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Sustainable Luxury – New Zealand Self-drive Eco-Tour

Duration: 21 days – 20 nights

Itinerary: Christchurch to Christchurch

Tour type: Self-drive 

This luxurious package will leave even the most discerned travellers in a blissful appreciation of New Zealand hospitality. Stay in secluded and wonderful private small lodges, meet cheerful local guides on private day tours and indulge in the finest New Zealand cuisine and wines. Treat yourself, as we have taken care of all the small details! Enjoy this package guilt-free as the highest sustainable practices are embraced here. Who said eco-travel couldn’t be done in style?

Highlights:

 

  • Stay in luxurious eco-friendly lodges
  • Indulge in New Zealand finest cuisine in the comfort of your lodges
  • Explore with your own private Hybrid car
  • Stay in the heart of Dark Sky Reserve
  • Spend a day biking on the Otago Rail Trail
  • Enjoy a wine tasting on a stunning beach in the heart of Abel Tasman National Park

Inclusions:

 

  • Accommodation in a mix of hotels, B&B and luxury lodges
  •  Meals as per itinerary
  • Tour inclusions as per itinerary (private and small group)
  • One day volunteering at Mahu Whenua lodge
  •  Airport transfers on arrival
  • Car rental with full insurance and GPS
  • New Zealand Goods and Services Tax (GST)
  • E-documentation from Greenz Travel
  • 24/7 assistance in the country

Day 1 – Arrival – Christchurch

Kia Ora and Welcome to Aotearoa, New Zealand!

On arrival in Christchurch airport you will be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel.
New Zealand second biggest city, Christchurch, became infamous in 2011 following several deadly earthquakes which destroyed most of the city stone heritage buildings and deeply affected the soul of its people.  Today, visitors can witness a virtual rebirth of the city as demolitions, repairs and rebuilding occur to shape the new and vibrant face of Christchurch.

Accommodation: The George – 1 night
Includes Full breakfast

The George is a Qualmark Gold accommodation.

Day 2 – Christchurch – Mount Cook

Distance: 270km/3.5hours

Enjoy a leisurely morning in the city.
Early afternoon, make your way to the airport to collect your Hybrid car rental (Toyota Camry or similar).
Located South West of the Canterbury region and far from the lights of the cities, the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park and the Mackenzie Basin have recently been recognised “International Dark Sky Reserve”. With a Sky full of stars at night, the region charms both the tourists and the alpinists with its beautiful scenery : the National Park hosts the country’s highest mountain, Aoraki/Mount Cook, and the impressive 27km-long Tasman Glacier, which turquoise water runs down to form stunning lakes and rivers amongst the dry plains of the Mackenzie Basin.

Accommodation: Lakestone Lodge – 3 nights
Includes Full breakfast and dinner

Enviro note: Lakestone Lodge has made a commitment to environmental sustainability and endeavours to keep its environmental impact to an absolute minimum. The Lodge is off-grid and self-sufficient for power (solar PV), water (rain and bore) and sewage treatment.

Day 3 – Mount Cook

Gliding Omarama – 30 minutes flight (1 passenger per plane)
This is your chance to rise above the horizon and fly like an eagle. Smooth and gentle, more adventurous or even aerobatic, it’s up to you and your instructor. Prior to take off your instructor briefs you on the glider and together you climb aboard and aero-tow to the nearby mountains.
Released from the tow plane, you fly free, searching out lift. You will experience the beauty of the mountains and lakes of the Mackenzie Country.

Day 4 – Mount Cook

Today is at leisure to enjoy your lodge and its surrounding.

Day 5 – Mount Cook – Clyde

Distance: 171km/2 hours

Today you will drive along the turquoise blue lakes of the Southern Alps to Clyde, one of the most intact towns from the early NZ Otago Gold Rush of the 1860s. The historic village has many original stone dwellings, businesses, and public buildings. The lookout point has wonderful views of the Clutha River and the impressive Clyde Dam (New Zealand’s third largest hydro-electric dam).

Accommodation: Oliver’s of Central Otago – 2 nights
Includes continental breakfast

Oliver is a Qualmark Gold accommodation.

Day 6 – Otago Central Rail Trail

Cycling Distances : Auripo to Chatto Creek: 29.5km or 34.5km with Ophir side trip
Or Auripo to Alexandra: 46.5km or 51.5km with Ophir side trip

Bike it Now – “1 day wonder” self-guided package on the Otago Central Rail Trail
The Otago Central Rail Trail is New Zealand’s Original Great Ride. The trail follow the route of the former Otago Central branch railway line. The Poolburn Gorge Section is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the trail. It cuts through the Raggedy Range that separates the Manuherikia and Ida Valleys. Highlights of this section of the trail include the 37m high Poolburn Viaduct, two tunnels, the trails longest bridge and Central Otago stunning landscapes.

You also have the option to take a side trip to historic Ophir before cycling down Tiger Hill to the Chatto Creek Tavern. Relax and refresh yourself at the Tavern and we collect you from here, or you can carry on to Alexandra and we will pick you and your bikes up from there.

