Kia Ora and welcome to your Pure Adrenalin trip with Topdeck! You’ll wave the North Island goodbye this morning as your journey commences by jumping aboard the inter-islander ferry across Cook Strait where the blue waters of the Marlborough Sound will greet you as if by magic - you’ll notice the change of scenery immediately. Disembarking in Picton, we discover the very reason why the Marlborough region has become so famous around the world yes, the vino! This area has one of the world’s greatest wine trails: fabulous wine, breathtaking scenery, a warm climate and relaxed people clustered in one small grape growing region. After a bite to eat we arrive at our secret Marlborough Winery for some famous NZ wine tastings. The family-owned vineyard was one of the first to be set up in this area and the passion the staff have for all facets of wine making is truly infectious. After some time enjoying this most spectacular of settings, our journey continues west over the ranges to Nelson, the sunniest region in New Zealand known best for its beaches, wineries, breweries and energetic local arts community.
Today is yours to explore the breathtaking surrounds of Nelson and whatever you’re into; it’s all here, all year! Home to three of New Zealand’s most spectacular national parks, it truly is a diverse region. From snow capped mountains to lush green forests, and rolling vineyards to turquoise waters, make sure you pack your camera today! You’ll have the opportunity to explore the stunning Abel Tasman National Park by boat*, by the ever-popular walking tracks* or from the water as you paddle in ocean kayaks* along the shoreline. For a different view, why not try an unforgettable tandem skydive*? If you would prefer to keep your feet on terra firma, there’s horse riding* and even quad biking* options available. Nelson is also the creative arts hub of New Zealand and home to a number of wonderful galleries and studios. With over three hundred working artists, you’re guaranteed to see many scattered around the lakes, on the rivers, in forest dwellings and everywhere in between! Tonight we regroup over a traditional Kiwi BBQ dinner provided by your champion Topdeck crew.
Today we head back through the Rai Valley and the sensational Marlborough Wine Region to make our first stop in Blenheim. Continuing down the coast, we try to spy New Zealand fur seals at Ohau Point before reaching our afternoon destination at Kaikoura - a friendly town that sits right at the foothills of the Seaward Kaikoura Ranges and the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Fans of seafood will certainly enjoy lunch in these parts. In fact, in the Maori language Kai = Food and Koura = Crayfish, so you know it’s good! There's even the option of meeting some marine friends with a whale watching* or dolphin* or seal swimming adventure* here, while in winter you can snuggle up with a glass of NZ's finest at a local winery. Waving Kaikoura goodbye, we continue our journey to eclectic Christchurch, the South Island’s largest city, and our base for this evening.
Day 4:Fox Glacier
The scenery will totally amaze you today as we head off across the Canterbury Plains and into the Southern Alps. Our path is only one of three that cut across these impressive mountains that form the backbone of the South Island. We’ll stop for a break at Arthur’s Pass then continue on through the Otira Gorge with waterfalls cascading overhead. Welcome to the wild West Coast as we head into the town of Hokitika for our lunch break– the Whitebait fritters are a must when in season. We’ll stop at the Jade factory and see the carvers skilfully creating works of art from the Pounamu greenstone, known as Jade, and grab the chance to purchase a souvenir pendant. Let’s hope Lake Matheson’s waters are still and the skies are clear so that we can get that famous reflection of New Zealand’s two tallest mountain peaks in its waters. This afternoon we’ll stretch our legs with an afternoon walk taking in the stunning scenery before we check into our accommodation.
Westland National Park abounds with high mountain peaks and glaciers and today we'll have a chance to walk on a flowing river of ice! A half day guided hike* is an excellent way to take a closer look at Fox Glacier as your ice guides take you alongside the glacier through rejuvenating temperate rainforest and onto the lower icefall. If you prefer to search higher on the glacier for stunning ice caves and formations take a heli-hike* onto the upper icefall and enjoy a more sedate walking pace as you explore with your ice guides and await the return of your helicopter. After lunch we will make stops for photos and short walks. A stop at Thunder Creek Falls, which flows into the Haast River amidst rainforest, highlights the beauty of this World Heritage area. We’ll break at Makarora then journey past Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea and onto our destination, the adrenalin mecca of the southern hemisphere, Queenstown, our home for next three nights! Don’t miss out on a famous Topdeck recommended Queenstown Fergburger* whilst in town the Little Lamby is always a winner.
