New Zealand Adventures
New Zealand | Rimu Adventure | Adult Only
Experience exceptionally breathtaking landscapes and create remarkable memories as you adventure across New Zealand
14 Days / 13 Nights
Activity Level Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.
Discover New Zealand’s Fiordland to Nelson Lakes, guests on the Rimu Adventure will not find themselves lacking in adrenaline, exceptional views, and unforgettable memories. Hike, bike, kayak, and drive your way across the South Island on this fourteen-day adventure. Experience amazing cities and townships such as Queenstown and Punakaiki, as well as gorgeous natural sights such as the Franz Josef Glacier and Milford Sound. The Rimu adventure proves to be the perfect way to completely immerse yourself in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Encounter the beautiful peninsula town of Kaikoura backed by snow-capped peaks overlooking ocean waters rich with marine life. Roam the art galleries of the sweet, seaside town of Hokitika buffed to shine by a thriving community of local artists.
- Explore the rainforest-clad foothills of the Southern Alps in the heart of New Zealand glacier country
- Discover huge lakes fringed by sweet-smelling beech forest with a backdrop of the Greywacke mountains in a National Park
- View the sparkling ice glaciers, toothy mountains, and blue-tinged crevasses of the Franz Josef Glacier
- Glide in sea kayaks along Milford Sound’s indigo waters to get up-close and personal with friendly fur seals and dolphins
- Opt to fearlessly bungee jump or skydive in an adrenaline-pumping experience of a lifetime on a “day on your own” in Queenstown
- Stargaze some of the most undisturbed night skies on the remote shores of a gorgeous cobalt-blue lake
A few more reasons why you've gotta go:
Fiordland National Park: Hike part of the Routeburn Track for unsurpassed views of the Hollyford Valley, Lake Marian and Mt. Christina.
The highest mountain in New Zealand: Travel to Mt Cook National Park on the south island to the highest mountain of the South Alps.
Nelson Lakes National Park: Hike out along the barren Robert Ridge with dramatic views of Tasman Bay and the mountainous Kahurangi National Park in the distance.
Christchurch, NZ CHC
Christchurch, NZ CHC
Christchurch / Kaikoura
Most people leave the Northern Hemisphere on a Saturday evening, arriving in Auckland early Monday morning • You’ll lose a day crossing the dateline – but you get it back on the way home! • It’s a short flight from Auckland to Christchurch on the South Island where we’ll meet you • We’ll start your trip by traveling up the coast to the seaside town of Kaikoura, where we’ll hike the scenic peninsula • Passing weathered limestone cliffs, we’ll watch a colony of fur seals basking on the rocks and playing in the eddies, on a stretch of rugged coastline that was uplifted in the Kaikoura earthquake – it’s amazing to see this brand-new land! • Today is a relaxed introduction to New Zealand.
Nelson Lakes National Park
From Kaikoura, we’ll travel along the spectacular coastline for a couple of hours to Blenheim, a town in the Marlborough wine region • We’ll visit Forrest Estate Winery to sample some of their fantastic wines and have a picnic lunch before we head off for our various activities • Our hike begins in the charming village of Saint Arnaud, on the edge of Nelson Lakes National Park • This is serious wilderness country, with incredible views and marvelous solitude • The park straddles the upper Southern Alps, an area composed of beech forests, big lakes and even bigger mountains • We’ll hike the relatively gentle trail through the forest alongside Lake Rotoiti to Lakehead Hut, a small mountain cabin at the head of the lake and our home for the night • Your guides are tough and will carry the lion’s share of the load • You’ll be carrying a backpack with your sleeping bag, a few spare clothes, and a share of the food.
* When you book, you have the choice of three multi-day options (three days/two nights each): a hiking trip in Nelson Lake National Park, a sea kayaking trip in the Marlborough Sounds, or a biking trip on the Queen Charlotte Track. The hiking trip stays in mountain huts, while the cyclists and sea kayakers stay in conventional lodging, with private rooms. The biking and kayaking options are an additional charge. Please contact your Adventure Consultant for more details.
