Spectacular South Island
Our Walks » Asia & The Pacific

Spectacular South Island

Introduction

Literature and FilmAncient ManAlpine SceneryHistorical ThemeWine RegionTrip of a LifetimeEasy to Moderate Walking

The stunning scenery of New Zealand's South Island is the backdrop for this Walk through the landscape that inspired Peter Jackson's film trilogy ' The Lord of the Rings.' We start in the Queen Charlotte Sounds and retrace the steps of Captain Cook who landed here in 1770. The Queen Charlotte Walkway provides a spectacular highlight with panoramic views, diverse landscapes and peaceful tranquillity. Traveling south to Kaikoura, we witness basking seals along the dramatic coastline and sample fresh seafood from this quaint seaside town. Further down the coast we turn inland to Arthurs Pass National Park and the majestic Southern Alps. We explore its alpine environment and learn about the natural history of this beautiful area where numerous walks offer something for every walker.

We move to the West Coast where lush rainforests and river tracks wind through primeval landscapes. The Porari River walk takes us into the heart of a natural gorge with vast rock walls and magical pancake rock formations at Punakaiki. The majesty and beauty of Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers mark the end of our stay on this coast. Our journey continues to Wanaka for tranquil lakeside walks and a hike to the summit of Mount Iron for unsurpassed views of Mount Aspiring National Park. In picturesque Arrowtown, an old gold-mining town, we walk along a shady river track which meanders through the township.

Traveling south to the dramatic landscape of Queenstown, we explore the Sunshine Valley walk which follows Lake Wakatipu's shore. Our final destination is the wonderful native beech forest walk called the Routeburn Track. We sample a section of this track in pristine surroundings with mountain waterfalls, babbling rivers and awe-inspiring ranges. We end our adventure near Queenstown, enjoying the pure air and stunning mountain ranges.

Walk Summary

Dates

03-MAR-15 - 16-MAR-15

Trip

13 nights

Terrain
Easy-Moderate

Walk Rating: Easy to Moderate. Good footing, some hills; transfers each day allow us to cover most of the island. 4-9 miles walking per day.

Price

US$5650.00 per person double occupancy
(single supplement US$1100.00)
Trip price excludes dinner on two evenings when you are free to dine independently in a local restaurant: Wednesday in Franz Joseph Village and Friday in Wanaka.

Walk begins in Picton, with arrival at Picton Quayside and ends in Queenstown, with departure from Queenstown Airport.

Walk Itinerary

Tuesday & Wednesday

The Wayfarers meet at the Beachcomber Inn in Picton, which is nestled in Queen Charlotte Sound, to begin the Walk. After a group orientation and lunch, we take a coastal walk along Picton Harbour's eastern side to Bob's Bay, continuing along the Snout Walkway ridge, which offers superb views of Queen Charlotte Sound. In the evening the group will meet for our Welcome Dinner at the hotel. Next day, we take a water taxi from Picton Harbour track to Mistletoe Bay and follow the Queen Charlotte Walkway to Anakiwa, home of the Outward Bound Training facility for New Zealand. The walk takes us high on the dividing ridge between Kenepuru and Queen Charlotte Sounds, where we are able to see the panoramic views of both Sounds, simultaneously. The track drops down to native forests where the birdsong of tuis, bell birds and fantails can be heard.

Overnight: Picton

Thursday

We travel south from the Marlborough Sounds, between the borders of the Southern Alps and the eastern coastline, for lunch in the township of Kaikoura where we sample local fish produce fresh from the sea. We walk the Kaikoura Peninsula track to observe migrating whales and basking seals from the dramatic, limestone cliff path. Our walk navigates the entire peninsula, with its varied landscape of limestone cliffs and coastal bays, and ends in Kaikoura township close to our hotel where we enjoy dinner overlooking the ocean and mountains.

Overnight: Kaikoura

Friday & Saturday

We depart from Kaikoura to Waipara for light refreshments at The Mud House Winery and Café. From here, we move west towards the magnificent Southern Alps and our destination for the next two days, the Wilderness Lodge in Arthurs Pass National Park. Here, there are a variety of alpine tracks to explore and an opportunity to learn from natural history experts about the flora and fauna of this area, as well as visiting a working Merino, high-country farm close to the Lodge. We climb up to Castle Hill rocks, where young Maori warriors once congregated to learn the arts of warfare from the Elders of their tribe, and we see the beautiful landscapes captured on film in 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Narnia'.