One is never quite enough so we’ve given you two full days in Queenstown and adventure waits at every turn! Queenstown is perfect for everyone from the adrenalin junkie to the leisure seeker - there is just so much to do. Try a bungy jump* or a giant swing through a narrow canyon*, skim past canyon walls on the Shotover Jet*, pass through the breathtaking scenery of the Dart River on a jet boat safari* or for a more leisurely view take a horseback ride* through Paradise. If this is not your‘cup of tea’, enjoy the mountains and views on the numerous mountain bike trails* or hike to Ben Lomond for 360 degree views, admire Queenstown from above with a ride on the skyline gondola* or take one of the many fantastic walks Queenstown has to offer. With two full days in this ever popular resort town, it’s also a perfect opportunity to catch a glimpse of a Kiwi, why not head to the Kiwi Birdlife Park*?
Who's up for round two in all-singing-all-dancing Queenstown? Today is a free day to tick-off what you didn't have time to do yesterday, or you might just fancy kicking back and chilling by the pristine lake or at a local cafe, restaurant or bar. Life is pretty good here!
Departing Queenstown this morning we farewell this adventure playground and head to the Fiords. There will be time to stop and admire the reflection in Mirror Lake, the views down the Hollyford Valley, and we literally drive through the mountain via the Homer Tunnel and emerge back into a landscape of spectacular mountains and waterfalls. This afternoon brings a heightened enthusiasm rearing for your Milford Sound Nature Cruise and to enjoy the stunning views that have been pictured millions of times in the Fiord. Fur seals and bottlenose dolphins are often seen and, on the odd occasion the rare Fiordland Crested Penguins can also be out playing. Our afternoon cruise is an intimate look into the history and geology of the Fiord while exploring small nooks and crannies along the edges, nudging into sheer rock faces to examine flora and fauna in detail and is sure to be a real highlight!
Day 9:Lake Ohau
We make our way along Lake Wakatipu this morning bound for quaint Arrowtown. You’ll have some time to explore this historic gold mining town before tackling our next adventure. After lunch*, we leave the coach behind for just a little while this afternoon we’re using pedal power! Departing Arrowtown on our mountain bikes, your Topdeck trip leader guides you along the willow-lined Arrow River. Crossing various bridges, you’ll zig-zag across the river which is sometimes tranquil, often rushing over rocks, then widening to crystal clear pools. There’s no shortage of photo stops along the relatively gentle ride either, none more popular than the halfway mark when we arrive at the most awe-inspiring suspension bridge, it’s a destination in itself. There is certainly time to take it all in and enjoy the journey before we finish at the famous Kawarau Bridge, home of the world’s first commercial Bungy operation. Before too long it’s time to hit the road again as we continue through to the Cromwell district before we venture up and over the Lindis Pass as we witness the dramatic variation in scenery of these ranges to those we’ve encountered in the west. Our home tonight is a classic Kiwi Lakeside Lodge on the shores of Lake Ohau. After a superb homemade meal, be sure to save room for dessert - it has been a Topdeck favourite for years! There’s time for an evening stroll by the lake, or quiet drink on the deck as we watch the sun silhouette Mt Cook whilst setting to the west.
Wake up this morning to magnificent views of the mountains before you. Today we make tracks and follow the Southern Lakes hydroelectricity scheme around impressive blue water lakes with the ever-present Southern Alps as a backdrop. If the weather is right we’ll head in to Mt Cook village, there is an opportunity to take a walk in the National Park, or simply sit back and enjoy the stunning scenery. Next stop, Lake Pukaki, and a chance for some amazing photos as we gaze across the clear blue waters back to Mt Cook, known to the Maori people as Aoraki or cloud piercer hopefully no clouds in sight to obscure our view! The blue waters of Lake Tekapo greet us as we make a scenic lunch stop in the village. After lunch we make our way to the Church of the Good Sheppard and the monument to the Border Collie. On to Fairlie - situated smack in the heart of sheep country, we will learn about life on a Kiwi sheep farm and see the Collie dogs in action at our Kiwi Farm Experience the delicious homemade afternoon tea is true Kiwi Country fare. From here it’s flat going as we once again cross the Canterbury Plains to reach our final destination and say our goodbyes ... as they say in Kiwi ... it's been real-as, bro! Ka Kite Ano! Not ready to end your adventure just yet? You’re in luck - Topdeck also have numerous trips on offer Down Under! Whether it’s the sun, surf and sand of the east coast, the rugged natural beauty of the southern states or the fascinating aboriginal history of the outback, Topdeck have an Australian trip sure to interest you.