Get ready for an adventure of a lifetime, exploring New Zealand’s most iconic and remote wilderness, with every detail carefully planned on our 8-day Classic South Island Adventure. You’ll be truly mind-blown by the array of activities and landscapes you can experience in just eight days. From flying into Siberia Valley, hiking up to Lake Crucible in Mt Aspiring National Park and jet boating out the next morning. Each day brings a unique challenge, a new adventure and a chance to see the South Island in ways very few experience. If you’re ready to take in the wilderness of the West Coast, hike part of the Routeburn Track and spend a day in the charming mountain town of Queenstown, look no further than the Classic South Island Adventure.
Duration: 8 days
Activity Level: 3
Trip Start: Christchurch
Trip Ends: Queenstown
Maximum Group Size: 14
Arrive, Hike in Arthur’s Pass
Most people leave the Northern Hemisphere on a Friday evening, arriving into Auckland early Sunday morning. You’ll lose a day crossing the dateline – but you get it back on the way home! It’s a short flight from Auckland to Christchurch on the South Island where we’ll meet you. We’ll then travel into the Southern Alps to hike Devil’s Punchbowl in Arthur’s Pass. The walk will take you through native beech forest to an awesome 131 metre (430 feet) waterfall, so make sure you have your camera handy! From there, we’ll head down the coast to Franz Josef where we’ll stay the night. Nestled in the rainforest-clad foothills of the Southern Alps, Franz Josef is the heart of New Zealand glacier country.
Kayak Okarito Lagoon And Hike Near Franz Josef Glacier
This morning we’ll take a short journey over to Okarito, a little-known beach community on the coast. We’ll take to the water in sea kayaks and glide along a picturesque lagoon, set against a stunning backdrop of snow-capped peaks. Okarito is home to the only native white heron colony in New Zealand, as well as a host of other interesting birds.
Optional Heli-hike (extra fee applies)
An outrageously scenic alternative to today’s kayak is to heli-hike on Franz Josef Glacier itself. After being fitted with crampons, ice axes and so on, you’ll board a turbine helicopter and fly towards the highest peaks of the Southern Alps, landing on the glacier at 1300 metres (4265 feet) above sea level. Led by specialist glacier guides, you’ll hike through the grand ice formations of the glacier, checking out its crevasses, seracs and tunnels – no previous experience is required! The constant movement of the glacier means every day is different, so your guides will cut steps in the ice to make the most of the conditions. At the end of your hike on the ice, you’ll take another helicopter ride out of the mountains and back to civilisation.
The heli-hike is extremely popular, so we offer advance reservations with the helicopter operators and guiding company. At the time of booking, or up until one month before your trip, we can reserve a space for you, or you can leave your decision until the start of your trip and your guides will get you a spot if it’s available
After our activities this morning we’ll regroup back in Franz Josef for some lunch before heading off to check out the glacier! With some 140 glaciers making their way down from the Southern Alps, this area is fittingly known as glacier country. Few sights equal the spectacle of two of these giant frozen rivers (Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers) imperceptibly grinding their way down through temperate rainforest to just 250 metres (820 feet) above sea level. Our hike will take us along the Waiho River bed up the valley right to the terminal face of Franz Josef Glacier. From Franz Josef, we’ll travel down the coast through lush forest, and over the divide to a small mountain village called Makarora, where we’ll enjoy some local fare.
Mt Aspiring National Park Options
This morning we’ll make our final preparations for our incredible flight into Mount Aspiring National Park, and true wilderness.
Option A, Siberia Valley Wilderness In Mt Aspiring National Park
Day 3 (Afternoon) – Scenic Flight, Hike Lake Crucible
If you like the idea of staying in one of New Zealand’s most isolated mountain huts, then this option is for you (but let us know early as space is limited!) We’ll start with a stunning scenic flight alongside the snowy Southern Alps to the Siberia Valley airstrip, a short hike from the hut where we’ll spend the night. After lightening your packs at the hut, we will hike up the trail to Lake Crucible, a cauldron-like glacial lake with fantastic views of the valley below. The hike follows the Siberia river upstream for a short while before crossing the river to make our way up into the Crucible Valley. This section of the trail is steep and forested and is where the majority of the 550m (1800 feet) in elevation gain will be tackled. The path will ease eventually, and you’ll cross the Crucible stream, making your way toward the moraine wall and the impressive backdrop of the valley, Mount Alba. The hike at times is strenuous, though the Lake Crucible Valley has exceptional scenic diversity, so it provides a great reward for the efforts you put in. We’ll be there to encourage you the whole way. Tonight, you’ll enjoy a true Kiwi experience at a small mountain hut, tucked within the Siberia Valley, our home for the night!
