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Vacation Itinerary

$5499 plus tax (15%)
Dates: Mondays from January - April and September - December


The Rimu takes you to the most beautiful places in New Zealand and is perfect for those who enjoy the outdoors and like a challenge. All arrangements are pre planned so you can enjoy exploring and joining adventure activities throughout the country.



Day 1: Christchurch to Kaikoura
Arrive Auckland early Monday morning, and connect on a short flight to Christchurch on the South Island,. You’ll be met there, and travel up the coast to the seaside town of Kaikoura, where you can ease into your adventure with a scenic hike. Passing weathered limestone cliffs we’ll watch a colony of fur seals basking on the rocks and playing in the eddies, on a stretch of rugged coastline that was uplifted in the Kaikoura earthquake - it’s amazing to see this brand new land! Today is a relaxed introduction to New Zealand giving you the chance to recover from your flight and adjust to the time difference.
ACCOMMODATION: Kaikoura, Lodgings (L,D)


Day 2: Visit vineyard, Start multi-day options
From Kaikoura we’ll travel north for a couple of hours to Blenheim, in the Marlborough wine region, and visit Forrest Estate Winery to sample some of their fantastic wines and enjoy a picnic on the vineyard lawn. When you book, you have the choice of one of three multi-day options – a backpacking trip in Nelson Lakes National Park, a sea-kayaking trip in the Marlborough Sounds, or a mountain biking trip on the Queen Charlotte Track. The backpacking trip stays in mountain huts while the cyclists and sea kayakers stay in more conventional lodgings with private rooms (additional cost for sea kayaking or biking options). After lunch, we head off for our various activities.


Days 2-4: Multi-day options continued
- Hiking Option in Nelson Lakes National Park
- Sea Kayaking Option in the Marlborough Sounds
- Biking Option on the Queen Charlotte Track.


Day 4: Finish multi-day option
After regrouping in Saint Arnaud we’ll head to the West Coast – 400 miles of gorgeous coastline with a population of only 40,000 people along its entire length. For dinner this evening, we'll have the quintessential Kiwi dinner - fish and chips! After dinner you can soak up the sun set on the beach at the stunning coastal village of Punakaiki, where we'll be spending the night.
ACCOMMODATION: West Coast lodgings, Punakaiki – comfortable and quiet (B,L,D)


Day 5: Hike in Punakaiki Rainforest
We’ll spend most of the day in Punakaiki hiking among the limestone canyons and lush rainforest of the Inland Pack Track. Gold miners established this trail over a century ago, so there is a lot of pioneering history in the area. While we’re in Punakaiki we’ll also head to the famous Pancake Rocks and blowholes – bizarre limestone formations that have been sculpted by the relentless pounding of the Tasman Sea to resemble giant stacks of pancakes. Then we’ll head down the scenic coastal road to Hokitika to check out local art galleries and pounamu carving workshops (‘pounamu’ is Maori for jade) before carrying on to Okarito Lagoon. Okarito is a hidden gem that is all but untouched due to it being 10 miles down a one-way road from an obscure highway turnoff. With a population of only 31 people, there are no shops, no restaurants and no traffic – and watching the sun set over the Tasman Sea is definitely not to be missed!
ACCOMMODATION: Rainforest Retreat, Franz Josef (B,L,D)


Day 6: Kayak Okarito Lagoon, hike beach and forest
You have a lot of options today. You can spend a relaxing day in this sleepy but beautiful beach town to recharge your batteries, or get out for awesome hiking and kayaking. Okarito is home to the only native white heron colony in New Zealand, as well as a host of other interesting birds including the Okarito brown kiwi. You can sea kayak on the lagoon with a backdrop of snow-capped mountains for a few hours, then hike through lush coastal forest to Three Mile Lagoon, and walk back along deserted beach next to crashing waves. Okarito is also a great spot just to hang out and enjoy a good book, or talk philosophy with some of the locals!
ACCOMMODATION: Rainforest Retreat, Franz Josef (B,L,D)


Day 7: Hike near Franz Josef Glacier
Just south of Okarito there are two formidable glaciers descending from the mountains to the sea. In terms of scenery, this place is off the charts, and we’ll spend most of the day hiking at Franz Josef Glacier. We’ll hike up through the rainforest to either Alex Knob or Roberts Point, both of which give great views of the terminal face, lower reaches and lateral moraines of Franz Josef Glacier (weather dependent). Heli-hike optional with additional cost.
ACCOMMODATION: Makarora Chalets, Makarora (B,L,D)


Day 8: Mt. Aspiring National Park to Queenstown, cycle Hawea trail
This morning you’ll exchange beech forests for open plains and head inland to Lake Hawea. Here you’ll be fitted with a 21-speed front-suspension Specialized mountain bike for a scenic bike ride along the Te Araroa track to Wanaka. This gently undulating section of the track follows the crystal clear Hawea and Clutha Rivers through the rugged Central Otago landscape for 10 miles (17km) to the charming mountain town of Wanaka where you’ll stop for lunch. From there, it’s a short drive over Cardrona Saddle to Queenstown, on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. You’ll also find incredible optional activities here, including hang gliding, bungy jumping, jet boating, skydiving, horse trekking, fishing and winery tours. Queenstown isn’t a big place – the population is about 8000 – but there’s plenty to do! Or you can do nothing and just soak up the atmosphere or lounge about reading a book.
ACCOMMODATION: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (B,L)


