The New Zealand: South Island Adventure was a wonderful way to experience one of the most beautiful places in the world up close and personal.
After meeting our group and our guides Tony and Pete, we headed up the coast to Kaikoura where we started the trip with an amazing swim—with well over a dozen dolphins! Even our swim guides felt that this was an amazing day. The dolphins surrounded us and didn’t leave. They enjoyed swimming around us, playing, dancing on the water. Clearly a good start to the trip.
One of the best parts of the journey was learning about what makes New Zealand so unique in the world. Many of the plants and animals we saw are not found anywhere else.
By day three we were up in Abel Tasman National Park. Following a ferry to a beach, we hiked through the woods and over a mountain or two to get to the beautiful and secluded Awaroa Lodge.
The next day was a kayak day where we saw plenty of seals in Shag Harbor.
It was difficult to leave Abel Tasman, but it was time to head to the wild west coast—a very desolate part of the country with only 14,000 inhabitants and a completely different environment that included the Pancake Rocks.
As we moved down the coast we were able to hike in a variety of environments, some of which looked like Jurassic Park while others seemed almost futuristic.
An early start on Day 9 allowed us to hike out to Lake Matheson earlier than anyone else.
There were beautiful sounds as the birds awoke and the reflections were amazing.
The next day we ran into quite the traffic jam on the way to Mt. Aspiring and the Rob Roy glacier.
On the Rob Roy glacier hike we actually saw three different glaciers at different angles and more waterfalls than we could count. Then we stopped for lunch in a field of yellow flowers.
Then it was back over the mountains to the Queenstown area where we stayed at a Central Otago Valley winery, which reminds me that the food and drink on the trip were outstanding, as were our knowledgeable and hospitable guides Pete and Tony. They knew history, culture, flora, fauna—and wine, of course!
The grand finale of the trip was the visit to Fiordland National Park and a night on the water in Milford Sound. Waterfalls everywhere, fresh fish and lobster, and a memory to last a lifetime.
Looking back, we could not be happier with the experience, the memories and the people that we met on our Wilderness Travel adventure.