The following itinerary lists a range of site visits which we plan to visit. Many are accessible to the public, but some require special permission which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure. The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in opening hours, flight schedules and confirmation of private visits. The tour price includes breakfast daily, lunches/picnics and evening meals indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch/packed picnic and D=evening meal.
Auckland, North Island - 4 nights
Day 1: Tuesday 11 November, Arrive Auckland
The tour begins in Auckland. Those travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight will transfer by private coach to the Copthorne Hotel. Note: if you are not arriving on the ASA ‘designated’ flight you will be required to make your own way to the hotel, or you may wish to contact ASA to arrange a private transfer. In the evening we will enjoy a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant. (Overnight Auckland) D
Day 2: Wednesday 12 November, Day excursion to the West Coast & Waitakere Ranges Regional Park
- Arataki Visitor Information Centre, Waitakere Ranges NP
- Hynds Garden, Piha, with landscape designer Trish Bartleet
- Cascades Kauri Park
- Early evening lecture: Iconic and exotic New Zealand trees by Andrew Geddes
This morning we depart by coach for the Arataki Visitor Information Centre, situated within Auckland’s largest regional park, Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. The Centre’s decks offer breathtaking panoramic views extending from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Inside, displays explain the history, flora and fauna of the region, accompanied by some beautifully carved Maori guardian posts.
We next journey to the wild and rugged West Coast. In Piha, landscape designer Trish Bartleet will show us one of her favourite gardens, Hynds Garden. Its contemporary design uses weathered steel and rocks to enhance the landscape and plantings that are predominantly native. The garden is not very large but is intensively planted and the spaces around the house are so designed to extend the illusion of broad boundaries. The house itself has been featured in numerous magazines, having won the New Zealand Institute of Architects Resene New Zealand Awards for Architecture in 2005. It enjoys a spectacular panoramic view over Piha Beach and the Tasman Sea.
After enjoying a ‘kiwi-style’ picnic lunch at Piha, we drive to Karekare to visit a magnificent rugged West Coast beach. You will have a chance to stroll through a glade of centuries-old, gnarled pohutukawa trees and along its unique black, iron, sands and enjoy the fresh ocean breeze. The sea here has marvellous surf, some of the most consistently grand breakers in the world; the sea is seldom calm. We travel back to Auckland through the Waitakere Ranges and the Cascades Kauri Park, where we pause for another walk through an area of untouched rainforest containing mature 1,000 year-old Kauri trees. Millions of years of physical isolation has led to the evolution of New Zealand’s unique flora and fauna; 70% of its native plants are found nowhere else in the world. Our local guide will explain the native species as we walk amongst the park’s famous Kauri trees and giant tree ferns, observing its distinctive native birds. This evening, landscape architect and arborist Andrew Geddes will give a talk on iconic and exotic New Zealand trees. (Overnight Auckland) BL
Day 3: Thursday 13 November, Auckland – Warkworth – Coatesville – Auckland
- Brick Bay Sculpture Trail, Tekaku Peninsula
- Omaio Garden, Warkworth
- Woodbridge Gardens, Coatesville
- Mincher Garden, Coatesville
Today we drive an hour north of Auckland to the Tekaku Peninsula, where we visit the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail, a 2km route through a remarkable landscape of towering trees and plants, and abundant bird-life, built to showcase up to 30 pieces of contemporary sculpture by established and emerging artists.
Nearby, we visit Omaio Garden, owned by Liz Morrow, the Executive Officer of the New Zealand Garden Trust. ‘Omaio’ is the Maori word for ‘place of peace, quiet and tranquility’. Much of the planting in this garden is native, but it also incorporates other features such as a vegetable garden and an orchard. Liz will introduce her garden and will host our lunch.
On our way back to Auckland we stop at Coatesville where we visit Woodbridge Gardens. These are owned by Christine and Tony Peek who in 1991 began to transform bare 8 acre farmland into a space of plants, trees and flowers. The garden, which incorporates both native and imported flora, as well as water features, is renowned for its glorious vistas and it spring plantings which should be at their finest at the time of our visit.
