From: November 6 to November 17, 2017

Destination: South Island, New Zealand

  • Exploring New Zealand - FULL

    New Zealand is world famous as a paradise for those who love the outdoors. The South Island is divided by a mountain range, the Southern Alps, which are responsible for the islands' unique climate zones that include high alpine and glaciers, lush rainforest, beech forests, and plains. We will hike from hut to hut on one of the locals' favorite tracks, staying in a cozy hut overlooking the mountains and an alpine lake. We will kayak in the Milford Sound, visit the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage area with its incredible fjords and lagoons, cycle on one of New Zealand's legendary cycle trails, visit with fur seals, and taste the local wines that reflect its unique climate. $4,895 Maximum group size: 14
    THIS TRIP IS FULL. To get on a waitlist, register for the trip (no deposit required).
  • Due to earthquake damage to the road north of Kaikoura, the first 2 days of the trip have been modified.
    Note: You will need to leave North America on November 4 in order to arrive November 6

    Monday, November 6 - Snorkeling or Hiking After meeting at the Christchurch airport on the South Island we ease into the trip by travelling north to the Torlesse Winery where we will stop for lunch and some great NZ wine tasting, before heading inland to cross the Lewis Pass in the middle of the Southern Alps. We will stop here for a short nature walk amongst the towering mountains to give you a good taster of New Zealand's bush and amazing scenery. Further on we will check out the stunning Maruia falls, a great lead on to our accommodation for the night in Murchison, the ‘white-water capital’ of New Zealand. Overnight in Murchison. (L, D)

    Tuesday, November 7 - Skyline Walk and start of Angelus Circuit: We start our hiking warm-up today with the 'Skyline Walk', which takes us up the ridge behind Murchison, giving us great views back down the valley over the town and the Buller and Matikitaki rivers. Afterwards we head to Nelson Lakes National Park,, known as being wilderness country, with incredible views and marvellous solitude. The park straddles the upper Southern Alps, an area composed of beech forests, big lakes, and even bigger mountains. Our 3 day tramp starts on a relatively gentle trail through the forest alongside Lake Rotoiti to Lakehead Hut, a small mountain cabin at the head of the lake and our home for the night. We'll each carry a backpack with sleeping bag, a few spare clothes, and a share of our food. Overnight Lakehead Hut Approx 7 miles mostly flat terrain carrying an overnight backpack (B, L, D)

    Wednesday, November 8 - Hike Lakehead Hut to Angelus Hut - The Angelus Circuit has exceptional scenic diversity, and provides huge reward for effort. Many Kiwis prefer it to better-known tracks and today you'll learn why. Challenging and unforgettable, the scenery gets better with each step! We follow the Travers River through beech forest, before heading up the Hukere Stream towards the ridgeline. This is a steep hike, with an elevation gain of 3,000 ft, and it's absolutely worth it. We go at our own pace up to Angelus Hut, nestled beside a gorgeous alpine lake. This is a hidden gem, far off the beaten track and in true wilderness. Approx 6.5 miles with with 3,300 ft elevation gain Overnight Angelus Hut (B, L, D)

    Thursday, November 9 - Hike Angelus Hut to Lake Rotoiti - This morning we wake up on top of the world! After breakfast, we'll hike out along the barren Robert Ridge with dramatic views of Tasman Bay and the mountainous Kahurangi National Park in the distance. We'll descend below the treeline again into native beech forest, completing our circuit on the shores of Lake Rotoiti. After arriving back in Saint Arnaud, we'll head across the Southern Alps to New Zealand's iconic West Coast - a dramatic and rugged coastline stretching 372 miles, with a population of only 40,000 people. From the high mountains to the sea - indeed, this is a day of the contrasts that make New Zealand such an amazing country. We'll spend tonight in the seaside village of Punakaiki, recounting tales of our adventures over fish and chips at the local pub! 7 miles with 450 ft elevation gain and 2,900 ft loss Overnight Punakaiki. (B, L, D)

    Friday, November 10 - Hike Punakaiki Rainforest - We'll spend the morning hiking the Inland Pack Track through temperate rainforest and limestone canyons, following in the footsteps of gold miners who established this trail over a century ago. While we're in Punakaiki, we'll also check out the famous Pancake Rocks and blowholes - aptly named limestone formations that have been sculpted through the relentless pounding of the Tasman Sea. Travelling along the scenic coastline, we'll stretch our legs in Hokitika and check out local art galleries and pounamu-carving workshops (pounamu is Maori for jade), before carrying on to the township of Franz Josef where we'll stay for the next couple of nights. Nestled in the rainforest-clad foothills of the Southern Alps, Franz Josef is the heart of New Zealand glacier country. Approx. total for day is a mostly flat 4 miles hiking . Overnight Rainforest Retreat (B, L, D)

