On arrival in Wellington, please make your own way to your hotel. The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure to explore the city.
Days 2 – 4
Bay of Many Coves
This morning, take the InterIslander ferry service from downtown Wellington across the Cook Straight to Picton. The journey is a scenic one that takes roughly between 3-3.5 hours. On arrival in Picton, take the water taxi to Bay of Many Coves resort situated in the beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound (approximately 30 minutes). Over the next 3 nights, enjoy doing as much, or as little, as you like in this incredibly picturesque part of New Zealand. Bushwalking is the highlight, with the lodge just a stone’s throw from the legendary Queen Charlotte Track. The sheltered bays and coastline can also be explored by kayak or stand-up paddle board whilst a host of other activities are also possible. Other lodge facilities guests can enjoy a peaceful swimming pool or the relaxing hot tub – a favourite activity at night under the stars.
Days 5 – 6
Depart the lodge this morning by water taxi back to Picton where you will pick up your hire car. Head south to Maruia River Retreat, approximately a 2h 45 minute drive. Alternatively, drive through the lovely Rai Valley and stop for lunch in beautiful Nelson (4 hours). Set a 500-acre nature estate along the magnificent Maruia River, Maruia River Retreat is peaceful, boutique lodge surrounded by mountains and forest. The retreat has just 7 private villas ensuring a quiet and intimate experience. The surrounding area offers plenty of superb walking opportunities whilst white water rafting is also possible. If a few nights of relaxing are in order, guests have private access to the outdoor hot tub, or alternatively, there is a spa offering a range of treatments and massage services.
Days 7 – 8
Today, at your leisure, head towards the small town of Hokitika on the South Island’s beautiful southwest coast. The region is sometimes called “the land that time forgot” and today’s drive is either through the slightly shorter inland route (2h 45 minutes) or the slightly longer route (3h 20 minutes) that traverses the coastline. There are several small towns to stop and visit en route, including Shantytown – a well-recreated 1900’s pioneer town born from the gold rush of the 1860’s.
Rimu Lodge is just 8km outside of Hokitika, in the beautiful Hokitika River Valley. The lodge has just 4 guest rooms, each decorated with a quiet elegance and facing north-east with views over the valley. Aside from walking or cycling the areas many trails, there are a range of interesting things to do during your stay. Explore Hokitika, home to numerous craft artists, sculptors, jewellers and painters, visit Hokitika Gorge where the water is a beautiful turquoise blue (due to the alluvial silt from the glaciers and Southern alps) or discover the fascinating geology of the region on short easy walks to Dorothy Waterfalls and Canoe Cove.
Days 9 – 11
This morning continue following the road south, to the fascinating and scenic town of Franz Josef (Waiau), approximately 130km (1h 40 mins). Your accommodation for the next 3 nights is either the Scenic Hotel Franz Josef or the renowned Te Waonui Forest Retreat, an eco-friendly retreat nestled within pristine forest. It is the ideal spot to discover some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery including Franz Josef and Fox glaciers. The surrounding area has countless walking trails, sensational gorges, lakes and the fascinating Tatare Tunnels – an old mining tunnel. Whilst here, the other must-do experience is a visit to the West Coast Wildlife Centre, located in the heart of the main town and where you can come face to face with the rarest of the country’s five kiwi species – the Rowi.
Days 12 – 14
Enjoy the morning in Franz Josef/Waiau before it’s time to head to your final destination – Queenstown – approximately a 350 kilometre (4h 30 minute) drive. A good spot to stop to break up your drive is a visit to the Gates of Haast, a series of rapids along the Haast River. The Gates of Haast Falls are located in Mt Aspiring National Park, along State Highway 6. Another detour is a stop in Wanaka, a small town on the shores of its namesake lake. You could stop at New Zealand’s most photographed tree – the ‘Wānaka Tree’ – that pokes its head above the waters of the lake. It is just a few minutes walk from the main town. There are a number of excellent restaurants and cafes in the town.
On arrival in Queenstown make your way to either Matakauri Lodge or The Rees Hotel. Over the next 3 days explore this sensational town – often referred to as “The Adventure Capital of the World” – at your leisure. take a cruise on Lake Wakatipu, scenic flight over the mountains, kayak, walk, play a round of golf or ski (seasonal); there are countless activities to consider and enjoy.
This morning after checking out, please drop off your hire car at the airport. Tour ends.
Please note: We can easily add an extra night or two at any of these fabulous properties if you wish to spend a little more time exploring.
B L D = Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner