Day 1 - Arrive at Auckland Airport: drive to Waitomo Caves - 200km
Visit Waitomo’s famous glow worm cave
Glowworms are the larvae of fungus gnats). They are found mostly in New Zealand and Australia in caves and grottos, or sheltered places in forests. The larva spins a nest out of silk then suspends mucus covered threads of silk, 30 or 40 cm long from it. The larva glows to attract prey and a hungry larva glows brighter than one which has just eaten
Short walk in mature rainforest in collapsed cave system
(Forest or stream study options, time permitting). Can also do this walk after dark, when it becomes a completely different experience and there are glow-worms to be seen.)
Overnight Waitomo Caves
Day 2 - Waitomo to National Park - 265 km
Drive to Tongariro National Park via Taupo. Visit the famous Huka falls and enjoy views over Lake Taupo caldera and the steam fields which supply the Wairakei Geothermal Power-station.
Volcanic Activity Centre: this is a hands-on interactive educational centre that makes learning about the Earth’s volcanic forces fun for all ages. Located in the heart of the Taupo Volcanic Zone, the Volcanic Activity Centre brings to life volcanic and geothermal features past and present.
Enjoy a white water rafting adventure on the Tongariro River, one of nature's finest, fun-filled roller coaster rides (60 rapids in three hours, a great first time experience!)
The area is noted for its volcanic and geothermal activity and cultural and recreational value. Tongariro was New Zealand's first national park, created following a gifting of the sacred central North Island peaks to the nation in 1887 by Paramount Chief Te Heuheu Tukino IV (Horonuku). The park has been added to the World Heritage List.
Overnight National Park Village
Day 3 -Tongariro to Taupo – 97 km
Tongariro Alpine Crossing, weather permitting (one of New Zealand’s “Great Walks” - good fitness level required - takes 7 to 8 hours)
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing track passes over varied and spectacular volcanic terrain. In the presence of active volcanoes you can experience some of Tongariro National Park’s special gifts. A cold mountain spring, lava flows, an active crater, steam vents, emerald-coloured lakes and magnificent views combine to make this an enjoyable and memorable trip.
OR take two shorter hikes in Mordor (actually Tongariro National Park)
the setting of many Lord of the Rings “Mordor” scenes). This is also your opportunity for an ecological or geographical study of altitudinal zonation, beech forest, alpine ecology, and geological features like lava flows, dykes and tephra layers.
Hot swim (Hot Springs Spa)
Day 4 -Taupo to Rotorua - 85 km
Waiotopu Geothermal Wonderland (geyser, silica terraces, mud pools, hot springs: the most brightly colour of the Geothermal Parks
Your guide will help you understand the nature of geothermal activity and its benefits and dangers to the inhabitants of Rotorua and you’ll carry out qualitative (and quantitative if you want) tests on hot spring water to understand how geologists monitor water characteristics as an indication of what is happening below ground.
The Buried Village
Violent and unexpected, the eruption of Mt. Tarawera in 1886 was New Zealand's greatest natural disaster. For more than four terrifying hours, rocks, ash and boiling hot mud bombarded the peaceful village. The fiery glow in the night sky and the thunderous roar of the explosions were seen and heard as far away as Auckland. The eruption destroyed the Pink and White Terraces and buried Te Wairoa and two smaller villages under hot heavy ash and mud. More than 150 lives were lost.
Enjoy a little free time in Rotorua
Maori Cultural experience and Hangi meal
Experience a unique glimpse into the way of life of Maori people before the arrival of the Europeans: the thrill of the wero, or traditional challenge to visitors, the haunting traditional call, the Karanga, performed by a wahine (woman) as the powhiri (ritual of arrival) begins, allowing you to enter our hidden enclave.
Listen to a tane (male) explain the customs of the tribe and be entertained by the songs and games performed by our kapa haka (Maori cultural performance) group.
Day -5 Rotorua to Christchurch to Tekapo - 226 km
Flight to Christchurch
Between the mountains and the sea, the Canterbury plains are patch-worked with the patterns of rural life. Hundreds of years ago, Maori moa hunters worked these plains leaving a rock art record of their successes. In Christchurch, great care has been taken to preserve Canterbury’s colonial heritage. Grand architecture, historic homesteads and immaculate parks intermingle with the technology and style of modern life.
Scenic drive across the Canterbury Plains across braided rivers and beneath huge skies to Tekapo.
Star-gazing tour at Mt. John Observatory
As conditions permit, our astronomy guides help you navigate the southern night sky using green laser pointers. Experience the thrill of peering through powerful telescopes and binoculars to see amazing sights, both near and far. When stars are hidden from sight, discover the nocturnal world of an astronomer behind the scenes.
Day - 6 Tekapo to Queenstown - 258 km
Church of the Good Shepherd
Metres from the lake shore, this church was built in 1935 as a memorial to the pioneers of the Mackenzie Country. It was constructed of local materials with minimum disturbance to the surrounding natural landscape and the altar window offers awe inspiring views of the lake and mountains.
Salmon farm visit
This unique farm is the first in the world to operate in a hydro-electric canal system. It produces over 100 tonnes each year of high quality Chinook salmon - principally for export. Pristine water from Lake Tekapo and a pollution free environment mean no chemicals or antibiotics are required.
Benmore is the country’s largest manmade lake and the dam is the largest earth-filled water-retaining structure in New Zealand. With a generating capacity of 540 MW, Benmore Power Station is our second largest hydro station
Day - 7 Queenstown
Free time in Queenstown
And /or choice of adventure activities - optional extras - (Add $100 to $150 pp) such as Shotover jet or horse-trekking.
Horse trekking: Just 45 minutes from Queenstown, at the head of Lake Wakatipu lies Glenorchy, gateway to New Zealand's Mount Aspiring National Park. It's a place of stunning beauty, chosen by Peter Jackson as the location for several scenes from the Lords of The Rings trilogy, including Isengard, Amon Hen and "The Death of Boromir" scene from The Fellowship of The Ring film.
More recently Paradise Station has also been used as a location for Narnia, Peter Jackson's "The Lovely Bones" and the new Hugh Jackman film "X-Men Origins: Wolverine".
Gondola and luge and dinner over-looking Lake Wakatipu
Take the steepest lift in the Southern Hemisphere, the gondola carries visitors high above Queenstown to the Skyline complex located on Bob's Peak then hurtle down a winding downhill track through the trees. Race through the bends, or pull in for a breather and enjoy the panorama. Burn it up on the advanced track or cruise sedately down the scenic track, then hop on the chairlift.
Day - 8 Queenstown – Glenorchy – Queenstown
Enjoy a day on one of New Zealand's famous walking tracks
The Routeburn Track is a world-renowned tramping (hiking) track. It starts on the Queenstown side of the Southern Alps, at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu. This area gets much less rain than the Milford Sound and the forest is very different, made up predominantly of New Zealand red beech and mountain beech, with relatively few ferns. The track spends a long time on the high ridges, with spectacular views.
Day - 9 Queenstown to Milford Sound – 300 km
Drive to Milford Sound: enjoy a memorable cruise on the fiord, including wildlife watching and visit the underwater observatory
Milford Sound is a world-renowned natural wonder sculpted by glacial activity. Nowhere else in Fiordland do the mountains stand so tall. Luxuriant rainforest clings to sheer rock walls and waterfalls tumble hundreds of metres. In Maori legend, this landscape was created by Tu Te Raki Whanoa, who carved the fiords with a magical adze. Without doubt, Milford Sound (Piopiotahi) is his finest creation.
Overnight Milford Sound
Day - 10 Milford to Wanaka – 400 km
Kawarau Bridge: watch bungy jumping (or participate with parent’s permission – optional extra $150pp ).
Arrowtown has a history dating back to some of the first gold rush days in this part of Otago. You can still pan for gold in the Arrow River that runs past the town.
Drive to Wanaka
On the shores of the lake of the same name and next to the outflow of the Clutha River, Wanaka is a resort town with both summer and winter seasons. As the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park, it offers many opportunities outdoor activity.
Stuart Landsborough’s Puzzling World is a world unique attraction specialising in puzzling eccentricity. Offering a Great Maze, incredible Illusion Rooms, including a hologram hall, a Puzzle Centre/Café and eccentric architecture Puzzling World has entertained visitors of all ages for over 35 years.
Day - 11 Wanaka to Fox Glacier - 257 km
Scenic drive along shores of Lake Wanaka and through Haast Pass (waterfalls, dramatic gorges) (field study opportunities: coastal, river and glacial landforms and processes)
Drive north though Westland National Park, enjoying beaches, short walks, World Heritage forest and possible sightings of seals and penguins.
From peaks that are over 3000 metres high to lowland rain forest, this park is an exquisitely beautiful slice of wilderness. For many, the fast-moving Fox and Franz Josef glaciers are the main reason to visit. Between the glaciers and the sea, is a bird watcher's paradise. Rainforest and large areas of wetland shelter rare species such as the Okarito Brown Kiwi and White Heron (kotuku).
Lake Matheson mirror lake (short walk)
This famous reflective lake is a photographer’s dream, as its crystal waters create a mirror image of New Zealand’s highest peaks, Aoraki (Mt Cook) and Mt Tasman. The track encircles the lake, through native rainforest, and it takes approximately one hour to walk the entire lake circuit.
Evening glow worm walk
Overnight Fox Glacier
Day - 12 Franz Josef to Hanmer Springs - 374 km
Half day adventure walk on Fox Glacier
The glaciers stem from snowfields high in the Southern Alps, but Maori legend explains them more poetically. It is said that a beautiful girl named Hinehukatere loved the mountains in this park and encouraged her lover, Tawe, to climb them with her. He slipped and fell to his death and Hinehukatere's tears formed the glaciers.
Drive north to enjoy Hokitika’s jade and other craft shops
Hokitika is the jade and greenstone capital of New Zealand. There you will find many artisans carving Jade into contemporary carvings of traditional NZ designs or modern designs, and beautiful sculptures of whales, birds or just about anything that reflects the area where these carvers live. Nephrite Jade, Greenstone or Pounamu has been recovered locally in Westland.
Cross the Southern Alps again via the Lindis Pass
Hot soak in the hot geothermal pools.
Overnight Hanmer Springs
Day - 13 Hanmer Springs to Christchurch – 135 km
Drive to Christchurch
Between the mountains and the sea, the Canterbury plains are patch-worked with the patterns of rural life. Hundreds of years ago, Maori moa hunters worked these plains leaving a rock art record of their successes.
In Christchurch great care has been taken to preserve Canterbury’s colonial heritage. Grand architecture, historic homesteads and immaculate parks intermingle with the technology and style of modern life.
Christchurch Arts Centre and Craft market exhibitions, craft shops and shopping
The Antarctic Attraction is in the heart of a working Antarctic campus at Christchurch International Airport. It is from here that many Antarctic missions are organised. With this in mind the Antarctic Attraction is designed to bring a powerful and memorable experience of Antarctica to visitors in a fun, exciting, informative and commercially successful way.
Airport transfer for flight home
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