The Masterpiece Adventure Itinerary

 
1

Welcome to Queenstown

Haere Mai’ … welcome to New Zealand. Now you can relax - you are officially on holiday. Everything has been taken care of, we will meet you at the airport.

The Masterpiece is an all-encompassing New Zealand Adventure Tour created to replenish the mind and uplift the spirit. Each day combines a blend of beautiful scenery and exceptional experiences with healthy meals, comfortable accommodations, time to relax and, of course, good company. Designed to showcase the best of New Zealand without the need to rush, this is adventure travel at its finest. 

Begin your journey in Queenstown, a gorgeous alpine resort nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. After meeting your guides and fellow travellers, we’ll head out for a dose of fresh mountain air on a scenic bike ride – the perfect antidote to any residual jetlag you’re feeling! With our legs sufficiently stretched, we’ll then travel on to the Mount Cook region where we’ll spend the next couple of nights. An area of incredible natural beauty, this National Park is home to many iconic mountain vistas, including that of our highest peak Aoraki/Mt Cook.

Bike Arrowtown to the Kawarau Bungy Bridge

Welcome to our backyard! Queenstown and the surrounding area is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, with many purpose-built tracks and trails ideal for hiking, biking or running. As part of your introduction to New Zealand, we’ll travel to the historic Arrowtown, a quaint old gold-mining settlement just a short drive from Queenstown, where we’ll get fitted out with bikes before taking to the trail on two wheels. We’ll follow the Kawarau River along a wide trail, riding past homesteads, meadows and mountains out towards the famous Gibbston Valley vineyards and the world’s first commercial bungy bridge.

Road trip to Mount Cook

After our bike ride, you can rest your legs as we travel out of the region and towards New Zealand’s highest peak standing tall at 3,724m (over 12,000 feet). Along the way, we’ll travel over the Lindis Pass and down into wide open valleys before catching our first glimpse of Aoraki/Mt Cook, ‘the cloud piercer’ as it’s known in Maori. Tonight, we’ll be staying in pleasingly cosy accommodations with incredible scenery right on your doorstep. This area is a UNESCO International Dark Sky Reserve, which means all you need do is step outside and look up for some world-class star-gazing this evening.

Meals: Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Ohau - 2 Nights 

Queenstown Wharf
Enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and stunning mountain views of Lake Ohau Station – one of New Zealand's truly spectacular high country farms. Perched on a grassy knoll with panoramic views, our spacious lodge is comfortable, practical and stylish – the perfect place for a group stay. The architecturally designed Quarters offers quiet sleeping areas, spacious bathrooms and welcoming social spaces centered around a roaring log fire. The Quarters’ spacious kitchen comes fully equipped, while the comfortable lounge and dining areas are also designed with groups in mind.
Lake Ohau Station

2

Your choice in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park

NZ'S BEST DAY HIKE 

After a sound night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, it’s time to set foot on the trails this morning. Boasting views normally reserved for serious mountaineers, our hikes today take us into the heart of the National Park and provide jaw-dropping vistas for our efforts. Home to not only its namesake, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park boasts a further 19 peaks topping more than 3,000 metres. Depending on how energetic you’re feeling today, there are longer and shorter hiking options available – the choice is yours, Hike to " Mueller Ridge" or Walk the " Hooker Valley Track" . You also have the option to explore the Mount Cook village at your leisure or splurge on a heli-hike or glacier boat tour. 

Hike to Mueller Ridge

The hike up to Mueller Hut via Mueller Ridge is one of our favourites and with a bit of grit and determination, most can achieve the breath-taking views usually reserved only for serious mountaineers. It’s the most challenging option today and involves a steep but steady climb on a well-formed track. The views are worth every drop of swea

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Mount Cook Hooker Valley

3

Hike Mount John, explore Mackenzie Country & Christchurch

Today’s journey takes us from mountain to ocean as we head through the fertile plains of Canterbury towards the East Coast. We’ll begin the day with a short climb up Mount John for panoramic views of the beautifully desolate Mackenzie Country and across the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo. After our hike, we’ll make our way towards Christchurch, a historic city with a shifting dynamic. We’ll take our time, stopping in some of our favourite spots along the way to stretch our legs and capture the glorious views.

Mount John & Mackenzie Country

This morning we’ll make the steady climb up Mount John though forest and tussock to the observatory at the top. As we walk, we’ll look out over 360-degree views across the impressive Mackenzie Basin flats and surrounding mountains and lakes. After our hike, we’ll check out the famous and much photographed Church of the Good Shepherd, as well as Tekapo’s statue to the working dog, commissioned in 1968 by local farmers to pay tribute to the role these intelligent canines played in working the land.