Day 4 (Morning) – Hike Siberia Valley, Jet Boat Wilkin River
After an early start, we spend the morning hiking to Kerin Forks, at the head of the Wilkin River, where we’ll be met by a jet boat for an exhilarating ride back to Makarora to meet up with the rest of the group for lunch. Your load will be little more than a day pack – our guides will carry the lion’s share. You’ll be carrying a backpack with a sleeping bag, a few spare clothes and some food – no need for any more than that, although if you opt to camp out under the stars the night before, you will be carrying your tent out.
Option B, Makarora Adventure In Mt Aspiring National Park
Day 3 (Afternoon) – Scenic Flight, Hike Siberia Valley, Jet Boat Wilkin River
If you prefer accommodation with modern amenities instead of a mountain hut for the night, then this is the option for you. You’ll head out for a mind-blowing scenic flight into Mt Aspiring National Park, with a bird’s eye view of the lower Southern Alps, landing in the remote Siberia Valley. From here, you’ll hike downstream along the Wilkin River, through beautiful silver beech (Nothofagus menziesii) forests to a jet boat rendezvous. Then it’s a thrilling ride back to Makarora for dinner and perhaps a well-earned drink at the local pub.
Day 4 (Morning) – Hike Haast Pass Lookout And Blue Pools
This morning we’ll head back toward the West Coast and stop off at the top of Haast Pass to walk up to the Haast Pass Lookout. The trail has a steady incline and doesn’t let off until you reached the top, though the views from above the tree-line are well worth the climb! On our way back to Makarora, we’ll check out the iconic Blue Pools, nestled among mature beech and podocarp forest, these pools of deep, clear water flowing into the Makarora River offer a moment of tranquillity. Alternatively, you can have a relaxing sleep in and spend your morning soaking up the mountain views.
Finish Mt Aspiring National Park Options, Bike Queenstown Trail
After regrouping in Makarora, we’ll have a picnic lunch before taking a beautiful drive through spectacular glacier-carved valleys. The landscape changes rapidly from dense beech forests to semi-arid mountainous terrain. We’ll take a quick stop in Wanaka before a short but dramatic journey over the Cardrona Saddle towards Queenstown, where we’ll hop on bikes to ride a portion of the Queenstown Bike Trail. The trail is well packed and winds along beside the Arrow River to Arrowtown, a small historic gold mining village established in the 1800s. After our ride we’ll check out the charming town before heading on to Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. You’ll sleep sweetly tonight at a lakefront hotel located in the heart of this alpine town.
Gondola Ride, Hike Ben Lomond Or Free Day In Queenstown
Today you have two options – a full day hike or a free day to yourself. For those keen for an alpine hike, you’ll meet your guide at reception at 9am, ready to head up the Ben Lomond Track. To save our legs a little, we’ll take a short gondola ride up to Bob’s Peak, which is 450 metres (1476 feet) above Queenstown. From there, we’ll head out along the trail through alpine tussock-land towards the summit of Ben Lomond. From this vantage point, you’ll find yourself immersed in amazing views over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, which are themselves dwarfed by the surrounding mountains including Mt Aspiring. As an alternative, you can have a free day to explore on your own. Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand (if not the world!) and all the comforts of civilisation are packed into this tiny resort town: restaurants galore, sidewalk cafés, stylish lounge bars, day spas, and boutiques. You’ll also find incredible optional activities here including horse trekking, kayaking, fishing, winery tours, hang gliding, mountain biking, bungy jumping, jet boating and skydiving. Or you can just soak up the atmosphere or lounge about reading a book. Your guides will happily share their favourite haunts and point you in the right direction if you choose to have a free day today.
Hike Kepler Track
This morning we’ll make our way around Lake Wakatipu, leaving behind the towering Remarkables and head west to the small town of Te Anau, the gateway to Milford Sound. This afternoon we’ll take a hike on the famous Kepler Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks – we follow the track through mountain beech forest and along the Waiau River. It’s an awesome hike with spectacular views! Tonight we’ll stay on the edge of Lake Te Anau, enjoying the scenery and the delicious local fare.
Milford Sound Cruise, Hike Routeburn Track
It’s an early start this morning as we set off for our largest and perhaps most spectacular national park, Fiordland. We’ll take a short drive through the Homer Tunnel and emerge at the top of a spectacular glacier-carved valley for a memorable descent to the shore of Milford Sound. Rudyard Kipling rated this fiord as the eighth natural wonder of the world and it is truly breath-taking, with steep granite walls plunging over a thousand metres to the Tasman Sea and waterfalls cascading into deep inky water. We’ll jump on board the first boat cruise of the day, where we’ll have the water to ourselves, as we gaze in wonder at the waterfalls tumbling down enormous vertical rock faces all around and journey right out to the entrance of the fiord. We may be lucky enough to encounter the friendly fur seals and dolphins that are sometimes in the area. Afterwards we’ll explore the Fiordland wilderness on foot again, with a hike to Key Summit on the famous Routeburn Track. The panoramic views are incredible from this vantage point and you’ll probably get to meet New Zealand’s notoriously cheeky and intelligent alpine parrot, the kea (Nestor notabilis). After our hike we’ll continue heading out of Milford Sound to return for our last night on the shores of Lake Te Anau. Tonight we’ll enjoy a celebratory dinner for the last night of the ‘Tui’.
Depart for Home
After breakfast, we’ll return to Queenstown. This is the end of your ‘Tui’ trip and you’ll have had an exhilarating week. We’ll leave you buzzing with excitement, but feeling relaxed and refreshed as well! For a great way to see the North Island too, where you’ll experience Maori culture, pristine beaches and geothermal areas, combine this trip with our 11-day ‘Kauri’ (5-day ‘Kauri’ options available).
The accommodation varies from trip to trip and day-to-day – you’ll stay in a variety of places from jungle lodges to mountain huts, local motels and friendly lodges. Active Adventures focuses on getting you out into amazing places in the most stunning parts of the world, so this isn’t a tour of the world’s fanciest hotels! Another focus of Active Adventures is having a good place to rest and rejuvenate at the end of a busy day, and to make sure you are fully charged for the next day’s activities, so you’ll always find yourself in a clean, comfortable room, quite often with a spectacular view.
Below is a sample of some of the amazing places you’ll stay in:
Nestled amongst the Southern Alps close to Franz Josef Glacier and countless scenic spots, Rainforest is the perfect base to explore New Zealand’s Glacier Country and the wild West Coast.
The magic of Queenstown can’t be explained, only experienced. If you haven’t visited yet, it’s time to book. Winter is a magical time to visit Queenstown and as a well equipped ski hotel with city amenties, Crowne Plaza Queenstown is an excellent choice. From the moment you leave the plane your worries will be gone. Whether your trip is a weekend away or a couple of weeks , there is plenty to keep you entertained, inspired and relaxed.
All prices are per person twin share and unless otherwise stated, are in Australian dollars, are correct at the time of publication and subject to change without notice.
This tour operates May through to September. Please contact us for available dates.
ACTIVITY LEVEL 3:
Hiking: Typically, 3-6 hours per day on well-formed backcountry trails. Expect some significant gradient inclines and declines.
Altitude: Your trip may include some moderate altitude areas, though these don’t form the focus of the trip and are generally manageable.
Biking: 1-3 hours on well-formed paths or roads where you can expect some hills with moderate climbs and descents.
Kayaking: 1-3 hours, entry-level sea kayaking with specialist guides and stable boats.
Other activities (i.e. caving): Always optional and very little exertion required. A highlight for many!
CANCELLATION BY YOU (Worldwide trips)
In the event you need to cancel your trip, the following cancellation charges will apply:
• Cancellation 91 days before trip departure: Full trip payment refunded, less deposit
• Cancellation 90-61 days before trip departure: 50% of trip payment refunded. 50% forfeit.
• Cancellation 60-0 days before trip departure: 100% forfeit.
Any deposits not transferred to future trips are non-refundable and will be forfeited. All refunds are less any non-refundable expenses incurred by Active Adventures.
Requested changes to your trip and/or date must be made prior to 90 days before your departure. In the event you need to change your trip and/or date, the following will apply:
• One change (trip and/or date): free of charge
• Second and subsequent changes: A fee of 300 per person per change consistent with the currency in which your booking was made (USD $300, CAD $300, NZD $300, GBP £300, EUR €300, AUD $300)
• New trip pricing (where applicable) will apply for all changes
A cancellation or postponement will take effect from the date which Active Adventures receives written notification of the cancellation or postponement. This cancellation policy includes voluntary or involuntary early departure from a trip. No refunds will be given for missed or unused services such as accommodation, activities or meals. We strongly recommend travel insurance which covers cancellation fees at the time of booking.
*Cancellation and postponement terms and conditions may differ for certain group trips, as well as Cruises, Private Journeys, and Extensions. These exceptions are clearly indicated in the detailed itineraries for each of these trips.
BY ACTIVE ADVENTURES
Active Adventures occasionally may have to cancel any trip at any time before departure for commercial reasons beyond our control, including if the minimum numbers required to operate the trip are not reached. If we do have to cancel your trip, you can transfer the fare to an alternate departure date for no additional fee or alternatively opt for a refund, including your deposit.
BY FORCE MAJEURE
In circumstances where the cancellation is due to any conditions or event outside our control, including but not limited to natural disasters, pandemics, border restrictions, terrorism or political instability, Active Adventures will re-book you on an alternative trip or will offer you a future trip credit valid for 24 months.
If you’re re-booked to a new departure, as a result of your booking being cancelled by us or force majeure, the cancellation terms in effect on the date when your booking was changed will apply for your new booking.
All credits and refunds resulting from cancellations for any reason will be less any non-refundable expenses incurred by Active Adventures. Active Adventures is not responsible for any additional expenses you may have incurred as a result of your booking, including but not limited to visas, vaccinations, medical expenses, clothing, equipment, testing, quarantine, travel insurance excess or non-refundable flights.