In 8 days, you’ll learn the ropes of a range of new outdoor alpine activities in the South Island of New Zealand, discovering unforgettable winter landscapes following the paths of early NZ mountaineering pioneers as you go. We’ve included a fun and action-packed line up that will leave you feeling challenged and inspired from start to finish, all while putting your outdoor education skills to the test in a real-life setting. From Queenstown to Christchurch, this journey covers everything from nordic skiing, cycling, snowshoeing, avalanche rescue, hiking, jet boating, a visit to the Sir Edmund Hilary museum at Aoraki/Mt Cook Village and even building your own snow cave. This tour has been designed to be human powered, so you travel as much as possible by foot and bike to discover the wonders of the Southern Alps. As Sir Edmund Hillary once said; “you don't have to be a hero to accomplish great things”, so let's get out there and enjoy it!
To determine the grade of a particular adventure we consider a number of factors. These include the condition of the terrain, the altitude and the length of the trip. Cycling, trekking, cross country skiing and snow shoeing all require some physical exertion. However, these are all conducted at your own comfortable pace and ability level.
After the months of planning and preparation the wait is finally over! You will need to check in at the International Airport 2 hours prior to your flight.
On arrival you will be met at the airport by your guide and transferred to our centrally located hotel. Your guide will run through a full trip briefing and team introduction before we'll prepare our first group meal of the trip together. Once the sun has set, we will embark on a night hike to the top of Bob's Peak for some jaw dropping views over the township under a stary night sky.
Walk: approx 1.5-2 hours
After breakfast, we get set up on our bikes and then head out along the Queenstown trails to the historic gold mining village or Arrowtown. Here we learn about the history of a Chinese gold mining settlement before following the Arrow River trail to arrive at the famous Kawarau Bungy bridge to watch the bungy jumpers plunge towards the deep blue Kawarau River. We then return to Queenstown along the cycle trails following the shore of Lake Wakatipu.
Once back in Queenstown we embark on an exhilarating jet boat ride of the narrow Kawarau and Shotover Rivers complete with 360 degree spins. When we return to the pier, we visit the Underwater Observatory to get up close and personal with rainbow trout and other lake life.
Cycle Distance: 50km
Today we pack up and head to Mt Pisa Snow Farm where we are kitted out with our skis and snow gear. We’ll receive instruction about how to nordic ski from our experienced guides and we’ll have plenty of time in the morning to practice our technique.
We’ll then set out on a traverse to a remote backcountry hut for a picnic lunch, you’ll experience the stunning alpine environment as you gradually climb and descend the rolling hills of the Pisa Range.
In the late afternoon, we drive down to Cardrona where we can see the iconic hotel, store and post office. We then hop on our bikes for a downhill ride to Wanaka, taking about 1 hour. We arrive at our accommodation in the early evening and prepare another group meal together.
Nordic Skiing: 4-5 hours
Cycling Distance: 25km
Enjoy a morning of mountain biking through Sticky forest where a fun network of single track winds its way through Pine Forest in Wanaka’s township. There are over 20 tracks to choose from; from the technical switchbacks of Stumpy and Yumpts, to the beautiful berms of Venus, to Crankin' Fine's legendary uphill corkscrew, these trails are expertly designed to be enjoyed by beginners and pros.
We then leave Wanaka and drive over the Lindis Pass to Tekapo. We then get fitted for our snowshoes and take a short, scenic drive around the lake to Mt Gerald Station. A 3 hour snowshoe hike brings us to the exclusive and remote Rex Simpson Hut that we have to ourselves for the night.
In the evening, we can enjoy a hot drink beside the pot belly stove as we help prepare a tasty dinner. We watch the sun set behind the alps and enjoy spectacularly clear displays of our Southern Hemisphere stars in the “dark sky reserve”.
Cycle Distance: 20-30km
Snowshoe: 3 hours
Today we put our snowshoes back on and trek along a 6km ridge top nicknamed ‘Snake Ridge’ that was formed by ice-age glaciation to the top of Beuzenberg Peak, climbing 770m to an altitude of 2073m. From here you can see the East Face of Mount Cook dominating the western skyline.
We admire the views from the summit and return to Rex Simpson Hut the same way.
Our guides will teach us avalanche rescue techniques and we will practice with use of avalanche transceivers, snow probes and dig snow pits to understand snow packs. We even have the chance to work up a sweat and build our own snow caves.
We enjoy a second night at Rex Simpson hut with more well deserved hearty food and amazing star gazing.
Hike/Snowshoe: 4-8 hours
We put our snowshoes back on one more time and spend the morning exploring the Two Thumb Range. We explore the ice-covered streams, and snowy valleys before starting the decent back to Tekapo.
We then drive to Mt Cook Village. The backdrop of a snow covered Aoraki/Mt Cook (NZ’s highest peak) against turquoise waters is a sight you’ll never forget. After lunch, we head to the World Heritage area, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park and enjoy one of a number of walks determined by the weather and snow conditions.
Walks could include a hike up to the Red Tarns or along the amazing glacial Hooker valley to admire the alpine environment, other options include a walk to see Tasman Glacier and to traverse alongside the lateral moraine. Here we learn about the striking glacial geomorphology in the region and witness the very landforms carved by recent glaciation.
Hike/Snowshoe: 5-6 hours
This morning we wake up under the towering peaks of the Southern Alps and enjoy another walk to view the huge glaciers of the Tasman or Hooker Valleys, depending on where we walked yesterday.
We then drive to Twizel to embark on one of the most challenging sections of the Alps to Ocean Trail (an off-road cycle trail that heads 300km from Mt Cook to the sea at Oamaru). We hop on our bikes and follow the track around the edge of Lake Ohau. From here the route climbs steadily up to the Tambrae Saddle. At 900m this is the highpoint of the whole Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail and your efforts are rewarded with stunning views across the Mackenzie Basin and back to Lake Ohau. We descend to the historic woolshed at Quailburn, load up the bikes and visit the Clay Cliffs, where we learn about the pinnacles that were formed by layers of silt and gravel deposits by the glaciers over one million years ago.
We then drive to Lake Ohau Lodge and our accommodation for the night.
Hike: 1-2 hours
Cycle Distance: 30-50km
Our last day sees us back on our bikes to explore another scenic section of the Alps to Ocean trail. We follow the emerald green waters of the Tekapo Canal towards Tekapo. After lunch, we hop back on the bus for the final drive back to Christchurch City by mid afternoon where we are dropped at the airport in time for our Melbourne Flight.
Cycle Distance: 30km
Per Person, Twin Share