The ultimate South Island multi-sport adventure—custom-designed for MTS!
With its many glorious rivers, fjords, mountains, lakes, and glaciers, the South Island’s rugged West Coast is an active traveler’s dream. Our itinerary is specifically designed to let you experience the myriad of adventures this region has to offer, but at a pace that lets you fully enjoy your surroundings. Your one-of-a-kind journey begins in Blenheim, on the South Island, where you’ll enjoy a day in the Marlborough wine country. You’ll take a hike at Fox Glacier, explore the remote Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area by jetboat and scenic helicopter flight, hike the famous Queen Charlotte Track, go white-water rafting in Buller Gorge, picnic below dramatic Rob Roy Glacier, and kayak on unspoiled Okarito Lagoon. But you’ll also have the chance to unwind at exclusive lodges and out-of-the-way hamlets, taste world-class sauvignon blanc and pinot noir wines, and encounter rare fJiordland crested penguins. Experience the singular beauty and true essence of the West Coast, as only our expert, local guide can show it to you.
Moderate hiking, jet boat rides, scenic helicopter rides, whitewater rafting, lagoon kayaking, sea kayaking and glacier hiking
- Experience the singular beauty of the West Coast on a one-of-a-kind journey designed by our seasoned local guide
- Come face-to-face with shimmering walls of ice on a half-day hike at Fox Glacier and a day hike in Mt. Aspiring National Park
- Enjoy exhilarating adventures like a rafting trip through the Buller Gorge and kayaking on unspoiled Okarito Lagoon
- Hike for 2 days on the iconic Queen Charlotte Track, with a stay at legendary Furneaux Lodge in Queen Charlotte Sound
- Explore the remote and beautiful Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area by jetboat, wilderness hike, and scenic helicopter flight
- Sea kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park
Duration: 11 days Start Location: Blenheim End Location: QueenstownDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Welcome to Wine Country, Blenheim
Our New Zealand adventure begins in Blenheim in the morning, where a Mountain Travel Sobek representative will meet you outside the arrival area of the airport and transfer you directly to our first winery visit. Blenheim is the doorway to the renowned Marlborough wine country, famous for its excellent sauvignon blancs. The region currently has 23,600 hectares of land planted with grapes primarily located within the Wairau Valley, although over the last decade viticulture has also spread southeast into the smaller, slightly cooler Awatere Valley.
Today we will get to see behind the scenes with a tour through wineries and a selection of special tastings along the way. After a morning of stunning wines it's time to sit down and relax with lunch at one of the winery restaurants. Enjoy fresh local produce and local wines in a delightful setting.
We will then return to the hotel before heading out for a welcome dinner at a nearby restaurant.
Day 2 : The Start of the Queen Charlotte Track
Arriving in Picton, there is time to stroll around the town before boarding a boat that takes us across Queen Charlotte Sound to Ships Cove, where we set out on our hike on the Queen Charlotte Track. We begin walking in a lush coastal forest preserve of tree ferns, nikau palms, and other plants along the Queen Charlotte Track until we reach tonight's accommodation, Furneaux Lodge.
The lodge looks out over the calm, clear water of the bay, embraced by 800 hectares of virgin native forest, unchanged since Captain Cook's first visit to the inlet in 1769. Part of the beauty of this historic destination is the isolation—no roads lead to Furneaux Lodge.
(30mins driving 18 miles) & (4-5 hours hiking 9 miles.)
Day 3 : Queen Charlotte Track
After a good breakfast, we'll walk to Punga Cove to take in some great views of the Marlborough Sound before taking a boat ride around Queen Charlotte Sound and back to Picton. The Punga Loop section of the track generally follows the coastline around Endeavour Inlet, much of which consists of regenerating native bush, with a predominance of manuka, kanuka and five finger.
Once back in Picton, we'll board our vehicle and begin our journey to Nelson. Situated at the top north-west of the South Island, it is the sunniest region in New Zealand. Nelson's diverse geography captures everything from the long golden beaches to untouched forests and rugged mountains. Spend the late afternoon exploring Nelson before a delicious dinner.