We also visit Mincher, a semi-formal garden established (1995) on the site of market gardens. A white horse chesnut-lined driveway leads to the garden and ponds surrounding a Neo-Georgian family home. Within a framework of mature trees backed by native bush, Angela Spooner has established herbaceous borders, a formal parterre and a shrubbery with topiarised acmenas. Her favourite species include roses, daylilies and three varieties of ilex or holly. They form hedging as well as stand-alone specimens. A silver birch copse is under-planted with bluebells and daffodils. These provide early spring colour, augmented by daffodils around the cottage garden and ornamental cherries in the spring garden. (Overnight Auckland) BL
Day 4: Friday 14 November, Auckland – Waiheke Island – Whitford – Auckland
- Private Garden with Ted Smyth, Waiheke Island
- Ayrlies, Whitford
- Auckland Botanic Gardens
This morning we walk to Auckland ferry terminal to take the fifty minute cruise to Waiheke Island. Ted Smyth started his career as a graphic artist but became a landscape designer when he began to collaborate with a group of architect friends who shared the building in which he worked. Although not formerly trained as a landscape architect, he is revered in New Zealand for his powerful, highly innovative designs. Ted usually works with indigenous species and his gardens often have a striking architectural quality, as well as featuring sculpture by major New Zealand artists. We will visit one of his beautiful gardens on Waiheke Island, accompanied by Ted Smyth and his assistant, before taking the ferry back to the mainland.
This afternoon we visit one of New Zealand’s premier gardens, Ayrlies, located just outside Auckland in Whitford. Ayrlies covers nearly 5 hectares, with ponds, waterfalls, spacious lawns, mature trees, beyond which it offers constant glimpses of the sea. Traditional rose and shrubbery borders counterpoint tropical gullies, native outcrops, and arid gardens of succulents, all set amid stonewalls, summerhouses and many restful seating areas.
We return to the city to visit the Auckland Botanic Gardens. These gardens boast over 10,000 plants from around the world – a remarkable number for a garden that only opened to the public in 1982. Since then, the Auckland Botanic Gardens has been the recipient of numerous awards, particularly in the areas of conservation and education. After visiting this extensive garden we return to Auckland. (Overnight Auckland) B
New Plymouth, North Island - 2 nights
Day 5: Saturday 15 November, Auckland – Hamilton – New Plymouth
- Hamilton Gardens
- Evening lecture: The Geology of New Plymouth
We drive south today, descending from Auckland to the Waikato Plain and thence to Hamilton, a city of with beautiful and extensive Botanical Gardens. After exploring the Chinese Scholars Garden, the Japanese Garden of Contemplation, the Italian Renaissance Garden, the English Flower Garden and more, we continue south to New Plymouth. On arrival, we shall transfer to our waterfront hotel located at the centre of New Plymouth.
This evening we meet our local host, Ross Eden, who will present a lecture on the unique geology of New Plymouth, whose volcano, Mount Taranaki (Mount Egmont) has created a distinctive microclimate, and inspired a number of Maori legends. Ross has over 25 years of mountaineering experience and has a wealth of knowledge on the New Plymouth area, having established over 20 new rock routes on Mt Taranaki and written three guidebooks on climbing within the region. (Overnight New Plymouth) B
Day 6: Sunday 16 November, New Plymouth Area
- Guided walk of Egmont National Park
- Pukekura Park
We spend this morning in the company of Ross Eden who will lead us on a walk along the slopes of Mt Taranaki to observe a progression of plant species and learn about the distinctive vegetation of this stunning natural park. We first drive to the North Egmont Te Wai Whaikato Visitors Centre, located in a historic camp house that housed a local regiment during the 1860 Taranaki Land Wars before being relocated to its present site, 960 metres above sea level. From here we walk along the “Ngatoro Track” descending into a valley through goblin forest lichen and moss covered twisted trees, cross a stream and climb back up to the visitor centre. Along the track various mosses and ferns grow among turpentine, broom and tutu. We will also see orisia and tutukiwi (hooded orchids) that bloom in late spring.
