Trip Number: 13535A
Staff: Margie Tomenko
- Explore waterfalls, rainforests, glaciers, and golden-sand beaches
- Kayak tranquil lagoons and hike among spectacular scenery
- Enjoy an overnight cruise in Doubtful Sound
- All lodging, meals, ground transportation, and entrance fees
- Local hiking guides, kayak rental, guided glacier walk
- All gratuities
Photo: Margie Tomenko
New Zealand is a country of spectacular variety. Lush rainforests, impressive
glaciers, active volcanoes and geothermal areas, steep-cut fjords, high plateaus,
rushing rivers and waterfalls, and countless miles of island-dotted coastline
all await our exploration.
Kiwis, as New Zealanders call themselves, offer visitors a friendly reception.
Kiwis are also passionate conservationists; more than one-third of the country
is protected in national parks and conservation reserves managed by the government.
Marine mammals in the seas surrounding New Zealand are fully protected.
Accompanied by knowledgeable naturalist guides, we will day hike in national
parks, forested valleys, the golden-sand beaches of the Tasman Sea, and the
1,000-year-old kahikatea (white pine) rainforest. We will have the opportunity
to walk on a glacier and hike portions of New Zealand's famous track system.
You may also choose to take an easy kayak trip in a tranquil lagoon in search
of unique wildlife. We will spend two evenings at a lovely lodge near the Tasman
Sea, tour the famous Glow Worm Caves, and take an evening nature cruise and
overnight aboard a ship in remote Doubtful Sound.
Photo: Margie Tomenko
Day 1: We will meet at 10:00 a.m. on February 12 at the Nelson
airport, or earlier in town if you have arrived before today. We start with
a bus ride through horticultural lands to a lodge at the edge of Abel Tasman
National Park. There will be a stop for lunch (not included in the trip price).
We get to our lodge in time to relax or hike the nearby trails before our welcome
dinner, the first included meal of the trip. Overnight in Kaiteriteri.
Day 2: We'll hike the trails in Abel Tasman National Park.
We will hike along the granite-edged coastline by soft-sand beaches. Weather
permitting; we will enjoy a guided sea kayak trip suitable for beginners and
experienced kayakers alike. If you choose not to kayak, you may explore the
beach or hike some more. As we hike and kayak we should see many birds, including
the native kereru. Our three-hour walk is on fairly level ground and about five
miles long. Overnight in Kaiteriteri.
Day 3: After breakfast we'll depart for Paparoa National Park,
approximately a six-hour drive away. With the Arthur Range as a backdrop, we
will head south through farmlands to Murchison and down Buller Gorge to Westport's
coast. Here we have the chance to view a nearby fur seal colony. Coastal flora
includes nikau palms. We will stop for the night at Punakaiki, famed for its
geological formations, limestone "pancake" rocks, and blowholes. We
will walk the Pancake Rocks Coastal Trail and may have time for another short
walk, in scenic Paparoa National Park. Overnight in Punakaiki.
Day 4: Following breakfast we'll take a short, three-mile
hike through native forest in Paparoa National Park. Our route includes a section
of the Inland Pack Track. Here, we'll enjoy river valleys, narrow gorges and
caves, and a swinging bridge. Bird life is profuse and includes the bellbird,
fantail, grey warbler, rifleman, and tui. In the afternoon we will continue
our four-hour drive south down the coast through Greymouth, making a stop at
Hokitika, home of New Zealand greenstone jade. We'll continue to Franz Josef,
next to Westland National Park, where we'll stay for two nights.
Photo: Margie Tomenko
Day 5: We'll explore the Okarito Lagoon, which lies just south
of Waitangi Roto Nature Reserve, a 1,000-year-old kahikatea rainforest. At Okarito
Lagoon we will enjoy an easy morning of kayaking and search for bird life such
as royal spoonbills, wood pigeons, and rare white herons. If you do not want
to kayak, there are several different easy scenic hiking trails. In the afternoon
we'll explore Franz Josef Glacier, taking a guided hike into its blue ice caves,
crevasses, and pinnacles. We'll overnight in the town of Franz Joseph.
Day 6: Early in the morning we'll stop briefly to view Fox
Glacier, as reflected in the waters of Lake Matheson. We'll continue south through
Westland National Park to Haast Pass, where we may be able to stop at the Department
of Conservation Visitor Center (depending on timing, they may be closed) then
continue through the mountains and rivers of Mt. Aspiring National Park, where
we'll have many hiking options. We will pass Makorara and drive alongside Lake
Wanaka to our accommodations in Wanaka, where we will stay for two evenings.
