Come with us while we take you on some awesome New Zealand activities on our Southern Encounter tour from Queenstown to Christchurch via the undiscovered secrets of the deep South of the South Island.
Small groups travelling in modern, comfortable 16 seater buses for maximum enjoyment. Over the 7 days we will take you on activites such as: hiking, wildlife watching and kiwi spotting! Stay the night at quality accommodation in great and unique locations. Our friendly, supportive and qualified guides will make this an experience never to forget.
To determine the grade of a particular adventure we consider a number of factors. These include the condition of the terrain, the altitude, the number of pass crossings and the length of the trip. The Southern Encounter is graded introductory. You will need a reasonable level of fitness and we suggest 30 minutes of aerobic type exercise, (either cycling or jogging) twice a week for the three months leading up to your trip. The tour is fully supported and a number of the activities are optional.
Important: The night before your tour is to depart your guide will call your pre tour accommodation to advise what time they will collect you the following morning. (Please make sure you have given us information as to where you are staying). If you are not around when your guide calls they will leave a message at reception – its really important that you check with reception if you have not heard from your guide directly. If for any reason you have not heard from your guide by the morning of the tour please call us in the NZ office on 0800 00 11 66 (from within NZ).
Starting with a pick up after breakfast at Queenstown, our trip travels down the lake and into rural Southland. Across the rolling plains, the trip arrives at Te Anau and the chance for a quick break, before continuing the short drive down to Lake Manapouri. Here we leave the vehicle and start the trip into Doubtful Sound, firstly by launch across the lake, and then by coach over the spectacular Wilmot Pass and finally down into the Sound. Here we board our floating hotel and locate your cabin to begin the magic overnight cruise into this zone of natural quiet.
The evening spent among the beech covered sound is followed by the morning spent nosing around various parts of the sound, often experiencing dolphins and seals on the shore. By midday we are back on the coach and retrace our path via Wilmot Pass and the launch. Then by coach we drive through to the southern most town of Bluff in time to catch the ferry across to Stewart Island and our most recent National Park: Rakiura NP.
With only 29kms of road, Stewart Island is special and rapidly developing the reputation for the new frontier. There is a wealth of things to do, from a visit to the wildlife on Ulva Island, hiking the local tracks, or trying your hand at sea kayaking. The day is completely unstructured and yours to pursue as you wish - challenging, relaxing or even getting up close to our little native kiwi!
Having experienced our free day on the Island, we depart this morning again by ferry to regain the coach. Heading up the east coast we enter the Catlins conservation park with its many magical locations and experiences. The fossilised forest on the beach, beautiful hidden waterfalls and/or remote lighthouses make this a day of discovery before locating our accommodation on the beach front for the night.
Today we are Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula bound which takes us through the remainder of the Catlins and onto the rural plains leading into Dunedin, student capital of NZ! Sheltering the harbour is the Otago Peninsula and at the headlands is a wildlife treat with NZ’s only mainland Albatross colony. On the way back we get to visit NZ’s only historic castle on the hillside above the city before settling in and enjoying the local shopping.
Mount Cook is spectacular and rises above the hermitage and the village nestled beneath the peaks and glaciers of the area. The 3.5 hour drive to get there is a delight as we track up the coast and then inland to the vastness of the tussock covered Mackenzie Basin and the huge glacial lakes. Once at the village we have a three hour easy hike on well formed tracks to the Hooker Glacier lake with superb mountain views. For further exploration – or as a less active alternative, the new Sir Edmund Hillary museum provides endless entertainment, - before an evening meal beneath the peaks of the Southern Alps.
Few people get the chance to get up close and personal with a glacier and this morning we join a boat trip on the rapidly expanding terminal lake of the Tasman Glacier. The rigid hulled inflatables get us well up into the glacier and we receive a great interpretation understanding of the time we are ‘in the ice’. Back in our coach, we drive via Lake Tekapo and onto a farm lunch and a final kiwi family experience. A last sector back over the Canterbury Plains has us in Christchurch by early evening. Here we say our goodbyes as we each head in our own direction and the tour ends.
Per Person, Twin Share