Explore New Zealand’s rugged South Island in pure comfort and style. This is where the world meets the wilderness.
Delve into Fiordland and get lost in the tangle of the islands dramatic yet beautiful wilds. The untouched deep south offers true escapism and is simply waiting for you to get under its surface. Access some of the islands most remote reaches by helicopter and private boat for truly exclusive experiences. Be privy to one of the world’s rarest wildlife encounters as you spot wild kiwi on the beach on Stewart Island. Immerse yourself into age old Maori cultural practices and come away with a deeper connection to life of this land before time.
Day 1 – Arrival in Nelson
Welcome to Nelson! On arrival, you will be met and transferred to your accommodation. Nelson is home to many local and boutique style vineyards.
Nelson Tasman is an extraordinary, vibrant region where art and businesses thrive together among a stunning natural landscape. Nelson Tasman is renowned for its stunning natural landscapes, with diverse geography capturing everything from long golden beaches to untouched forests and rugged mountains.
Settle into your accommodation. The Waters is a luxurious boutique bed & breakfast dramatically set above the turquoise Tasman Bay, in the heart of the Nelson Wine region. Private, appointed accommodation suites offer spectacular unspoilt panoramic views over the bay to the east and snow-capped Mount Arthur to the west. Enjoy the retreat while having superb access to some of the most beautiful landscapes in New Zealand. Here you will find relaxation, comfort and all the amenities you could want in a tranquil, contemporary environment. (B)
2 nights at The Waters – Suite or similar
Day 2 - Abel Tasman National Park
This morning, you will be taken out on a Waka (M?ori canoe) at sunrise for a truly unique cultural experience. Waka are the living expression of our t?puna (ancestors) who sailed the Pacific Ocean for thousands of years. As the only form of transport across oceans and waterways, waka were vital to New Zealand’s travel and trade.
By paddling in your larger double-hulled (waka tuarua) or smaller single-hulled outrigger canoes (waka ama), you share in New Zealand’s treasured heritage. Waka is an inclusive experience where everyone can feel the joy of working as part of a team. We begin and end all our trips with a Maori blessing (karakia) on the beach for protection over the water. You will learn the etiquette (tikanga) associated with waka, before becoming familiar with the boat and embarking on our journey (haerenga).
After your sunrise waka tour, you will head out to experience Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand’s smallest national park, which is perfectly formed for relaxation and adventure. Here, inviting sandy beaches fill the spaces between trees and tide line. Crystal clear streams tumble down mossy valleys to join the ocean. Granite and marble formations fringe the headlands, which are cloaked in regenerating native forest.
Access is by water taxi to Medlands Beach in Bark Bay, and walking through an ever changing forest of silver fern, strangely twisted Manuka or kanuka and beech trees and under large podocarp trees alongside Falls River, then over a swing bridge on to Torrent Bay, Cleopatras Pools or Pitt Head. This journey interprets the less obvious features, such as the early settler activity, as well as Maori history and the endless stories that abound here, especially from the rich variety of vegetation, birds and aquatic life. (B,L)
Day 3 – Murchison
Set off on a scenic drive inland to Murchison. Your journey today, will be one of your most scenic, uninterrupted by towns, as the road follows farmland and native forest. At times, this is quite rugged and unlike anything you would see in the coastal towns.
Murchison is known for its numerous rivers – the Gowan, Mangles, Matiri, Glenroy, Matakitaki, Maruia and the mighty Buller.
Stop enroute for lunch at a local winery with your meal prepared from fresh local produce and of course, local wine.
Check in to your accommodation at Maruia River Retreat. Contemporary renovations formed a carefully considered backdrop for the properties ethos of simple, fresh, essential basics executed with true attention to detail. Providing food, fire, shelter, water, exercise, pure clean air, and comfort, Maruia offers all the ingredients for a perfect retreat.
The terraces by the river’s edge, are where Maruia truly becomes a haven with Idyllic views of the Maruia River and Estate gardens. The beds and furnishings have been curated for ultimate comfort and relaxation, with thorough attention to detail, creating a delightful designer escape. (B,L,D)
2 nights Maruia River Retreat – Luxe Villa or similar
Day 4 - Maruia River
Immerse yourself in New Zealand as nature intended. We offer all sorts of adventure on the estate, including bush, river & bird walks, fly fishing and more. Surrounded by 500 acres of exquisite native beech forests, rugged mountain ranges, gardens and terraces, Maruia Retreat is an extensive natural estate nestled alongside the magnificent Maruia River.