Nelson Lakes National Park
Today is an unforgettable day – the scenery gets better with each step! • We follow the Travers River through beech forest, before heading up the Hukere Stream towards the ridgeline • This is a challenging hike, with an elevation gain of 1000 meters (3280 feet), but it’s absolutely worth it • The Angelus Circuit has exceptional scenic diversity, so it provides a great reward for the efforts you put in • It’s a tremendous feeling at the top when you reach Angelus Hut, nestled beside a gorgeous alpine lake• Many people say this hidden gem was the highlight of their New Zealand adventure!
Nelson Lakes National Park / Punakaiki
Wake up on the top of the world! • After breakfast, we’ll hike out along the barren Robert Ridge with dramatic views of Tasman Bay and the mountainous Kahurangi National Park in the distance • We’ll descend below the tree line again into native beech forest completing our hike on the shores of Lake Rotoiti • Here, we’ll meet up with the kayakers and cyclists and share stories of our adventures before carrying on • After regrouping in Saint Arnaud, we’ll head across the Southern Alps to the West Coast – a dramatic and rugged coastline stretching 600 kilometers (372 miles), with a population of only 40,000 people • We’ll mingle with the ‘coasters’ tonight in the seaside village of Punakaiki, exchanging tales of our adventures over fish and chips at the local pub!
Punakaiki / Hokitika / Franz Josef
We’ll spend the morning hiking the Inland Pack Track through temperate rainforest and limestone canyons, following in the footsteps of gold miners who established this trail over a century ago • While we’re in Punakaiki, we’ll also check out the famous Pancake Rocks and blowholes – aptly named limestone formations that have been sculpted through the relentless pounding of the Tasman Sea • Travelling along the scenic coastline, we’ll stretch our legs in Hokitika and check out local art galleries and pounamu carving workshops (pounamu is Maori for jade), before carrying on to the township of Franz Josef where we’ll stay for the next couple of nights • Nestled in the rainforest-clad foothills of the Southern Alps, Franz Josef is the heart of New Zealand glacier country.
Okarito Lagoon / Franz Josef
This morning we’ll take a short journey over to Okarito, a little-known beach community on the coast • We’ll take to the water in sea kayaks and glide along a picturesque lagoon, set against a stunning backdrop of snow-capped peaks • Okarito is home to the only native white heron colony in New Zealand, as well as a host of other interesting birds • Later we’ll walk through lush coastal forest to Three Mile Lagoon, and wander along the beautiful stony beach next to crashing waves • Later we’ll head back to Franz Josef where you’ll have the option to take another walk or relax in the hot tub, before enjoying a traditional Kiwi roast dinner.
Franz Josef Glacier / Makarora
With some 140 glaciers making their way down from the Southern Alps, this area is fittingly known as glacier country • Few sights equal the spectacle of two of these giant frozen rivers (Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers) imperceptibly grinding their way down through the temperate rainforest to just 250 meters (820 feet) above sea level • We’ll spend most of the day near Franz Josef Glacier hiking up through the forest to either Alex Knob or Roberts Point, both of which give incredible views of the ice • These hikes can be inaccessible in wet weather, so we may opt to hike close to the terminal face of Fox Glacier, around Lake Matheson and to the Blue Pools near Haast Pass instead.
* Optional Heli Hike: An outrageously scenic alternative to today’s hike is to heli-hike on Franz Josef Glacier itself at an extra cost. Please inquire with your Adventure Consultant for more details.
Hawea River / Queenstown
The landscape this morning changes rapidly from dense beech forest to semi-arid mountainous terrain • Arriving at Lake Hawea, we’ll take a scenic ride along the Hawea River Trail • This gently undulating track follows the Hawea and Clutha Rivers through the rugged Central Otago landscape to the charming lakeside town of Wanaka • Here we’ll stop for lunch before a short but dramatic journey over the Cardrona Saddle to Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, our base for the next couple of days • You’ll sleep sweetly tonight at a lakefront hotel located in the heart of Queenstown.
Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand (if not the world!) and all the comforts of civilization are packed into this tiny resort town: restaurants galore, sidewalk cafés, stylish lounge bars, day spas, and boutiques • You’ll also find incredible optional activities here including horse trekking, a gondola, kayaking, fishing, winery tours, hang gliding, mountain biking, bungy jumping, jet boating and skydiving • Or you can just soak up the atmosphere or lounge about reading a book • Your guides will happily share their favorite haunts and point you in the right direction for your free day today.
Fiordland National Park / Milford Sound
This morning, we set off for our largest and perhaps most spectacular national park, Fiordland • We’ll hike part of the Routeburn Track for unsurpassed views of the Hollyford Valley, as well as Lake Marian and Mt Christina • We’ll take a short drive through the Homer Tunnel and emerge at the top of a spectacular glacier-carved valley for a memorable descent to the shores of Milford Sound • Rudyard Kipling rated this fiord as the eighth natural wonder of the world and it is truly breathtaking, with steep granite walls plunging over a thousand meters to the Tasman Sea and waterfalls cascading into deep inky water • Tonight we’ll stay at Milford Lodge, to make the most of a wonderfully remote location.
Milford Sound / Kepler Track / Lake Manapouri
Most people see Milford Sound from the deck of a ship, but we’ve got a more active way – gliding along in sea kayaks, causing very little disruption for the best chance of getting up close and personal with the friendly fur seals and dolphins that are sometimes in the area • It’s an early start this morning, but the calm waters and peaceful solitude that you’ll enjoy out on the fiord, are well worth it • Fully kitted out in double sea kayaks and lead by a specialist kayak guide, the padding is equally suitable for beginners and experts alike • After kayaking, we’ll enjoy a tasty lunch before heading out to explore more of Fiordland’s wilderness on foot • This afternoon we’ll take a hike on the famous Kepler Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks – we follow the track through mountain beech forest and along the Waiau River • It’s an awesome hike with spectacular views! • Tonight, we’ll stay on the edge of Lake Manapouri, enjoying the scenery and the delicious local fare
Cromwell Old Town / Lake Pukaki
Carefully relocated or lovingly reconstructed, the buildings of Cromwell Old Town represent the character of Cromwell’s gold-mining history • We’ll explore the intriguing buildings and eat lunch here together • Afterwards we’ll drive through the tussock-country of Lindis Pass to Lake Pukaki, where we stay on Hamish and Julia McKenzie’s 5000-hectare high country sheep farm, Braemar Station • While we’re here, we’ll stay in a farm cottage that was built for the sheep shearers • It’s a rustic little place with views that will knock your socks off – the biggest mountains in New Zealand piercing the sky on the far side of a gorgeous cobalt-blue lake • With no lights for miles around, the stars on a clear night are like nothing you’ve ever seen • Many travelers have said this was one of their favorite places on the whole trip – just the place for your last couple of nights in New Zealand!
Mt Cook National Park / Lake Pukaki
Mt Cook, named Aoraki or ‘cloud piercer’ by South Island Maori, is the highest mountain in New Zealand • Directly opposite the mountain, we have a stunning day hike to the main ridge above Mueller Glacier • It’s a challenging hike, but you’ll remember the view of the glacier and the surrounding peaks forever! • The weather conditions are very important in this area, as it’s a true alpine climate notorious for sudden weather shifts • If we aren’t able to do the Mueller Glacier hike, or you’d like to take it a little easier, there’s an impressive hike up to a glacial lake (complete with icebergs!) at the base of the Hooker Glacier • Then we head back to Braemar Station for the last night of the ‘Rimu’ • We’ll enjoy a celebratory dinner as we sit outside and watch the sun set on Aoraki/Mt Cook.
Arrival & Departure
Arrival: On Day 1 of the trip, your guides can either pick you up from the Heartland Hotel Cotswold in Christchurch at 10:30 AM, or at Christchurch Airport in front of the Travel and Information Center at 11:00 AM. We recommend you fly into Christchurch no later than 10:00 AM on the day of arrival.
