Experience nature like nowhere else in the world during your 10-day best of New Zealand tour. You will venture into the outdoors to find tumbling glaciers and remarkable rainforest. You will travel beneath dramatic volcanic peaks and along shimmering fiord waters for adventures across six national parks. From heli-hiking along rugged glacial surfaces to trekking over rolling hills, your New Zealand adventure will highlight the marvels of the great outdoors.
Queenstown – Rivers and Mountains
Flying in is part of the experience because fjords cut significant scars beneath the wingtips. Transferring from the airport to the town only takes 15 minutes, but it instantly showcases why this town is so revered. After a private airport transfer, you will have some time to relax before meeting a local guide over coffee. There are many ways to explore the landscapes around Queenstown, and you do not have time for them all, but even half a day can provide an inspiring journey into nature. One option will be to indulge in a boat ride on the Shotover River, which is a strip of cerulean water in a narrow ravine. You can also hike and mountain bike directly above Queenstown or tandem paraglide down to Earth.
Milford Sound – New Zealand’s Most Iconic Fjord
This morning, you will travel on a private transfer, first crossing open valleys before twisting into the mountains and Fiordland National Park. After arriving at the small harbor, you will have lunch on board as the boat starts cruising through the fjord. After two hours of casual cruising, you will have a choice of water activities, such as kayaking or exploring in a small tender boat. These activities usually encounter dolphins and seals, and even if they do not, gazing up the cliffs will prove to be an inspiring experience. As the other boats leave, you will stay and indulge in dinner on the boat before a night of solace in the fjord.
Queenstown – Helicopter Above Fiordland
On some mornings, you can only see the end of your arm, but when the mist finally clears, you can truly appreciate the scale of Milford Sound. There will be another water activity this morning before the boat cruises back to the harbor. All the Milford Sound day cruises leave in the afternoon, and going overnight means a morning to yourself in the fjord. A helicopter will then escort you back to Queenstown. It is one of the world’s most scenic flights, and you will cross the vast space of Fiordland National Park. Your pilot will set you down on a mountaintop that is inaccessible by other means, and this is where you can wander beside natural ice sculptures and bask in the endless views.
Wanaka – Exploring Mt. Aspiring National Park
Wanaka is a thousand shades of green and blue, and it is another lakeside town that is dominated by natural colors. Woodland stands above ragged mountain slopes and a serene lake, while volcanic peaks peer above everything else. After a one-hour transfer, your local guide will customize the day to your choice of adventure. Superb, single-track mountain bike trails are one option, and you can try some formidable downhills if you want. Horseback riding can take you deep into the wilderness or across rolling pastures. There is an option to kayak on the lake, and you can also choose from a multitude of hiking trails. Then, when the afternoon becomes evening, you will try a Wanaka wine farm for a laid-back dinner.
Franz Josef Glacier – Traversing the Vast World Heritage Site
Just under half of New Zealand’s South Island makes up the Te Wahipounamu UNESCO World Heritage Site. Contiguous national parks provide a haven for adventure here and offer one of the planet’s ultimate overland journeys. From Wanaka to Franz Josef Glacier, you will cross three national parks, countless lakes, and so many viewpoints that you will need photos to remember them. There will be numerous places to stop and explore, including short hiking trails with an option to go black-water rafting through a forest. It will take half a day of driving to reach the town of Franz Josef Glacier, but this will be a full day’s private journey with stops tailored to your interests.
Franz Josef Glacier – Heli-Hiking on the Rainforest Glacier
This morning, you will fly by helicopter to Franz Josef Glacier before stepping out in crampons to explore a landscape of frozen art. Icy-blue tunnels curl like perfectly frozen surfing waves, and strange shapes are visibility melting, so what you see will be different from what future visitors witness. Heli-hiking is a half-day activity, but you need to allow extra time because it can be called off due to poor weather. Sometimes the activity will be cancelled a day or two in advance. In this case, you can rush through to Franz Josef Glacier yesterday or postpone the hike to tomorrow morning. It is ideal to dedicate a full day to the glacier adventure, so you should be ready to take advantage of any clear window if this is something that you strongly desire to do.
Westhaven Inlet – Boulders and Blowholes of the Coastline
By taking the road to Westhaven Inlet, you will have covered the entire Te Wahipounamu Western coastline and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The journey to Franz Josef cuts across the island, and today’s transfer will hug the coastline and twist beneath a variety of peaks and old volcanos. Surreal boulders dot the beaches along this coast and make for some iconic photography. Westhaven Inlet is a bucolic destination, and your hotel suite will be facing the ocean and backdropped by two national parks. It is isolated out here, and you will be able to feel the silence along with nature’s therapeutic power.