There are no steep hills, but you will need to be fit enough to ride up to 50km a day.

Day 7 – Clyde – Queenstown

Distance: 83km/1 hours

Today you will drive to Queenstown, the “adventure” capital, a sought-after destination for its picturesque lake, scenic snow-capped mountains and great dining scene.
Afternoon at Leisure.

Accommodation: Hulbert House – 2 nights
Includes Full breakfast

Hulbert House is a Qualmark Gold accommodation.

Day 8 – Queenstown

Morning at leisure to enjoy Queenstown.

Nomads Safari – Tesla Enviro experience (private)
Today your guide will collect you at your accommodation for a half day that will make a difference.

Using electricity from renewable sources, 100% zero emissions, Nomad Safari’s Tesla Model X vehicle will take you on a journey to the pristine world heritage sites of the Southern Lakes region in the best of comfort and meaningfulness – caring for our land and preserving our home.

You can either choose a half day bespoke tour capturing the breath-taking nature beauty and gold heritage of Queenstown or you are welcome to join us and help preserve the stunning high country with a rewarding conservation project experience. This exclusive excursion will take you to Queenstown Hill (Te Tapunui) for a scenic tour followed by up to 1.5 hours removing wilding pine trees.

Electric Vehicle Tour: Embark on a zero-emission tour onboard a Tesla powered using electricity from renewable energies.

Day 9 – Queenstown – Wanaka

Distance: 85km/1 hour and 40 minutes

This morning, collect your hybrid car rental from Queenstown Airport.

Wanaka has the buzz of a genuine alpine town and is the ultimate hub for outdoor adventures, and with Mount Aspiring National Park located close by it’s the perfect destination for exploring the Southern Alps.

Accommodation: Mahu Whenua – 2 nights
Includes Full breakfast and dinner

Mahu Whenua conservation legacy: Mahu Whenua means ‘’healing the land’’ in Maori. Since purchasing the property in 2005, the owner’s vision has been to regenerate the land after a history of extensive high country farming on the property. While introducing sustainable farming practices, the owner has also started a plant regeneration and native bird breeding programme. Approximately 1.36 million native trees, flaxes, shrubs and grasses have been planted. There are currently 25 hectares of predator proof fencing erected on the property with a full-time staff member dedicated to eradicating small pests and predators.
To ensure the protection of the land continues in years to come, more than 90% of the land was placed under protective covenants in 2015, making it the largest conservation undertaking on private land in New Zealand’s history.

Day 10 – Wanaka

Today is at leisure to enjoy the lodge and your surroundings.

We can also organise a educational volunteering day on the property today with the on-site ranger. Depending on activity going on that day, you may be involved in trapping, tree planting or get involved in native weka and pukeko breeding programmes.

Day 11 – Wanaka – Franz Josef

Distance: 305km/4 hours and 15 minutes

Today embark on New Zealand most scenic drive!

Leave Wanaka behind as your journey through the mighty valleys of the beautiful Mt Aspiring National Park, thick with rainforest and waterfall.
The roads winds its way towards the rugged coastline and the rainforest and offers fantastic panoramas until you reach Franz Josef, your destination for the next two nights.

Accommodation: Te Waonui– 2 nights
Includes Full breakfast and dinner on the first night

Te Waonui is a Qualmark Gold accommodation.

Day 12 – Franz Josef

Glacier Country Kayaks – Classic tour (small tour)
The Original Franz Josef Kayak Adventure Awaits …Glide effortlessly across the water taking in the panoramic views of the Southern Alps, glaciers, and untouched Jurassic rainforest reflected on the glassy waters of Lake Mapourika. Paddle into the heart of the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary, exploring the protected area with your knowledgeable guide. Tours depart at various times throughout the day. Mornings are often the calmest time of the day on the lake, a perfect time for photographers to capture the beauty of this area.
Duration: Allow 3 hours

Day 13 – Franz Josef – Westport

Distance: 255km/3 hours and 30 minutes

Resume your journey on the West Coast. With only 31,000 people leaving on this 600km long skinny stretch, the West Coast of the South Island is an untamed natural wilderness of rivers and rainforests, majestic glaciers and geological treasures. Today, visit Hokitika, a relaxed small, beach town famous for its Pounamu (jade), continue via Greymouth then Punakaiki and the famous Pancakes Rocks, until you reach Westport.

Accommodation: Birds Ferry Lodge – 2 nights
Includes Full breakfast and dinner on the first night

Birds Ferry Lodge is a Qualmark Gold accommodation.
The Lodge offers a sustainable, eco-friendly Bed and Breakfast accommodation. The owner purchased the land with the dream to create a healthy, environmentally friendly luxury B&B business and to enhance the landscape for wildlife.
Birds Ferry Lodge harvest all their our own water for use in the lodge and gardens. They have installed the latest environmentally friendly septic chamber tank to insure no residue is being released in the soil. Solar Hot Water was installed in 2009. Electricity is purchased from Meridien – New Zealand’s only carbon neutral electricity supplier.
Your host Andre is a volunteer with the Department of Conservation (DOC) and works one full day every fortnight.

