An all-encompassing South Island journey through picture perfect coastal areas at the top and bottom of the Island. Golden sand beaches with crystal clear water define the Abel Tasman area, whilst beautiful coves and inlets with turquoise waters and lush rainforest await in the Marlborough Sounds.
We’ll stay in secluded, comfortable lodges here and on the Hollyford Track, which starts with a spectacular helicopter ride from Milford Sound into Martins Bay. Queenstown provides the perfect anecdote to the tranquility of these areas with its cosmopolitan hustle and excitement.
If you’re looking for a broad and varied experience, want to relax as well as walk, and enjoy the unique aspects of our finest coastal areas, then look no further.
– Queen Charlotte Track
– Marlborough Sounds
– Abel Tasman National Park
– Fiordland National Park
– Hollyford Track Guided Walk
– Milford Sound
– World Heritage Areas
Day 1 - Visit Winery & Abel Tasman National Park
Relax. You’re in New Zealand. Not only that, but you’re about to start your trip in the best way possible. From Nelson, we’ll head to a local winery for your first taste of New Zealand, experiencing award-winning wine and food in a region known for its Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. After a sumptuous lunch we’ll head north to the small coastal settlement of Kaiteriteri, the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. From here we’ll catch a water taxi to our accommodation in the heart of the National Park, Awaroa Lodge – where your luggage will be waiting for you.
Accommodation: Awaroa Lodge. In keeping with putting the world to one side, this lodge certainly fits the bill. It’s a true escape to barefoot luxury.
Wines: Nelson is a small region in wine terms, but it’s full of diversity born out of its plethora of boutique wineries. Expect excellent Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Dining: A delicious lunch at a winery in the Nelson region, followed by local fare for dinner at our secluded lodge accommodation.
Day 2 - Scenic Boat Journey, Walk on Abel Tasman Coast Track
Tranquil, serene and dramatic all rolled into one best describes today. We’ll begin the day by boarding a boat bound for Tonga Quarry and our first Great Walk, the Abel Tasman Coast Track. Enjoy the fresh coastal air, gaze out into Tasman Bay, and immerse yourself in the pristine natural beauty of New Zealand. Perfect golden sand beaches, birds singing in the native bush, and a rugged landscape to explore. The Abel Tasman really is a bucket list destination to be ticked off. We’ll walk from Tonga Quarry, at first along the coastline, then under the canopy cover back to our accommodation, Awaroa Lodge.
Accommodation: Awaroa Lodge. There should be time for a glass of local wine when we get back to our base for the evening.
Dining: Lunch on an isolated beach of the Abel Tasman. Dinner back at Awaroa Lodge in our secluded pocket of paradise.
Day 3 - Walk the Queen Charlotte Track, Marlborough Sounds
Today we’ll re-trace our water taxi route from our accommodation to Kaiteriteri, and head for the untouched beauty of the Marlborough Sounds. On the way we’ll stretch our legs at a loop track near the Pelorus River, and then head on to Anakiwa for a walk on the famous Queen Charlotte Track, to Davies Bay. The Queen Charlotte Track passes through lush coastal forest, around peaceful coves and inlets, and along hilly ridges offering uninterrupted views of the Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds. Later it’s a water taxi to another secluded accommodation out near the tip of the Sounds, Furneaux Lodge.
Accommodation: Furneaux Lodge, one of the most northerly points of the South Island, and spectacularly secluded.
Dining: The restaurant at Furneaux Lodge offers a delicious selection of locally sourced produce.
Day 4 - Walk the Queen Charlotte Track
You’re in one of the most beautiful locations on the planet, so take your time today and take it all in – the morning birdsong here is the soundtrack to breakfast. This morning our boat will pick us up for a short trip across Endeavour Inlet to Punga Cove, the start of our walk for the day. This section follows the beautiful coastline around the Inlet, and your guides will find a good place to stop for a paddle or a swim on the way for anyone who’s keen. The trail then passes through native bush regenerating after use as farmland; there used to be an Antimony Mine in this area too, so take some time to read the informative panels on this delightful walk back to our accommodation.
Accommodation: Furneaux Lodge, Marlborough Sounds.
Dining: We’ll dine at Furneaux Lodge again this evening, an opportunity to try something different and delicious from the selection.