Overnight: Arthur's Pass

Sunday & Monday

We travel by road, traversing the Southern Alps on our journey to the West Coast and our destination at Punakaiki Rocks Resort, which is situated on a beach. In Paparoa National Park we experience the luxuriant rainforest. Coastal trails take us to strange limestone formations called the Pancake Rocks and dramatic geyser-like blowholes. Our final afternoon walk takes us along the banks of the Porari River's impressive gorge, where subtle changes in the forest landscape reveal strands of Nikau Palms nestled among the native rain forest and giant moss.
Optional Extra: On the West Coast, at Punakaiki or Franz Josef Glacier, there are some of the finest trout rivers in New Zealand. We can arrange for you to take a half or whole day away from the group to enjoy some trout fishing with a specialist trout guide.

Overnight: Punakaiki

Tuesday & Wednesday

We pause for lunch and greenstone shopping at Hokitika. We visit the studio of Brent Trolle, a well-known West Coast landscape artist and explore his beautiful garden. Our walks include a trek from the rain forest to the face of the Franz Josef Glacier and a hike to the edge of Fox Glacier. Our accommodation in Franz Josef Glacier village is set amongst the rain forest and, after dinner, there is time to admire the setting sun on the glacier before setting off to explore a secret glow-worm grotto, hidden in the forest, to observe this natural phenomenon.
On Wednesday evening, you are free to wander out at leisure.  Dinner is not included in your vacation package.  There are a choice of restaurants, shops and bars within walking distance of your accommodation.
Optional Extras: For those who are more artistic, you might like to take a "painting in the wild" lesson with Brent Trolle as an additional activity while staying in Franz Josef Glacier village. Between walks you may choose to take an optional helicopter ride to view Mount Cook (12,500 ft ) and land on the glacier to drink in the beauty of this pristine environment.

Overnight: Franz Josef Glacier

Thursday & Friday

We travel south along the coastal highway to Haast, pausing to walk the Ship Creek boardwalk, which winds through forest swamp and stunning West Coast beach scenery. We stop for light refreshments en route at the Westland Salmon Farm. Moving East and inland, we picnic by the picturesque River Haast, before ascending the Haast as we draw closer to our destination in Wanaka. Before arriving in Wanaka, we visit the Cascade Falls and Blue Pools, where enormous trout come to feed.
Edgewater Resort is located by the shores of Lake Wanaka and provides excellent walks and activities for everyone's tastes. Our walks take us along Lake Wanaka to Glendhu Bay to experience a magical sunset and an afternoon walk from the lake inlet into the township of Wanaka. We also climb to the summit of Mount Iron to experience the incredible 360 degree views of the Minaret Peaks, Mount Aspiring and the Otago plains. In the evening, we enjoy the gourmet cuisine of New Zealand at the Edgewater Resort with wonderful evening views of the lake.
On Friday evening, you are free to wander out at leisure. Dinner is not included in your vacation package. There are a choice of restaurants, shops and bars within walking distance of your accommodation.

Overnight: Wanaka

Saturday & Sunday

The final part of our journey takes us to Millbrook Resort, near Arrowtown. This tiny gold-mining town was made famous in the 1862 Gold Rush with many buildings from that era still surviving as a reminder of a short, but exciting period in New Zealand history. We explore the river walk at Arrowtown before lunching in a delightful restaurant steeped in local history. We travel to Queenstown from the resort for a walk through Sunshine Valley, along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and spend time exploring the township which offers optional activities such as shopping and a cruise on TSS Earnslaw (a working vintage steam ship) to the historic Walter Peak High Country Farm. Our final full day of walking begins with a drive to Glenorchy along Lake Wakatipu with stunning views of the Remarkable Mountains and the vast peaks of the Mount Aspiring Ranges. We explore the Glenorchy Lagoon boardwalk with its beautifully tranquil waters and birdlife, before meeting a sheep farmer at Mount Earnslaw, whose family was one of the original European settlers in Otago. Near the Dart River, which provided many scenes for ' The Lord of the Rings ' film trilogy, we walk a section of the famous Routeburn Track, which weaves its way through native beech forest, vast waterfalls and sheer mountain peaks. We stop along the way to picnic by a babbling stream and listen to the native birdsong high in the beech tree-tops. That evening we dine at the resort and reminisce about the journey we have taken through the spectacular South Island.
Optional Extra: Millbrook's Award-winning Golf course is considered to be one of the best courses in New Zealand. You can take the opportunity to slip away from the scheduled itinerary or stay on after the walk has ended and enjoy a round.

