Southern Lakes and Canterbury High Country 2019
10-18 April 2019Download PDF Itinerary
With the majestic Southern Alps a constant backdrop, we explore more sweeping high country properties and landscapes in the Southern Lakes area, the Mackenzie Country and inland Canterbury, with historic Mesopotamia Station a special highlight.
Wednesday 10 April - Travelling to Cromwell
An early start from all destinations this morning as we are transferred to Wellington Airport where our adventure begins...with a morning flight to Queenstown via Christchurch (and time for a bite of lunch at Christchurch airport at our own cost), we continue our journey. Flying into Frankton airport is an incredible experience as the aircraft drops in over the tops of Coronet Peak and the craggy Remarkable Ranges. Our coach and driver await us at the airport to whisk us off to Arrowtown for a wander and an afternoon coffee before we make our way down the scenic Gibbston Valley to our hotel in Cromwell, where we stay for the next two nights. We enjoy relaxed dining at our hotel this evening.
Thursday 11 April - Mavora Lakes High Country Tour
A memorable excursion awaits us today, as we make our way back to Queenstown to join Nomad Safaris, for their unique Mavora Lakes High Country Tour.Our tour starts with a journey across Lake Wakatipu on the TSS Earnslaw. Known as the “lady of the lake”, the Earnslaw has been plying these waters since 1912. Disembarking at Walter Peak Station, we meet the Nomad crew and board their vehicles. Taking a scenic back country road through Walter Peak and Mount Nicholas Stations, our guides will acquaint us with the history of the pioneering high-country farming of this tussock covered landscape. The scenery changes as we near Mavora Lakes where we stop to enjoy a picnic lunch (included) and have time to stroll along the lake’s edge and in the surrounding beech forest. Continuing our journey this afternoon we complete a circuit, as we travel through rolling green northern southland countryside, predominantly dotted with sheep and deer. We pass the settlements of Mossburn and Fiver Rivers, Garston and Kingston, before following the eastern shoreline of Lake Wakatipu back to Queenstown, and then returning to Cromwell.
Friday 12 April - Glen Dene and Criffel Stations
A leisurely start today, as we travel the short distance to a property on the shores of Lake Hawea. Glen Dene Station is owned by Jerry and Lesley Burdon, and is flanked by Lake Hawea on its eastern boundary and Lake Wanaka on its western side.With magnificent views of mountain and lake, we enjoy morning tea here and an introduction to station life, learning about the diversification this property has undergone to incorporate trophy hunting. We then make our way to Lake Wanaka, where we visit Criffel Station. After a delicious high-country farm lunch, we enjoy a tour of this historic 2000-hectare deer farm, providing expansive views of the surrounding mountain ranges and an insight into the management of the property, their focus on providing a balanced and healthy environment for their land and animals. After our tour if time permits, we take a drive around to Glendhu Bay, where the vibrant colours of autumn will be starting to make their mark. Returning to the village, we check in to our accommodation, and have time to relax and unwind before we dine in the hotel restaurant this evening.
Saturday 13 April - Wanaka to Methven
Our meandering travels today take us over the Lindis Pass and into the vast Mackenzie Basin. A stop at Tarras will allow us to view the tiny museum dedicated to Shrek the celebrity merino, and to browse the merino wool and gift shops.Our lunch stop today (included) is at Poppies Cafe in the village of Twizel. A drive along the Pukaki Hydro-Canal this afternoon provides an interesting detour, and later we visit Lake Alexandrina, the smaller and little known neighbour of the majestic Lake Tekapo. What it lacks in size it makes up for in beauty and tranquility, and Lake Alexandrina makes a perfect off-the-beaten-track detour.
Travelling over Burkes Pass the terrain changes to typically rolling and much lusher South Canterbury countryside, while our destination of Methven is on the edge of the expansive Canterbury Plains, the largest area of flat arable land in NZ. We check in to our accommodation, with time to mingle in the guest lounge before we dine in tonight.
Sunday 14 April - Mesopotamia Station
We make our way up into the headwaters of the Rangitata River today to an iconic South Island High Country property, Mesopotamia Station.Nestled amongst the Southern Alps, Mesopotamia was named by Samuel Butler in 1860, who, made famous for his novel “Erewhon”, also farmed on Mesopotamia. Today it is run by the Prouting family, a 25,000 acre traditionally farmed, merino, deer and cattle farm surrounded by the majestic Two Thumbs mountain range and the huge braided Rangitata River.