Note: for those preferring a less strenuous walk, there is the option to follow one of the easier loop walks departing from the Visitor Centre and to enjoy some refreshments at the café while waiting for your fellow group members to return.
In the afternoon we shall visit one of New Zealand’s garden highlights, Pukekura Park, one of the country’s premier botanical gardens, once a treeless, swampy valley in 1876. The visionary Robert Clinton Hughes assured the passing of New Zealand’s Botanical Gardens Bill that enabled the park to be founded. In 1878 the main lake was formed, followed in 1884 by ‘Poets Bridge’, built from the winnings of a horse race. A bandstand (1888) and, to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, a drinking fountain was unveiled (1897). The park was named ‘Pukekura’ in 1907, the name taken from the stream that runs through it. A fernery followed in 1928 and a waterfall in 1970. Pukekura Park’s Fernery and Display Houses offer stunning and inviting visual experiences all year round they are heated in winter, offering a sumptuous array of colour and texture. We shall visit the garden with the Park’s curator. (Overnight New Plymouth) B
Day 7: Monday 17 November, New Plymouth Area
- Oakley Garden, Manaia
The New Plymouth region is dominated both visually and ecologically by Mount Taranaki. The mountain is one of the most symmetrical volcanic cones in the world, rising 2,518 metres out of the surrounding plain, a mere ten-minute drive from the coastline. Mount Egmont National Park, which embraces both Mt Taranaki and the older, heavily eroded sister volcanoes in the nearby Kaitake Range, also features lush temperate rainforests. Over 50 rivers and streams flow down from the mountain and the whole region has an utterly unique botany. It contains a wide variety of vegetation, from sub-tropical semi-coastal forest in the Kaitake ranges to sub-alpine herb fields at an altitude of 1800 metres on the main cone.
We shall explore the exceptional challenges and opportunities that this unique has to presented garden designers. The jewel in the region’s crown is Pukeiti, New Zealand’s premier rhododendron garden, where over 10,000 rhododendrons and azaleas bloom within the magnificent rainforest covering the lower slopes of Kaitake Range. The garden was established to regenerate an area that had once been logged; it was replanted with rimu and other podocarps. It is very large, with many tracks winding through the rainforest. Careful pest control has protected the garden, which now boasts a large number of native birds (eg tui, bellbird, pigeon, fantail, waxeye, cuckoo and whitehead). Mountain streams provide habitat for rare and endangered native fish. Special care has been taken to provide a colourful variety of flowerings throughout the year. In November the garden is alive with colour. Herbaceous plantings, alpines, primulas, hostas and thousands of bulbs dominate the garden until the giant Himalayan lilies flower in December. We shall lunch at Pukeiti’s Gatehouse Café.
After lunch we drive along the coast to Manaia, to the garden of Guy and Jenny Oakley. Jenny’s love of gardening, informed by a formal education in landscape design & horticulture, is expressed palpably in this large family garden. Although only 2km from the coast, this well established shelter provides a haven from the elements, with garden rooms linked by hedge-lined paths. Features include cottage style plantings, early flowering roses, a vegetable potager and stunning hanging baskets. (Overnight New Plymouth) BL
Blenheim, South Island - 3 nights
Day 8: Tuesday 18 November, New Plymouth – Wellington – Blenheim
- Puke Ariki Museum, New Plymouth
- Allan Scott Winery, Blenheim
This morning we shall make a short visit to the Puke Ariki museum with its fascinating exhibits displaying the natural history of this region, and how it has shaped the history and culture of the New Plymouth area. This ground-breaking knowledge centre combines a library, museum, research and visitor information centre. We shall next transfer to New Plymouth Airport to fly to Wellington and transfer to our flight to Blenheim on the South Island. From our base in Blenheim we shall explore the beautiful landscapes of the Marlborough region, at the northeast corner of New Zealand’s South Island. This region is blessed with the more hours of sunshine than any other in New Zealand, and as a result it is here that we find both magnificent gardens and a vast number of vineyards, for which the area is famous.
