Helen is one of our regular tour leaders, who particularly enjoys leading some of our more active walking and cycling tours. While we are unable to take our travellers to exciting destinations overseas, she is keen to share some of her favourite South Island walks.
The focus of the trip is on short walks which give access to highlight features of each area. All are on well made paths. Almost all are around an hour or less, and, if you find you have had enough on any of the days, all have the option of allowing you to stay with the bus to meet the group at the end of the walk, or have a more leisurely start on some days.
$2,850 per person, share twin
$890 single supplement
21 – 29 April, 2021
Able to walk 1 -2 hours
All paths are well-made
Max Group Size: 14
• Accommodation in 3, 4 & 5-star hotels & motel
• 8 breakfasts, 1 lunch & 5 dinners
• Transport in a Luxury Mercedes sprinter Coach
• Services of your knowledgeable Tour Leader/Driver Helen Tait
• Domestic airfares
• Travel insurance
Arrive Christchurch and check into accommodation.
2pm: Meet tour leader Helen Tait for an optional walk through the centre of Christchurch. The tour will cover post earthquake plans and developments, and will include Turanga, the award-winning central library, the new Convention Centre, Margaret Mahy Playground, the dramatic architecture of the city’s new retail area, including the Riverside Markets, earthquake memorials, the restored Arts Centre, “Quake City”, the earthquake museum, and will conclude at the Botanical gardens, close to your accommodation.
This evening we will gather for a welcome dinner at the beautiful Curator’s House in the Botanical gardens.
Accommodation at Novotel Cathedral Square, Christchurch.
We make an early start this morning to head for the West Coast. Our first stop will be at the Kura Tawhiti Reserve at Castle Hill for a walk among the weird rock formations. This area has been the set for a number of major films, including scenes from Lord of the Rings.
We then travel to Arthurs Pass to stop for a nature walk and lunch, before heading to the West Coast for a visit and short walk at the spectacular Hokitika Gorge before getting to our destination for the night at Hokitika, where we can choose from a number of local restaurants for our evening meal.
Accommodation at Beachfront Hotel, Hokitika
Our first stop will be in the historic gold mining town of Ross, where New Zealand’s largest gold nugget was discovered. There we follow a waterway track where water was once piped for gold sluicing. You can even try your hand at gold panning – to maybe pay for your next trip? After stopping at Harehare, site of Guy Menzies’ landing after his 1931 trans Tasman flight, we’ll make a stop in the small town of Whataroa to buy food for a picnic lunch, then it is on to beautiful Okarito Lagoon on the coast – home to the graceful white herons. Here you have an option of a kayak trip on the lagoon or a walk to a viewpoint over the lagoon and coastal area. From the viewpoint or on a kayak trip you may be lucky enough to spot a white heron.
Once we have checked in to our hotel, those with the energy left, could travel up the Fox Glacier Valley for a view of the receeding glacier.
We have dinner at our hotel this evening.
Accommodation at Heartland Hotel Fox Glacier
We start the day with probably New Zealand’s most famous lake and mountain view walk, hoping for that perfect morning reflection of Mt Cook in the waters of Lake Matheson. Then it is on down the West Coast, stopping at Ship Creek for a choice of a sand dunes walk or a forest wetland trail.
We pass through the remote township of Haast, and on over the Haast Pass, stopping for a short walk into the impressive Thunder Creek Falls; and another walk through beech forest to the beautiful Blue Pools, before heading for our destination for the day in Wanaka, where we will find the entry to the town lined with a lovely avenue decked in autumn colours.
This evening we have dinner at the Oakridge Resort.
Accommodation at Oakridge Resort, Wanaka
This morning we will join the locals for a favourite recreation – climbing Mt Iron for a view over the rapidly growing town of Wanaka and the wider Upper Clutha area.
After lunch at one of Wanaka’s many great cafes, the choice for the afternoon is a walk around the lake shore or an optional trip on the lake to the beautiful Mou Waho Island, where we can see weka and other native birds.
Tonight you might like to try one of Wanaka’s many international restaurants.
Accommodation at Oakridge Resort, Wanaka
We’ll drive over the Crown Range, New Zealand’s highest public road, to historic Arrowtown, famous for its display of autumn colours, which will be on show for us. We will walk alongside the Arrow River and through an area where Chinese miners’ cottages have been restored and recreated. Then it is on to Queenstown, in time for our special treat – a trip across the lake on the stately TSS Earnslaw steamer to Walter Peak station.
We have a delicious gourmet barbecue lunch and a farm demonstration in a stunning lakeside setting.
We will be back in Queenstown in time for a stroll in the Botanic Gardens.
Accommodation at Scenic Suites, Queenstown.
An energetic start to the day with a climb to the top of Queenstown hill for a spectacular view over Lake Wakatipu and towards the Remarkables, or those who want something more gentle may prefer a lakeshore track. There will be time for lunch in Queenstown before we head through Gibbston Valley wine area and the dramatic Kawerau Gorge to Bannockburn, where we will explore trails through the tailings left by the sluicing for gold.
This evening we enjoy dinner at The Lake Resort.
Accommodation at The Lake Resort, Cromwell.
Today we will learn more of the life and times of the intrepid goldminers, as we walk through a restored mining area at Bendigo, above the shores of Lake Dunstan, then head through Tarras, home of Shrek, the famous sheep, over the Lindis Pass and through to Mount Cook. After a late lunch stop in the village, we will take an easy walk up to Kea Point, surrounded by New Zealand’s highest peaks.
Dinner tonight will be our farewell dinner at The Hermitage.
Accommodation at Aoraki Court Motel, Mt Cook
Energetic early morning walkers will be well rewarded by making the steep climb up to the Red Tarns, alongside Mt Cook Village. We travel to Lake Tekapo, where there is the opportunity to climb Mt John, site of a world class observatory, which takes advantage of the famous clear skies of the Mackenzie Basin. The group can choose whether you would like to walk up or down (or just ride in comfort?).
There is a café with a stunning view at the top of Mt John, or numerous choices in town in Tekapo, before we head to Geraldine and over the Canterbury plains to Christchurch. A drop off at Christchurch airport will be available for flights after mid afternoon.
Arrive Christchurch (airport or city) mid afternoon. Tour concludes.
Helen lives in Christchurch and is a keen skier, cyclist and walker. She has led tours for Tours Direct for over 10 years, and loves sharing her enthusiasm for a wide range of places and cultures. She specially likes to share walking and cycling tours, at a relaxed pace suited to travellers for whom this might be a first.