Day 14 – Westport

Today is at leisure to explore the region at your own pace.

Day 15 – Westport – Nelson

Distance: 200km/2 hours and 40 minutes

Tucked away at the northern tip of the South Island, Nelson region is a great getaway for coastal walks, mountain biking, kayaking, wine tasting and superb hospitality.
It is a vibrant part of the South Island where art and businesses thrive together among a stunning natural landscape.

Accommodation: Stonefly Lodge – 3 nights
Includes Full breakfast and dinner

Stonefly sustainability: Architecturally designed and engineered, the Lodge is built from natural stone and timber acquired from the 350-acre property. This multi-award-winning lodge has been recognised for excellence in its environmental sensitive development and environmental sustainability.
The total complex is powered by alternative energy sources built on-site to reduce the project’s environmental footprint.

Day 16 – Nelson

Wine in the wilderness – Wine, Art and Wilderness (private tour)
This is a fascinating day journey that highlights and showcases the very best of this region.
On collection from your accommodation this scenic journey starts immediately as you travel to Stephens Bay to board your own personal water taxi to be transported to a stunning yet remote golden sand bay in Abel Tasman National Park for a gourmet lunch of fine, fresh local products.

After lunch your hosts guide you on a short walk into the park and will delight you with historic tales and interesting stories of the diverse collection of native plants and their uses. From easily accessible vantage points marvel at the stunning emerald water colours as tide moves over the rich golden sands. Hidden estuaries surrounded by bush and bay after golden bay may be revealed to highlight the true essence of New Zealand’s most popular coastal national park.

Returning to the beach it becomes real relaxation time to taste the very best of local wine varieties matched with the finest local produce that may include hot smoke salmon, mussels, venison, cheese or scallops and gain an appreciation of this renowned wine and food region, the elements of terroir and the personalities and philosophy’s of the locals.

The hardest part is leaving this idyllic place to be returned to your accommodation.

Day 17 – Nelson

Today is at leisure at your lodge to enjoy your surroundings.

Day 18 – Nelson – Kaikoura

Distance: 275km/3 hours and 45 minutes

Kaikoura received its name from an early Maori explorer and translates as kai (to eat) and koura (crayfish). Today Kaikoura is mostly famous as one of the best places in the world to sight sperm whales and dolphins in huge numbers, thanks to a deep underwater canyon just 500 metres off the coastline and plunging to depths of more than two kilometres at the edge of the continental shelf.
Kaikoura is a stunning destination with contrasting black sand beach and the mountain backdrop.

Earth check city: In the 1990’s the Kaikoura District Council and the community realised that the growth in visitor numbers was beginning to have effects on the natural environment and the local infrastructure. Together they decided to adopt a sustainable approach to growth in the district. A programme now known as the Earth check Sustainable Destinations programme was adopted to help measure the community’s environmental impacts.
Kaikoura is the first community in New Zealand and second in the world to achieve Benchmark status in 2002 and certification status in 2004 through the EarthCheck program.
More info on:
https://www.kaikoura.co.nz/environment/

Accommodation: Hapuku Lodge – 2 nights
Includes Full breakfast and dinner

Hapuku is a Qualmark Gold accommodation.

Day 19 – Kaikoura

Whale watch cruise (shared)
Kaikōura is one of the few places in the world where Sperm Whales can be seen year-round and close to shore. They congregate here because the 3km deep Kaikōura Canyon runs right up against the coast creating a rare system of sea currents that sustain an incredibly rich marine food chain. Sperm Whales are at the top of this food chain and the abundance of fish ensures they make the waters of Kaikōura their home.  A Whale Watch® Kaikōura is New Zealand’s ultimate all year-round nature experience offering visitors exciting close encounters with Giant Sperm Whales at an impressive 95% success rate.
Duration: 3 hours

Environment policy: as a Māori-owned company, Whale Watch cherishes the twin values of hospitality to visitors and reverence for the natural world. All Whale Watch vessels are specially designed for whale watching. The modern catamarans are powered by inboard engines and equipped with propulsion units that minimise underwater noise. All on-board toilets are self-contained and never allowed to pollute the sea. Detailed records are kept for each trip, covering personalised identification of every whale seen, its location and any unusual whale behaviour. This information is part of the on-going contribution to scientific research by Whale Watch.

Day 20 – Kaikoura – Waipara Valley

Distance: 135km/2 hours

Today you will drive South to the Waipara Valley.

Accommodation: PurePod Greystone – 1 night
Includes Full breakfast and dinner provisions

Sustainability: The PurePods are solar powered, operating fully off the grid and are deliberately free of a wi-fi connection. Guests can be assured of tranquillity, and a minimal carbon footprint.

Day 21 – Waipara Valley – Christchurch – Departure

Distance: 60km/45 minutes

Today is a short drive back to Christchurch and drop your car off on time for your homebound flight.