After disembarking, we shall drive to Allan Scott Winery for a wine tasting and refreshments, before proceeding to our hotel. (Overnight Blenheim) B
Day 9: Wednesday 19 November, Marlborough Region
- Paripuma Garden
- Winterhome Garden
- Barewood Garden
Our first visit today is to Paripuma. Landscaper Rosa Davison once dreamt of creating a haven for wildlife on what was a barren and windswept seashore. Created from a bare sandy paddock in 1999, Paripuma is a unique collection of indigenous and some very rare plant species.Using thousands of Ngaios and other sturdy natives, shelter was created for more interesting and some near extinct species. The result sees intertwining walkways and hidden paths juxtaposed with traditional formal lines, blending a strong central vista into the natural lie of the land. We will also visit the Winterhome garden at Kekerengu. Positioned on a cliff with dramatic views over the Pacific Ocean, Winterhome is renowned for its powerful design combining the classic cross axes with plantings of trees, shrubs and perennials. The garden features a rose garden with formal box edging, an orchard and a canal garden. After lunch at Winterhome’s The Store café, considered one of the best eateries in the Malborough region, we will drive through the Awatere Valley to Barewood Garden. Owned by Joe and Carolyn Ferraby, this garden surrounds a rambling old homestead. Wisteria and old-fashioned roses frame its wide verandahs and mature trees surround its garden. Colourful mixed borders, a summer house, a formal potager, a pond with carefully tended water plants and sweeping lawns all combine to make this one of the premier gardens of the region. (Overnight Blenheim) BL
Day 10: Thursday 20 November, Marlborough Region
- Upton Oaks Garden
- Hortensia Garden
- Lunch at ‘La Verandah’ Restaurant
- Moritaki Garden
Today we continue to explore the Marlborough region. We start our day with a visit to Upton Oaks Garden, a beautiful romantic garden, created from a bare paddock, outside Blenheim. Upton’s showpiece is a knot garden in the style of the 17th century, where box hedges encase beds filled with colourful flowers. Hortensia Garden, the next stop on our program, is the creation of artist Huguette Michel, whose French origins are expressed in the Impressionist inspiration of this lovely garden.
We then break for lunch at ‘La Verandah’ Restaurant. This fine restaurant, located in a huge Victorian villa, is part of Huguette’s husband George Michel’s wine estate. Peter and Andrea Forrest’s Moritaki Garden, situated at the foot of Withers Hills, is the third beautiful garden on today’s program. Dedicated solely to New Zealand natives, it nevertheless was designed by a Japanese gardener to express the traditional Japanese design principles of a water garden, in which a waterfall, stream and pond express the place of water in nature. (Overnight Blenheim) BL
Greymouth, South Island - 1 night
Day 11: Friday 21 November, Blenheim – Punakaiki – Greymouth
Today we drive across the Marlborough Region to Greymouth on the west coast. This is one of the most sparsely populated areas of New Zealand. With the Tasman Sea to the west and the Southern Alps to the east, we will drive through a series of beautiful National Parks to the seaside town of Greymouth where we shall spend the night. We drive through the Mount Richmond Forest Park and the Nelson Lakes and Victoria National Parks to the west coast of the island.
