cruise on the sublime Milford Sound.
- Sea kayak among dolphins and fur seals on the coast of Abel Tasman National Park.
- Explore the Franz Josef Glacier area by foot or an optional helicopter ride, weather permitting.
- See the towering limestone formation known as the Pancake Rocks, formed over millions of years.
- Stargaze and watch for wildlife on an overnight cruise in glorious Milford Sound.
Day 1 — Nelson, New Zealand
Arrive in Nelson, a sunny hub of artists and craftspeople on the northern shores of the South Island. Gather for an orientation at our waterfront hotel and enjoy time to discover this vibrant town before our welcome dinner tonight.
Rutherford Hotel Nelson (D)
Day 2 — Abel Tasman National Park
Travel to Kaiteriteri and catch a water taxi into Abel Tasman National Park. Set out on the Abel Tasman Coast Track, declared one of New Zealand’s “Great Walks” by the Department of Conservation. Hike through lush native forests and along granite and limestone cliffs and pristine gold-sand beaches, and arrive at our eco-lodge on the edge of Awaroa Bay. (4 miles hiking, 3–4 hours)
Awaroa Lodge (B, L, D)
Day 3 — Abel Tasman National Park
Spend the day exploring the spectacular Tonga Island Marine Reserve by sea kayak. Paddle into inlets and intimate coves, keeping an eye out for dolphins, fur seals, and little blue penguins. From our take-out point on the beach at Onetahuti, hike the Coast Track back to our lodge. (1 mile hiking, 1 hour; 4–5 miles paddling, 4–5 hours)
Awaroa Lodge (B, L, D)
Day 4 — West Coast/Punakaiki
After a leisurely morning, return to Kaiteriteri by water taxi. Follow the Buller River gorge to the wild west coast, where the snowcaps of the Southern Alps rise above the rugged shores of the Tasman Sea. Time permitting, stop at Cape Foulwind to see its resident fur seal colony before checking into our beachfront hotel in Punakaiki.
Punakaiki Resort (B, L, D)
Day 5 — Paparoa National Park
This morning we set off on a hike that follows the Pororari River upstream into the Paparoa National Park. We’ll pass through the Pororari River Gorge, a valley lined on both sides by dramatic limestone cliffs and bluffs towering over the gorge and river. Return to Punakaiki for a visit to the fantastic Pancake Rocks, then continue to Hokitika and enjoy free time to wander through town or stroll the beach. Tonight we’ll have an authentic introduction to Maori culture and traditions at the Marae (meeting ground) in Hokitika with the local Ngāti Waewae descendants. Upon your arrival you’ll be welcomed with a sacred and traditional ceremony before entering into the Marea, you will be treated to a culture like no other. (3 miles hiking, 3 hours)
Beachfront Hotel Hokitika (B, L, D)
Day 6 — Okarito
Hit the trail in Okarito, taking in a magnificent panorama of wild coastline and soaring, icy peaks including, on a clear day, Mount Cook, the highest summit in New Zealand. Continue into Westland Tai Poutini National Park, part of southwest New Zealand’s extensive World Heritage area. (3 miles hiking, 2–3 hours)
Te Waonui Forest Retreat (B, L, D)
Day 7 — Franz Josef Glacier
Set out on a hike this morning with our guide to explore the Franz Josef area by foot. Weather permitting, perhaps choose to book an optional flightseeing helicopter ride for views of the glacier (additional cost). This afternoon, relax at a café, or enjoy the glacier hot pools. (2 miles hiking, 2–3 hours)
Te Waonui Forest Retreat (B, L)
Day 8 — Southern Alps/Wanaka
Travel into the Southern Alps today, crossing the Main Divide on our way to the Southern Lakes District and the charming town of Wanaka. Trace the shores of Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea, and stop for short hikes along our route.