Active Adventures |  Winter Rimu -  New Zealand Winter Adventure

Christchurch to ChristchurchOur maritime climate ensures we have relatively mild winters. We’ll almost always have the tracks to ourselves and the snow-capped mountains make for an even more dramatic backdrop than in summer – plus you can usually get a great deal on flights!Years ago, we adapted our signature ‘Rimu’ trip to suit the cooler conditions by adding one of the South Island’s best multi-day hikes to remote natural hot springs, and several opportunities for skiing or snowboarding.

  • Highlights

    Hike
    Kepler Track, Fiordland National Park
    Copland Valley, Westland National Park
    West Coast beaches and rainforest
    Fox Glacier
    Mt Aspiring National Park
    Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park or ski/snowboard Ohau Ski Area

    Plus...
    Explore Queenstown
    Cruise on Milford Sound
    Explore Te Anau glow worm caves
    Cycle Wanaka

    Sea kayak
    Okarito Lagoon

  • What's Included

    All accommodations
    A range of hotels, lodges, chalets, inns, sheep stations and backcountry huts, depending on which trip you choose.

    All activities
    All the things you'd expect in summer; hiking, kayaking, biking, rafting, scenic flights, jet boating. Plus the things you can only do in winter... Ski or board!

    All guiding services
    Two experienced guides per trip. Having two guides allows for much greater flexibility, meaning you're able to go at your own pace.

    All meals
    Breakfast, lunch and dinner on all days, except where indicated on the itinerary (usually 1 day per trip is a free day, allowing you to choose your own dining location).

    All transport
    Airport transfers.
    When you're not travelling under your own steam, they'll be comfortable air-conditioned vans to stretch your legs.

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  • Itinerary

    DAY 1 - ARRIVE, HIKE MT JOHN

    Most people leave the Northern Hemisphere on a Saturday evening, arriving into 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 then head to Lake Tekapo for a hike along the lakeshore before emerging above the treeline on Mt John for breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Then we’ll carry on to the remote and beautiful Lake Ohau Lodge. The lodge is tucked in beside an alpine lake, with stunning views stretching across to Aoraki/Mt Cook and the Southern Alps – the ideal spot to soak in the hot tub and star gaze! Today is a relaxed introduction to New Zealand. Depending on where you’re coming from, you’ll probably find jetlag is no big deal. For instance, it’s a 12 to 13 hour direct overnight flight from the west coast of the USA to Auckland and there’s only a 3 hour time difference between New Zealand and US Pacific time. If you’re coming from further afield, you’ll appreciate the gentle start to your New Zealand adventure.Lake Ohau Lodge, Lake Ohau (Lunch, Dinner)Hiking Distance: 8 kilometres (5 miles), 2-3 hoursElevation Gain: 330 metres (1,080 feet)Elevation Loss: 330 metres (1,080 feet)

     

    DAY 2 - HIKE AORAKI MT COOK NATIONAL PARK OR SKI/SNOWBOARD OHAU SKI AREA

    After a late breakfast on the balcony overlooking Lake Ohau, we’ll take an impressive hike at the head of Lake Pukaki, up the Hooker Valley to a glacial lake complete with icebergs! This is a great spot for lunch and on a clear day, the views of Aoraki/Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain, are stunning. We’ll return to the lodge where we’ll enjoy a sumptuous dinner. An option today is to spend the day skiing at the small and friendly Ohau Ski Area, one of the South Island’s more remote backcountry ski fields (for approx. US$125 including gear rental).Lake Ohau Lodge, Lake Ohau (All meals)Hiking Distance: 9 kilometres (5.6 miles), 2-3 hoursElevation Gain: 100 metres (328 feet)Elevation Loss: 100 metres (328 feet)

     

    DAY 3 - HIKE MT ASPIRING NATIONAL PARK

    Today we start the first of two memorable multi-day hikes. We’ll venture up the Matukituki Valley and hike into Mt Aspiring National Park to reach our home for the evening – a spacious mountain hut nestled in a valley in the middle of nowhere. This hike is well suited to winter conditions and the track meanders past majestic snow capped peaks, fresh mountain streams and natural beech forest. You’ll be carrying a sleeping bag, a few spare clothes and some food, so your pack won’t weigh much more than a regular day pack. The scenery is off the charts with Mt Aspiring rising 3033 metres (9951 feet) into the blue sky! It’s amazing how far you’ll feel from civilisation after this relatively short walk! Tonight your guide will whip up dinner in the backcountry kitchen while you relax by the fire.Mt Aspiring Hut, Mt. Aspiring National Park or Lake Wanaka Lodge, Wanaka (All meals)Hiking Distance: 9 kilometres (5.6 miles), 3-4 hoursElevation Gain: 60 metres (197 feet)

