Southern Lakes and Canterbury High Country 2020
16-24 April 2020Download PDF Itinerary
Southern Lakes and Canterbury High Country 2020
The Southern Alps are our backdrop as we visit scenic South Island stations that few have had the chance to explore. On this adventure we discover the high country, meet the families of the historic stations and enjoy breath-taking landscapes in the Southern Lakes, Mackenzie Country and inland Canterbury areas.
Thursday 16 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.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 lunch (at our own cost) and a chance to explore, before we make our way down the scenic Gibbston Valley to our hotel in Cromwell, the Harvest Hotel, where we stay for the next two nights. We enjoy relaxed dining in house this evening.
Friday 17 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 our Nomad driver and board their vehicle. Taking a scenic back country road through Walter Peak and Mount Nicholas Stations, our guide 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.
Saturday 18 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 the Burdon family, 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 lunch catered in the wool shed (converted into a rustic venue), 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 at Oakridge Resort, and have time to relax and unwind before we dine in the hotel restaurant this evening.
Sunday 19 April - Braemar Station
Our meandering travels today take us over the Lindis Pass and into the vast Mackenzie Basin.We stop for a Tranzit style cuppa, before travelling through the changing landscapes of the Mackenzie, to a farming property on the shores of Lake Pukaki. Braemar Station is a 15,000-hectare traditional high country station and has been run by the Mackenzie family since 1969. We will be hosted for lunch here today and learn about the station as we enjoy great views looking across the lake to the Southern Alps and the Ben Ohau Range.
Departing Braemar we travel over Burkes Pass, the terrain changing 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 at Methven Resort, with time to mingle in the guest lounge before we dine in tonight.
Monday 20 April - Mesopotamia Station
We make our way up into the headwaters of the Rangitata River today to an iconic Canterbury 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 through a fine stand of Totara, 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 Mesopotamia School – closed in 2000 - and the historic station graveyard. After a full day of discovery, we make our way back to our hotel, where we dine in again this evening.
Tuesday 21 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 have a little bit of free time to relax, before we head out to dine at a popular village restaurant this evening.
Wednesday 22 April - Akaroa and Paua Bay Station
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 their place in Banks Peninsula’s history. 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 into the city to check in to our accommodation at Pavillions Hotel, where we dine in this evening.
Thursday 23 April - Travelling to St Arnaud
It’s a day of travel today as we make our way north.Our lunch stop is in the village of Hanmer Spring, with our travels this afternoon taking us through the beech forested landscapes of the Lewis Pass. A stop near the summit of the pass provides the opportunity to enjoy a short walk to a beautiful mountain tarn. Our destination today is St Arnaud, where we enjoy our final night at Alpine Lodge appreciating the peace and solitude of the Nelson Lakes area.
Friday 24 April - Travelling Home
A leisurely breakfast this morning is followed by a short sight-seeing tour of St Arnaud Village and tranquil Lake Rotoiti.We travel down the Wairau Valley to Blenheim and on to Picton. Lunch today is in Picton (own choice and 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
- Air New Zealand one-way flight to Queenstown
- All coach travel
- Interislander one-way ferry journey
- 2 course or buffet dinners
- All breakfasts
- Morning teas on most travelling days
- Real Journeys TSS Earnslaw journey
- Mavora Lakes High Country Tour
- Glen Dene Station: tour and morning tea
- Criffel Station: tour and lunch
- Braemar Station: tour and 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