Half the day will be on the bus, the other half hiking.
Day 7: We'll explore Mt. Aspiring National Park, the second
largest national park in the country, renowned for its rugged, mountainous beauty
and unspoiled wilderness. Following the Matukituki River, we will hike seven
miles round-trip, with 1,500 feet of elevation gain, through native mountain-beech
forests to a waterfall-crowned valley at the base of Rob Roy Glacier. There
are many birds here, and flowers such as ranunculus and New Zealand edelweiss.
We'll overnight at Wanaka.
Day 8: We'll head up the Cardrona Valley today, past high-country
stations and over the Crown Range. The golden tussock land of the Crown Range
leads to the leafy village of Arrowtown, where gold mining history comes alive
beside the Arrow River. Here we'll have time to tour the town and eat lunch.
Later we'll drive alongside Lake Wakatipu to Kingston, and through rolling farmlands
to Te Anau Township, on the shores of Lake Te Anau. Overnight in Te Anau.
Photo: Margie Tomenko
Day 9: We'll drive along Milford Road, enjoying a panorama
of high mountains and deep valleys studded with waterfalls and mirror-like lakes.
We'll then hike through diverse mountain-beech forests along the Routeburn Track
to Key Summit (seven miles, 2,000 feet elevation gain) covered with tannin-tinged
tarns and alpine bogs. Here, in the heart of Fiordland World Heritage Park the
views are spectacular. The summit derives its name from the fact that three
river systems -- Hollyford, Greenstone/Clutha, and Eglinton/Waiau -- drain from
this point westward, eastward, and southward. Overnight in Te Anau.
Day 10: Today, we'll take a two- to three-hour hike on the
Rainbow Reach Trail through peaceful beech forests and along the rushing Waiau
River. Then a two-hour ride takes us to where we'll boat across Lake Manapouri
to West Arm, where we'll take a different bus that will drive over Wilmot Pass
to Deep Cove on Doubtful Sound. Here we'll board the "Fiordland Navigator"
for an overnight cruise. A naturalist guide will be on board, and we will have
the use of kayaks.
Day 11: We'll wake to the silence of Doubtful Sound. The early
morning reflections on the sound are a photographer's dream! We cruise back
down the sound to disembark at Deep Cove at 10 a.m., and then return over Wilmot
Pass and across the lake to arrive at Manapouri by noon. Our coach will transport
us back to Queenstown airport with a stop for lunch, our final meal. Here our
sojourn ends mid-afternoon. (Note: Do not book onward flights from Queenstown
any earlier than 4 p.m.) The bus will let us off either at the airport or downtown,
as you desire.
Your safety is our number one concern. While we make every attempt to fulfill
this itinerary, it is subject to change based on weather, closings, or other
Photo: Margie Tomenko
The trip begins in Nelson, while most international flights arrive in Auckland.
Allow for this inter-island flight when booking your travel. You will have to
change terminals for the domestic flight, but it's very close -- only about
a 5-minute walk. Note that you will "lose" a day when traveling west
across the International Dateline from the United States to New Zealand. This
means if you leave the U.S. on February 9, you will arrive in New Zealand on
February 11. On the other hand, you may well return to the U.S. before you leave
New Zealand! Note also that the trip ends in a different city: Queenstown. It's
easy to fly directly from there to Auckland.
Consider booking your inter-island flights (Auckland to Nelson, and return
from Queenstown) when you book your international itinerary. Generally, there
is little or no additional cost when the flights are booked together. Do not
plan on being at the Queenstown airport before 2:30 p.m. on our last day. We
will be bussing from Doubtful Sound to Queenstown, and there could easily be
Accommodations and Food
We will stay in lodges, local hotels, and a ship (on one night). Rooms are
double-occupancy; a roommate will be provided for solo travelers. We will travel
in an air-conditioned minibus. All meals (starting with dinner on day 1, and
ending with lunch on day 11) are included in the cost of the trip. Generally,
the lodge will provide breakfast. For lunch and dinner we will have a mix of
dining at local cafes and restaurants or picnicking/cooking for ourselves. While
the leaders will do most of any cooking, help is always appreciated. Many restaurants
offer some vegetarian dishes and will attempt to satisfy special dietary needs.
However, there may be occasions when vegetarian or special dietary meals are
not available. You should inform the leader of any dietary restrictions when
completing your application.
