A Dream Journey in Nature’s Wonderland

Overview

From the mountains to the sea, New Zealand’s entire South Island feels like one enormous national park—no wonder Kiwis celebrate any opportunity to “have a go” at outdoor adventure! We discover firsthand the natural beauty that inspires them as we swim among wild dolphins at Kaikoura, hike through mystical fern forests and powdery white-sand beaches in Abel Tasman National Park, discover the icy wonder of Fox Glacier, and savor world-famed Milford Sound on a spectacular overnight cruise. Outdoor adventure abounds (as does wine tasting and wonderfully fresh local cuisine!), yet our journey also reveals the unique culture, friendly Kiwi character, and unhurried pace of this nature-blessed land. At journey’s end, extend with an epic hike on the Hollyford Track in Fiordland National Park, a World Heritage Site.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-3
Kaikoura Coast / Swim with Wild Dolphins / Marlborough Sounds / Nelson

We enjoy a hike on the Kaikoura Peninsula and a swim with its most famous local personalities—the playful dusky dolphins who frolic here in pods numbering in the hundreds. In Marlborough Sounds, renowned for its sauvignon blanc wines, we enjoy wine tasting and a vineyard picnic lunch, then end our day in the artists’ haven of Nelson.

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Days 4-7
Abel Tasman National Park / Paparoa National Park

Our coastal hikes in the fern-forested wilderness of Abel Tasman National Park lead past white-sand beaches and turquoise lagoons with fantastic views. At Paparoa National Park, with its densely forested karst landscape, we hike lush trails amid Nikau palms, northern rata, and cabbage trees.

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Days 8-11
Fox Glacier / Mount Aspiring National Park

The Fox Glacier, longest of New Zealand’s West Coast glaciers, ends remarkably in a temperate rainforest just a few miles from the sea, and we hike below its terminus for up-close views. At Munro Beach, we search for the rare Fiordland crested penguins, and in Mount Aspiring National Park, hike through a spectacular river gorge to a natural amphitheater—the perfect place for our picnic lunch.

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Days 12-13
Fiordland / Milford Sound

With sheer 4,000-foot rock walls rising from the water’s edge, Milford Sound is a dramatic meeting of mountains and sea. Our overnight cruise takes us out to a sheltered cove beneath towering Mount Pembroke, where we can explore the fjord by kayak or tender, or simply relax and enjoy the view. Depart on Day 13, or join our Hollyford Track extension.

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Highlights

Highlights

Spectacular hikes in Abel Tasman and Mount Aspiring National Parks
Swim with dolphins, walk to the terminus of the Fox Glacier
Milford Sound overnight cruise, with spectacular sunset kayaking
Wonderful cuisine, from fresh seafood to tender local lamb
Enjoy our Hollyford Track extension

Details

Length: 13 days
Cost From: $6295  
Arrive: Christchurch, New Zealand
Depart: Queenstown, New Zealand
Lodging: 11 nights hotels, historic inns, and beachside lodges, 1 night private cabins on boat
Meals: All meals included except 4 dinners
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Wildlife & Natural History
Trip Level:

Moderate hiking, 3-4 hours a day on hiking days (4-7 hours a day on optional Hollyford Track extension), optional sea kayaking activities

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