Journey to Christchurch

We’ll travel on towards Christchurch this afternoon and watch as the passing scenery shifts from tussock and mountain to the lush Canterbury plains and arable land. We’ll make a stop in the pretty country town of Geraldine for a glimpse of rural life in New Zealand. Our destination today is Christchurch, the South Island’s largest city, where we’ll spend a comfortable night in quiet lodgings.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Christchurch - 1 Night

Christchurch
Accommodation:
The Quest Christchurch is located just off Cathedral Square in the heart of the commercial, arts and tourist precinct. This purpose built property is on Christchurch's famous inner city Tram Loop and features a mix of new and heritage architecture. Incorporated in the complex are a variety of retail shops, cafes and restaurants. All the serviced Apartments have free Wi-Fi & Fully Equipped Kitchens.
Quest Christchurch

4

Explore Christchurch & Kaikoura Peninsula

After a relaxed breakfast, the morning is yours to explore the city of Christchurch and its many delights. Christchurch is undergoing an urban regeneration project but still retains a garden-like quality with much to see and do. This afternoon we’ll travel north a short distance to the seaside settlement of Kaikoura on the East Coast, where we’ll stay the night.

Discover Christchurch

The city of Christchurch is a lovely spot with a mix of green parks and state-of-the-art architecture. The Avon River weaves its way through a city in the process of regeneration with plenty to see including the colourful Spanish Mission architecture of New Regent Street, curious cardboard cathedral and lush botanical gardens. Discover amazing street-art and innovative projects as the new urban heart of the city blends with the garden-like greenery of the old. Be sure to sample an expertly made coffee from one of the many locally owned cafes in the area.  If you are feeling energetic you can join your guides for a morning hike over the Bridle Path for incredible views over Christchurch and Lyttleton Harbour.

Kaikoura Peninsula

Just north of Christchurch lies the small coastal town of Kaikoura. The Kaikoura Peninsula is a striking area set on the edge of a deep continental shelf where towering cliffs meet an ocean floor that plunges even further in the other direction. The nutrient-rich water and startling topography has created a unique mecca for an abundance of marine life. Whales, dolphins, fur seals and more are thriving in ideal conditions and are a regular sight in the waters off the mainland. Tonight, if we’re lucky we’ll catch an impressive sunset over the ocean as we enjoy a delicious and quintessentially Kiwi dinner of fish and chips on the beach.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Kaikoura - 1 Night

Kaikoura Village

The White Morph Motor Inn is situated on the waterfront with an easy stroll into the township for convenient dining, shops and bars (there is also a restaurant on site). Choose between the deluxe spa rooms with ocean view balcony, or the 4 star studio rooms & family apartments with garden views. 

White Morph Motor Inn - Kaikoura

5

Dolphin Swim in Kaikoura & Queen Charlotte Sounds

Today’s an unforgettable day and a dream come true for wildlife lovers. You’ll be up bright and early to swim with Dusky dolphins, a rare breed known for their aerobatics. We’ll see how many different varieties of fish, seals and even whales we can spot in this outstanding marine reserve, where the unusually deep waters make a unique habitat close to shore. We’ll carry on to the town of Picton, where we water taxi across Queen Charlotte Sound to our accommodation for the night, where you can explore some of the world famous Queen Charlotte Track or take in the wonderful wildlife surrounding the lodge!

Dolphin Swimming

The early start is well worth it today for the best chance at meeting some of the local wildlife that calls this area home. We’ll don flattering(!) wetsuits to swim with a pod of dolphins in their natural environment. Of course, this is dependent on whether the dolphins cooperate, but they usually do! The tour is an educational experience that is designed not to interfere with the natural behaviour, routines or habitat of the dolphins. There are strict regulations in place to protect and respect the dolphins and to keep you safe in the water. Our boats are well-equipped with swimming/snorkelling platforms. Small Dusky dolphins are well-known for their aerobatic feats and interactive behaviour. Whether you opt to get in the water or watch from the boat, it’s a joyful experience for all. Many of our guests have told us this is one of the highlights of their New Zealand adventure tour.

