Kayaking in Fiordland National Park
Overseas Adventure & Environmental Science Studies in New Zealand
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Welcome to New Zealand! As you arrive in Queenstown, you’ll take a car to your accommodations and get settled. There’s a lot to explore on this trip as an honorary Kiwi, and your first stop is over to Queenstown Hill Time Walk for a short but challenging hike up Te Tapuni, followed by a 2-3 hour trek through the forest. You’ll get properly introduced to the area with historical information along the way, and a massive payoff at the end with gorgeous 360-degree views of Queenstown. Grab dinner in town before retiring for the evening.
After an early breakfast, you’ll start your journey to Fiordland National Park. Home base for most of the trip will be Te Anau, where you’ll check in to your hotel and venture over to the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary to see tons of unique species. After a lunch break, you’ll experience another favorite local activity, a guided tour through glowworm caves. There, explore the extraordinary underground treasures, filled with natural beauty like a waterfall, rock carved by water passing through, and a literal light in the darkness from hundreds of glowworms who inhabit the caves. Spend the rest of the day strolling around Te Anau, and sampling the local fare.
Fuel up with a hearty – and early – breakfast before you head out to your first day of kayaking. Meet your guide to get fitted with gear and a kayak, then take a bus over to Lake Manapouri where you’ll make your way through wooded islands and over Wilmot Pass until you reach your destination, Doubtful Sound. Of the two major fiords in the area, Doubtful Sound is the most isolated and serene. As you paddle the remote area, take in unmatched views of mountains, valleys, and wildlife through this truly “off the grid” opportunity. Stop for a picnic lunch at Commander Peak, then continue your water journey for the rest of the day. After your adventure, you’ll take a bus back to Te Anau for the night.
Day four focuses on the second fiord, Milford Sound. Take your time on this commute from Te Anau as Milford Road itself is an epic part of the journey. Make a few stops along the way for glacier valley views at Eglinton Valley, a quick walk to Mirror Lakes, a photo op at Hollyford Valley Lookout, bird spotting at Monkey Creek, and a 20-minute rainforest loop walk to The Chasm. Once you arrive in Milford, you’ll board a vessel for an immersive overnight experience as you cruise around Milford Sound with a nature specialist on board to provide information about the area, stop for a short hike along the famous Milford Track, and enjoy a delicious multi-course meal on board.
After you wake up and enjoy breakfast on the water, you’ll disembark and meet your guide on land for part two of the Milford Sound experience. Today you’ll spend more up close and personal time with the water as you take a guided kayak tour of the area. Take in majestic views of mountaintops, glaciers, and waterfalls as you share the space with local water friends like seals and dolphins. Stop for lunch on the beach, and wrap up the afternoon with a hike through a beech forest at Tutoko Valley Route. Take a bus back to Te Anau where you’ll have dinner in town.
After bouncing back and forth for a couple of days, today you’ll get to explore Te Anau in more depth. In the morning, you’ll hike the island for a few hours on Manapouri Track. From there, hop on a kayak to venture out into the area from sea level. After your full day in the sun, have an early dinner in town at one of the local spots that promotes farm/lake-to-table eats. Once you’re packed up, start your commute back to Queenstown.
Grab breakfast in the morning and take a car to Queenstown airport to head home refreshed and recharged.
Rudyard Kipling named Milford Sound the 8th wonder of the world, and after this trip, it’s easy to see why. Fiordland is a slice of heaven on earth and offers a truly ‘unplugged’ experience as you connect with nature in its purest form on this overseas adventure.
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