Australian Natural Adventures

Custom Australia, New Zealand & Pacific tours and travel





lake mathesonDay 24– Tuesday, November 3: Fox Village / Cromwell
First thing this morning, if there is no breeze, drive a few kilometers ofox glacier ice archut of town to Lake Matheson. A delightful walk takes you to the lake itself, which on still mornings is perfectly reflects the snow-capped mountains and Mt Cook behind it. Return to Fox Village and check in with Fox Glacier Guides to take a helicopter ride up onto the glacier. After exiting the helicopter you are booted and cramponed up, and begin a walk on the glacier and among the ice caves. After this top of the haast passworld experience return to Fox Village and continue south through the Haast Pass and the Mt Aspiring National Park to Cromwell, where you overnight on a sheep farm, complete with champion working dogs. There's also deer, an organic veggie garden tended by Claire and often boarders working for their keep, and although it's the wrong time of the year, a curling rink. Claire's name appears on several curling trophies, and will be happy to explain the intricacies of this old Scottish sport, only known to most of us via late-hour viewing of the Winter Olympics. Your drive this afternoon takes you for a little while along the coast, through the mountains and along the shores of Lakes Wanaka, Hawea and Dunstan, encapsulating much of the beauty of the South Island.      (B,D)


Day 25– Wednesday, November 4: Cromwell / Queenstown
Wake this morning on the farm, and likely to the smell of a home-cooked breakfast. However, whilelake wanaka sheepdog waching sheepyour hosts will be up early, your time is your own. Jack is particularly proud of his dogs - he's a judge for sheepdog competitions, every bit as serious here in New Zealand as in the movie Babe (which was shot in New Zealand). After a morning sharing New Zealand farm life with your hosts Jack and Claire continue south to Queenstown, about 40 miles away, with perhaps a stop in the historical mining village of Arrowtown, now quite tourist oriented but still interesting. It's a good place to get lunch at one of several restaurants or cafes. Your hotel for the next two nights overlooks Lake Wakatipu. While only a motel, and despite the abundance of accommodation in Queenstown, the views from Alexis are superb, and their casual verandah makes breakfast especially pleasant. It's just a few minutes walk into town (although uphill on the way back; good to work off that big New Zealand meal), and there's a laundry as well. (Preferred alternative is a lakeview room at the Novotel)    (B)


Day 26– Thursday, November 5: Queenstown
You are picked up this morning to travel out to Glenorchy for a jetboat ride along the Dart River. This is not the purely fast, twisting adrenalin ride so often seen - although they'll dart river jetboatprobably throw in a couple of 360's, moredart wilderness if everyone asks, and it will certainly zip along and be pretty exciting. However, it's the beauty of the braided river and surrounds that's the focus of the trip. At the end of the boat ride you'll take a 30 to 40 minute guided bush walk through the forest, where your guide will provide an informative and entertaining commentary about the ancient native beech forest, the unique flora and fauna, and the fascinating Maori and colonial history of the area. You return to Glenorchy by 4WD coach along back roads, again with commentary about the area, location for many of the scenes from Lord of the Rings, thekiwin return to Queenstown. The afternoon is free to explore Queenstown. Therbob's peak gondolae's a Kiwi House where you can see this, New Zealand's emblem, and learn about the conservation efforts underway to secure their future. A well-known place for dinner is Bob’s Peak, with commanding views of the city and surrounds, which is accessed by cable car. There's also a luge ride here as well, and you can simply book thiese when you arrive. If you're in the mood for some deserts such as waffles or pancakes with home made ice cream or gelati, Patagonia Chocolates at the waterfront on Beach St is the place to try - the chocolate is pretty good too (there's also a Patagonia shop in Arrowtown if you stop there).


beech forestDay 27– Friday, November 6: Queenstown / Te Anau
Continue south about 3 hours to Te Anau this morning, and the area known fiordlandas Fiordland. It’s a very scenic route, with the mountains on your right, passing both rugged and rolling country and running down the side of Lake Wakatipu. An early start will give you time for a short hike, called tramping in New Zealand, in the nearby Fiordland National Park, or detour to historic Arrowtown, just outside Queenstown, if you didn't visit on your way in. As it's not a long drive, you have plenty of time to take it easy and enjoy the scenery, or make a later start from Queenstown. Stay the next three nights at Te Anau Lodge, a convent in a previous life.