(2 hours driving, 3-4 hours hiking—7 miles.)
Day 4 : Abel Tasman National Park
Today we have an early morning start as we drive to the spectacular Abel Tasman National Park for a day of sea kayaking. Once there we board a water taxi and head towards the northern beach of Onetahuti.
From there we paddle to Tonga Island and its flourishing seal colony. Enjoy the beauty of these sleek black mammals in their natural environment. Tides permitting, we can explore the spectacular Tonga Arches, enchanting Shag Harbour, or head south to Bark Bay followed by a lazy drift on Falls River. We'll find a dreamlike golden sand beach—the perfect spot for our picnic lunch. As the sea breeze builds, we'll sail back to the anchorage to be met by the water taxi, which will take us back to Marahau before we return to Nelson for the evening.
(2.5 hours driving—80miles, 4-5 hours paddling)
Day 5 : Rafting on the Buller River
Leaving Nelson we head west along the Wairau Valley to the town of Murchison. After donning our wetsuits we drive to the put in for our class III-IV raft trip through the Buller Gorge. We experience exhilarating whitewater as the Buller River surges through the confines of granite gorges with lush beech forest above. The relaxing pools provide time to take in the rugged West Coast scenery through which we travel.
Back in our vehicle, we follow the river towards the West Coast. If we have time we'll explore the rugged coastline of Cape Foulwind. The coastline stretches for 500 miles, but you’ll never have to worry about crowds—only 40,000 people live in the entire region!
If time allows, we'll take a 1.5 hour coastal walk from Cape Foulwind south to Tauranga Bay, passing along the edge of an escarpment, undulating grazing pasture, a sandy beach, and granite bluffs. The walk offers panoramic views of the cape and the rugged coastline, and a side track leads to the Cape Foulwind lighthouse.
(1.5 hours hiking—2 miles, 2 hours Class III-IV rafting, 3 hours driving—142 miles)
Day 6 : Punakaiki- Pancake Rocks & Blowholes
Continuing south, we follow the coastline with impressive coastal views of the Tasman Sea on the ocean side, and spectacular mountain views of the Southern Alps inland. Stopping at Punakaiki, we take a stroll around the limestone formations known as the Pancake Rocks before continuing on to the town of Hokitika. Turning East, we head inland to the foothills of the Southern Alps and take a stroll through the spectacular Hokitika River gorge.
Returning to Hokitika, to check into our accommodations, we have the option of exploring artisan stores around the town, many of which include carvings of jade (known locally as greenstone) sourced locally from the remote, steep rivers that drain the Southern Alps. You’re also free to take a relaxing stroll along the wild beach adjacent to the accommodation.
(3-4 hours hiking—4 miles, 2.5 hours driving—90 miles)
Day 7 : Explore Okarito Lagoon by Kayak and Foot
Back on the coast road we continue south to the seaside hamlet of Okarito. Kayaks offer a wonderful way to explore the Okarito Lagoon, allowing us to enjoy the flora, fauna and scenic grandeur of New Zealand's largest unmodified coastal wetland, covering more than 3240 hectares of shallow open water. The lagoon is well known for its outstanding avifauna (over 70 species of birds have been recorded here), and is a common feeding ground for kotuku (white heron) and royal spoonbill, both of which breed in the nearby Waitangiroto Nature Reserve.
Back on dry land, we put on our hiking shoes for the afternoon and take a beautiful walk through lush rainforest on a trail above the ocean. This hike gives you a true appreciation of the incredible diversity of the area. To the west you have views of the wild coastline, while turning east the glaciated Southern Alps tower dramatically above the rainforest. On a clear day you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Mount Cook (known as Aoraki in Maori), New Zealand’s highest peak, with Mount Tasman on its flank.
(2.5 hours driving—85 miles, 2-3 hours paddling, 3 hours hiking—6 miles)
Day 8 : Hike on Fox Glacier
After breakfast we take a 3-hour glacier hike on famous Fox Glacier. At 8 miles, Fox Glacier is the longest of the awe-inspiring glaciers of New Zealand's West Coast. Our guide leads us on a walk beside the river bed to the glacier terminus, from which you will walk uphill for around 30 minutes to reach the edge of the ice. At this point you are outfitted with instep crampons specially designed for these ice conditions, and you follow the ice steps cut by the guides. The route takes you onto the ice amongst crevasses and ice ridges and leads you onto the middle of the glacier for spectacular views of the icefall and lower glacier.
We then drive south, stopping for a walk around Lake Matheson. At Lake Matheson, nature has combined exactly the right ingredients to create truly stunning reflections of New Zealand's highest peaks, Aoraki (Mount Cook) and Mount Tasman.
(3 hours glacier hiking, 25 minutes driving—15 miles)
Day 9 : Wilderness adventure into New Zealand World Heritage Area and Mount Aspiring National Park
Leaving glacier country, we bid the West Coast farewell and head inland following the Haast River before climbing up to Haast Pass. After crossing the divide we arrive at Makarora, where we’ll stop for our next adventure. Boarding a helicopter, we enjoy a spectacular flight that take us deep into Mount Aspiring National Park, and into the heart of the 2.7 million hectare South West New Zealand World Heritage Area (translated into Maori as Te Wahipounamu: the place of greenstone jade).
Once the helicopter disappears from the skies above we have ample time to enjoy this incredibly remote and beautiful area. We hike alongside the Wilkin River through lush rainforest before meeting our jet boat for an exhilarating ride back to Makarora.
Back in the vehicle we soon enter the Southern Lakes District, an area where deep blue bodies of water are surrounded by large snow capped mountains. Following the shores of Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea, we arrive at the idyllic town of Wanaka, nestled on the shores of the Lake Wanaka.
(3-4 hours hiking, 4 hours driving—163 miles)
Day 10 : Rob Roy Glacier, Mount Aspiring National Park
The drive up the Matukituki Valley to Mount Aspiring National Park is awe-inspiring. We’ll hike up Mount Aspiring National Park’s Matukituki Valley to the Rob Roy Glacier. On this spectacular trek—one of the best day hikes on the South Island—you’ll discover why Kiwi filmmaker Peter Jackson chose this region as the setting for The Lord of the Rings. Hiking up a narrow glacial valley, we’ll take in views of tumbling rivers, towering snowfields, and lofty mountain peaks. We’ll travel through forest to a dramatic alpine cirque with fabulous views of the Rob Roy Glacier towering overhead. After lunch, we’ll return to the trailhead for a drive back into Wanaka.
(4-6 hours hiking—12 miles, 1 hour driving—62 miles, 1,312' elevation gain / loss)
Day 11 : Depart Queenstown
We journey to Queenstown where we’ll have a relaxed breakfast, and one last opportunity to look around the town before heading out to the airport. From Queenstown you'll fly back to Auckland and connect with your homeward-bound flights. Or choose to stay on a bit to enjoy one of these great options:
Option 1: Queenstown is a lovely place to spend some time. It’s an incredibly scenic town located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu with spectacular mountain views. In addition to the scenery, it is renowned as the adventure capital of the world due to the many adventurous activities on offer. We highly recommend spending a few extra days here after the trip and are happy to help you organize accommodation and activities that appeal to you.
Option 2: Continue your New Zealand adventure with the our Southern Beauty trip, a 7-day exploration of the Queenstown area with a 3-day wilderness hike into the Hollyford Valley. If you choose this option you will have a full day on Day 11 of this trip to participate in your choice of activities in Queenstown before starting your next adventure.
