OTAGO – SOUTHLAND ITINERARY 2018
Day 1- Omarama Tues 14th March
Meet at Omarama in the picturesque McKenzie Basin where we stay at “ The Ahuriri Motel” north facing with garden settings, country atmosphere and stunning views of the surrounding mountain ranges. There is a laundry available as well as ample off-street car parking. Our dinner this evening is at “ The Heritage Hotel” just 500m from your Motel.
This evening’s dinner is included in your trip fee. Before dinner there will be an hours briefing on the itinerary, convoy procedures, for example use of H/Held radios etc , and Safety Guidelines.
Day 2—–Dalrachney Station Wed 15th March
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 an opportunity to sample the great wines and food in a great location at the Ladybird Hill Vineyard.
Day 3—Omarama to St Bathans crossing the St Bathans Mountain Range Thurs 16th March
Head down the Lindis Pass and then up and over the St. Bathans Range, one of the most stunning views in the South Island, Mt. St. Bathans (7000ft), 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 8.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.
A classic homecooked dinner awaits us in the Pub dining room this evening with the pub’s owner in attendance who always impresses with amongst other things, a great desert.
Day 4——St Bathans , Mt Pisa , Cardrona Fri 17th March
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. Trek 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 via the testing facility where the worlds top vehicle and tyre manufacturers test their products in controlled conditions under extreme temperatures.
We dine this evening in the incomparable atmosphere of one of New Zealand’s oldest pubs , comfortable couches surround a roaring open fire , a great garden bar surrounded by schist masonry , cottage garden and a Model A beside a 1920’s wooden frame Chev truck complete a great place to stay. A continental breakfast the following morning is included in your trip fee.
Day 5—- Cardrona to Queenstown, ship vehicles to Cecil Peak Station Sat 18th March
Exiting the Cardrona Valley over the Crown Range is an impressive introduction to the Queenstown Basin and beautiful surrounding mountain ranges, a chance to view Lake Wakitipu and a great view of Cecil Peak Station where we are headed tomorrow.
We drive to historic Arrowtown, an enchanting village formed in 1862 when William Fox struck gold in the Arrow River. There’s a great bakery at the start of the main street to set you up for a very pleasurable stroll which really takes you back in time looking at all the lovely old buildings.
From Arrowtown to Queenstown where we check into our hotel and then take our vehicles down to the shore of Lake Wakatipu at Whye Creek for the start of a unique trip exclusive to NZ 4×4 Treks and GDT Tours. Your vehicles will be loaded onto a barge to be shipped across the lake to Cecil Peak Station for the start of tomorrow’s track through no less than four private High Country Stations.
You will need a small overnight bag for this evening’s stay as your luggage will be in the vehicles shipped to Cecil Peak Station.
This evenings dinner is no less spectacular with an exciting cable car ride to one of the world’s greatest locations for a meal at the famous Skyline Restaurant overlooking Queenstown the Lake and surrounding Mountains so close you feel as if you could reach out and touch them. .
Day 6— Cecil Peak Station to Mt Nicholas Station Sun 19th March
An early start to catch the water taxi , a 10 minute walk from our motel , and a great ride across Lake Wakatipu to be reunited with our vehicles
Today’s trip will delight and surprise you as we head through Cecil Peak Station to the first crossing of the mighty Lochy River. The track itself is technically interesting with steep climbs, grassy slopes , boulder strewn river crossings finally bringing us out at the hut overlooking the broad expanse of the Lochy River Valley and Killicrankie Stream, one of the most spectacular locations we visit in the South Island. From the Lochy Valley we head into the Cascade Valley and start our final climb up over the 5000ft Afton saddle looking North to Lake Wakatipu and the mighty Mt Earnslaw before descending to the Lake’s edge and making our way to Mt Nicholas Station.
This evening’s accommodation is the Shearer’s Quarters right on the edge of the Lake, sleeping quarters are rustic , shared bathroom facilities but our hosts Bruce and Adrienne serve up a hearty high country meal to top off a very satisfying day.
Day 7—–Cattle Flat and Nokomai Stations Mon 20th March
Our journey today takes us South through a beautiful wide valley which forms the Mt Nicholas grazing lands between the spectacular Eyre Mountain and the Thomson Mountain Ranges . We cross the Otago Southland Border , enter Lord of the Rings filming location and then on through one of NZ’s richest dairying areas to the picturesque Ardlussa Valley.
The Ardlussa Valley and Cattle Flat areas today will lead us into Nokomai Station owned by several generations of the Hoare Family, James runs his helicopter operation from the Station which we’ll get to see on the way through this remarkable area, flanked by the Old Man and Hector Mountain Ranges.
Nokomai is a hidden gem and the final stages of this track will provide jaw dropping views and an exciting finish to a magic days 4WD’ing.
This evenings accommodation is in Kingston at the Kingston Holiday Park just off the Main Highway with dinner at the Café opposite the Motel on the corner of the Main Highway.
Day 8—— Lorne Peak Station and the Nevis Valley to Cromwell Tues 21st March
Today we will guide you onto Lorne Peak Station and a breathtaking climb out over the Hector Mountains, an extension of the Remarkable Range which dominates Queenstown’s skyline, to Tenants Peak ( 5000ft ). From the dizzying heights of the Hector Mountains we get a spectacular view out over the Wakatipu Southern Arm, the Garvie Mountains, the Old Man Range and the Mataura River famous for its trout fishing.
Our track then takes us through multiple river crossings along the floor of the isolated Nevis Valley which is snowed in for 6 months of the year as we make our way North taking in the local gold mining history and witness the remnants of the hardships suffered by these early settlers .
From the Nevis we climb up over Duffers Saddle the highest public road in N.Z. East of the Remarkable range and trek out through Bannockurn, one of New Zealand’s most famous wine growing locations.
This evenings accommodation is in Cromwell with dinner and Prizegiving and a chance to reflect on an amazing trip at the ‘Old Vic Hotel “ in the historic part of Cromwell resurrected after the main town was flooded for the Clyde Hydro Scheme and we get a chance to reflect on an amazing trip, with new found friends.Contact Steve