- Watch a rare performance of the haka, a sacred traditional Māori dance.
- Experience what life is like on a real working sheep station at Mt Nicholas Farm.
- Learn about endangered kiwi birds and other native animals at the Kiwi Birdlife Park.
- Go zip-lining through the trees with views of Queenstown and The Remarkables mountain range.
- Wind your way through the dramatic landscapes of “Middle Earth” on horseback.
- Hike to the summit of the glacier-carved Mount Iron for 360-degree views of The Pisa range, the Upper Clutha Basin, Lake Wanaka, and the Southern Alps.
- Soak hot springs beside the turquoise-blue Lake Tekapo, and take a scenic flight over the area.
- Admire the unbelievably bright Milky Way and search for the Southern Cross in Tekapo’s Dark Sky Reserve.
DAY 1: WELCOME TO NEW ZEALAND
On arrival into Queenstown, you’ll be met by your guide, who will be leading your trip for the next 12 days. In the evening, celebrate your arrival with a special welcome dinner. Your trip leader will provide you with a full trip briefing of what to expect during your time in New Zealand.
DAY 2: QUEENSTOWN
Begin your day with a traditional Māori Whakataū (welcome). Māori are the indigenous people of Aotearoa (New Zealand.) You will learn about the Hongi (pressing of noses), the traditional Māori greeting and a sign of peace, life, and wellbeing. You will also have the opportunity to watch a performance of the haka (traditional Māori dance), which has been specifically designed to pay respect to the Whenua (land) and Whanau (family/people) of the Wanaka and Central Otago region. The haka is unique to the area, so it is very sacred and limited in its presentation.
In the afternoon, cruise along the glassy waters of Lake Wakatipu to the rugged heart of the high country. You’ll arrive at Mt Nicholas Farm, where you will experience life on a real working sheep station. Test your sheep herding skills with the sheepdogs and their talented team, meet and feed some of the farm’s friendly animals, and have a delicious afternoon tea in the woolshed.
DAY 3: QUEENSTOWN
Today, visit the Kiwi Birdlife Park to learn about these fascinating and endangered creatures. You’ll also be able to see up to 20 species of native birds and reptiles in the park, all of which are part of managed conservation programs.
In the afternoon, take a scenic gondola ride to the top of Bob’s Peak for a panoramic view of Queenstown and The Remarkables mountain range. From here, participate in ZipTrek’s Moa Tour, ideal for families and kids aged 6+. Journey through the forest on four exhilarating zip lines with magnificent views across Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains. Start with the slower zip lines, and make your way up to the longer, higher, and faster ones.
ZipTrek is an award-winning company famous for its work in environmental education and conservation. They’ve planted over 5000 native shrubs and trees and have donated $250K to low impact organizations and volunteer charities. On the platforms between zip lines, you’ll also learn a little about New Zealand’s environment from these knowledgeable and passionate guides.
DAY 4: GLENORCHY
CAMP GLENORCHY ECO RETREAT
Start your day with a scenic drive to Glenorchy, less than an hour away. An exciting wilderness jet boat ride will be waiting to take you up the Dart River, where the water flows from the Southern Alps to Lake Wakatipu. From the center of the exquisite Mt Aspiring National Park, float back downriver at your own pace in an inflatable kayak. You’ll have time to explore these pristine waters, delightful rock pools, and grand chasms. Afterward, your guide will direct you to a gourmet buffet lunch to reenergize before seeing the famous Middle Earth movie locations via all-wheel drive.
Tonight, you’ll stay in Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat, which is leading the way in terms of sustainability and has won numerous awards for their work.
DAY 5: GLENORCHY
CAMP GLENORCHY ECO RETREAT
Take in the best of the Rees Valley by horse to see the stunning scenery of the lake with picturesque mountain views and glacial-fed river crossings. You’ll be captivated by stories of the area, rich history, and many filming locations from Lord of the Rings. This magical ride is suitable for all levels and will be with experienced riders.