    Saturday, November 11 - Hiking and Kayaking - This morning we'll take a short journey over to Okarito, a little-known beach community on the coast. We'll take to the water in sea kayaks and glide along a picturesque lagoon, set against a stunning backdrop of snow-capped peaks. Okarito is home to the only native white heron colony in New Zealand, as well as a host of other interesting birds. Later we'll hike through lush coastal forest to Three Mile Lagoon, and wander along the beautiful stony beach next to crashing waves. Later we'll head back to Franz Josef where you'll have the option to take another hike or relax in the hot tub, before enjoying a traditional Kiwi roast dinner. Kayak 2-4 hours and hike 4.5 miles Overnight Rainforest Retreat (B, L, D)

    Sunday, November 12 - Hike near Franz Josef Glacier - With some 140 glaciers making their way down from the Southern Alps, this area is fittingly known as glacier country. Few sights equal the spectacle of two of these giant frozen rivers (Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers) imperceptibly grinding their way down through temperate rainforest to just 250 metres (820 feet) above sea level. We'll spend most of the day near Franz Josef Glacier hiking up through the forest to either Alex Knob or Roberts Point, both of which give incredible views of the ice. These hikes can be inaccessible in wet weather, so we may opt to hike close to the terminal face of Fox Glacier, around Lake Matheson and to the Blue Pools near Haast Pass instead. From Franz Josef, we'll travel down the coast through lush forest and then inland to Makarora, a small village bordering Mt Aspiring National Park, with incredible views of the snow-capped mountains. Hiking Approx. 4.5 miles Overnight Makarora (B, L, D)

    Monday, November 13 - Biking Hawea River Trail - The landscape this morning changes rapidly from dense beech forests to semi-arid terrain. Arriving at Lake Hawea, we'll be fitted with a 21-speed front-suspension specialized mountain bike for a scenic ride along the Hawea River Trail. This gently undulating track follows the Hawea and Clutha Rivers through the rugged Central Otago landscape to the charming lakeside town of Wanaka. We’ll stop here for lunch before a short but dramatic journey (not on our bikes) over the Cardrona Saddle to Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, our base for the next couple of days. We’ll sleep peacefully tonight at a lakefront hotel located in the heart of Queenstown. Overnight Crowne Plaza Hotel Queenstown (B, L)

    Tuesday, November 14 - Free Day in Queenstown - Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand (if not the world!) and all the comforts of civilization are packed into this tiny resort town: restaurants galore, sidewalk cafes, stylish lounge bars, day spas, and boutiques. There is an endless variety of incredible optional activities here: horse trekking, a gondola, kayaking, fishing, winery tours, hang gliding, mountain biking, bungy jumping, jet boating, skydiving, as well as some great hiking opportunities. Or you can just soak up the atmosphere or lounge about reading a book. The guides will happily share their favourite haunts and point you in the right direction for anything you want to do on your free day today. Overnight Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (no meals)

    Wednesday, November 15 - Hike Routeburn Track - This morning, we set off for New Zealand's largest and perhaps most spectacular national park, Fiordland. We'll hike a short section of the famous Routeburn Track with unsurpassed views of the Hollyford Valley, as well as Lake Marian and Mt Christina. We'll then drive through the Homer Tunnel, emerging at the top of a spectacular glacier-carved valley for a memorable descent to the shore of Milford Sound. Rudyard Kipling rated this fiord as the eighth natural wonder of the world and it is truly breathtaking, with steep granite walls plunging over a thousand metres to the Tasman Sea and waterfalls cascading into deep inky water. Tonight we'll stay at Milford Lodge, to make the most of our wonderfully remote location. Hiking approx. 3 miles with an elevation gain and loss of 1,300 ft. Overnight Milford Lodge Chalets, Milford Sound (B, L, D)

    Thursday, November 16 - Sea kayaking and hiking -Most people see Milford Sound from the deck of a ship, but not us! Gliding along in sea kayaks causes very little disruption and gives us the best chance of getting up close and personal with the friendly fur seals and dolphins that are sometimes in the area. It's an early start this morning, but the calm waters and peaceful solitude are ample reward. Fully kitted out in double sea kayaks and lead by a specialist kayak guide, the paddling is equally suitable for beginners and experts alike. After kayaking, we'll enjoy a tasty lunch before heading out to explore more of Fiordland's wilderness on foot. This afternoon we'll take a hike on the famous Kepler Track, another of New Zealand's Great Walks. Beginning at Rainbow Reach, we follow the track through mountain beech forest and along the Waiau River. It's an awesome hike with spectacular views! Tonight we'll stay on the edge of Lake Manapouri, enjoying the scenery and the delicious local fare. Kayak 4-5 hours and hike 4.5 miles (a shorter option is available) Overnight Lake Manapouri Inn (B, L, D)

    Friday, November 17 - Return to Queenstown, depart for home After breakfast we'll head back through the rolling hills and mountains of Southland to Queenstown, in time for flights back home. The drive time is approximately 2 hours and you can plan to fly out of Queenstown anytime after 1pm. We’ll leave refreshed and invigorated from the good food, exercise, rest, and great times we've had and go home completely in love with New Zealand!
  • $4895 (see this page for discounts) $400 deposit. You can read our cancellation policies here

    Trip Includes

    • A local New Zealand guide and an Adventures in Good Company guide
    • Eleven nights in twin/double room or shared bunk room with shared bathroom
    • All meals as described on the itinerary
    • All transportation with New Zealand
    • All entrance fees and activities as described in the itinerary
    Not included: Transportation to the Christchurch airport or from Queenstown airport, alcoholic beverages, gratuities.
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  • Common Questions

    If you’ve never traveled with us before, you may have some questions about how we do things and what you can expect. We’ve answered the most common ones below and are always available by phone or email to answer any others.

