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NEW ZEALAND / South Island
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WELLINGTON TO CHRISTCHURCH 10 DAYS

DAY 1. ARRIVAL IN WELLINGTON

Wellington ­the Harbour Capital is an eclectic environment : motorways and narrow city streets, houses built on steep hillsides, areas of dense bush, exposed rocky coasts, modern office and apartment blocks all within a few kilometers of each other. Then there are the equally diverse waterfronts of the inner harbour, beaches and bays. One can easily walk between the various different “quarters” ­the theatre district of Courtenay Place, bohemian Cuba Street and Mall, the shopping Mecca of the Lambton Quay area. Wellington prides itself as the arts and coffee capital of the nation: and the myriad cafes, restaurants and bars, and live theatre venues, art galleries and museums bears this out. A visit to the Te Papa museum comes highly recommended.

 

 

DAY 2. WELLINGTON TO NELSON (3H ON FERRY + 110KM, 1.5H)

A short flight or a ferry ride will take you to the top South Island. The passage across Cook Strait and through the Marlborough Sounds is one of the most scenic ferry trips in the world. The fast ferry makes the trip in just 3 hours. Highlights along the way include the Red Rocks seal colony, Tory Channel, Cook’s Lookout and the beautiful coves of the sounds.

The picturesque seaside town of Picton is the gateway to the marine, forest and island attractions of the Marlborough Sounds.

The drive to Nelson first takes you to the town of Havelock, which is known as the Green Shell Mussel Capital of the World. Nearby Canvastown is a place to explore old gold mining fields – thousands tried to get rich here in the 1860s.

The city of Nelson is home to a fascinating community of beach, bush and art lovers. From here you can organise yourself an eco­adventure or become immersed in the local creative culture.

 

 

DAY 3-4. NELSON

Have a few days at leisure to explore the vinyards, art & craft and the food & wine Nelson has to offer as well as the surrounding national parks. A visit to the Abel Tasman National Park comes highly recommended. Take a cruise and a walk combo or why not a kayak trip into the park. Majority of the tours depart in Kaiteriteri.

 

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DAY 5. NELSON TO GLACIERS (470KM, 6.5H)

Driving south from Nelson the road gradually climbs into the Nelson Lakes National Park, and follows the Buller River through the Buller Gorge to Westport, a town founded on a goldrush in the 1860s and the subsequent discovery of large coal deposits. From Westport drive south through Charleston to the spectacular coast of the Paparoa National Park. At Punakaiki, the wind and sea have cut shapes in the limestone cliffs which look remarkably like a stack of pancakes, hence the name Pancake Rocks. The area also boasts the most southerly palm tree in the world ­the graceful nikau ­which feature in many of the coastal vistas.

Continuing southwards, you travel through Greymouth and Hokitika ­another major town founded on gold and coal mining, which has an interesting local museum, glass­blowing and jade­carving galleries. Further, the road passes Lakes Ianthe, Wahapo and Mapourika enroute to Harihari, Whataroa and the glacier villages.

The two main glaciers in the area, Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier have two exceptional characteristics. They reach into a temperate climate zone with rainforests and are the fastest descending glaciers, reaching to a mere 12km from the sea. Both of them are easily accessible on guided walking tours and heli hikes.

 

 

DAY 6. GLACIERS TO QUEENSTOWN (400KM, 5.5H)

On the way to Queenstown, you will cross the Haast Pass.. It’s a town with a touch of the wild west – helicopters fly deer hunters into the rugged ranges and local pubs make a feature of stuffed animal trophies.

The lakeside town of Wanaka can provide you with an appealing mix of fine living, family fun and adventure. It has a high concentration of cafes, restaurants and interesting shops. You’ll also find unique attractions, like the 3D maze and the ‘warbird’ air show, which is held every two years.

Queenstown is an exhilarating, year round, alpine resort, perfect for adventurers and leisure seekers alike. Nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, overlooked by the majestic Southern Alps, the town was named because "...it was fit for Queen Victoria."

The resort boasts a range of activities second to none, all within easy reach of the compact town centre. The town centre is only one square kilometre in size and within easy walking distance of most major commercial accommodation. Queenstown offers relaxation at its best. There is "gold in them thar’ hills", and trout in the streams, so try your hand with a gold pan or a fishing rod. Visit the Arrowtown Museum, one of the best boutique museums in the country then afterwards explore the Wakatipu Art Trail. Join the Queenstown Wine Trail and discover award­winning wines from the World’s most southern vineyards. Return to town and sample the delights on offer in the many shops, cafes and restaurants. As night falls, get ready to experience the resort’s buzzing nightlife.