Meet the Wildlife of Queen Charlotte Sound

From Picton, we water taxi across the glorious Queen Charlotte Sound to our accommodation for the night. Set amongst a landscape of native plants and abundant birdlife, with views of the glistening bay, you’ll enjoy an excellent meal and the chance to truly relax in this remote but well-equipped location.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Queen Charlotte Sound - 1 Night

Marlborough Sounds Queen Charlotte Track
Discover the magic of the Marlborough Sounds, staying or playing at award winning Lochmara Wildlife Recovery and Arts Centre. The Lodge is set right on the waters edge in the Marlborough Sounds in Lochmara Bay, Queen Charlotte Sound and accessible by water taxi from Picton. Lochmara Lodge offers exclusive accommodation surrounded by native bush and the beach. This is a wonderful retreat with no road access and no TVs - just the pristine bush environment, countless activity options including free use of our kayaks, million dollar views, and colourful native birdlife.
Lochmara Wildlife Recovery and Arts Centre

6

Queen Charlotte Sound & Marlborough Vineyards

This morning we’ll paddle back to Picton, providing another opportunity to view the local wildlife. From here it’s a short hop to Marlborough’s wine-growing region, where we sample some of the area’s produce. For the next few nights, we’ll stay in Nelson, a colourful beachside town and comfortable resting point.

Queen Charlotte Sound

After a nourishing breakfast at the lodge, we’ll take to the water again in our kayaks and paddle back to Picton, exploring some hidden coves and bays along the way. Gliding along on the water is a lovely way to spend the morning while you check out the beautiful coastline.

Marlborough Vineyards

Home to some of New Zealand’s best vineyards, the Marlborough region is famous for producing excellent wines savoured around the world. We will sample some impeccable wines from this region, before carrying on towards Nelson and our accommodation for the next two nights.

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Nelson - 2 Nights

Marlborough Sound Kayaking
Accommodation:
The Palms Motel is a great choice for a comfortable place to stay in Nelson. Relax on the open patio, take a dip in the pool or visit the nearby amenities. Located in the centre of beautiful Nelson, The Palms Motel offers a modern, interior decorated self-contained apartments with full kitchen facilities. Everything you need to have a hassle free time in beautiful Nelson.
The Palms Motel Nelson.

7

Explore Nelson

Today is yours to enjoy as you wish. Nelson, “the sunniest place in NZ”, is famous for its arts scene, award-winning wines, craft beers and fruit orchards, with plenty to keep you entertained within walking distance. Most of our guests are happy to spend a relaxed day exploring Nelson, browsing the shops and galleries, strolling along the beach or reading a book – it’s a lovely place to re-energise yourself for the rest of your adventure. There are over 350 local craftspeople and artists creating Maori, traditional and contemporary art in the area, so it’s also a chance to discover what inspires New Zealanders creatively. Or if you’d prefer something a little more active, we can help you book a tour to explore Abel Tasman National Park on foot or by kayak. Abel Tasman is famous for its glorious coastline, where golden sand beaches meet clear blue seas.

Accommodation: Nelson - 1 Night

Nelson

8

Coastal Walkway to Tauranga Bay Seal Colony

Today we’ll make our way to the rugged West Coast, taking our time to stop and appreciate the journey, including a picturesque hike along the coast to Tauranga Bay seal colony. Our accommodation tonight is in the seaside village of Buller Bay.

Hike along West Coast to Tauranga Bay Seal Colony

The remote but spectacular wild West Coast is where we will stop for a delicious picnic lunch, before heading out on a coastal walk.  Take in the Tasman Sea in all its glory, pounding on the cliffs below as you make your way to the Tauranga Bay seal colony, well known for its seal pup rookery.

Explore West Coast Beaches

Our next destination takes us further south to ‘The Coast’ as it’s known by locals, a journey rated by Lonely Planet readers as one of the best coastal drives in the world. Rainforests, rivers and glaciers meet deserted beaches and crashing waves, making for a unique and sometimes stark coastline. Sunsets on the West Coast are incredibly special and tonight you’ll see just why.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Buller Bay - 1 Night

Tauranga
Accommodation:
Comfortable, well appointed king studio units with views of the Tasman Sea and Paparoa ranges. Set among lush manicured grounds, all rooms at Omau Settlers Lodge Motel boast a private balcony with magnificent sea or mountain views. You can enjoy the peaceful surrounds from the comfort of your room, or relax in the shared lounge area.
Omau Settlers Lodge

9

Hike Paparoa National Park, Pancake Rocks & Explore Hokitika

With its towering limestone cliffs and lush vegetation, this area feels like something straight out of Jurassic Park. Today we’ll hike a fantastic track through Paparoa National Park, as well as checking out the blowholes and limestone formations of the Pancake Rocks. Then we drop in on Pounamu (greenstone/jade) carvers at work in the town of Hokitika. We’ll spend a relaxed evening in the tiny settlement of Okarito (with a population of just 30), enjoying an appetizing feast matched with local wines and craft beers. We have exclusive access to the Okarito Beach House accommodation and no doubt you’ll sleep sweetly tonight.

