Nowhere in the world can one find such a land as New Zealand for sheer beauty and scale. Volcanoes, glaciers, high mountains, fiords, tussock lands, and geothermal springs — the country is a treasure trove of natural wonders. Our trip will concentrate on the highlights of the South Island. The South Island has some of the most dramatic scenery in the world, with towering peaks, glaciers, majestic fiords, and pristine lakes. We’ll spend all of our time here, moving about to photograph the diverse landscape and changing colors of its breathtaking beauty.
Tour Highlights~Landscape and wildlife of New Zealand
- The dramatic, moody and tempestuous West Coast
- Hike through Mount Cook National Park and enjoy the spectacular views of the expansive glaciers in Hooker Valley
- Capture the spirit of the captivating Moeraki Boulders
- Magnificent Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park
- Photograph a high country sheep station, a part of New Zealand’s economy and culture
- Victorian architecture of Dunedin and Queenstown provide wonderful settings for night photography
Note: This itinerary has been carefully constructed to assure participants the best New Zealand has to offer. However, should events arise that are beyond our control, itinerary, activities and hotel arrangements are subject to change without notice. Be assured that we will make substitutions that are as similar in quality and interest as possible.
WHAT TO EXPECT: TRIP FOCUS, ACTIVITIES, AND ACCOMMODATIONS
This trip is designed to show you New Zealand’s natural wonders with the focus on photography. We use local guides in each location, who have a wealth of information to share. Where possible, we favor lodges and smaller hotels and motels located close to natural areas, rather than larger tourist hotels located in shopping or resort areas. Accommodations are not always luxurious, but they are comfortable and clean. Meals consist of hearty buffet-style breakfasts and lunches, and either buffet dinners or set menus, usually with a choice of two or more entrees and desserts.
The trip is not strenuous and anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to take part in most activities. There will be long flights to and from New Zealand with many hours in the air. The change in time zones will add to the general travel fatigue. We will frequently hike trails ranging from easy to moderate. Some hotels do not have elevators.
Although health services are good, in some areas medical care may be several hours away. If you have any special needs or if you have any physical condition that might prevent you from fully participating, please contact Strabo International with your concerns (607-756-8676).
For more information or to register contact Strabo Photo Tour Collection: 607-756-8676 www.phototc.com
March 13-14 - U.S. – Auckland
Leave the U.S. today for New Zealand, flying across the Pacific. A day is lost en route as you cross the International Date Line. Flights need to be booked landing in Christchurch (CHC – South Island), and return from CHC. (meals on plane)
*Note: If you would like to depart earlier to rest and get over jet lag in Christchurch, Strabo will send recommendations in your first packet of pre-departure materials.
March 15 – Arthur’s Pass National Park
After early morning arrival, we depart Christchurch to Arthur’s Pass National Park, passing across the Canterbury, ending with rugged mountain scenery of the Southern Alps Arthur’s Pass Wilderness Lodge is a breath-taking place where high, often snow-capped, mountains, and mountain beech forest blend with a high country sheep station breeding Merino sheep for the renowned Icebreaker merino clothing.. Overnight ARTHUR’S PASS WILDERNESS LODGE (L, D)
March 16 – Arthur’s Pass – Punakaiki
We spend the morning in the lichen and moss festooned beech forest adjacent to the lodge before traveling along the coast, through the Paparoa National park, to Punikaiki. Visiting the famed Pancake Rocks this afternoon, we further explore this wonderful coast with a gentle walk along the Truman Track. Our stay tonight is in a dramatic coastal setting just south of Punakaiki, at PUNAKAIKI ROCKS HOTEL (B, L, D)
March 17 & 18 - Fox Glacier
Ancient forest, bush clad lakes, glistening glaciers, and impetuous rivers make Westland an area of imposing beauty. This morning we will travel down the wild and wet West Coast on avenues framed by the green lushness of rainforest. In the afternoon we will visit the famous Franz Josef and Fox Glacier regions, perhaps with excellent views of Mt. Cook.