Photo: Margie Tomenko
This trip is suitable for both the very active traveler and those seeking
a more relaxed vacation. It is open to all ages, so long as you are in reasonably
good health, get regular exercise, enjoy the wilderness, and enjoy blending
hikes with natural, cultural, and historical touring. Sea kayaking is included,
but there are attractive alternative activities for those who don't want to
New Zealand weather is unpredictable. It can rain at any time, which makes
for slippery trails. Expect temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to the mid-80s.
We will be exploring lowland to alpine regions.
Equipment and Clothing
Besides a pack, well broken-in, but not broken down, boots are essential.
If you plan on getting new boots, wear them for at least two months before this
trip to break them in and help prevent getting blisters. Waterproof or Gore-Tex
boots are best. Complete rainwear is also necessary -- we will be hiking in
rainforest, and it gets its name legitimately. If you are used to hiking with
Walking Poles, you will appreciate having them along. The leader will provide
additional details on equipment at a later date.
- King, Michael, The Penguin History of New Zealand. 2003.
- Moon, Geoff, The Reed Field Guide to New Zealand Birds. Reed Books,
- Dougherty, Ia, Heart of Gold: The People and Places of Otago.
- Coates, Glen, The Rise and Fall of the Southern Alps. Canterbury
University Press, 2002.
- Fiordland Parkmap 273-03, 1:255,000, Department of Conservation
- Mount Aspiring Parkmap 273-02, 1:150,000, Department of Conservation
Photo: Margie Tomenko
Sierra Club is an environmentally focused entity. We are concerned about conservation
and sustainability of resources, both locally and globally. Our work is accomplished
by volunteers, aided by a salaried staff, encouraging grassroots involvement.
Our outings seek to empower participants toward environmentally understanding
parallel concerns at home and abroad.
After Maori and European settlers introduced non-native mammals, many of New
Zealand's indigenous species became extinct or threatened. The Australian bushtail
possum, introduced in the 1900s, is the most serious threat to the environment.
The possum has no natural enemies and can now be found throughout the country.
It is causing serious destruction to vegetation, especially fuchsia forests
at high altitude. European goats, meanwhile, strip vegetation and cause erosion.
In general, New Zealanders favor vigorous protection of endangered and threatened
plants and animals. The Department of Conservation is very active in relocating
endangered species to islands and areas that have been cleared of pests. Rigorous
standards for camping and hiking are in place in all national parks and reserves
in an effort to lessen impacts on the environment and to maintain high water
quality. All coastline is in public ownership.
This trip requires a $200 per-person deposit. An additional payment of $300 per person is due six months prior to trip departure. International trip prices are subject to change and are based on double-occupancy or group accommodations as described above. Single rooms may not be available or may cost more than the listed price. If you have any questions regarding double occupancy, please contact the trip leader.
See the How to Apply for an Outing
section for more details on registering for this trip and details
about our Reservation and Cancellation
The payment of a deposit does not confirm you as a member on the
trip. Participants must be approved by the trip leader. After signing
up for this trip, you will be sent a confirmation packet containing
approval materials (Participant Approval Questionnaire, Medical
Form, Liability Release Form). Each applicant (including those on
the waitlist) must fill out these forms and promptly mail them to
the trip leader. The leader will review the approval materials and
notify you of your acceptance in a timely manner.
The Sierra Club accurately and fairly budgets and prices our trips. However, unforeseen costs such as devaluation of the dollar compared to other currencies and fuel surcharges assessed by our international providers may necessitate adjustment in trip price. We will make every effort to mitigate and absorb these fees. If a price increase is necessary, however, you will have 14 days after announcement to cancel without penalty.
Margie Tomenko has been a Sierra Club member for more than 20 years, and has led trips for more than 15 years. New Zealand holds a magic for her because of all the diverse terrain and outdoor opportunities in such a small area -- hiking, kayaking, glacier walks, and more! The Kiwis (as New Zealanders call themselves) are friendly, the islands are beautiful, the food is great, and the languages is English (well, sort of!).
One of her favorite hobbies is scuba diving, so she truly enjoys viewing wildlife both above and below the water! We won't be doing any diving this trip. She is very excited to share this fascinating place with you. "It is so incredible to go from beaches to glaciers so quickly!" If you have questions, or just want to chat about New Zealand, please feel free to contact her.
Mary Menconi has led Sierra Club trips to Italy, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, the Everglades, the High Sierra, and other destinations. Mary's interest in travel was sparked in her late teens when she spent a year in a small town in Germany. Since then she has lived in Arizona, Utah, and New Hampshire and now resides in her native California. She enjoys visiting new places to learn about their natural and human history. Trained as an agronomist, Mary has a particular interest in plants and she is looking forward to exploring New Zealand's wild landscapes.
General Notes About Sierra Club Trips