11 Day Nature & Wilderness Expedition

This fully escorted, 11-day nature and wilderness tour of the South Island was custom made for a young man as a graduation present from his family. He wanted to experience some of the adventure and magical beauty of South Island and he had a wish-list of things he wanted to see and do. We designed the private South Island tour around these requests and we did various walks in each area with him. Highlights for him were the caving and black water rafting trip near Charleston, bungy jump at Kawarau and the majestic beauty of Milford Sound.

  • Tour Location
    South Island, NZ
  • Tour Type
    Nature, Scenic
  • Tour Activities
  • Activity Level Easy
  • Group Size Small Group
11 Day Nature & Wilderness Expedition Overview

Wildsouth Discovery offers their exclusively guided, private tour of the South Island of New Zealand to the discerning traveller. Your experienced, friendly local tour guides Brian and Paula, or Kevin and Karen personally guide and host all tours and are passionate about New Zealand.

Come along and allow them to show you the remarkable landscapes and picturesque locations, the soothing sounds and the tantalizing tastes of South Island.

This custom South Island tour is fully escorted with guided walks, first class service, superb food and exquisite accommodations.

  • 12 days of scenic splendour
  • Spectacular landscapes
  • Experience the diverse ecologies
  • A photographer’s dream!
The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of the tour.
  • Fully escorted private “off the beaten track” tour
  • Personal, experienced and knowledgeable local guides
  • Travel by deluxe mini-coach
  • The incredible scenery of New Zealand’s South Island
  • Guided walks and excursions to experience the diverse and varied landscapes
  • Arthur’s Pass, Fiordland and Westland National Parks
  • South-West New Zealand, a World Heritage Area
  • Piopiotahi/Milford Sound Day 9 – Fly/Cruise/Fly to Piopiotahi/Milford Sound from Queenstown
  • Ten night’s accommodation in exquisite lodges and luxury small hotels
  • Breakfasts on ten mornings
  • Dinners on three nights

Meal codes indicating meals which are included in your Wildsouth experience:

B – Breakfast; MT – Picnic morning tea; L – Lunch; AT – Picnic afternoon tea / NZ wine & cheese; D – Dinner

What is not included in this tour?Items that are not included in the cost of the tour.

Suggested optional activities such as helicopter flights, cruises (other than Milford Sound) and jetboats.

  1. Day One Christchurch arrival

    After being met by your guide and host, Brian and Paula at Christchurch Airport, you will be driven through the “Garden City” and up onto the Port Hills, the flanks of one of the ancient extinct volcanoes that form Banks Peninsula. From the hills there are spectacular views of the city and the Kaikoura Range can be seen far to the north, while the Pacific Ocean sparkles to the east. To the south and west the vast Canterbury Plains stretch to the horizon and in the distance, the Southern Alps. This is an opportunity to talk about where you will be going and what you will see and do on your tour. A tour of the city will follow and you will see some of the damage caused by the February 2011 earthquake, and the rebuild that is taking place.
    We will then transfer you to your city accommodation.

    Accommodation:      Hotel Montreal

  2. Day Two Christchurch to Arthur’s Pass and Kumara

    Today, you will escape the city and start your journey west across the Canterbury Plains. Journey from Christchurch across the wide expanses of the Canterbury Plains on the world famous TranzAlpine™ train and enter the high country surrounded by rugged mountain ranges. After leaving the Canterbury Plains, the landscape dramatically changes into sub-alpine as you head towards the spectacular Southern Alps. Further on, you will reach the wide expanse of the Waimakariri River and the Wilderness Lodge Arthur’s Pass. View the Waimakariri River and its unique braided riverbed system.

    Recognised as an outstanding natural landscape feature, the Waimakariri River’s headwaters are in the heart of the main divide of Southern Alps. Experience the rugged and beautiful Arthur’s Pass National Park where short walks can be made to experience forests, rivers and mountain vistas. From Arthur’s Pass, follow the old stage coach route and travel down the spectacular Otira Gorge, testament to the road builders of the 1860’s and the route taken by the Maori on their quest for greenstone.

    From the Otira Gorge, the highway then follows the Taramakau River, one of the larger rivers on the West Coast and head to Kumara. Kumara was founded and became one of the country’s chief gold mining centres following the discovery of gold in 1876. Your accommodation will be at a historic gold mining hotel in Kumara.

    Accommodation:      The Theatre Royal, Kumara

    Included meals:       B, MT, L, AT, D

  3. Day Three Kumara to Punakaiki

    A day of contrast as you travel from Kumara through rainforest, then alongside Lake Brunner to the village of Moana, where a walk across the Arnold River and through the podocarp rainforest can be made. Depart Moana and travel to the Grey River, one of the largest rivers on the West Coast. A is made stop at Nelson Creek where a walk can be made to view the dramatic gold mining diggings and the regenerating rainforest. It is then on to Greymouth, following the Grey River and then north to Punakaiki. Punakaiki is where the famous Pancake Rocks are found and where a circuit track allows for fabulous views of the rocks, the Tasman Sea and the Southern Alps.