Day 5 - Forrest Estate Winery, Walk Kaikoura Peninsula
We’ll start today with a water taxi back to Anakiwa, bound for Sauvignon Blanc country and our second outstanding Marlborough vineyard – this time it’s the idyllic setting of Forrest Estate Wines. At the cellar door we’ll sample a selection of different wines, and enjoy a delicious lunch spread. Next it’s on to Kaikoura, a place name which translates as ‘meal of crayfish’, on the north-east coast of the South Island. Delicious seafood abounds here, and the town’s unique setting on the Kaikoura Peninsula offers us an opportunity for a short walk to view a colony of New Zealand fur seals, before heading out to a restaurant of your guides’ choice to enjoy fresh produce straight from the ocean.
Accommodation: White Morph, Kaikoura.
Wines: Forrest Estate Winery produces delicious Sauvignon Blanc as well as other varieties in smaller quantities. The cellar door here is a perfect setting for a wine tasting and lunch al fresco.
Dining: Your guides will treat you to their favourite restaurant in Kaikoura, a town where you can’t go wrong when it comes to dining on fresh seafood.
Day 6 - Whale Watch Kaikoura, Fly to Queenstown
We’re in for a real treat this morning – we’re boarding a catamaran to head a short distance out into the Pacific Ocean in search of whales. The Hikurangi Trench is a staggering geological feature of the seabed off Kaikoura, and it provides a food source for thousands of marine animals. Today we’re on the lookout for whales, specifically sperm, humpback, blue, mink, southern right, and beaked whales. If we’re lucky we might also see some local dolphins and New Zealand fur seals. Once we’re back on dry land we’ll head down the east coast to Christchurch for a short flight to Queenstown, the Central Otago resort town famous for adventure activities, wine, and outstanding dining.
Accommodation: Scenic Suites, Queenstown.
Dining: Queenstown is packed with excellent dining options – tonight your guides will take you to one of their favourites.
Other Activities: Whale-watching off the coast of Kaikoura, viewing the diverse wildlife of the Hikurangi Trench. Short flight to Queenstown.
Day 7 - Free Day in Queenstown
Elegant, exciting, welcoming, compact and always beautiful, Queenstown is a place for everyone and everything. On the shores of Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by stunning peaks, you’ll find a quiet sanctuary indoors or outdoors here, or an activity that will assault your senses. Dine, indulge, drink, walk, fly, float, ride – just let your guide know how you’d like to spend your time here. Be sure to soak in the beauty and bustle of Queenstown and forget about the world outside this amazing place.
Accommodation: Scenic Suites, Queenstown.
Dining: * A foodie’s dream – ask us for local tips and recommendations, there will be something to please everyone’s tastes.
Other activities: We’re often asked about fly fishing, and Queenstown, with its deep lake and tranquil rivers, is a premier spot. Or we can help you organise a round of golf or a spa day (optional).
Day 8 - Visit Te Anau, Nature Cruise Milford Sound
Mossy beech forest, native birdsong, deep valleys and stunning granite tops characterise Fiordland National Park. We’ll start our day with a visit to Te Anau on the border of the park. We’ll explore a bird park for old or injured birds, a great opportunity to see some of New Zealand’s more endangered birds, such as the takahe. Your guides will prepare a delicious lunch spread, and punctuate the dramatic drive into Milford Sound with several short walks in the Eglinton Valley, and then ‘The Chasm’ – a 15 minute loop track. We’ll see seemingly immovable rock formations shaped by the power of the Cleddau River tumbling over and through them. The impermeable nature of the granite mountains means that when it rains, and it rains a lot, thousands of waterfalls cascade down the faces of the hills. Once we arrive at the Milford Sound Wharf, we’ll board our vessel for a nature cruise past the waterfalls of Lady Bowen and Stirling, and out to the Tasman Sea before returning up the opposite side of the fiord. Our dramatic journey for the day ends at Milford Sound Lodge, where we’ll check into our delightful chalets on the banks of the river, and enjoy dinner together.
Accommodation: Milford Sound Chalets. These beautifully appointed mountain view chalets are, without doubt, one of New Zealand’s most sought after accommodations.
Dining: Dinner is at Milford Lodge – choose from a selection of dishes made with delicious Kiwi produce and served in the cosy setting of the lodge dining area.