We follow the ‘Coast Road’, one of the most spectacular coastal drives in the world. One of the scenic stops we make during the day will be at Punakaiki where the famous Pancake Rocks are located. These are limestone formations that began forming 30 million years ago, when lime-rich fragments of dead marine creatures were deposited on the seabed, then overlaid by weaker layers of soft mud and clay. The result is a fascinating rock formation that gives the appearance of vertical stacks of thin rocks. (Overnight Greymouth) BLD
Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge, South Island - 2 nights
Day 12: Saturday 22 November, Greymouth – Fox Glacier – Lake Moeraki
- Fox Glacier Lookout
- Evening rainforest walk, Lake Moeraki
As we continue our journey south we encounter classic west coast river- and forest scenery, rushing water, impressive bridges and tiny, picturesque towns. Hokitika was first settled in 1860 after the discovery of gold on the west coast. Composed of lovely old buildings, it still has the feel of a frontier town. The road south from Hokitika travels through farmland that constantly threatens to revert to wilderness; the beauty of the region’s rivers is raw and primeval. Continuing south we arrive at Fox Glacier.
Fed by four alpine glaciers, Fox Glacier was named after an early New Zealand Prime Minister, William Fox. At 13kms, Fox Glacier is the longest of the awe-inspiring New Zealand West Coast glaciers. At its head, soaring peaks of over 3,000m dominate the horizon. This mighty moving river of ice falls 2,600 metres, on its journey from the base of the Southern Alps to the West Coast. New Zealand’s West Coast glaciers are unique and probably the most accessible glaciers in the world, as they terminate amongst temperate rainforest just 250m above sea level. So special is this mountain environment, that it forms part of the South Westland World Heritage Area.
We continue south to Lake Moeraki (meaning “to sleep or dream by day” in Maori) in the South Westland, where we spend the night at the peaceful lakeside Wilderness Lodge. It is surrounded by untouched rainforest with stunning views of the snow-capped Southern Alps. Owned by teacher Anne Saunders and biologist Dr. Gerry McSweeney, the lodge was set up to help protect the rainforests and share this extraordinary natural setting with visitors.
This evening we will be treated to a fine meal of whitebait from the river, seafood from the coast, game from the forest and fresh seasonal produce, while enjoying the peaceful view from the lodge’s Riverside Restaurant. The owners will then accompany the group on a short easy after-dinner walk to discover the rainforest at night and see its glow-worms and Morepork owls, as well as the Southern Cross and Milky Way. (Overnight Lake Moeraki Wildnerness Lodge) BLD
Day 13: Sunday 23 November, Lake Moeraki
- Guided walk – freshwater life of Lake Moeraki
- Guided walk – rainforest jungle & Fiordland Crested Penguins on Robinson Crusoe Beach
- Afternoon at leisure
For those who wish, today will begin before breakfast with a short excursion in which a nature guide will introduce to you the freshwater life of Lake Moeraki. You’ll see shrimps, snails, small fish and plankton that are the building blocks of life in the lake. A short walk through the rainforest and you’ll feed a colony of tame giant long finned eels.
After breakfast back at the lodge, there will be a guided walk through the rainforest jungle to the Tasman seacoast, where you’ll encounter Fiordland Crested Penguins on Robinson Crusoe beach. You will pass through a jungle-like temperate rainforest with forest bird life, vines, tree ferns and orchids. You’ll see giant kahikatea, rimu and silver beech. We reach Robinson Crusoe Beach and sit and watch from close up small numbers of Tawaki (Fiordland Crested Penguin) crossing to and from the sea to their rainforest breeding areas and chicks. Note: subject to numbers, there will be a less arduous alternative walk, which is moderately strenuous. After our morning walk we shall have a reviving lunch of soup of the day, fresh foccacia bread, salads and a selection of meats at the lodge. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure. (Overnight Lake Moeraki Wildnerness Lodge) BLD
Queenstown, South Island - 3 nights
Day 14: Monday 24 November, Lake Moreaki – Wanaka – Arrowtown – Queenstown
- Stuarts Garden, Wanaka
- Arrowtown historic village with Landscape Architect Philip Blakely
This morning we depart Lake Moreaki for Queenstown. After a short drive along the coast, we arrive at a long one-lane bridge and cross over the Haast River into the settlement of Haast. Haast was once a construction camp for the Ministry of Works and it’s a town with a touch of the Wild West. We then leave the coast and drive past waterfalls and river scenery and climb up the Haast river valley to Haast Pass. The road snakes through the Aspiring National Park, and the vegetation becomes sparser as we travel inland.
