Australian Natural Adventures
travel, wildlife tours, adventure travel and general travel to Australia,
New Zealand and the Pacific
History Itinerary - Just theSouth Island
History Itinerary - North & South Island
& South Island itinerary can be enjoyed for most
of the year, but we don't recommend it during the austral Winter -
June to August. The weather is generally mild in New Zealand, but
even in high Summer - December and January - cool and wet weather
can be experienced, especially on the South Island.
Although not itemized on this itinerary,
many meals are included.
Day 1 - Los Angeles / In flight
Depart Los Angeles on an evening flight
Day 2 - In Flight
Today is lost due to the International Dateline, but regained on the
Day 3 - Auckland/Orewa
Arrive early this morning into Auckland, the “City of Sails,”
located on the shores of two stunning harbors. Later take an easy
guided walk in the Waitakere Ranges, among the ancient Kauri trees,
to learn something of New Zealand’s unique vegetation. A pleasant
drive through farmlands, orchards and vineyards, with a relaxing tea
break, brings you to spectacular Muriwai Beach. Here enjoy close-up
views of a mainland Australasian Gannet breeding colony—one
of only three in the world. There’s time for a stroll along
the black iron sand beach and a paddle in the Tasman Sea before returning
to Auckland. Tonight there is an introductory presentation by your
guide and a welcome dinner at a nearby restaurant.
Day 4 - Orewa / Tiri Tiri Matangi
This morning board the Tiri catamaran for a short cruise to Tiri Tiri
Matangi. Tiri is part of the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park, one of several
parks protecting the marine and island environment of this conservation-minded
country. Your guide and a conservation officer or local expert discuss
the development of the island before we set off through this sanctuary
to view Bellbirds, Tuis, Kakariki (parakeets) and the rare Saddleback.
We also look for Brown Teal, Whiteheads and the elusive Takahe—a
flightless rail. Enjoy a picnic lunch before heading back to the mainland
Day 5 - Orewa / Rotorua
Return to Auckland and continue on to Rotorua (Maori for “two
lakes”), the center for Maori culture and thermal activity in
New Zealand. On arrival at Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve a Maori guide
tells of the significance of Maori arts and crafts and guides you
through the reserve to view the bubbling mud pools and fumaroles.
Tonight enjoy a welcome hangi dinner (cooking on hot stones
in the ground) and Maori concert at a Maori marae (sacred community
meeting place). Spend the next two nights in Rotorua.
Day 6 - Rotorua
An early start this morning to visit a nearby forest and listen to
the beautiful morning chorus of birds, taking the time to admire the
mature Kahikatea, Rimu and Totara trees. These are gymnosperms, an
ancient plant group that includes such diverse members as gingkos,
sequoias, yews, Norfolk Island Pine and cycads. Growing under these
relics of the past is a variety of ferns, orchids and epiphytes. Moving
on, explore the world’s largest hot spring and the craters of
Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley. A cruise on the crater-lake Rotomahana
passes steaming cliffs, craters and geysers. This lake is home to
a crestless grebe known as the Dabchick. You also visit Rainbow Springs,
a wildlife sanctuary that presents an opportunity for a close-up view
of the Kiwi and the Tuatara. Left over from the age of dinosaurs,
this lizard-like reptile is unusual because it can be active at very
low temperatures. The Tuatara is only found on a couple of offshore
islands where it inhabits burrows.
Day 7 - Rotorua / Christchurch / Arthur’s Pass National
After breakfast fly to Christchurch on the South Island. This scenic
town is the home of the International Antarctic Centre and considered
by New Zealand as the “Gateway to the Antarctic.” The
United States and other countries have built an award winning Visitor
Centre replete with photographic, hands-on and audiovisual displays.
A drive through remote river gorges takes you into the heart of the
Southern Alps and Arthur’s Pass National Park. Here a short
bush walk may encounter Keas—the large and dark-colored mountain
parrots known for their cheeky and sometimes destructive manners.
Rifleman, Bellbird and Silvereye are other endemic birds found here.
Dine and overnight at the quaint Arthur’s Pass Chalets located
in the heart of Arthur’s Pass National Park.
Day 8 - Arthur’s Pass /
Today continue to the rugged west coast, stopping at Hokitika to view
local artisans working with jade, gold and glass. Following the coastline
south to Franz Josef Glacier and take a short walk in the glacial
valley with an expert guide. There is time a ski-plane flight (additional
expense, weather permitting) before continuing south along the Heritage
Highway to Fox Glacier and the traditionally styled Fox Glacier Hotel
for a two-night stay.
Day 9 - Fox Glacier / West Coast
Today begins with a short walk to Lake Matheson in which the magnificent
reflections of the mountains can be seen, looking for Tomtits, Fantails,
Tuis and native Wood Pigeons on the way through the bush. You can
also choose a walk to the terminal of the glacier or take an optional
scenic flight (an additional cost) over the glaciers and Mount Cook.
A side trip to Okarito Lagoon enables a 20-minute jetboat ride to
view the only nesting site in New Zealand of the White Heron (Kotuku).