There is much to see in this area; on our way up this scenic valley we stop at Peel Forest where we take a short walk into Mills Bush through a fine Totara stand, one almost three metres across, and thought to be about 1,000 years old. We enjoy our morning cup of tea here before continuing up the gorge, stopping again to view the tiny Mt Peel Church built out of greywacke stone from the Rangitata River. As we approach Mesopotamia this massive river valley opens out before us. Four-wheel drive vehicles will meet us at the station to take us on a tour over part of the property, including the game park where you are likely to see Himalayan tahr, chamois and red deer, while lunch today will be in the shearers quarters and catered locally (included). We will also see the little Mesopotamia School – closed in 2000 - and the historic station graveyard. Making our way back to our Methven Hotel we dine in again this evening.
Monday 15 April - Mt Torlesse Station and Waimakariri Gorge
Another high-country adventure awaits us today, as we travel into country near Arthurs Pass and the Mid Canterbury foothills.Travelling to the Waimakariri Gorge, we switch modes of transport to off-road vehicles for a scenic four wheel drive adventure across Mt Torlesse Station. This station is a 10,000 acre working sheep and cattle farm and you will get to experience the thrill and excitement of off-roading while taking in the spectacular alpine scenery and learning about the farm. After an interesting morning we enjoy a delicious lunch at a rustic country café, after which we board a Hamilton jet boat – to take us on a spectacular river journey into the heart of the Waimakariri Gorge. Finally we return to Methven where we enjoy a little bit of free time, before we head out to enjoy dining at a popular village restaurant this evening.
Tuesday 16 April - Paua Bay Station, Akaroa and Christchurch
Departing Methven this morning our travels today take us to Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula.Akaroa is a charming French and Victorian Village, set around a harbour formed by an extinct volcanic crater, and we have the chance to explore and enjoy lunch here (own choice and cost) before we meet our hosts for this afternoon who will transfer us out to their property. Murray and Sue Johns farm Paua Bay, a coastal hill country property with bush running down to the rugged coast. Their family arrived in the area in 1837, and we will hear the tale of the family’s endeavours and how it relates to our social history, the environment and the animals. We hear about farm management practices and enjoy a shearing and dog display, with an afternoon cuppa provided.
Our stay is in Christchurch tonight, and we make our way in to the city to check in to our accommodation, where we dine in this evening.
Wednesday 17 April - Homebush Station, Travelling to Hanmer Springs
We visit Homebush Station near Hororata this morning, where we will enjoy our last taste of South Island farming hospitality.Homebush is a working farm of 1350 acres, and has been in continuous ownership by the Deans family since it was first taken up in 1850. A cluster of heritage farm buildings remain on the property and provide a link to the earliest European settlement of the Canterbury Plains. Learn about the story of the Deans family, from pioneering days through to the present, including the devastating effects of the 2010 Christchurch earthquake. Morning tea provided by our host Louise Deans will see us on our way as we make our way back through the inland scenic route to Rangiora where we stop for lunch (own expense). This afternoon we continue our travels north to our destination Hanmer Springs. There should be time before dinner to soak in the natural mineral waters of the thermal pools for which this area is so renowned (optional), or alternatively a wander in the leafy grounds of the historic St Mary’s hospital or the exotic forests of Hanmer. We dine at a restaurant adjacent to our accommodation this evening.
Thursday 18 April - Travelling Home
An early start this morning as we travel north on our way to Picton, travelling via Kaikoura and the Pacific Coast.A fascinating journey but only if weather conditions allow us to travel through this still vulnerable landscape. The alternative is via the Lewis Pass and Murchison. Lunch today is in Picton (own expense) prior to departing on our afternoon sailing returning us to Wellington. Finally, we bid our fellow travellers goodbye before being transferred to our home locations.
The cost of the tour includes
- Homebush Station, tour and morning tea
- Air New Zealand one-way flight to Queenstown
- All coach travel
- Interislander one-way ferry transfer
- 2 course or buffet dinners
- All Breakfasts
- Morning teas on most travelling days
- Real Journeys TSS Earnslaw, one-way journey
- Mavora Lakes High Country tour
- Glen Dene Station, tour and morning tea
- Criffel Station, lunch and tour
- Poppies Café Twizel, lunch
- Mesopotamia Station, tour and lunch
- Mt Torlesse Station 4WD tour, Waimakariri River jet boat ride and lunch
- Paua Bay Station, tour and afternoon tea