DATES: Best time to go: January - February, December Departures: Dec 3 - 13, 2014 Feb 4 - 14, 2015 Dec 2 - 12, 2015 Jan 6 - 16, 2016 Feb 3 - 13, 2016
$5,695 (10-16 members)
$1,100 single supplement
$5,895 (10-16 members)
$1,200 single supplement
Marlborough Vintners HotelBlenheim
Surrounded by vineyards in the heart of Sauvignon Blanc country, Marlborough Vintners Hotel in Blenheim is your cuisine and wine destination when travelling to Marlborough. This boutique vineyard accommodation and restaurant is set in 6 acres of grounds showcasing the tranquility of the vines.
Each suite is complete with all the amenities and facilities you would expect such as King size beds, Towelling Robes, a spacious bathroom with handmade natural amenities from a local supplier, DVD player, TV, a great range of complimentary DVD’s for loan, private patio and a small kitchenette with tea and coffee making facilities. High speed wireless broadband access is also available.
Furneaux LodgeQueen Charlotte Sound
Nestled at the foot of Mount Furneaux in the outer reaches of the Queen Charlotte Sound, and surrounded by 2000 acres of virgin forest, Furneaux Lodge, built in the early 1900's, is set on 3 acres of the flattest and most picturesque scenery in the Marlborough Sounds region.
The Hikers Cabins are secluded private bunk rooms hidden in among the trees. The Hikers Cabins have shared bathrooms.
Mercure Monaco ResortNelson
The Hotel has 20 boutique rooms and all rooms offer distinctive interior decor, queen size beds, en suite bathroom, tea and coffee facilities, Sky TV, telephone, writing desk and high-speed internet. Each room varies in style and size. The spacious lounge lobby is just the place to relax at the end of the day with a fine wine or local lager.
Hotel rooms each feature elegant furnishings and a superior standard of comfort with views of colourful cottage gardens and Nelson's mountain range or the Waimea Inlet.
Westhaven MotelFox Glacier
The Westhaven, a new and modern property that is centrally located in the Fox Glacier township. Epitomising luxurious, stylish, contemporary accommodation, we provide high levels of service. All rooms at The Westhaven are fitted out to a very high standard and are ideal for the discerning traveler, flowing with touches that will both delight you and ensure your stay is a comfortable one.
Situated on New Zealand's wild West Coast, 30 minutes north of Greymouth and 300m south of the famous Pancakes Rocks and Blowholes, the Resort is surrounded by the Paparoa National Park and is only a stone's throw from the beach. Spacious, modern studio units all with ensuite bathrooms and either an ocean or garden view.
Grand Mercure Oakridge Resort Lake Wanaka is a 4 star hotel set in a stunning mountain landscape offering majestic views overlooking the Southern Alps. The resort features heated rock pools, seven hot tubs, gymnasium, sauna, the Sanctuary Day Spa and Restaurant to provide guests with a unique and relaxing experience.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Adrian grew up in New Zealand, where he began guiding river trips in 1986 while still in high school. Becoming a river guide was a natural progression for a kid who spent most of his spare time training for national and international competitions in whitewater slalom and downriver racing. His career guiding rafts and safety kayaking has taken him all around New Zealand, as well as to the US, Nepal, Canada, Chile and Ecuador, on trips ranging from the most challenging class V rivers to remote expedition-style trips. He first guided for MTS in 1997 on the Bio Bio River in Chile. In addition to river guiding, Adrian has worked as a heli-ski guide, a hiking guide, a glacier guide and a ski patroller. Adrian operated his own heli-rafting business, Rivers Wild, from 2000 to 2008. The company specialized in taking guests into New Zealand’s most remote and wild rivers. Adrian feels very fortunate to have shared so many amazing experiences with the people he has guided in wild and beautiful places. His favorite part of his job is seeing the look on guests’ faces when they’re having a wonderful experience, especially in the stunning settings of his native country. He is patiently waiting for his two young sons to grow up so they too can join him on fun adventures. Over the years Adrian has called many places home -- right now they are Queenstown, New Zealand and Truckee, California. He holds an undergraduate degree in Geography and a MBA in Sustainable Business Management.