Day 28– Saturday, November 7: Milford Sound milford sound
Return into Te Anau for your tour to Milford Sound, one of the highlights of any New Zealand visit. Although it's a public road into Milford, you'll park your bridge on milford roadcar in Te Anau and take the coach tour in. The twisting road through the mountains will require someone's attention if you are driving, and no-one should miss out on the stunning scenery. As there are numerous boat departures, quite a few coaches travel the road between Te Anau and and Milford all day, and some have been known to take more than their share of the relativelymilford sound waterfall narrow road. Once at Milford you board your boat for a 2.5 hour cruise. The Sound, with Mitre Peak looming over the often still waters, is scenically stunning. This is a very wet area, with about 20ft of rain per year, spread through the year. While this increases your chances of meeting with rain, it also makes for some dramatic low swirling clouds and a number of waterfalls roaring or trickling into the sound from the high sides. Your boat takes you along the sound, pausing at these waterfalls and other beautiful sights. While you can pre-order a lunch on the boat, it's nothing special and expensive; you are better off picking up something in Te Anau to take with you - there are several stores such as the Farmhouse Bakery and even a Subway that can supply takeaway (as takeout is called Down Under) food.     (B)


track hikerDay 29– Sunday, November 8: Fiordlandway into milford sound
Today is free to take hikes in the Fiordland National Park. There are numerous walks to be taken, and even some of the multi-day ones, such as the Routeburn and the Milford can be done for a few hours with a return along the same route. Note that the Kepler Track is private and can only be hiked by arrangement with the owners. Your hosts can assist with hike suggestions.     (B)


Day 30 – Monday, November 9: Manapouri / Dunedin
catlins lighthouse Bid farewell to the rugged west coast and Fiordland and make a leisurely drive across the south ofotago peninsula the island today, arriving this evening in Dunedin, a university city on the Otago Peninsula. You have a couple of choices of route. The direct way, via Gore and Balclutha, takes about 3.5 - 4 hours, and the more scenic route via the Catlins about 2 hours more. As there is little development along the Catlins route you should pick up some picnic materials if you go this way. Tonight's hotel is Bluestone on George, a modern apartment style hotel in town. You should take time to look around Dunedin, which has some delightful architecture, including the train station, reputedly the most photographed buildings in New Zealand. There's also a Cabury's Chocolate factory here, which offers tours and sampling.       (B)


yellow-eyed penguin by Melanie MassaroDay 31– Tuesday, November 10: Dunedin royal albatross
Today you take a break from driving and are picked up for a day out on the Otago Peninsula to see more of New Zealand’s wildlife, including the huge – wingspan 8 ft - albatrosses on a boat trip, and a visit to see Yellow-eyed Penguins at their breeding ground. As well as the albatrosses many other birds, and sealions and fur seals will be seen from the boat. You return to your accommodation at sunset, as the best time to see the penguins is at dusk as they return from the sea.


Day 32– Wednesday, November 11: Dunedin / Rotorua
Bid farewell to the South Island and fly to Rotorua on the North Island at 10.05 this morning, arriving at 1.30pm. Rotorua is the traditional home of the Maori people, and one of New Zealand's prime geothermal regions. Pick up your rental car, and some tour information, at the airport. A short drive will take you to Te Puia, where you can rotorua thermal poolexperience authentic Maori culture. The center has arts and crafts displays and activities - you can usually see Maori artisans at work and take guided walks. In addition to the Maori aspect, the center is located at the Whakarewarewa Valley geothermal area. These geysers, vents and mineral-rich pools have played an important role in Maori culture. By the way, the pipes you'll see steaming behind many of the houses are Rotorua's unique thermal energy system. About 6pm this evening you are picked up from your hotel located lakeside and travel to Mitai village near the base of Mount Ngongotaha, about five minutes out of town. This will be a wonderful introduction into Maori culture, and their connections with New Zealand’s natural world. In addition to a traditional Waka greeting, you enjoy cultural performances and a Hangi (hung–ee), the traditional pit-cooked Maori meal. You’ll also have more modern New Zealand style food as well, and take a guided bush walk through the forest. The evening ends with seeing glow-worms via a walk to a small pool, and the famous Kiwi. Return to your hotel mid-evening.     (D)


Day 33– Thursday, November 12: Rotorua / Waitomo
After a morning continuing to explore the interesting Rotorua area - suggested is to go south to the Waimangushearing at teh agrodome waimangu valleyValley, a thermal area formed from an 1886 volcanic eruption. This makes the processes very new, compared to many such areas around the world. Several of the geothermal silica terraces are internationally classified as Category 1 in importance, including Warbrick Terrace which is growing in a right-angle shape. The regenerating plant life can be dated to a specific start, and there has been no human alteration of this pristine area since the blow, unlike many geothermal areas. At your leisure drive across to the small town of Waitomo, about 2.5 hours away passing through typical New Zealand farming country. If you wish you can visit the Agrodome on the way, a few miles north of Rotorua. Although an obvious tourist park, the sheep-shearing and sheep display is interesting and also good fun, if you didn't see a demonstration in Kaikoura. Overnight tonight in Waitomo at a simple B&B (there's not a lot of choices in Waitomo) set in pretty gardens.     (B)