Westhaven Inlet – Adventure in Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park has a tropical feel. This coastline is not connected by road, so you will need to hike and kayak in order to explore. Rather than paddling all 50 miles, you can start with a boat transfer. This means that you can paddle and hike the most interesting sections without needing to commit to the park’s entire five-night hike and kayak route. A guide will accompany you, and it will be difficult to get lost as you can only go up or down the coast. You will still need to plan a route around the tide because some coves are only accessible at high tide. On the hiking trail, you can often look out to sights of dolphins and sometimes even whales.
Westhaven Inlet – Trails and Discovery
Today, you can contrast Abel Tasman’s tropical allure with Kahurangi’s stark mountain brilliance. The trails are rough and ready here, and they can lead you above narrow ravines, along crystal blue rivers, and upon peaks that rarely see visitors. This national park is home to the Heaphy Track, which is one of New Zealand’s most-famous, multi-day hiking trails. You can walk along part of this track although the rest of the country’s second-largest park may be a better option because it is so quiet. It will all be on foot in Kahurangi, but you can do a shorter hike and spend more time at Westhaven Inlet, where water-based activities are available.
Westhaven Inlet – Departure
Today will be very relaxed, and after some busy days of exploring the great outdoors, you can rest up around the hotel and enjoy a late checkout. In the afternoon, you will be transferred to Nelson, where you will board your domestic flight to begin your journey home.
- Fly in a helicopter above Fiordland and touch down in a place of natural ice sculptures
- Kayak and hike to untouched beaches in Abel Tasman National Park
- Choose your adventure in Mount Aspiring National Park with mountain bikes and horses being your two possible riding options
- Venture on a heli-hiking excursion on Franz Josef Glacier, where ice meets rainforest and beach
- Spend the night in Milford Sound and paddle with dolphins
- Discover the evocative trails of Kahurangi, which is New Zealand’s forgotten national park
- Explore Queenstown and its legendary surroundings, where there are rivers, lakes, and mountains
- Cross the Te Wahipounamu UNESCO World Heritage Site and choose the places that you want to explore
In some countries, you must search for places to go outdoors, but in New Zealand, there are very few indoors. This is a country where landscapes remain untamed and unchartered areas can still be found. Here, the wilderness dominates, and the trails are never crowded because there are so many. From golden beaches that are only accessible by kayak to fjords that can only be reached by helicopter, this will be the ultimate, 10-day exploration of New Zealand’s outdoors. You will explore Te Wahipounamu on the South Island, where the landscapes are as varied as they are dramatic. Over ten days, you will discover six different national parks and experience the country’s wonderful variety of activities.
Queenstown is an obvious place to begin your adventure because it is a town that is surrounded by lakes, mountains, rivers, and fjords. You can customize some introductory adventures with a local guide before indulging in an overnight cruise on Milford Sound. You will then fly in a helicopter above Fiordland on day three, which is when you will touch down in a wilderness that is dominated by ice sculptures and remarkable vistas. Wanaka will be your destination for day four, which is a handsome, lakeside town that acts as a base for exploring Mount Aspiring National Park. You can mountain bike single-track trails, horseback ride across woodland and meadows, or choose from one of many hiking trails.
Continuing by road, you will traverse the rest of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Te Wahipounamu. Your transfer will be private, and there are hundreds of places that you can stop along the way with options for canoeing or indulging in a picnic in a place of solace. Nights five and six will be spent beneath Franz Josef Glacier, allowing for a full day to go heli-hiking on the glacier and search for kiwis in the surrounding rainforest. Of all the South Island landscapes, this is probably the most dramatic because the juxtaposition of the habitats is so rare and congruent. Nowhere else in the world can you hike on a glacier that tumbles through a rainforest toward rolling surf.
You will complete your New Zealand excursion with three nights at Westhaven Inlet, which is a remote locale that is positioned between Abel Tasman and Kahurangi national parks. One full day will be dedicated to each of these parks, and you will kayak and hike to beaches that are otherwise inaccessible. Then, you will journey into a ragged mountain range of Kahurangi, which is a land of ravines, rivers, and iconic trails. Like with the rest of your journey, your days of adventure can be followed by laid-back evenings in luxurious locations. While New Zealand knows how to get your heart racing, it also knows how to bring you down to earth, so you can always feel connected with Mother Nature.
$6,995 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.
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