The Estate showcases its beauty through the 11km of nature trails and mountain biking tracks found on the property. In close proximity to The Lodge, both Braeburn and Lyell tracks are perfect for guests wanting to explore the glorious inner West Coast region. The day is yours to curate your own adventure with your guide. (B,L,D)
Day 5 – Stewart Island
This morning, you will be collected from your accommodation and driven to Christchurch Airport, where you will fly to Stewart Island via Invercargill.
Stewart Island is known as the ‘land of glowing skies’. You will land on the largest island National Park in New Zealand with approximately 85% of the island reserved as Department of Conservation land.
On arrival to Stewart Island, you will be met by your local guide. Picturesque Stewart Island is well off the beaten track, but just 30kms (19 miles) from the southern tip of New Zealand’s South Island. Most of the Island is part of the Rakiura National Park with settlement mainly confined to Oban, the only township. The island’s densely forested hills, tiny population and untouched coastline of rocky outcrops and creamy golden sand beaches make it a natural refuge for marine and bird life and a wonderful destination for people who value nature and wild places.
During your time here, your friendly guide will provide an insight into Stewart Island’s community, history and environment. Unspoiled, incredibly beautiful and steeped in stories of Maori legend, Stewart Island is well worth this informative introduction. There is plenty of time for photo stops and short walks along the way. Highlights include the Rakiura National Park entrance at Lee Bay, Halfmoon and Horseshoe Bays and views of Paterson Inlet from Observation Rock.
At dusk, depart from Stewart Island’s Halfmoon Bay in our catamaran for a cruise across Paterson Inlet to Little Glory Cove. During the cruise pass Ulva Island (a predator-free sanctuary) and learn about Stewart Island’s rich history. Once at Little Glory Cove, disembark onto a wharf at the southern part of the peninsula known as The Neck. The walk, led by your nature guide, is on a well-formed track across the peninsula, through spectacular coastal forest to a secluded sandy beach. As dusk sets in and daylight diminishes, venture by torchlight through the native forest with the stars and forest night sounds around you. The walk will take about 45 minutes one-way and the track emerges on to Ocean Beach. This wide sandy beach is where wild kiwi are often found feeding among the grasses and seaweed. Here in the darkness, you will get to see the Southern brown kiwi (Rakiura Tokoeka) – often searching for food. Afterwards, retrace your steps through the forest to Little Glory Wharf for your catamaran ride back to Oban township on Stewart Island. Transfer to your accommodation.
Nestled in native bush on a sunny hillside, Stewart Island Lodge offers a peaceful sanctuary. Located just 5 minutes walk from the village centre, this rustic and relaxed bed and breakfast is private and secluded with commanding views of Halfmoon Bay and the surrounding ocean. There are sweeping views of Halfmoon Bay and the ocean beyond. Its grounds are home to many native birds including kaka (native parrots).
Relax and unwind in one of the six rooms. Every room has a stunning outlook and opens directly onto an expansive shared balcony. The property’s terrace offers sweeping views of the gardens and ocean beyond, providing an idyllic place for contemplation and relaxation. During cooler weather, relax in the communal guest lounge and admire the vistas over the bay. (B)
2 nights Stewart Island Lodge – King Room or similar
Day 6 - Stewart Island
This morning you will meet your local guide Ulva. Ulva is actually named after the Island. Ulva is a direct descendant of the first Maori peoples of Stewart Island and is passionate and deeply knowledgeable about this special place. Ulva and her team will offer you a unique experience; learning about native and endemic flora, fauna and wildlife from a Maori and Stewart Island perspective.
The rock alcove at Mine Bay became the canvas for one of the most extraordinary contemporary artworks New Zealand has ever seen. Sculpted over the course of four years and completed in 1980, Matahi led a team of four artists, Jono Randell, Te Miringa Hohaia, Dave Hegglun and Steve Myhre, to create a spectacular carving of Ngatoroirangi on the rock face.
Tonight, you will be treated to a gourmet 5-course degustation dinner with paired wines.The dishes may include local cuisine such as Paua, Muttonbird, Crayfish & of course Blue Cod. (B,L,D)
Day 7 - Lake Te Anau
This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight back to Invercargill which is approx. 20mins. Your journey will be by way of the Southern Scenic Route. You will pass through several small farm towns, as you make your way north, including Wairaki, Clifden & Otautau. As you get closer to Fiordland, the mountains will get more dramatic as you get the sense you are somewhere very special.
The picturesque township of Te Anau is the main visitor base for the glacier-carved wilderness that is Fiordland National Park. Fiordland was carved by glaciers over 100,000 years. Waterfalls cascade into deep black fiords, ancient rainforest untouched by man cling to mountains, whilst shimmering lakes and granite peaks look as they did a thousand years ago.
From Te Anau, you will continue through local farmland as you reach Cabot Lodge, your home for the next three nights.