Overnight: Queenstown

Monday

We say farewell at breakfast, but we can assist you with your travels in this lovely country. There is nothing better than a cruise on the world renowned Milford Sound or a longer 24 -hour cruise incorporating both Milford and Doubtful Sounds.

Optional Extras:

We recommend you arrange any extra activities with your Walk Manager on arrival at the start of your Walk. Please note that these activities will incur an additional charge.

This itinerary represents a typical Walk. We prepare itineraries well in advance of the trip and therefore we reserve the right to make changes due to weather, local events or other circumstances - but always to improve the experience of our guests.

Hotels

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Picton Beachcomber Inn - Tuesday & Wednesday

Picton Beachcomber Inn

27 Waikawa Road
Picton

T: +64 3573-8900
E: info@pictonhotel.com
W: www.pictonhotel.com

The Beachcomber Inn enjoys a very convenient location close to the centre of the small township of Picton, on the edge of the waterfront. It has a quiet location on one side of this small town with lovely views across Picton Harbour. Facilties include a swimming pool, an excellent restaurant and the service is first class.
The Wayfarers' have Super King Superior bedrooms with balcony and direct view across the harbour. These rooms are spacious and well-equipped with a hairdryer, TV, radio, phone, Tea/Coffee facilities and wireless internet access for guests' computers.  There is also an Internet cafe nearby.

Wilderness Lodge Arthur's Pass - Friday & Saturday

Wilderness Lodge Arthur's Pass

PO Box 33
Arthur's Pass
Canterbury

T: +64 3318-9246
E: arthurspass@wildernesslodge.co.nz
W: www.wildernesslodge.co.nz

This family-owned eco-lodge is located in a spectacular mountain setting adjacent to Arthur's Pass National Park. Well away from Christchurch, it has not been affected or damaged in any way by the recent earthquakes. It has been designed to fit into a natural forest clearing and blend with the surroundings of this area, creating minimum intrusion. The native song birds which populate the forest are especially impressive as dawn breaks each morning. In the evening, guests can gaze at the clear starlit skies and observe the Southern Constellations. The owners, Dr Gerry McSweeney and his wife Anne Saunders, are passionate about conservation in New Zealand. Half of their property is on a nature reserve with a vast network of native forest, alpine tussock and mountain nature walks and the other half is a working high country Merino sheep farm.
The spacious Mountain View bedrooms have magnificent vistas across the Waimakariri River Valley and Southern Alps. They all have full length feature windows to take advantage of the magnificent views and are tastefully well-appointed; including private bathroom, telephone, and tea and coffee making facilities. The restaurant also has wonderful alpine views to compliment the superb New Zealand cuisine and wines served. Beside the large social lounge, there is a guest library with a full range of New Zealand natural history books and literature to peruse. Satellite broadband internet is available for guests' use and there are complimentary laundry facilities. 

Punakaiki Resort - Sunday & Monday

Punakaiki Resort

State Highway 6
Punakaiki

T: +64 3731-1168
F: +64 3731-1163
E: info@punakaiki-resort.co.nz
W: www.punakaiki-resort.co.nz

Punakaiki Resort is a modern accommodation complex located on Punakaiki Beach near the world famous Pancake Rocks and Blow Holes on the West Coast of the South Island. This award-winning hotel is architecturally designed to maintain a sense of privacy but also maximise the views of the rainforest and ocean. The rooms throughout are environmentally friendly and feature energy efficient design and fabrics. Bedrooms are spaced around the landscaped grounds and are linked by a series of suspended board walks. All have ensuite bathrooms and are equipped with a hairdryer, SKY TV, radio alarm clock, tea and coffee making facilities and Wi-Fi internet access. The award-winning Waterline restaurant has floor-to-ceiling windows which wrap around the restaurant so diners can enjoy the spectacular scenery.

Punga Grove - Tuesday & Wednesday

Punga Grove

Cron Street
P.O. Box 85
Franz Josef Glacier
South Westland

T: +64 3752-0001
F: +64 3752-0002
E: host@pungagrove.co.nz
W: www.pungagrove.co.nz

Perfectly positioned in the heart of Franz Josef Glacier village, Punga grove is set against a stunning backdrop of Alpine peaks and glacier views. It is a short walk to the shops, bars and restaurants where the group dine in the evenings and just a few minutes’ drive to the access point of the Franz Josef Glacier itself.
Each ensuite room is an individual self-catering unit with phone, TV, radio and fully equipped kitchen and The Wayfarers' guests have breakfast brought to their room each morning. Coin-operated laundry facilities are available on the property.