You’ll have the rest of the day to relax at Camp Glenorchy (one of Time Magazine’s 2019 World’s 100 Greatest Places) and walk around the surrounding area.
DAY 6: GLENORCHY – WANAKA
Today, your guide will take you on the scenic two-hour drive to Wanaka with a stop at Puzzling World. Full of illusion rooms, bizarre buildings, and of course, the famous Great Maze, you’ll be endlessly entertained and your perceptions of reality tested.
After challenging your mind at Puzzling World, it’s time to challenge your legs with a hike up Mt Iron. It’s a two-hour return hike, but alternatives can be arranged for younger kids. Mount Iron is an impressive, glacier-carved, rocky mound that rises nearly 250 m / 820 ft above the surrounding countryside. As a result, from the summit, there are excellent 360-degree views of The Pisa range, the Upper Clutha Basin, Lake Wanaka, and the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana.
DAY 7: WANAKA
Today you’ll be surrounded by the panoramic views of the impressive Southern Alps as you paddle around New Zealand’s 4th largest lake.
Enjoy kayaking on this crystal clear water, hear local stories, and learn about the Wanaka area. There will be plenty of spectacular photo opportunities and time to relax.
Spend your evening in the Cinema Paradiso and watch a movie from the comfy couches, or the back seat of an old Morris Minor. Treat yourself to the homemade ice cream or hot cookies!
DAY 8: WANAKA – LAKE TEKAPO
TEKAPO LUXURY APARTMENTS
This morning after breakfast, your guide will bring you on the 2.5-hour drive to Lake Tekapo. This afternoon, head to Tekapo Springs to admire the vibrant turquoise blue lake and mountain views from one of three hot pools, or chill out in the Aqua Play Area with cooler pools.
In the evening, you’ll experience the Dark Sky Project twilight tour from the nearby Mountainside Observatory. Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve is one of only 11 in the world. Take in the superb views at dusk as the sun sets below the Southern Alps, tour the research facilities, and view the Southern Skies through some of New Zealand’s most powerful optical telescopes.
DAY 9: LAKE TEKAPO
TEKAPO LUXURY APARTMENTS
This morning will be one to remember forever with a scenic flight over Mount Cook and Westland National Parks. This flight of a lifetime will take you over sparkling turquoise lakes, New Zealand’s highest mountains, and thousand year old glaciers. You’ll also see the Mackenzie Basin, Mount Cook, the Tasman Glacier, and the magnificent Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers.
Later today, go exploring on bicycles to see the Lake Tekapo area. Depending on the amount of cycling you wish to do, we can develop a suitable route for you.
DAY 10: LAKE TEKAPO – CHRISTCHURCH
Today you will drive the scenic route to Christchurch. The drive itself is approximately 3.5 hours, but we will make lots of stops along the way to admire the landscape. You’ll have the remainder of the day to enjoy a complimentary permaculture tour of the Eco Villa garden, play guitar, read a book on the covered deck, or explore the surrounding area.
DAY 11: CHRISTCHURCH
Today will be all about the water! You’ll start the day with an iconic Christchurch activity not to be missed: a punt on the Avon River. You’ll have the opportunity to appreciate the gorgeous Christchurch Botanic Gardens and the city center in an eco-friendly and relaxing way. Your guide will give you a different perspective of Christchurch.
Then head to Sunmer, a coastal seaside suburb of Christchurch, for a surfing lesson! Your private instructor will make sure you’re having a fun and safe time as well as progressing your skills to catch a wave. In the evening, have a special farewell dinner with your guide.
DAY 12: DEPARTURE DAY
Depending on the time of your flight, a shuttle will be arranged for you to the airport in Christchurch. If you have time before your departure, we recommend visiting the International Antarctic Centre located near the airport.
Interested in booking this itinerary or customizing a trip to New Zealand? Get in touch with a private travel designer!