With 2000 acres of farmland bordering the Fiordland National Park and overlooking Lake Manapouri, this iconic property showcases the awe-inspiring landscape of New Zealand’s untouched deep south. Located at the centre of Cathedral Peaks Station and bordering the Fiordland National Park, Cabot Lodge provides the luxury of seclusion.
Each of the lodge suites are separated by paved walkways enclosing a charming courtyard with outdoor fireplace for al fresco dining. The exquisitely-appointed main living area and two separate sun-drenched patios provide unobstructed views of the farm, Lake Manapouri and the surrounding mountains. You will instantly feel at home, lazing on the sumptuous day beds, watching the sun setting over the water from our outdoor patios, and soaking in the clawfoot bathtubs while gazing out over the surrounding mountains.
Each evening, enjoy pre dinner drinks and canapes before a delicious three course dinner. (D)
3 nights Cabot Lodge – Lodge Suite or similar
Day 8 – Fiordland
Today you will set off for a fantastic Fiordland experience that truly does have it all. Begin with a spectacular helicopter ride to Mount Luxmore, enjoying a birds-eye view of the hidden lakes and beech forests that dot the landscape en-route. You’ll touch down off the Kepler Track, so you can take in the wild beauty of this high alpine area away from the crowds. Admire the golden tussock fields and unique flora – and did we mention the views! From here, you’ll look out over the township, across Lake Te Anau and Fiordland’s World Heritage wilderness.
Next, you’ll meet up with the Kepler Track and hike a well-formed, easy going downhill section. Walk past towering limestone bluffs and through a changing rainforest catching glimpses of Lake Te Anau as you descend. Once you reach the sandy Brod Bay, you will be collected by a water taxi for the boat ride back to Te Anau. This part of the day offers the perfect way to finish the journey you’ve just been on, with the boat cruise making an enjoyable, relaxing end to your Kepler adventure.
This afternoon, head out and explore the farm at Cabot Lodge. Cathedral Peaks Station has the privileged position of bordering the Fiordland National Park and recognised by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site. Cathedral Peaks Station is home to sheep, deer, cattle, beehives, pet lambs and a miniature pony. The property provides fresh produce daily to Cabot Lodge.
The topography of Cathedral Peaks Station allows for 360 degree views of Fiordland and there are a number of walks for guests of all fitness levels to enjoy while on the property. You can climb to the highest peak of the farm to a seated lookout for a well-deserved rest and breathtaking views, or wander down to the secluded jetty on the peaceful Waiau River for a romantic picnic. Enjoy a 4WD tour of the property as you visit the beehives, feed the horses or pet lambs, depending on the season, and if you want to, you can even learn how to crack a whip! (B,L,D)
Day 9 – Lake Te Anau
This place is one of our favourite places to go. This is true escapism. Feel as though you’re stepping back in time to an untouched wilderness, home to one of the oldest huts in Fiordland. You’ll have the opportunity to hand-feed native eels, spot numerous mountain-bred rainbow and brown trout and spend time exploring and soaking up this special place.
Start with a private boat charter on scenic Lake Te Anau, you then come ashore for a short hike through lush beech forests to Lake Hankinson, a small glacial lake that ‘time forgot’.
Venture further into Fiordland on a second boat and enjoy the mesmerising views of the surrounding landscape (and catch some fish if you want to), before reaching Hankinson Hut, one of the oldest backcountry huts in Fiordland National Park. Enjoy a gourmet platter lunch in the hut before the best way to end your day: a scenic helicopter flight. On the return helicopter trip, you’ll love flying over the Takahe Wilderness area, seeing unique rock formations and taking in an aerial view of the vastness of Fiordland. (B,L,D)
Day 10 – Queenstown, Departure
Departing Cabot Lodge, travelling through local farmland, you will pass through several small towns including Five Rivers & Kingston. As you get closer to Queenstown you will follow Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand’s longest lake – this will be a highlight of your journey today as you make your way to Queenstown airport for your onward journey. (B)
- Return airport transfers
- 9 nights accommodation
- Meals as per the itinerary
- Entrance fees and national park fees
- Private transportation
- Services of an expert local guide
- Return flights to/from Stewart Island
- Flight to Invercargill & Christchurch – Economy Class
- Helicopters as per the itinerary
- Water taxis as per the itinerary
- International and domestic airfares not mentioned above
- Optional excursions
- Travel and medical insurance
- All services, meals other than those indicated above
- Any changes to the proposed and confirmed program.
- All items of a personal nature e.g. drinks, laundry, telephone calls, tips etc.
**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.
* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.
* A minimum of 2 adults is required to guarantee this departure.
A non-refundable deposit of $1000 AUD per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.