If weather permits, you will have photo opportunities at Lake Matheson – with morning reflections of the Southern Alps, or perhaps glacier viewpoints of Fox glacier or Franz Josef Glacier in Westland National Park. WESTHAVEN LODGE (B, L, D both days)
March 19 - Lake Wanaka
Early this morning we will make a special journey to the famed Lake Moeraki and a walk to Munroe’s Beach. The landscape undergoes a dramatic change in coastal relief just south of Lake Moeraki, as we cross from the lush rain forests of the vast South- West New Zealand World Heritage Area to the arid tussock landscapes of Central Otago. Mountain lakes and dripping moss-clad beech forest will enthrall all this morning before crossing the Haast Pass, western gateway to Central Otago – a great fragmented schist plateau that now appears as a series of block mountain ranges. A region of climatic extremes, the dry core of New Zealand has much to offer the naturalist and photographer. We will stop along the shores of Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. With its shimmering, bright blue waters, Lake Wanaka is one of the largest of the southern lakes. Overnight at WYNDHAM RESORT (B, L, D)
March 20 - Queenstown
Arriving in Queenstown later this morning, you will have time for exploring on your own. Queenstown lies on the shore of Lake Wakatipu, the second largest of the southern glacial lakes. In the background is the remarkable mountain range. You can stroll through the waterfront area, visit the Government Tourist Gardens, and take a ride on the Skyline Gondola. Overnight KINGSGATE TERRACES HOTEL (B, L) (Lord of the Rings was filmed here)
March 21 & 22 - Te Anau & Milford Sound
After travelling south alongside Lake Wakatipu, the road follows the upper Mataura Valley. In this valley are located several high country sheep stations, the backbone of the New Zealand wool industry.
This morning we experience the workings of such a station, enjoy watching the mustering, shearing and the renowned sheep dogs at work. This is no tourist farm, but a family-owned and run working farm. We shall also explore, by coach, the wonderful tussocklands of the upper Nevis Valley at the back of the farm, as we are guided by the farmer. Lunch will be served in the woolshed before continuing through to the Fiordland World Heritage Area.
At times stunning, at others awesome, and in places, even tranquil, this area encompasses New Zealand’s largest national park. Valleys gouged by glaciers and lakes nestled between range-upon- range of snow-capped mountains characterize the landscape. The next day starts with an early morning excursion on a cruise of Milford Sound, the northernmost fiord in Fiordland National Park, and offers the opportunity to see New Zealand fur seals, Fiordland crested penguins, and bottlenose dolphins, as well as absolutely remarkable scenery with waterfalls, rainforest and towering mountains. Milford Sound is regarded as one of the most beautiful fiords in the world — certainly the most famous. Kipling described it as the eighth wonder of the world. Majestic mountains rise vertically from the water’s edge to over a mile high, while thread-like waterfalls plunge from hidden valleys into the ebony waters below. DISTINCTION LUXMORE, TE ANAU (B, L, D both days)
March 23 - Dunedin
Leaving the magnificent fiordland, we will drive across southern New Zealand to the coastal town of Dunedin, taking a break en route in Gore. This afternoon we will have time to explore Dunedin’s historic architecture. Overnight SOUTHERN CROSS HOTEL, DUNEDIN (B, L)
March 24 - Dunedin - Twizel
Traveling north from Dunedin we will reach the Waitaki Valley and the Mackenzie Basin. Stopping off at Moeraki this morning to photograph the renowned Moeraki Boulders scattered through the inter-tidal zone on the beach. There may also be time to admire the enjoy the Victorian architecture in the port region of Oamaru, before turning inland and traveling passed the hydro lakes to Twizel. Overnight MACKENZIE COUNTRY INN, TWIZEL (B, L, D)
March 25 - Twizel – Christchurch
We leave very early this morning and drive west to Mount Cook National Park, home of New Zealand’s tallest peak, reaching over 12,300 feet. We arrive at sunrise and have the day to enjoy and photograph the sheer majesty and grandeur of the place, the alpine vegetation, and the results of continuing glaciation with the Mueller and Hooker Glaciers. We will devote the morning to a two-and-a half-hour walk through the moraine of Hooker Valley, with magnificent views of the glaciers. We’ll have a picnic lunch at the park and use the afternoon for additional hikes and photography. This afternoon we continue our drive back to Christchurch. HOTEL RENDEZVOUS, CHRISTCHURCH (B, L, D)
March 26 - Christchurch – Home
This morning there will be free time to photograph in Christchurch, departing for the airport in the afternoon (time to be announced). Fly back home today, likely having a connection through Auckland. (B)