Hike Paparoa National Park & visit the Pancake Rocks

We’ll hike the Porarari Loop Track this morning through Paparoa National Park, a visually rich area made up of dense sub-tropical forest and limestone cliff gorges. You’ll also have the chance to check out an interesting geographical phenomenon in the town of Punakaiki – the curious looking but aptly named Pancake Rocks. The surge of the incoming sea is forced into chambers creating a geyser-like explosion through rock blowholes. The unusual limestone formations, overlaid with soft mud and clay, have been forged over millions of years by the immense pressure of the sea, wind and rain, creating the pancake effect we see today.

Explore Hokitika

After our hike, we’ll visit the quirky town of Hokitika, famous for its greenstone carvings and jewellery. You might also want to check out another form of artwork on the beach, where creative locals have built impressive driftwood sculptures for all to enjoy.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Glacier Country - 1 Night

Hokitika
After a long day, the 10 Cottages accommodation will be the perfect place to get some rest. It is located in a quiet street in 2 minutes walk from the centre of Franz Josef and next to the rainforest of Westland National Park.
10 Cottages franz Josef

10

Kayak Okarito Lagoon & Hike Franz Josef Glacier

Today you’ll experience mountains, beaches and glaciers all in one fantastic day. We start with a picturesque paddle on the tranquil waters of Okarito Lagoon, drinking in the views and discovering the birdlife. This afternoon we’ll head down the coast for a hike near Franz Josef Glacier as it descends the Southern Alps into temperate rainforest. We then travel south over the Haast Pass and into the vast beauty and open spaces of Central Otago. We’ll spend the next two nights in Wanaka, a charming lakeside resort snug amongst the mountains.

Kayak Okarito Lagoon

Okarito Lagoon is home to an abundance of native birdlife, including some rare species such as the Kōtuku, or white heron. There’s no better way to quietly observe the birdlife in its natural habitat than by taking a peaceful paddle across the lagoon. An unsurpassed view of the Southern Alps makes for the perfect backdrop to our morning kayak.

Rainforests and Glaciers

We’ll then travel on to Franz Josef Glacier and its small township tucked into foothills of the Southern Alps. Franz Josef Glacier descends 12kms into temperate rainforest just 300m above sea level. It’s one of our most accessible glaciers, so we’re able to get close enough for a great view of the terminal face. We’ll learn a little about the geology and history of the area as we take in the scenery.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Wanaka - 2 Nights

Franz Josef Glacier
Accommodation:

Situated on the lake shores, a stroll across the lawn will have you gazing across Lake Wanaka to the spectacular Southern Alps. Choose between one bedroom suites, studios and two bedroom apartments. Savour the lakeside atmosphere while you are treated to a fresh and contemporary menu in Sargoods Restaurant and Wineglass Cafe.

The Edgewater Resort Lake Wanaka

11

Hike Wanaka

After a peaceful night in our lakefront accommodation, we’ll start the day with a heart-pumping hike up Rocky Mountain for an exceptional outlook across Lake Wanaka and the surrounding peaks. We’ll share the views at the top and stop to visit Diamond Lake on the way back down. Then spend a pleasant afternoon exploring the delightful township of Wanaka - take a stroll along the foreshore or even head out for a self-guided bike ride on the lakeside trail – the choice is yours.

Hike Diamond Lake and Rocky Mountain Track

We’ll kick the day off with a hike to Diamond Lake to appreciate the sweeping views out over the Southern Alps and Lake Wanaka, before carrying on up the Rocky Mountain trail. It’s a steady climb and one that will no doubt get your heart pumping, but with each passing step, the scenery just gets better and better, making it all worth it at the top.

If you’d rather have a more relaxed morning, there’s plenty to do in the town itself, from great coffee and boutique gift shops to a gentle amble along the beach and obligatory photo in front of Wanaka’s ‘giant hand’ sculpture. We’ll regroup this evening for a delicious meal together in a local eatery.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


12

Hike Rock Peak, Kepler Track stay Te Anau

Today we’ll wake up in the idyllic little town of Wanaka and after tucking into breakfast with a view, we’ll hit the trail for a hike up Rock Peak. After a tasty lunch, we’ll make our way to the Kepler Track for our second walk of the day, and our first glimpse of Fiordland National Park.