We shall then skirt the beautiful Wanaka and Hawea lakes to the lakeside town of Wanaka, where we will stop for lunch. We shall also visit Stuarts Garden, developed around the swiftly flowing Bullock Creek which is host to a number of tame trout. The creek edge has been planted with hostas, Japanese and Siberian irises, ferns, peltiphyllum and rodgersias. Rhododendrons flourish in the habitat and are at their best in early November. The garden also boasts hellebores, primulas, meconopsis, fritillarias, paeonies and deciduous azaleas and ornamental flowering trees. Woodland walks leadup to a secluded area with a gazebo and a tunnel house with tomatoes in season, special alpines and other treasures planted in troughs outside. Behind a 100 year old cottage, is a potager backed by climbing roses and beside it a blue and white border of old fashioned flowers which complements the blue and white exterior. Another potager shaped like the sun’s rays, nestles in front. A rock garden leads down to a shade house which contains connoisseur plants. In the afternoon we skirt the Shotover River, Lake Dunstan and the Clutha River to Queenstown.
We will stop at historic Arrowtown, is a New Zealand gold rush town that faces the challenges of increased tourist visitation, development pressure and a desire to retain an historic character. Philip Blakely, a local Landscape Architect very dedicated to the well-being of Arrowtown, will help you explore this enchanting township this afternoon. Philip has worked in Arrowtown for many years and is well aware of these contrasting pressures. Through his own experiences and a presentation from the local National Trust over afternoon tea, Philip will reveal the philosophies that have directed recent works in the town and then lead a fascinating walking tour that not only highlights the excellent work that has been completed but also reveals something of the harsh conditions in which the gold-miners, especially those from China worked, by leading the group to the historic Chinese settlement at Arrowtown. (Overnight Queenstown) B
Day 15: Tuesday 25 November, Queenstown
- Routeburn Track with Landscape Architect, Philip Blakely
- Blanket Bay Lodge with Landscape Architect, Paddy Baxter
Today’s tour with Philip will assist you in understanding something of the location of Queenstown and help you to realise why this has become a place of pilgrimage for walkers, skiers and those who simply love the natural world.
Following a drive through breath-taking scenery when Philip will discuss the challenges facing land owners and managers in this area, including the invasion of the land by Gorse and Pines, you will visit the Information Centre at the commencement of the world renowned Routeburn Track. Paths here are well constructed and easy walking and participants won’t have to walk far to enjoy the beauty of the Nothofagus forest with its associated avifauna. Birds here are fearless and you may be surprised to find them pecking at your boots. While binoculars aren’t essential, by having a pair with you you will be rewarded by viewing a wealth of local birds, many of them uncommon elsewhere. A picnic lunch gives time to really appreciate and explore the scenery.
Returning along the Routeburn Road you will re-cross the delta of the Dart River and head back to Glenorchy. Here, we will be met by our second guest Landscape Architect, Paddy Baxter. Paddy is renowned in Queenstown for his dynamic approach to Landscape Design. He has worked on many of the most important sites in the queenstown area and revels in sharing his stories about his work with visitors. He is a most engaging host. Your first visit with Paddy will be to the exclusive hotel at Blanket Bay, booked out in its entirety by Bill Gates for Christmas 2012 and located on a prime position overlooking Lake Wakatipu. The hotel developer has recently begun a housing development in the surrounding hills and Paddy is involved as the Landscape Architect so exploration of recent garden work not only allows you to get a sense of New Zealand garden design at its best but also appreciate a new series of views. Back in Queenstown, Paddy will take us on a walking tour of his own works. The evening is at leisure. You might like to enjoy a visit to the Botanic Gardens directly behind your hotel before heading off for dinner (own expense). (Overnight Queenstown) BL
Day 16: Wednesday 26 November, Queenstown
- Millbrook Resort, Hills Golf Course and lunch with Paddy Baxter
- Matakauri Lodge and Remarkables Ski Area with Philip Blakely
Millbrook Resort, a few miles to the north-east of Queenstown is a beautifully planned golfing resort with which Paddy Baxter has been involved since its inception. His work here involves both broad scale and small scale, and while the contrast is significant, it proves Paddy’s ability as a designer. Gardens around individual homes are beautifully detailed and planted to compliment the cluster housing of the architecture. Golf courses abound in this country but the Hills Golf Course is special. Built as a private course with family homes through it, this course has been used for major championships and not only provides for golf but also accomodates a sculpture park. Note especially the roof garden on the club-house that makes it fit so effectively in the landscape.