Day 9 - Walk the Milford Track, Helicopter Flight to Martins Bay, View Seal Colony
Today is a day you won’t forget. After an early breakfast we’re heading onto the world famous Milford Track, our second Great Walk of the trip. We’ll stroll for around 3 hours in total on the track, to Giant’s Gate Falls, a breathtaking waterfall and a great opportunity for a paddle or swim! We’re heading straight to the local ‘airport’ next, to board a helicopter bound for Martins Bay, one of the most secluded locations in the whole of Fiordland National Park. The helicopter flight in will only exceeded by the exclusivity of having the walking trails to ourselves as we stroll to Long Reef Point, where we’ll observe a seal colony. To top off this action-packed day, we’ll board a jetboat to take us to our accommodation, Martins Bay Lodge. At the beautifully appointed lodge in the Fiordland wilderness, we’ll be greeted by our lodge hosts and treated to a delicious home-cooked meal of Kiwi delicacies.
Accommodation: Martins Bay Lodge – taking escape, tranquility and comfort in beautiful isolation to the next level.
Dining: 3 courses of South Island cuisine await us at Martins Bay Lodge.
Day 10 - Jet Boat Lake McKerrow, Walk Hollyford Track, Helicopter to Milford Sound
Fiordland National Park outdoes itself today. A leisurely start with a delicious breakfast will make it hard to leave Martins Bay Lodge, but once we’re underway, this part of Fiordland shows itself off in fine form. A jet boat ride along Lake McKerrow brings us to Jamestown, where we’ll walk the undulating trail through stunning beech and podocarp forest back to the lodge, where we’ll indulge in morning tea. To finish our incredible wilderness experience we’ll board another helicopter for our flight back to Milford Sound and “civilisation”. Finally, we’ll drive back to Queenstown via a lunch stop at your guides’ favourite picnic place, and head out for a farewell dinner together to share our stories, photos, and memories from a life-changing trip.
Accommodation: Scenic Suites, Queenstown.
Dining: Our final meal in Queenstown. We’ll dine in style to celebrate.
Getting around: A jetboat ride and another helicopter flight in the depths of Fiordland, and a scenic drive back through Eglinton Valley and Southland to Queenstown.
Day 11 - Depart
All good things come to an end, unless you’re staying on for some more time in Queenstown of course – we’ll be happy to help you out with many options here. If you’re heading home, you’ll take with you the beauty of the South Island’s most stunning coastal, forest and mountain areas.
If you’d like to stay on in Queenstown, that’s not a bad idea at all. Elegant, exciting, welcoming, compact and always beautiful, Queenstown is a place for anyone and anything. On the shores of Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by stunning peaks, you’ll find a quiet sanctuary indoors or outdoors here, or an activity to get the adrenaline flowing. Dine, indulge, drink, walk, fly, float, ride – just let your guide know how you’d like to spend your time here. Be sure to soak in the many moods of the lake and forget about the world outside this amazing place.
Request a Full Itinerary
Once you arrive, we want you to relax, escape the day to day, and indulge in the incredible sights, sounds, tastes and hospitality that make our trips world beating so we include almost everything in our trip fares.
Your trip fare includes:
– New Zealand is the home of fresh and decadent produce. It’s a big part of the New Zealand experience, so we’ve made sure most of your meals are included – breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are a couple of instances where dinner isn’t included, so you can head out and explore the options on your own. We’ve specified this with an asterisk * next to the dining description in the itinerary.
Transport on the ground.
– When you arrive, we’ll pick you up from Nelson airport or your hotel, and we’ll take care of the rest, until we drop you off at Queenstown Airport. Our passenger vehicles are roomy and comfortable.
– A fantastic guide will take your trip from “great” to “I don’t know how life will be same”. Our incredible local guides are on-call 24/7 on your trip and will ensure that your New Zealand experience is seamless, relaxing and welcoming – you won’t want to say goodbye at the end of your trip!
– It’s as much about the where, as it is the what. So we’ve chosen beautiful places to sleep, rest, experience and escape to.
All activities in the itinerary.
– Walking in wild, scenic and beautiful places is what we do. Although we’ll also be taking a lake cruise & soaking in hot pools. There are some optional activities that aren’t included highlighted as “optional”.
– With dinner every night (where included), we’ll feature a couple of bottles of local wine. Whilst we wouldn’t describe ourselves as connoisseurs, we love our local wines and enjoy sharing them with our guests in beautiful surrounds.
Flights to New Zealand
– This trip starts in Nelson and finishes in Queenstown. Chat to our team for advice on best times to travel and routes to get here.
Free day activities
– There is a free day in Queenstown on day 6, allowing you time to sample some of the many activities available in this bustling hub.