Departure: On the last day of the trip, your guides can drop you off at the Christchurch Airport in time for flights departing after 4:00 PM. If you choose to extend your stay, your guides can drop you off in central Christchurch at about 3:00 PM.
Hiking: Much of this adventure involves walking or hiking on trails with a moderate rating (and at times strenuous). Hikes range in length from 3 miles to 8 miles long and can be adjusted to fit your needs. The terrain includes dirt, rocks, sandy beach, tree roots, and rocks. Trails in New Zealand are typically not as well manicured as those in the USA, so expect to be hiking in mud, getting your boots wet, and to be navigating around rocks and tree roots. Often instead of switchbacks, a trail will go straight up a hill! So, while the mileage may seem small, pay more attention to the elevation gains and the estimated time that the hike will take. The Rimu is one of our more adventurous trips but has options to suit a wide range of fitness levels and outdoor experience. If you keep reasonably active and like to give things a go, you’re more likely to enjoy the trip much more. If you’re used to pushing yourself, this itinerary will keep you challenged as well. Typically hikes range between three and six hours to complete, with longer hikes available on the multi-day option.
Bicycling: On Day 8, a bicycle ride along the Hawea Trail is up to 24 kilometers (15 miles) long and is mostly flat (260 feet elevation loss). You’ll be biking along a wide, dirt track and the ride is vehicle supported.
Kayaking: Equipment and instruction provided. No experience necessary. Excursions last approximately 2 to 3 hours.
New Zealand offers incredible opportunities for adventure, whether it be on backcountry hikes, atop looming glaciers, or in small resort towns. As you hike through Nelson Lakes National Park, notice the spectacular landscape that was sculpted by massive glaciers during the most recent of ice ages. Embark on an adventure or two in Queenstown, the ‘adventure capital of the world’ and birthplace to bungy jumping. Keep an eye out for the endearing and flightless national bird: the kiwi (also what New Zealanders call themselves!) Witness a glacier cutting through a rainforest as you trek to the base of Franz Josef Glacier. Hang out with the stars in Mt Cook National Park, which forms a portion of the world’s largest International Dark Sky Reserve. Did you know that Milford Sound’s water appears black? The fiord is hundreds of meters deep, but the rainfall creates a layer of freshwater up to 6 meters deep, which sits on top of the ocean. All this rainfall washes a tannin from the forest, which stains the freshwater, resulting in its unique black appearance. Come discover this adventurous destination with the leaders in adventure travel!
The hallmark of an Austin Adventures vacation is our exceptional dining. Meals are included as indicated in the daily itinerary. (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner). Alcoholic beverages and related gratuities are not included in the trip price.
After receiving your reservation and deposit, we’ll send you a pre-trip planner with general information about the area you’ll be visiting, a packing list, exercise guidelines, a guest information questionnaire, and a liability release agreement for you to sign and return within 10 days.
Included in the Trip Price
- Comfortable accommodation featuring the lodging listed in this itinerary.
- Meals as listed in daily detailed itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner).
- All guiding services: 2 guides per trip – a lead guide/driver & a co-guide/chef.
- Any necessary equipment – all safe and well-maintained.
- Vehicle support and land transportation during the trip.
- Austin Adventures T-shirt and luggage tags.
- All activities described in the itinerary including hiking, kayaking, and biking.
Not Included in the Trip Price
- Gratuities to your guides.
- 15% NZ government tax.
- Several meals in places like Queenstown and Christchurch.
- Optional add-on activities.
- Alcoholic beverages.
- Pre- and post-trip accommodations and associated expenses.
- Air and land transportation to/from the host city.
- All types of personal insurance.
- Personal expenses.
Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.1 Easy (1)
Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.2 Moderately Easy (2)
Kasey was born in Alaska and raised in Billings, Montana. She graduated in 2011 as a Presidential Leadership Scholar at the University of Montana in Missoula with a degree in Education. Growing up in the world of adventure travel, it was only natural for Kasey to jump into the family business upon entering “the real […]