Whales, wine, mountains, and Maori ways
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|Trip Length||8 days/7 nights|
|Arrive/Depart||Nelson, New Zealand|
|Price||From $4,295 to $4,595|
|If you have questions about this journey or would like to receive a detailed trip brochure, call 800-445-2995 or click here.|
Day 1 (Marlborough Wine Region and Kaikoura) Meet your guide after breakfast and travel to Kaikoura, stopping en route for an exclusive afternoon wine tour in the famous Marlborough Wine Region. You might visit iconic wineries such as Cloudy Bay and Montana Brancott, or smaller boutique wineries. Dinner tonight will be at a local restaurant in the lovely coastal town of Kaikoura, your home base for the next two nights.
Day 2 (Kaikoura; whale-watching and Maori culture) This morning’s whale-watching excursion offers some of the best cetacean sighting in the Southern Hemisphere! Giant sperm whales are the stars of the show, and you might also see fur seals, dusky dolphins, orcas, and the endangered wandering albatross. This afternoon, you have a chance to join in the Maori customs and learn their ways. Try weaving with the native flax plant, and learn a song written especially for you by one of your guides. After a picnic lunch, explore traditional uses of trees and plants on a stroll down one of Kaikoura's bush walkways.
Day 3 (Arthur's Pass) After a grandly scenic drive, you arrive at your fabulous mountain lodge in the heart of the Southern Alps. The lodge has 20 miles of trails wandering through beech forests, tussock, and farm and along moss-lined streams and lakes.
Day 4 (Arthur's Pass) Depending on your energy level and interests, choose from one of three wonderful, guided excursions today: a half-day, 5.5-mile moderate hike through forest and wetlands, with stunning, photogenic views of the Southern Alps; an easier 4-hour, 2.5-mile walk to explore four special plant communities; or a 2.5-hour guided canoe trip on a glacial lake. After your day’s activities, there are more choices of what to do before dinner: join the Station Manager on a 1.5-hour to help muster sheep with the border collies and learn how to sheer sheep, or explore the forest with your naturalist guide on an easy walk.
Day 5 (Punakaiki) Catch the midday TranzAlpine scenic train to the west coast town of Greymouth, and if you like, ride at least part of the way in an open-air viewing carriage as you descend through lush beech rainforest to the coastal Punakaiki region. You’ll spend the night at the Punakaiki Resort, situated between the beachfront and the hills of the Paparoa National Park, and just a stone’s throw away from the famous Punakaiki Rocks and Blowholes.
Day 6 (Punakaiki) A special guest, naturalist and lodge owner André Gygax, joins us today to share his extensive knowledge of South Island flora and fauna and take us to the famous Pancake Rocks. In the right conditions, ocean swells thunder into caverns beneath the rocks and huge water spouts blast skyward through the blowholes for a truly spectacular sight. André will also take us to the Punakaiki Caves and Fox River Caves (bring a flashlight!), Razor Back Canyon, and some of his favorite, secret lunch spots.
Day 7 (Nelson) After breakfast we travel northeast along the Buller River through the breathtakingly beautiful Buller Gorge back to Nelson, with stops along the way for lunch and sightseeing.
Day 8 (Departures home) After breakfast today, catch your transfer to the airport for flights home.