Day 34– Friday, November 13: Waitomo / Auckland
This morning take an underground river cruise through Waitomo’s famous glowworm caves. Your guided tour will take you through over 250 meters of stunning underground scenery commencing with the impressive Cathedral. The awaitomo cavescoustics in this particular cavern are world-renowned, and acclaimed New Zealand Diva, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, has sung here and was delighted with the purity of the sound. Your tour begins at the upper entrance of the cave and proceeds along a low narrow passage to the Tomo, a orewa beachdeep limestone shaft. Your experienced tour guide will deliver a highly informative commentary about the formations and the history of the area. After this step aboard your small boat to meander underground along the Waitomo River and gaze in silence at the myriad of glowworm lights that make up the Glowworm Grotto. As you enter this galaxy of tiny living lights, you'll immediately experience a serene ambience and be fascinated and intrigued by tiny glowworms that light your way. The tour is about 45 minutes. Continue north through Auckland to overnight at Orewa, at your nice hotel.     (B)


boy of islandsDay 35– Saturday, November 14: Auckland / Bay of Islands
From Orewa continue north on your discovery of the North Island to Bay of Islands, about 3.5 hours north (4 from Auckland). By now you are in the warmest part of New Zealand, and the Bay of Islands is one of New Zealand's prettiest areas, with 144 islands dotted about. However, as New Zealand's definition of an island goes down to the size of a kitchen table, the figure of 144 may seem a bit generous to some. Your hotel here for the next four nights is on a point overlooking the bay at Paihia, with superb views of the bay.


carinoDay 36– Sunday, November 15: Bay of Islandsgungha II
You enjoy a sailing tour in the Bay of Islands today. The Carino is a catamaran yacht built to explore the bay. You'll explore some of the 144 islands, and numerous bays, that make up the well-named area. This motor-sailing yacht has been watching dolphins in the bay for years, and know their habits well – they even have names for certain individuals. In addition to watching the dolphins, you’ll have the chance to snorkel and see the islands and bays, stopping along the way.

gungha sailing hole in the rockYou'll enjoy a delicious lunch along the way, see some beautiful New Zealand sights, and meet some friendly people. enjoying a picnic lunch. Naturally with any sailing trip it is weather dependent, and occasionally neither boat cannot sail due to high winds or heavy rain. We don't expect such weather at this time of the year.         (B,L)


cape reinga lighthouseDay 37– Monday, November 16: Cape Reinga
This morning head north, exploring the far north of the island on a guided tour, with its beautiful stretches of coastline and natural areas, inclkauri at puketiuding Cape Reinga, at the top of Ninety Mile Beach. The Cape is a sacred place for the local Maori, who believe their spirits travel there after death, jump off the Cape, travel to some nearby islands for a last look back, then disappear. Several areas are roped off due to this. The lighthouse at the tip has been an i90 mile beachmportant beacon, whose light could once be seen 30 miles out to sea; it's now just a beacon visible for about half that. You'll also stop at the Puketi Kauri Forest, where magnificent kauri trees are protected. Ninety Mile Beach, on the western side, is almost just that (everyone exaggerates) - actually about sixty miles of unbroken beaches in a pristine area, but not only is it drivable, it's actually designated a state road. However, all rental car agreements prevent you from doing this, wisely as the several car carcasses attest.     (B)


Day 38– Tuesday, November 17: Bay of Islands / Auckland / Seattle
Sadly your long foray Down Under has come to an end. Return your car at the Kerikeri airport and fly back to Auckland on Air New Zealand at 11.30am, arriving at 12.10pm. Move across to the International terminal for your 3.40pm Qantas flight 25 to Los Angeles. Due to the Date Line you arrive in Los Angeles at 6.35am this same day. After immigration and customs you fly home to Seattle at 9.30am, arriving at 12.20pm, bringing with many memories of the places and people of Australia and New Zealand you have visited and met on your travels.      (B,*D,*B)




* technical point and beer winner for bar bets: Cook was not given the rank of Captain until after he returned from his southern voyage, so it was in fact Lieutenant James Cook who raised the flag at Ship cove, and who claimed Australia for the Crown. Early paintings of Cook give him this rank.



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