     

    DAY 4 - HIKE MT ASPIRING NATIONAL PARK AND BIKE WANAKA

    After enjoying a delicious healthy breakfast and admiring the views, we’ll hike back to the trailhead. We’ll head to Wanaka for a bike ride along the lakeshore, and then it’s 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.Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (Breakfast, Lunch)Hiking Distance: 9 kilometres (5.6 miles), 2-3 hoursElevation Loss: 60 metres (197 feet)Biking Distance: Up to 10 kilometres (6 miles), 2-3 hours

     

    DAY 5 - FREE DAY IN QUEENSTOWN

    Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand (if not the world!) and all the comforts of civilisation are packed into this tiny resort town: restaurants galore, stylish lounge bars, day spas, and boutiques. You’ll also find incredible optional activities here, including horse trekking, a gondola, fishing, winery tours, an historic steamship, bungy jumping, jet boating and skydiving as well as some great hiking opportunities. Or you can just soak up the atmosphere by the fire at one of the local cafés or pubs. Your guides will happily share their favourite haunts and point you in the right direction for your free day today. Alternatively, you can go skiing or snowboarding for the day at one of four nearby ski areas (approximate cost US$150 for ski or snowboard hire, transport and lift pass – available as snow conditions suit, generally from June to September).Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (No meals included.)

     

    DAY 6 - HIKE KEPLER TRACK AND EXPLORE TE ANAU GLOW WORM CAVES

    After breakfast, we’ll travel to Lake Te Anau to hike the Kepler Track, one of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’. Unlike most of the other ‘Great Walks’, which evolved from Maori greenstone trails or pioneer exploration routes, the Kepler Track was custom-made, built for pleasure rather than necessity. The track has been carefully crafted to show walkers all the very best features of Fiordland, from the prolific bird life and tussock high country, to the huge mountain ranges and vast glacier-carved valleys. This evening we’ll take a boat journey across Lake Te Anau to a glittering grotto of glow worms. These fascinating bugs light the way in a 200 metre system of caves, underground waterfalls, sculpted walls and swirling pools. From the darkness of the glow worm caves, we’ll head back into the light of Te Anau where we’ll stay the night.Matai Lodge, Te Anau (All meals)Hiking Distance: 9.5 kilometres (6 miles), 2-3 hoursElevation Gain: 50 metres (165 feet)Elevation Loss: 50 metres (165 feet)

     

    DAY 7 - CRUISE ON MILFORD SOUND, EXPLORE FIORDLAND NATIONAL PARK

    This morning we’ll head towards Milford Sound on one of the most dramatically scenic drives in the world. We’ll pass through the Eglinton Valley, and wind our way through the mountains of Fiordland. Our drive takes us through the Homer Tunnel, an astounding feat of human engineering which must be seen to be believed. Once we arrive you’ll have the opportunity to explore Milford Sound and hopefully spot some friendly fur seals and dolphins. We’ll jump on board a boat cruise, where you’ll gaze in wonder at the waterfalls tumbling down enormous vertical rock faces all around, and journey right out to the entrance of the fiord. This afternoon, we’ll explore the Fiordland wilderness on foot to check out some of its endemic flora and fauna, like the kea (Nestor notabilis), New Zealand’s notoriously cheeky and intelligent alpine parrot and the kotukutuku (Fuchsia excorticate), the world’s largest fuchsia.Matai Lodge, Te Anau (All meals)

     

    DAY 8 - RELAX OR HIKE QUEENSTOWN

    This morning, we’ll journey past beautiful rolling farmland and around the edge of Lake Wakatipu back to Queenstown. You’ll have a couple of hours to spare here to catch up on some shopping, grab a coffee or head off on a local hike - your guides will have plenty of suggestions. Lunch today is an opportunity for you to explore more of the outstanding food scene in Queenstown by yourselves - ask your guides about their favourite places to eat! Afterwards we’ll head through the stunning Southern Lakes district and over the Haast Pass to the West Coast – a long stretch of gorgeous, rugged coastline with a population of only 40,000 people. We’ll mingle with the ‘coasters’ tonight in the tiny township of Haast, exchanging tales of our adventures at the local pub in front of a roaring fire.Heartland World Heritage Hotel, Haast (Breakfast, Dinner)