We may also see Royal Spoonbills, another nester here.
Day 10 - Fox Glacier / Queenstown
After breakfast journey through the most historic, yet most recently
opened of the transalpine routes. Stopping for a short bush walk to
Thunder Creek Falls, enjoy a late lunch with a friendly family on
a working high-country farm overlooking Lake Hawea. Continue to Lake
Wanaka, a popular summer and winter holiday location, and through
the fruit-growing region of Cromwell to Queenstown.
Day 11 - Queenstown
This morning visit the Kiwi House for a behind-the-scenes view of
New Zealand’s national emblem, and to learn about the artificial
breeding program established in an effort to increase the numbers
of this rare bird. The rest of the day is free to explore Queenstown.
It is possible to take the Dart River jetboat safari into the backcountry
to experience one of New Zealand’s “inaccessible”
areas with views of high peaks, glaciers, ancient forests, spectacular
waterfalls and unique birdlife. There is an option to cruise on Lake
Wakatipu on the coal-fired vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw, join the
thrill seekers at the bungy-jump bridge, or simply relax. Tonight
dinner is at the Skyline Restaurant reached by gondola cableway; the
view from Bob’s Peak is magnificent.
Day 12 - Milford Sound / Lake
Te Anau / Farm Stay
Today travel to Milford Sound, often described as the most beautiful
waterway in the world. The road to Milford, between towering, snow-clad
mountains, is sufficient reason to visit the sound, where a natural
history boat ride explores the inlets and peaks of this pristine area.
After lunch, taken onboard, visit the historic township of Milford,
then continue to the town of Te Anau for dinner, and overnight at
a local farm, a chance to socialize with New Zealanders at home. Tonight
there is an optional excursion across the lake to the Te Anau glow
Day 13 - Te Anau / Invercargill
/ Stewart Island
A pleasant drive to Invercargill, the southernmost city of New Zealand,
this morning where there's time to visit the Southland Museum before
a short flight to Stewart Island (or Rakiura, a Maori word meaning
“heavenly glow”). A local expert guide gives us an orientation
tour of Half Moon Bay, the island’s only permanent settlement.
Considerable bird life abounds near the village where we enjoy short
bush walks and witness some of the world’s most beautiful ferns,
scented native orchids and temperate plants in this unique remnant
of natural New Zealand. A visit to the museum and Visitor Centre follows
this afternoon. After dinner, featuring freshly caught seafood and
local venison, our guide takes us on an easy walk to Ackers Point
to look for Little Blue Penguins and Sooty Shearwaters.
Day 14 - Stewart Island
Today explore the island and take a boat excursion (weather permitting)
into the rich marine waters which serve as feeding grounds for Stewart
Island Shags, Bullers and Whitecapped Albatrosses, Cape Petrels and
other pelagic birds. View the salmon farms in Big Glory Bay and spend
time on Ulva Island, a sanctuary for native birds, where abundant
forest drips with native ferns and orchids. Tonight’s highlight
is an excursion by boat to Ocean Beach to try to see the Stewart Island
Kiwi in its natural environment. ocean Beach ois probably the only
place in New Zealand where the Kiwi is frequently and reasonabley
Day 15 - Stewart Island / Invercargill
/ Auckland / Los Angeles
Sadly, your last day in New Zealand. After a farewell breakfast return
to the mainland, then fly to Auckland. If the flight schedule allows,
visit Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World and Antarctic Encounter.
Later this evening fly back across the Dateline, regaining the day
lost coming out, and arriving back in Los Angeles in the morning of
this same day.
OPTIONAL YELLOW-EYED PENGUIN EXTENSION
This option can be done during
the breeding season from about October until March, although the Albatross
Colony can only be viewed from late november.
Day 15 - Stewart Island / Dunedin
Returning to Invercargill today, by plane or catamaran, armed with
picnic lunches, travel north via the Catlins Coast Forest Park, stopping
to view the spectacular coves en route. At Nugget Point Lighthouse
rockstacks are home to the Australasian Gannet, Southern Black-backed
Gulls, Spotted Shags and New Zealand Fur Seal.
Day 17 - Dunedin / Otago Peninsula
This morning visit the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre at Portobello
and view a slide show on southern oceans—an introduction to
the marine environment of southern New Zealand, and the ecology of
local species and conservation issues. At the aquarium discover the
variety of life in the southern seas, including pigfish, octopus,
seahorses, crayfish and red krill. After a light lunch travel out
on the peninsula to view the carefully protected, and very rare Yellow-eyed
Penguins at close quarters from camouflaged hides. Then see the world’s
only mainland colony of Royal Albatross and enjoy a short nature cruise
to view the colony from the sea.
Day 18 - Dunedin / Auckland /
Following breakfast transfer to the Dunedin Airport for a morning
flight to Auckland. If the flight schedule allows, visit Kelly Tarlton’s
Underwater World and Antarctic Encounter. Later this evening fly back
across the Dateline, regaining the day lost coming out, and arriving
back in Los Angeles in the morning of this same day.
Don't forget we have many other options
on our New
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