    The drive north from Punakaiki is along the very scenic coastal highway and is known as the Great Coast Road. Many stops can be made for photos and it is then on to Cape Foulwind and your accommodation for the next two nights.

    Accommodation:      Omau Settlers Lodge at Cape Foulwind

    Included meals:        B, MT, L, AT

  4. Day Four Punakaiki / Charleston area

    A highlight today is the ‘Underworld Rafting’ – a superb 4 hour Black Water Rafting adventure in the enormous Nile River Cave System deep in the ‘Untamed Natural Wilderness’ of the Paparoa National Park. On this adventure you will be equipped with wet suits, wet suit socks, boots, gloves and helmet. Dressed ready for your adventure, a short drive and the Nile River Rainforest Train will take you into the stunning West Coast Rainforest with towering limestone cliffs that create a magical backdrop for your adventure.

    You float on a slow moving underground river to emerge back into daylight having used only the natural light of the simply awe-inspiring display of glow worms as navigation.

    Afterwards, a walk can be taken to see Cape Foulwind, the NZ Furseal colony and remote beautiful beaches.

    Accommodation:      Omau Settlers Lodge at Cape Foulwind

    Included meals:         B, MT, L, AT

  5. Day Five Punakaiki to Franz Josef Glacier

    Today you will travel south through Greymouth and then onto Hokitika, once the
    capital of Westland and a roaring gold mining town, and also a place where the Maori sought their treasured greenstone (pounamu / jade). Greenstone is a feature in the town’s bustling centre of art and craft shops.

    A walk can be made through some old gold mining tunnels and a walk can also be made to the beautiful Hokitika Gorge.

    From Hokitika it is then south again to Franz Josef. Along the way, you will pass through villages that were once bustling and one now has a population of 2 (three, including the dog!). Heading on, see the West Coast rainforests and further evidence of the last Ice Age in the kettle lakes created by the melting ice sheets.

    Accommodation:      Franz Josef Scenic Hotel

    Included meals:        B, MT, L, AT

  6. Day Six Franz Josef - Bruce Bay

    A day to explore the glaciated landscape of Glacier Country. Walks can be made to the terminal face of the Fox Glacier and to a glacier viewpoint to witness the Fox Glacier’s descent down the mountain into the rainforest.

    An option is a beautiful and tranquil walk which can be taken around the edge of Lake Matheson. It is here that incredible views (and sometimes reflections) of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman in the lake can often be seen. Alternatively, a drive through the lush rainforest to a remote beach on the Tasman Sea for views of the Alps and where we can look for the rare Hectors Dolphins. Optional guided hike on the Fox Glacier with an alpine guide or an exciting helicopter ride with a snow landing on the upper reaches of the glacier are available.

    From Fox Glacier, travel south to Bruce Bay and your accommodation for the next two nights.

    Accommodation:      Mahitahi Lodge at Bruce Bay

    Included meals:        B, MT, L, AT, D

  7. Day Seven Mahitahi / Bruce Bay / Haast

    Untouched lowland rain forests spread between pristine lakes and rivers which drain the snow-capped Southern Alps – this is South Westland. In the heart of the 2.7 million hectare Te Wahi Pounamu / Southwest New Zealand World Heritage
    Area – a day to explore the area with a variety of walks to choose from.

    The landscape has been shaped by successive glaciations into fiords, rocky coasts, towering cliffs, lakes and waterfalls. Two-thirds of the area is covered with southern beech and podocarps, some of which are over 800 years old. This special place is also home to the Hectors Dolphins (the world’s smallest dolphin) and numerous varieties of native birds. Visits can be made to wild and remote beaches and activities include guided walks to get close to the wildlife, learning about the forest and experiencing amazing scenery.

    Accommodation:      Mahitahi Lodge at Bruce Bay

    Included meals:        B, MT, L, AT, D

  8. Day Eight Bruce Bay - Haast Pass - Wanaka - Arrowtown

    From Bruce Bay, you will head south again to Haast where the road turns east, following the Haast River and the Haast highway into the Southern Alps.

    You can now observe how the landscape again changes dramatically as the road climbs over the Haast Pass from the dense rain forest of the West Coast to the drier tussock lands of the Otago province. On the way, there are short walks to see waterfalls and if there has been recent rainfall, the Haast River passing through the gorge known as the Gates of Haast can be truly spectacular.

    From Haast Pass the road eventually skirts first along the banks of Lake Wanaka and then making a slight turn and rising over a ridge, Lake Wanaka is left behind and Lake Hawea is before you.