     

    DAY 9 - HIKE TO COPLAND VALLEY HOT POOLS, WESTLAND NATIONAL PARK

    Today we’ll hike into a stunningly beautiful mountain basin, set directly underneath the towering peaks of the Southern Alps, with an awesome highlight – natural hot pools! It’s a challenging six to seven hour hike 17 kilometres (10 miles) up the Copland Valley with a gradual elevation gain, but it’s absolutely worth it. Our guides are pretty tough and they’ll carry the lion’s share of the load. All you’ll be carrying is a backpack with your sleeping bag, a few spare clothes, and a share of our food. Tonight, we stay in one of New Zealand’s most spacious backcountry huts, a comfortable two-level building. One of the best things about hiking this track in winter is that we may well have the hut all to ourselves! While you soak in the natural hot pools your guide will whip up a hearty dinner.Welcome Flat Hut, Westland National Park (All meals)Hiking Distance: 18 kilometres (11 miles), 6-7 hoursElevation Gain: 420 metres (1,380 feet)Elevation Loss: 40 metres (130 feet)

     

    DAY 10 - HIKE TO DOUGLAS ROCK

    Today we’ll hike further up the track towards Douglas Rock for even more amazing scenery and views of multiple glaciers clinging to the top of the mountain valley. If you prefer, you can have a relaxing day at the hut – soak in the hot pools, enjoy the stunning scenery, or relax with a good book. Either way, the hot pools are without a doubt the star attraction here, closely followed by the dramatic scenery.Welcome Flat Hut, Westland National Park (All meals)Hiking Distance: 14 kilometres (8.6 miles), 6-7 hoursElevation Gain: 430 metres (1,410 feet)Elevation Loss: 430 metres (1,410 feet)

     

    DAY 11 - HIKE COPLAND VALLEY

    An early start sees us on the track, a great time to be hikng with the fresh morning air and stillness. You’ll be feeling sprightly today after a relaxing evening in the rejuvinating hot pools and with the slightly downhill gradient, you’ll be in ‘cruise mode’ on the outward hike. Once back at the trailhead, we’ll rest our bodies with a scenic journey up the coast 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.Rainforest Retreat, Franz Josef (All meals)Hiking Distance: 18 kilometres (11 miles), 4-6 hoursElevation Gain: 40 metres (130 feet)Elevation Loss: 420 metres (1,380 feet)

     

    DAY 12 - KAYAK OKARITO LAGOON, HIKE NEAR FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER

    This morning we’ll make 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 the 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. Once back in Franz Josef, you’ll have the option to take another hike to the terminal face for exceptional glacier views or relax in the hot tub, before enjoying a traditional Kiwi roast dinner.Rainforest Retreat, Franz Josef (All meals)Kayaking Time: 2-4 hoursHiking Distance: 4.2 kilometres (2.6 miles), 1-2 hoursElevation Gain: 120 metres (394 feet)Elevation Loss: 120 metres (394 feet)

     

    DAY 13 - HIKE PUNAKAIKI RAINFOREST AND BEACHES

    This morning, we’ll travel along the coast to check out local art galleries and a pounamu carving workshop (pounamu is Maori for jade) in Hokitika. After lunch, we carry on to Punakaiki, where we’ll hike the Inland Pack Track through temperate rainforest and limestone canyons in the footsteps of the 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 relentless pounding by the Tasman Sea. Tonight we’ll enjoy a celebratory dinner for the last night of your trip.West Coast lodging, Punakaiki (All meals)Inland Pack Track Hiking Distance: 6 kilometres (4 miles), 2-3 hoursElevation Gain: 130 metres (425 feet)Elevation Loss: 130 metres (425 feet)Pancake Rocks Hiking Distance: 1 kilometre (0.6 mile), 0.5-1 hourElevation Gain: 9 metres (30 feet)Elevation Loss: 9 metres (30 feet)

     

    DAY 14 - DEPART FOR HOME

    We’ll leave after breakfast for the beautiful journey over Arthurs Pass to Christchurch. This is the last day of your ‘Winter Rimu’ trip, and we’ll leave you refreshed and invigorated from the good food, exercise, rest, and great times you’ll have had with us in New Zealand’s winter landscape.(Breakfast, Lunch)

 

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