Imagine a small country blessed with more than its fair share of natural wonders, and you are imagining New Zealand. Subtropical beaches, volcanoes and spectacular thermal areas, fjords, ice-capped mountains, unique flora and fauna. Worth travelling half way around the world for? Most definitely!
Chapters Experience Holidays is one of the few British tour operators licensed by the Department of Conservation to legally operate walking holidays in New Zealand.
The best way to discover New Zealand is on foot, so we will enjoy a series of walks and sightseeing during this epic trip. Our holiday starts in Auckland, a city cradled between the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. We travel south from here to Rotorua, centre of both Maori culture and the most extraordinary thermal activity. Here there are geysers, bubbling mud pools and lakes which fizz all the colours of the rainbow. Our next stop is the Tongariro National Park situated in a spectacular region of active volcanoes. The Tongariro Crossing is amongst the greatest one-day walks anywhere in the world (this can be done as an optional extra).
From the capital, Wellington, we sail across the Marlborough Sound to Picton on South Island. After walking by Queen Charlotte Sound and visiting a vineyard we spend two nights at St Arnaud by the beautiful Nelson Lakes. Here the view from the top of Mount Robert is one of the finest in the country. We travel to Fox Glacier and follow a riverside trail to the terminal moraine, walk along Gillespie’s Beach with the chance of sighting fur seals and dusky dolphins, and take in the incredible view across Lake Matheson to the Southern Alps.
The journey over Haast Pass brings us to Queenstown. The setting, on the shores of Lake Wakatipu with the craggy ‘Remarkables’ as a back drop, is sensational. The Moke Lake Walk is often voted the best of the holiday, and an ascent of Ben Lomond is also possible.
Te Anau is our base in the Southern Lake District, from where we cruise on Milford Sound. This fjord lives up to its reputation, with dramatic cliffs, hanging valleys and waterfalls cascading into the dark waters. We then head north to spend a day exploring the area around Mount Cook. The view of New Zealand’s highest mountain set against Lake Pukaki or the Hooker Glacier is yet another highlight. Journey’s end is Christchurch; a city which has recovered with great fortitude from the earthquake of 2011. This really is a holiday of a lifetime. With our expert knowledge, we purposely, as far as possible, the excessively touristy places, and spend as much time as we can in the great New Zealand countryside, with its magnificent lakes and rivers, providing you with that exhilarating feeling of really being in wide open spaces (because you are).
Tongariro Alpine Crossing Option*
Heralded as the best one-day trek available in New Zealand, it spans the length of Mount Tongariro covering 12 miles (19.2km) and takes on average 7-8 hours to complete. This can be booked independently through a local operator as an optional extra and will be organised for you to partake in during your stay in Turangi. Price includes local guide, lunch, trekking/wet weather gear hire and return transfers from Turangi. A medium to high level fitness required. If a part of our programme, this would be a more challenging level C activity.