Day 9: Free day in Queenstown
It’s all up to you today – enjoy!
ACCOMMODATION: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (B)


Day 10: Hike Routeburn Track
This morning we head down to Te Anau for lunch, before continuing on to The Divide where we’ll hike part of the Routeburn Track. Located in the heart of Fiordland, our largest and arguably most spectacular national park, this hike gives us unsurpassed views of the Hollyford Valley, from mountains to sea, as well as Lake Marian and Mt. Christina. We’ll take a short drive through the Homer Tunnel, emerging at the top of a spectacular alpine road that winds its way down to Milford Sound. As we descend, the steep waterfall lined granite walls of the Darren Range give way to the rainforest carpeted lower slopes of the mountains and eventually the tannin-tinted waters of the sound itself. Milford Sound is truly breathtaking; sheer rock walls plunge thousands of feet to the Tasman Sea and waterfalls cascade into the deep blue water. Tonight we’ll stay in some basic accommodation in a great location – take a walk outside and experience the true sound of silence.
ACCOMMODATION: Milford Lodge Chalets, Milford Sound (B,L,D)


Day 11: Sea kayak Milford Sound, hike Kepler Track
It’s an early start today! Most people see Milford Sound from the deck of a big cruise ship but we’ve got a better way – gliding along in sea kayaks, getting up close and personal with the sound while causing very little disruption to the friendly seals and dolphins, which are often eager to visit if they’re in the area. This is an awesome trip, run by specialist kayak outfitters, and it’s equally suitable for beginners or experts. After your morning’s paddle, you’ll have a well earned lunch before continuing on to Lake Manapouri. This afternoon we’ll take a hike on the famous Kepler Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks - we follow the track through mountain beech forest and along the Waiau River. It’s an awesome hike with spectacular views! Tonight we’ll stay on the edge of Lake Manapouri, enjoying the scenery and the delicious local fare.
ACCOMMODATION: Lake Manapouri Inn, Manapouri (B,L,D)


Day 12: Visit Cromwell Old Town, journey over Lindis pass
Today we have a relaxed start and head back up the road to Queenstown, where you’ll have a couple of hours to get some lunch, do any last minute shopping, send postcards home, or whatever you might need to do before heading back into the wilderness for the remainder of your trip. Then we’ll drive up to Lake Pukaki, near Mt. Cook, where we stay on Hamish & Julia McKenzie's 60,000 acre high-country sheep farm, called Braemar Station (ranch). While we’re here, we stay in the shearers’ quarters. It’s not a 5-star hotel, but it's a favorite! The view out of the kitchen window in the morning will knock your socks off – the biggest mountains in New Zealand piercing the sky on the far side of a gorgeous cobalt-blue lake. With no lights for miles around, the stars on a clear night are like nothing you’ve ever seen – just the place for your last couple of nights in New Zealand!
ACCOMMODATION: Shearers’ quarters, Braemar Station (B,D)


Day 13: Hike Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park
This morning it’s an hour or so to Mt. Cook village, at the head of Lake Pukaki. Mt. Cook, known as Aoraki or ‘cloud piercer’ by the local Maori, is the highest mountain in New Zealand and we have a stunning and little-known day hike (weather permitting) to the main ridge above Mueller Glacier – directly opposite Mt. Cook. It’s a tough slog up, but you’ll remember the view of the Mueller Glacier and the surrounding peaks of the Main Divide forever! There are also other hiking options if you’d like to take it a little easier. The weather conditions are very important in this area, as it’s a true alpine climate notorious for sudden weather shifts. If we aren’t able to do the Mueller hike, we’ll take an impressive hike up the Hooker Valley to a glacial lake at the base of Hooker Glacier, complete with icebergs! Then we head back to the shearers’ quarters for the last night of the Rimu. We’ll enjoy a traditional Kiwi BBQ and a cold drink as we sit outside and watch the sun set over Mt. Cook.
ACCOMMODATION: Shearers’ quarters, Braemar Station (B,L,D)


Day 14: Depart New Zealand
After breakfast we depart for the three-hour drive to Christchurch, and arrive in the afternoon in time for the flights back to Auckland (international flights after 4pm are ideal). You’ll be refreshed and invigorated from the good food, exercise, and fresh air and great times you’ll have had with us in New Zealand! (B,L).


Included:

  • Personal meet & greet on arrival into Christchurch
  • 13 nights accommodation
  • Guiding Service (2 guides per trip)
  • All meals, except in Queenstown where we’ve found people prefer to check out the wide range of restaurants
  • All activities as described in the itinerary, except the optional extras

Not Included:
  • Flights to/from and within New Zealand
  • Meals not noted
  • Specialty beverages and alcohol
  • 15% Tax
  • Items of a personal nature (telephone, internet , laundry etc.)

*Note: We run the Rimu in two different directions around the South Island – northbound (as described above) or southbound (in reverse). Whichever direction your trip is in, you’ll do all activities mentioned, just in a different order.

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