Hike Rock Peak

This morning's hike will take us to the summit of Rock Peak, where you will be rewarded with sweeping 360 degree views of the Wakatipu Basin, Crown Range, the Remarkables, and the Gibbston Valley.

Kepler Track Hike

Breathe in the fresh Fiordland air with an afternoon walk along a pleasant section of the Kepler Track, one of New Zealand’s 10 Great Walks. Following the Waiau River, it meanders through beech forest and wetlands before emerging at a spectacular viewpoint on the shores of Lake Manapouri.

After a full day of spectacular views, we'll head to Te Anau - the gateway to the fiords - in preparation for our journey into Milford Sound tomorrow.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Te Anau - 2 Nights

Te Anau
Accommodation:
Matai Lodge has a selection of comfortable double or twin rooms.The communal facilities at Matai Lodge boast a modern fully equipped kitchen, dining room and lounge area which is only available to guests of Matai Lodge. The kitchen has everything you may require including hot plates, oven, microwaves, fridge/freezer, crockery, cutlery, pots, pans, rice cookers, electric jugs, toasters and coffee plungers. Matai Lodge also has a comfortable Lounge/dining area as well as Laundry and gas BBQ facilities. FREE WI-FI also runs throughout the complex.
Matai Lodge

13

Hike the Routeburn Track (Key Summit) & cruise Milford Sound

After waking up in Te Anau, it’s time for the moment you’ve all been waiting for, seeing Milford Sound! After spending the morning cruising on the ‘eighth wonder of the world’, we’ll head off to discover a gem on one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, the Routeburn.

Cruise Milford Sound

You’ll have time to appreciate Milford’s undeniable grandeur as we cruise to the mouth of the fiord leading out into the wild Tasman Sea. Whether the sun’s shining brightly or the sky’s clouded over, the beauty of Milford Sound never disappoints. In a perfect world, it would be raining heavily as that’s when the fiord’s hundreds of waterfalls are at their most powerful. Get close enough to feel the spray on your face as the thundering torrents cascade down the vertical rock faces – it’s an exhilarating experience.

Hike the Routeburn Track to Key Summit

This afternoon we’ll head deeper in Fiordland’s wilderness for a heart-pumping hike on the world famous Routeburn Track up to Key Summit. A well-formed track leads us through lush beech forest and past tall tree ferns, with velvety mosses blanketing the rich earth underfoot. Native birdsong provides a soothing soundtrack to our walk and as we climb higher, views of the Darran Mountains and Hollyford Valley stretch out beneath us providing a fitting reward for our efforts. On your final night of the trip, you’ll sleep soundly having spent the past 13 days exploring the best of the South Island.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Milford Cruise Sound

14

Explore Te Anau & Finish in Queenstown

On the last morning of the trip, we'll make our way back to Queenstown, marvelling at the incredible views en route. After lunch you’ll have a chance to head out for one last stunning hike on the Mt Crichton Track, before saying our fond farewells at the airport or your accommodation.

Hike Mt Crichton

Our last journey together is a scenic trip through tussock country and small farming towns, before tracing the shoreline of the impressive Lake Wakatipu back to Queenstown. The Mt Crichton Track is a scenic loop walk to Sam Summers Hut, where you’ll get an interesting glimpse into life as an early gold prospector. This area was mined back in the 1800s and relics of that time still remain, including a large sluiced canyon and a "tail race" tunnel. You’ll hike past the hut, across 12 Mile Creek and up to a ridge overlooking stunning views of Lake Dispute.

Finish in Queenstown

This afternoon we'll finish our adventure in Queenstown, and it’s time to say goodbye to your guides, travel companions and new-found friends as we drop you at the airport or your accommodation.

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

"Haere rā" Goodbye! and Bon Voyage!

Queenstown Lake

Notes

Tour Inclusions

  • 2 Professional local guides
  • Ground Transportation
  • Comfortable Kiwi-Style Lodging (See Itinerary)
  • Snacks & 36 Meals
  • Fiordland National Park: The Routeburn Track, The Kepler Track
  • Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park: Hooker Valley track, Sealy Tarns track.
  • Paparoa National Park: Pororari River track
  • Franz Josef Glacier walk
  • Tauranga Bay Seal colony walk
  • Rocky Mountain near Wanaka
  • Overnight trip to a water front lodge on Queen Charlotte Sound
  • Swim with dusky dolphins in Kaikoura
  • Nature cruise on Milford Sound
  • Kayak Lake Mapourika
  • Bike in Central Otago
  • Wine tasting in Marlborough
  • Visit the Pancake Rocks near Punakaiki
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