Edgewater - Thursday & Friday

Edgewater

Sargood Drive
PO Box 61
Wanaka

T: +64 3-443-0011
F: +64 3-443-8323
E: reservations@edgewater.co.nz
W: www.edgewater.co.nz

With lawns stretching right to the water's edge of Lake Wanaka, Edgewater is a welcoming retreat in a stunning location. There is beauty to be found in all directions so you can immerse yourself in the landscape and take in the full majesty of nature’s changing colours. Each hotel bedroom features an ensuite bathroom with bath, hairdryer, Sky TV, phone and tea and coffee making facilities. 
Located in the heart of the resort, Sargoods Restaurant has a fresh, contemporary feel and the chef injects a distinctive Kiwi flair to his delicious menus. The spa and sauna have recently been refurbished and are the perfect way to relax and rejuvenate. There is Wi-Fi access throughout the resort and a guest computer in the lobby.

Millbrook - Saturday & Sunday

Millbrook

Malaghans Road
Arrowtown

T: +64 3-441-7000
F: +64 3-441-7007
E: reservations@millbrook.co.nz
W: www.millbrook.co.nz

Surrounded by some of the world's most spectacular scenery, Millbrook Resort is designed to embody the relaxed New Zealand country lifestyle. Set within 500 acres of grounds on the outskirts of historic Arrowtown it is only a 20-minute drive to Queenstown and 10 minutes to Queenstown airport by courtesy shuttle. One of the first luxury lodges to be built in New Zealand, Millbrook was recently refurbished by a highly-acclaimed interior designer who was conscious to still reflect the historic, pioneer past of the resort. The beautifully appointed and spacious bedrooms have en-suite bathroom with separate bath and shower, satellite TV, DVD, phone, coffee maker, hairdryer, internet access and a balcony or patio with spectacular views over the golf course, mountains or Millbrook grounds. The ambience is that of a country cottage - warm, rustic and cosy .
There are a selection of dining venues including contemporary New Zealand cuisine in a rural setting at The Millhouse Restaurant. Locally sourced seasonal produce complements wild game and fresh seafood in dishes blending European concepts with a South Pacific influence. The roaring fire evokes an ambience of romance. Nearby is an abundance of world-renowned attractions from award winning wineries and boutique art galleries to adrenalin adventures such as jet boating, helicopter sightseeing and four wheel drive tours into Lord of the Rings territory.

This hotel list is a provided as an example. We may use different hotels of the same quality and style on specific trips. The Wayfarers will notify confirmed travelers of any changes to the hotels.

Photo Gallery

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Travel Information

Before & After:

  • Visits to Auckland and Wellington, cities in friendly rivalry for the title of the country's cultural capital
  • Before the walk, stay in Blenheim only 30 minutes from Picton, situated in the heart of the South Island wine country
  • At the end of the walk spend a few extra days to vist Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound.  Both day and overnight cruises are available with coach conections from Queenstown.
  • Whitewater rafting, fly fishing, helicopter flight to view the glaciers can be arranged by the Walk Leader
  • Wine tasting in Marlborough and Otago

Weather:

We visit New Zealand in their summer where daytime temperatures will vary from 65ºF to 85ºF degrees but with low humidity and long daylight evenings. Although most of the rain comes in winter, showers can occur at any time and are more likely during the 4-5 days we spend along the West Coast.

To see more Travel Information and a list of our recommended tips please register or sign in. Once you confirm a booking for this walk, as a registered website member, you will be able to access detailed Joining Instructions including exact arrival and departure points and times as part of the Travel Information.

FAQs

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  1. Are there any hidden costs?
    Our Vacations do not include the cost of air or rail fares to and from the destination or tips for your walk leader and manager.
  2. How large are the Groups?
    Our maximum group size is 16, but groups average between 8-12 people.
  3. Will I feel welcome as a single traveler?
    Yes! Our walks are the perfect environment of comfortable camaraderie for the single traveler.
  4. Can you accommodate special diets?
    Yes!
  5. How physically fit do I have to be to do a Wayfarers Walk?
    If you are in good health and reasonably fit you will be comfortable participating in a walk.

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The Wayfarers unique walking vacations embrace the slower pace. They began in England in 1984, but have grown to span Europe, the US and New Zealand. Trust that they will always have a fresh itinerary, a new destination and an innovative way to experience the culture of country living - with walking tour vacations in Alsace, Burgundy, The Loire - River of Kings, Cézanne's Provence, Historical Dordogne and Le Pays Basque.