Day 1 : Christchurch
- Arthur's Pass National Park
After leaving Christchurch we journey into the Canterbury foothills. En
route we stop at the surreal Castle Hill boulders, before entering the
Craigieburn State Forest. Ambling for few hours over Lyndon Saddle takes us
down to Broken River amongst the beech forests on well formed tracks,
providing us an opportunity to stretch our legs. From here we go into
Arthur's Pass National Park and on the crest of the Pass, we walk the hour
up to our lodge ringed by the nearby mountains and alpine pastures. 4-6
hours walking on this day.
Day 2 : Arthur's Pass - Franz Josef
At dawn we climb into the upper basins known for their ancient snow
tussocks, hebes, alpine daisies and gentians. The glacier forces, as well as
alpine folding, are obvious in the formation of these peaks and valleys. In
the quiet of the mountain cirques, with the many high mountain passes, the
hustle of the modern world is left far behind. We rest at the highest hut in
the Park and all too soon descend to our waiting vehicle. Dropping into the
rainforests of the West Coast we travel on to Franz Josef and our next stop
over. Up to 4 hours walking.
Day 3 : Franz Josef
The power of the past glacial age is well demonstrated as we climb above
the forests that cling to the thin soils on the sides of the mountains. A
steady 4-6 hour climb takes us to one of a series of stunning viewpoints,
onto the upper ramparts of the Franz Josef Glacier, and the mountains that
border its cirque. Spread below is the coastline, sweeping in both
directions and carpeted with its unique rain forest to the shore.
Alternative easier walks for those not yet at their peak fitness are
available. 6-8 hours walking.
Day 4 : Franz Josef - Makarora Valley
Driving south we leave the coast and climb over the Haast Pass and drop
into the Makarora Valley. Here we start our three day mountain excursion as
we fly or jet boat into a real mountain hut dwarfed by the surrounding
peaks. A short walk carrying our own clothing and sleeping bag takes us to
our shelter for the next two nights. This spacious mountain hut is well
fitted out with bunks, mattresses and a wood stove. Up to 3 hours walking.
Day 5 : Makarora Valley
This day is spent exploring the valley and rivers on formed paths below the
bushline. For the adventurous, we can discover a secret mountain tarn, high
in the mountains. We are high enough to enjoy the forces of nature that have
created this landscape as we pass through the many bands of vegetation to
reach the alpine pastures above. Walks of varying duration and ability are
available. 4-8 hours walking.
Day 6 : Makarora Valley -
Reluctantly leaving this mountain refuge, we walk the three hours down to
the nearby Wilkin River to meet our transportation back to Makarora. We fly
downstream by jet boat, through the forests and back to 'civilization'. We
drive on to Wanaka and then over the Crown Range and the spectacular tussock
lands before dropping down to Arrowtown and another walk into this historic
gold-mining centre. From here we drive to Queenstown and enjoy a meal,
before exploring the town by night. 3-4 hours walking.
Day 7 : Queenstown
- Fiordland National Park
Heading southwards we drive through the vast lands at the top of Southland
and then on to Te Anau, nestled on the edge of Fiordland National Park.
After a visit we enjoy a 4-5 hour walk on the bottom of the famous Kepler
Track before driving the short distance onto Borland Lodge, our
accomomdation for the next two nights. 4-5 hours walking.
Day 8 : Fiordland National Park
After exploring the complex, we drive up the private road onto Borland
Saddle and into the Grebe Valley. Leaving our transportation we walk to
Green Lake through alpine wetlands on ancient glaciated valley floors. For
the energetic, the remainder of the day is spent walking the circle track
which drops back to Lake Monowai and the lodge. For those seeking a more
relaxed day, a walk back to the van and a drive to the lodge and some of the
shorter loop tracks before we meet again for the evening. 4-8 hours walking.
Day 9 : Te Anau -
With an early start, we drive back to Te Anau and enter into the Fiordland
National Park with its huge glaciated walls and rainforests. At the start of
the Routeburn we walk the track to Key Summit before dropping into the lower
Hollyford Valley by a seldom used track. Driving into the Darran Mountains
we will understand some of the forces of nature as we view the devastation
wrought by the huge avalanches that fall off the vertical walls. From Homer
Tunnel we drop into Milford Sound and in the early evening sail out into the
Sound and overnight on the magnificent Milford Wanderer. Enjoy an optional
kayak in the evening for those feeling fit and energetic. 3-4 Hours walking.
Day 10 : Milford Sound -
After breakfast we rejoin our van, driving back through the Homer Tunnel.
From the valley floor we begin our walk into the Gertrude Valley and on to
the spectacular Gertrude Saddle. Below us is the magnificent Milford Sound
and our accommodation of the past night. Surrounding us are peaks towering
above the valley floors. An optional walk to Lake Marion is also available
dependant upon time and weather. We retrace our route to finally arrive at
Queenstown and a final celebratory meal. 4-5 hours walking.
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