The rural land between Queenstown and Arrowtown has been subject to considerable development pressure but clear planning guidelines have maintained its rural character. Paddy lives here and will explain the key issues to you on your way to lunch at his home. Views here are fabulous but so too the hospitality in a New Zealand family home. Your last two visits this afternoon are contrasts but remind us of significant aspects of the economy of southern New Zealand. The unique Matakauri Lodge with its contemporary New Zealand landscape design using predominantly native plants is situated on Lake Wakatipu, offering stunning views from every angle of the Remarkables mountain range. Accommodating skiing in New Zealand’s pristine mountain ranges has required considerable skill. Paddy has been involved in this as an ecologist, restoring the landscapes following the implementation of engineering works involved in water storage, sewerage treatment and construction works. Get ready to be chilled at the high altitudes in The Remarkables Ski Area but it is worth it to see a completely different aspect of a Landscape Architect’s work. (Overnight Queenstown) BL
Milford Sound, South Island - 1 night
Day 17: Thursday 27 November, Queenstown – Te Anau – Milford Sound
This morning we journey along the edge of Lake Wakatipu, through Kingston and Mossburn, to Te Anau, the hub of New Zealand’s fiordland region and the entry point to the Fiordland National Park. Along the way, we shall pass trout fishing rivers and high country scenery, and the small towns of Mossburn and Lumsden.
From Te Anau we continue along the Eglington Valley to the Mirror Lakes, before following the “Avenue of the Disappearing Mountain”, past Cascade Creek and Lake Gunn to The Divide. We drive through the Hollyford Valley to the Homer Tunnel, a man-made tunnel cut out of the rock wall, to emerge into the Cleddau Valley, and on to Milford Sound. This road is one of New Zealand’s most extraordinary. The first part crosses relatively mild farmland, but then we’ll ease into beech forest near the entrance to the Fiordland National Park. The rough-hewn Homer Tunnel brings us into Milford Sound, an amazing twenty-two kilometre long fiord dominated by Mitre Peak (1,692 m).
Just after 4.00 pm we depart for our overnight cruise of Milford Sound on board The Milford Mariner, which offers accommodation in private cabins with en-suite bathrooms. On this luxury vessel, we shall cruise the full length of this spectacular fiord to the Tasman Sea before anchoring for the night in sheltered Harrison Cove. As The Fiordland National Park was made a World Heritage Area by the United Nations in 1986, it will not be possible for us to step on land. You may, however, wish to go exploring with the ship’s nature guide in the tender craft and kayaks or simply relax on deck. (Overnight Cruise on Milford Mariner) BD
Queenstown, South Island - 1 night
Day 18: Friday 28 November, Milford Sound – Te Anau – Queenstown
- Time at leisure in Queenstown
- Farewell Evening meal at a local restaurant
We disembark this morning and return to Queenstown, where the remainder of the day is at leisure. You may wish to take the opportunity to visit the beautiful Queenstown Botanic Gardens. In the evening we gather for a farewell dinner at one of Queenstown’s fine local restaurant. (Overnight Queenstown) BD
Day 19: Saturday 29 November, Depart Queenstown
Our tour finishes in Queenstown. Those travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight will be transferred to Queenstown airport for their flight home to Australia. B