    How do I pay for my trip?

    You can make the deposit by submitting a secure form with your credit card information after filling out the registration form or calling us with your card information. We will send you an invoice for the balance due with your Predeparture Information 4 months before an International trip and 3 months before a domestic trip. You can get a 3% discount for paying the balance by check.

    What if I’m coming alone?

    The majority of women who travel with us come by themselves. If you want to pay a single supplement to guarantee your own room, or if you want to share a room with someone with whom you are traveling, you can indicate that on the registration form. Otherwise we randomly assign roommates and rotate every time we change lodging – it’s a great way to get to know different women on the trip.

    Can you accommodate special diets?

    We can always accommodate vegetarian, gluten-free, and omnivore diets. On most trips we can also accommodate lactose-free, vegan, and other restricted diets, although in some locations the availability of special food may be limited. If in doubt about your specific dietary needs, please give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email.

    What if I have to cancel my trip?

    The amount of your refund depends on how close to the trip you cancel and whether it is a domestic or an international trip. You can read our cancellation policies here. We highly recommend travel insurance because cancellations are always unexpected; we will send you additional information about insurance when you register.

    Will my family be able to get in touch with me in case of an emergency?

    Yes, we always send out emergency contact information. On a few trips, because of limitations in communication, the best approach is to give them the office number and let us make the contact.

    What other information will you send me?

    When you register, we’ll send you a Trip Summary that includes the itinerary, travel information, and a packing list. Three to four months before your trip we’ll send you Pre-Departure information that includes detailed information on how to get to the trip starting point, pre- or post-trip lodging suggestions, suggested books and websites etc. Four to six weeks before the trip, we’ll send you a list of everyone who is registered along with their travel plans; and a Pre-Trip letter with the name of your guide(s) and how to contact them if your arrival is delayed as well as any other important updates.

    Do you help with pre-trip and/or post-trip hotel reservations?

    For international trips, if you want to stay at the hotel where we’re staying the first night before the trip, or at the hotel we’re staying the last night after the trip, we’re happy to make a reservation for you. Otherwise our PreDeparture Information will have hotel suggestions. Our travel agent is also happy to help you with this.

    How does the waitlist process work and how often do people cancel?

    If you are interested in a trip that is full, you should sign up here. If there is a cancellation, we send out an email to everyone who has expressed interest and ask them to respond within 24 hours. If more than one person is interested, we give the space to the person who has traveled with us before or in the order of being put on the waitlist. Frequently, even when we have a long wait list, it is the last person to sign up who is still available to go. Whether or not there will be a cancellation is completely unpredictable, although not uncommon.

    What is the role of the guide(s)?

    On every trip, the primary roles of the guide(s) are to ensure your safety and to make sure that, to the extent possible, you are having the trip you want. The guide(s) will also make sure that you know what is happening each day and what you need to bring to be prepared. On domestic trips the guide(s) will also likely be driving, preparing picnic lunches and sometimes other meals, providing skills instruction, and giving you information about the natural history of the area. On any trip where we partner with another company (which is most international trips and some trips that require special equipment), the AGC guide will work with the local guide to make sure that the trip is conducted in accordance with the AGC philosophy.

    What if I have more questions?

    Give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email. A Program Manager is assigned to each trip. Once you have registered, she will send you a registration confirmation letter that includes her name and email, and she will be your primary contact. Her job is to make sure that you get all your questions answered and that you feel completely prepared for your adventure.

    What if I'm the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape/only single woman/only mom on the trip?

    You might be. Someone has to be the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape person on the trip. And while the great majority of our trips have both single and non-single women, and moms and non-moms, sometimes they don't. But it doesn't matter if you're "different" in any of those ways - what you will share with everyone else is a desire to experience adventure in your life, and an appreciation of the joy and camaraderie of being in an all women's group.

Trip highlights

  • Experiencing the breathtaking beauty of New Zealand on foot, on a bike, and in a kayak
  • Hiking from the Lakehead Hut to the Angelus Hut on some of New Zealand's most beautiful trails with spectacular views
  • Exploring the Punakaiki Rainforest on foot
  • Biking along the Hawae River trail
  • Sea Kayaking in Milford Sound and watching the fur seals and dolphins

Register for this trip today

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