    The road follows the shoreline of this lake and then we reach the alpine village of Wanaka, a mountain resort on the southern shores of Lake Wanaka. From Wanaka, pass the old gold mining village of Cardrona and head over the rugged and remote Crown Range, the site of gold diggings in the 1860’s. From the top of the Crown Range there are dramatic views of the Queenstown district. You will then descend and reach the quaint and historic village of Arrowtown.

    It is then a short drive to your Arrowtown accommodation.

    Accommodation:      Millbrook Resort

    Included meals:        B, MT, L, AT

  9. Day Nine Arrowtown - Piopiotahi / Milford Sound - Arrowtown

    This day, you will take a scenic flight over Fiordland National Park to Piopiotahi / Milford Sound, once described as the eighth wonder of the world. Once you arrive at Piopiotahi / Milford Sound, you will transfer to the “Spirit of Milford” catamaran which explores nooks and crannies along the edge of the fiord, and nudges into sheer rock faces to examine flora and fauna in detail. Your cruise will be for 2 hours.

    This is an intimate experience with numbers capped at 150, and on-board Nature Guides offer personal attention. This ‘ecotour’ is perfect for close-up shots of seals, birds and other Fiordland wildlife, including dolphins ‘riding’ the bow wave.

    The smaller boat helps you appreciate the sheer size and grandeur of the fiord’s cliff faces rising hundreds of meters out of the water, scarred here and there by tree falls. You’ll get within touching distance of impressive geological features and close enough to catch and drink pure glacial water, or feel the full force from the powerful 15,000-year-old Stirling Falls (they have got jackets on board to keep you dry!). Join the skipper on the bridge for a birds-eye view and see first-hand how the boat operates. A delicious buffet lunch included in this trip. At the end of your cruise, you will fly back to Queenstown. The balance of your day can be spent exploring the Queenstown district.

    Accommodation:      Millbrook Resort

    Included meals:        B, L

  10. Day Ten Arrowtown - Christchurch

    Depart Queenstown and head north through the rugged Kawarau Gorge (valley of many shrubs) and visit old Cromwell town, formally an old gold mining centre. From there you will travel along the shores of the hydro lake, Lake Dunstan and then over the Lindis Pass into MacKenzie Country. The Mackenzie District has New Zealand’s highest mountains, and its waters have become one of the country’s most important sources of energy. The wild rugged scenery is broken up by a number of turquoise coloured lakes. These lakes are all connected by a series of canals that form a massive hydro scheme providing over one third of New Zealand’s power. Views can also be made of Paritea / Clay Cliffs, an example of “badlands”.

    Your journey continues north through MacKenzie Country and past Lake Tekapo  where a drive can be made to the top of Mt John for spectacular views of the lake and mountains. You will then head over Burke’s Pass and enter rolling farm country. A stop can be made at Geraldine for a cheese tasting and then from here, your final leg of your journey will take you across the wide expanse of the Canterbury Plains and across a number of wide river beds and their braided channels which drain the Southern Alps. You will then arrive in Christchurch and be dropped off at your city accommodation.

    Accommodation:      Hotel Montreal

    Included meals:        B, MT, L, AT

  11. Day Eleven Farewell

    Today, Brian and Paula will transfer you to Christchurch Airport for your journey home, and bid you farewell.

    Included meals:        B

Accommodation Included in this Itinerary

Hotel Montreal logo Hotel Montreal

Christchurch’s most worldly stay. Whether you’re here as a hotel guest or meeting friends, you’ll always feel first in class at Hotel Montreal.

Theatre Royal Hotel The Theatre Royal, Kumara

Victorian elegance in the heart of historic Kumara. The Theatre Royal Hotel is the West Coast`s only fully restored gold miners’ hotel, and once world-renowned theatre. Our historic gold rush hotel features six themed ensuite rooms. Each room is unique, with its blend of Victorian decor, antique furnishings and modern amenities.

Omau Settlers Lodge Omau Settlers Lodge at Cape Foulwind

Your hosts, Karen and Lee look forward to giving you a friendly welcome at Omau Settlers Lodge, where you will discover private and comfortable accommodation at Cape Foulwind.

Franz Josef Scenic Hotel

Mahitahi Lodge logo Mahitahi Lodge at Bruce Bay

Boutique lodge in Bruce Bay near Fox Glacier, South Westland. John and Jacqui welcome you to Mahitahi Lodge Bruce Bay is a small settlement of only 6 residents as well as several holiday houses.

Millbrook Resort logo Millbrook Resort

Stay at our multi-award winning resort set just outside of Queenstown. Peaceful and tranquil setting, Millbrook Resort provides first class accommodation and is the ultimate in five-star luxury.

Hotel Montreal

Mahitahi Lodge

Millbrook Resort