Queenstown’s reputation as the adventure capital of the world is well earned, you can choose to join in or watch the massive selection of safe, breath­taking activities. Earth, water or air, there is something to test and thrill all adventure seekers. Bungy Jump from the world’s first commercial bungy site, whitewater raft or surf, jet boat down canyons, tandem hanglide or parapente...it simply doesn’t stop! Long walks, four wheel drive treks, or lunch on a majestic steamboat, you choose, it’s your holiday.

 

DAY 7-8. QUEENSTOWN

Enjoy few days at leisure exploring Queenstown and its surroundings. A day trip to Milford or Doubtful Sounds is a must do activity.

Milford Sound is one of the best known and grandest fiords that indent the coastline of the Fiordland World Heritage Park. It is surrounded by steep, forest­topped cliffs, with waterfalls dropping vertically into the sea. Milford Sound has the highest average rainfall in the country, and it is after heavy rains that these falls are at their most spectacular. Rising sheer from the sea on the south side of the sound, dominating the inlet, is the 1,683m high pinnacle of Mitre Peak.

 

Another easily accessible sound is Doubtful Sound, named by James. He described it as ‘a very snug harbour’. Because Cook was doubtful how long he would have to wait for the right type of wind to sail on again, he decided not to enter the sound, hence the name Doubtful Sound. Doubtful Sound is noted for its scenic beauty highlighted by a number of spectacular waterfalls and fast­flowing streams. A Doubtful Sound adventure begins in Manapouri with a cruise across the lake to West Arm. Then a drive by bus over Wilmot Pass, stopping along the way to experience some of Fiordland’s densest rainforest and to view the colourful alpine moss gardens. On reaching Deep Cove, board a spacious catamaran for a three­hour cruise which takes in the most dramatic scenery of Doubtful Sound. Cruise staff are on hand to point out the natural highlights: bottle­nose dolphins, fur seals and rare penguins.

 

DAY 9. QUEENSTOWN TO CHRISTCHURCH VIA MT COOK (485KM, 7H)

You can take a short flight to Christchurch or drive through central Otago and the Canterbury plains.

The vineyards of the Gibbston area are the first temptation on your journey. The restored heart of Cromwell is a treasure for visitors, or take a detour to the old gold workings of Bannockburn. Lake Dunstan is a fine place for a picnic before you launch yourself into the beautiful Lindis Pass – just magic when there’s snow around.

Twizel is a well­placed base for mountain climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, skiing, horse trekking and hiking. It’s also a place to spy on the rarest wading bird in the world – the Black Stilt. If you don’t have the time to catch your own salmon, the local salmon farm sells it – fresh or smoked.

 

The road to Mt Cook hugs the edge of Lake Pukaki. The exquisite opaque turquoise colour of this lake and others in the area is caused by fine, glacier­ground rock particles held in suspension. The landscape is a mixture of high country tussock, farmland and snow­capped mountains.

 

The Aoraki Mount Cook National Park includes the highest peak in Australasia (Mt Cook ­3755m). The region attracts mountain climbers, hikers and scenery fanatics. Heli skiing, heli hiking and aerial sightseeing provide visitors with amazing memories. A variety of walking trails begin in or near Mount Cook Village – most take only a couple of hours. In the bar of the local hotel, huge windows provide a perfect view of Mt Cook.

 

Christchurch, the largest city in the South Island extends onto the Canterbury Plains, which are cordoned by the Southern Alps. The Anglican Church founded Christchurch, and many of its streets bear the names of dioceses in Great Britain. The first settlers, carefully chosen by their parishioners, arrived at the port of Lyttleton in 1850 and dedicated themselves to tilling the land and building the city, transforming one out of three hectares into gardens and public parks. New Zealand’s English heritage is perhaps more evident in Christchurch than it is almost anywhere else.

 

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Christchurch has deservedly been described as ’the garden city’, and of all New Zealand’s main centres, has retained something of the atmosphere of a country town. It is also a vibrant city that has traditionally supported a busy arts community ­music, theatre, dance and the visual arts. The beautiful neo­gothic style Arts Centre boasts more than 40 art galleries, craft studios and specialty shops. Nearby in Hagley Park and adjacent to the Botanical Gardens are the Canterbury Museum, notable for its hall of Antarctic history, and the Robert MacDougall Art Gallery. The Antarctic Centre by the Airport is also an interesting place to visit.

 

DAY 10. DEPART CHRISTCHURCH

 



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