Otago – Southland 8 Days


Day 1 – Arrive at Fairlie. The assembly point for the start of the trip is Fairlie, an alpine village nestled at the entrance to the MacKenzie Basin with impressive views of the Dobson Mountains. This is a chance to meet the team, relax and discuss highlights of the trip ahead. The evening meal and accommodation for this night are part of your package and for the next 7 nights.

Day 2 – Fairlie to Omarama. Assemble at Fairlie at 8.30am, head to a private High Country Station owned by Matt and Victoria which takes us up into the beautiful Hunter Hills. With great views out over the East Coast of the South Island and a chance to encounter wallaby, the native NZ Falcon and deer. Experience your first taste of true alpine surroundings with a myriad of different plants that have adapted to this beautiful but harsh environment. Exit from this track into the Hakataramea Valley, where All Black Captain Richie McCaw was brought up. Stay at the gliding capital of NZ, Omarama, this evening with a special meal at the Ladybird Hill vineyard where you can try your arm at catching your own Salmon or just relax in the very pleasant surroundings .

Day 3 – Omarama to Omarama. Travel down the Lindis Pass to Dalrachney Station, spend the day trekking on Dalrachney, including one of the most impressive switchback tracks in the South Island. Amazing  views of the Ahuriri Valley, Southern Alps , Mt. Melina ( 6000ft ) and Mt. Martha (6250ft ) in the range immediately Northwest of Dalrachney. Lunch beside the Lindis River and keep an eye out for deer which are plentiful on Dalrachney. We spend a second night at Omarama with another opportunity to sample the great wines and food at the Ladybird Hill Vineyard.

Day 4 – Omarama to St Bathans. Head down the Lindis Pass and then up and over the St. Bathans Range. Stunning views of Mt. St Bathans, Mt. Aspiring (one of the highest peaks in NZ), the MacKenzie Basin, Mt. Cook (the highest mountain in NZ) and the Hawkdun Range. Our track takes us along the tops of the mountain range with the Maniatoto Basin extending way out below us to the South as far as the Old Man Range and the Hector Mountains where we will be on Day 5. Tonight we stay at the old gold mining village of St. Bathans and the incomparable St. Bathans Pub. All the buildings in the village have been restored to their original condition as they were in the 1800’s and there is an impressive lake carved out of white rock by the sluicing of the gold miners right beside the Pub.

Day 5 – St Bathans to Cardrona. Head to Cromwell past the Clyde Dam on the mighty Clutha River, NZ’s largest Hydro Power Station. Follow Lake Dunstan formed by the damming of the Clutha to a private High Country Station in the wine growing country of Central Otago. Travel through the grapevines at the start of the trek then on up through the schist outcrops and into the alpine scenery of the Pisa Range, stopping for lunch beside one of the many tarns in this area. Climb on up to Mt. Pisa, (6000ft) one of the highest tracks on our itinerary and take in the glorious vista out over the valley with Lake Dunstan in the foreground and the Dunstan Mountains forming the perfect backdrop. The alpine scenery on this range is different from anything else on the trip and feels more like being on the moon. From these lofty heights we head to the famous Cardrona pub which is featured on my website via the testing facility where the worlds top vehicle and tyre manufacturers test their products in controlled conditions under extreme temperatures.

Day 6 – Cardrona to Kingston. Today we will guide you over the Crown Range to the famous Queenstown Basin, we then follow the Kawarau Gorge and Kawarau River which is the confluence of the Shotover and Arrow Rivers and runs into the mighty Clutha. From here we climb up over Duffers Saddle, the highest public road in NZ, East of the Remarkable range and trek through to the isolated Nevis Valley which is snowed in for 6 months of the year. There are multiple crossings of the Nevis River as we make our way South taking in the local gold mining history before entering Lorne Peak Station and climbing out over the Hector Mountains, an extension of the Remarkable Range, to Tenants Peak (5000ft). From the dizzying heights of the Hector Mountains we get a spectacular view out over the Wakatipu Basin, the Garvie Mountains, the Old Man Range and the Mataura River, famous for its trout fishing. This evening is spent in the Kingston village in Southland Country, on the shores of Lake Wakatipu.

Day 7 – Kingston to Mt Nicholas. Southland is quite different from the MacKenzie Basin or Otago where we have been so far. It is now one of the richest dairying areas of NZ. Much of it, however,  is sparsely populated, such as the North and South Mavora Lakes. Nestled between the Livingstone and Thomson Mountains, this track follows the lake shore through pristine Beech Forest and on up to a hut at the head of the Lake. From the Lakes we journey through a beautiful valley along the 50Km driveway to Mt Nicholas, one of the largest High Country Stations in N.Z. Tonight and tomorrow night we stay in the Mt Nicholas shearers quarters right on the lakefront. We will meet Bruce and Adrienne our hosts and get to enjoy traditional high country station cooking.

Day 8 – Mt Nicholas Station to the Lochy Valley return is one of the most spectacular areas we visit in the South Island. The track takes us South initially up over the Afton Saddle and down into Cascade Creek to meet with the Lochy River where we turn Northeast. Rugged steep mountain faces accompany our journey beside the Cascade and along the Lochy River Valley with a new and exciting feature around every corner. The track itself is technically interesting with steep climbs, grassy slopes, boulder strewn river crossings and finally brings us out at the hut overlooking the Lochy River and Killicrankie Stream. The return trip will delight and surprise you. It is amazing how different a track looks going in the opposite direction, particularly as we head back over the 5000ft saddle looking North to Lake Wakatipu and the mighty Mt Earnslaw. Accommodation this evening is back at Mt. Nicholas on the Lake edge for another hearty country meal, prizegiving and a chance to enjoy new found friends and reflect back on an amazing 7 days.

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