Canterbury to Southland Itinerary
24 Feb – 3 March
Includes motel type accommodation, evening meals with the team, your guide for the trip, Station crossing fees, and prizegiving.
The assembly point for the start of the trip is Fairlie, an alpine village at the foot of the Dobson Mountians with views of the Southern Alps. This is a chance to meet the team, relax and discuss highlights of the trip ahead.
Day 1 Fairlie – Omarama
Assemble at Fairlie at 8.00am. Head to Black Forest High Country Station via Burkes Pass and take the track on edge of Lake Benmore (the turquoise coloured Lake on my website heading). Amazing views of Lake Benmore from this track. Then follow the Pylon Track in the afternoon through very rugged country more akin to the Afghanistan landscape with a chance of encountering wallabies, deer and the native NZ Falcon. We exit from this track over the Benmore Dam which is part of the Pukaki Hydro scheme. This was the biggest and most ambitious hydro scheme undertaken in New Zealand until construction of the Clyde Dam. Stay at Omarama this evening, meal in the local restaurant.
Day 2 Omarama – Dalrachney Station – Lindis – 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. Stay at Omarama that evening.
Day 3 Omarama – Alexandra
Travel up and over the Omarama Saddle (4000ft) on the St. Bathans Range. This is one of the most stunning views in the South Island. Mt. St. Bathans (7000ft), Mt. Aspiring (9950ft – one of the highest peaks in NZ), the MacKenzie Basin, Mt. Cook (12218ft – the highest mountain in NZ) and the Hawkdun Range. Descend into the West Branch of the Manuherikia River Valley crossing the stream many times down the valley, exiting 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. Stay at Alexandra that evening beside the mighty Clutha River, one of the biggest rivers in the world for volume of water carried.
Day 4 Alexandra – Cardrona
Head to Cromwell past the Clyde Dam on the 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 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. Continue climbing up to Mt. Pisa, (6000ft) one of the highest tracks on our itinerary and take in the glorious vista of 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 5 Cardrona – Arrowtown
Today we will guide you over the Crown Range to the famous Queenstown Basin, pass through the historic mining village of Arrowtown and travel part way up the Skifield Road to Coronet Peak to reach Skippers Canyon Track. This track was built by hand over a 20 year period from 1863 to provide access for goldminers working the Shotover River, one of the richest gold producing rivers in NZ’s history. The track follows the tortuous path of the Shotover River providing spectacular views of the river and surrounding mountains. The track takes us past remnants of the gold mining days to Skippers, the main settlement for the miners. There is a bungy jumping and a jet boating operation on the way for those that feel so inclined. Weather permitting we will have you back at Arrowtown around midday and the afternoon has been kept free to allow time to yourself to explore Arrowtown and nearby Queenstown, NZ’s most famous tourist destination. The meal this evening will be in the charming village of Arrowtown.
Day 6 Arrowtown – Kingston
From Arrowtown, we follow the 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, to the East of the Remarkable Range and trek through to the isolated Nevis Valley. (The Nevis can be 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 to Tenants Peak (5000ft). From the dizzying heights of the Hector Mountains we get a spectacular view out over Lake Wakatipu, the Garvie Mountains, the Old Man Range and the Mataura River, famous for its trout fishing. This evening is spent in Kingston village in Southland Country, famous for the rolling of the RRR’s.
Day 7 Kingston –
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 but is very sparsely populated in places. It incorporates the North and South Mavora Lakes nestled between the Livingstone and Thomson Mountains. This track follows the Lake shore through pristine beech forest and up to a hut at the head of the valley. Lunch is an extended affair on the edge of the lake as the solitude of this area is hard to leave behind. This evening is spent on the shores of Lake Te Anau in Fiordland, where we get to see a movie of the area in a theatre built specifically to show it. This movie was filmed by a local chopper pilot who has been flying the area since the early deer culling days. We finish the trip with prizegiving in a local restaurant. A chance to enjoy new found friends and reflect back on an amazing 7 days.
For Bookings, or information: 021 924 427