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14 Day Winter Rimu Tour - Cycling / Kayaking Option
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Brief Description
Off-season is one of the best times to hike as we'll almost always have the trails to ourselves. We've adapted the Winter Rimu for the cooler climate, and it's a great way to see New Zealand at its least crowded and most beautiful! We'll start by heading over the Southern Alps to the milder temperatures of the West Coast (50-60ーF or 10-15ーC). We'll then do a number of awesome day hikes and sea kayak trips, followed by a two-night backpacking trip up to the winter wonderland and hot springs of Welcome Flat. A comfortable night at Makarora follows, before we head up to the stunning alpine environment of Mt. Aspiring Hut. A couple of days in Queenstown follows, and then your choice of a three-day biking and sea kayaking option in some of New Zealand's most beautiful places, or skiing/snowboarding option at Queenstown's nearby ski fields. We'll then go hiking near Lake Ohau before finishing back at Christchurch after two weeks of incredible action! The Winter Rimu is simply an awesome trip.

Tour runs from May - October

Start and End Locations:

Christchurch to Christchurch

Tour starts:

Monday and ends Sunday week.

11 and 12 Day Options are available for this tour by enquiry

Breakdown of Days

Mon: Arrive, hike Castle Hill
Tue: Hike Punakaiki Rainforest and beaches
Wed: Kayak in Okarito Lagoon, hike beach and forest
Thu:Hike to Copland Hot Pools, Westland National Park
Fri: Hiking to Douglas Rock & soaking in hot pools
Sat: Hike Copland Valley and relax in Makarora
Sun: Hiking in Mount Aspiring National Park
Mon: Hiking in Mount Aspiring National Park
Tue: Free day in Queenstown (skiing/snowboarding?)
Wed: Cycling or free day in Queenstown
Thu: Sea kayaking in Milford Sound
Fri: Cycle near Lake Manapouri
Sat: Hike Mt. Cook National Park or ski at Ohau Ski Area
Sun: Depart

Tour Includes:

Hiking to Welcome Flat & Mount Aspiring, Hiking at Fox Glacier & Lake Ohau Hiking Beaches and Rainforest of the West Coast, Visiting Queenstown, Sea Kayaking in Okarito, Multi-Day Sea Kayaking/Cycling in Te Anau & Milford Sound OR Skiing/Snowboarding in Queenstown.

Trip Itinerary

Monday Arrive & Arrive, hike Castle Hill

Most people leave the Northern hemisphere on a Saturday evening, and arrive in Auckland early on Monday morning. You値l lose a day to the dateline - but you get it back on the way home! You値l immediately take the short flight to Christchurch, arriving by 10am or so. We値l meet you and head west to Castle Hill in the Kuru Tawhiti Conservation Area located in the heart of the snow-capped Southern Alps. We値l take our first hike here - a gentle one-hour walk amongst imposing limestone tors which were once a meeting place for Moa hunters of the Ngai Tahu Maori tribe. The Dalai Lama visited this area in 2002, and described it as the 鉄piritual Center of the Universe! After lunch we値l head through to Greymouth and up the coastal road to the gorgeous seaside village of Punakaiki. We always make sure the first day of our trip is relaxing and undemanding so you can recover from your flight. Depending on where you池e coming from, you値l probably find jetlag is no big deal. For instance, it痴 a 12-hour direct overnight flight from the West Coast of the USA to Auckland, and there痴 only a 5-hour time difference between New Zealand and US Pacific time. If you have more time, by all means try to arrive in New Zealand a day or so early, especially if you池e coming from further afield!

ACCOMMODATION: Paparoa Park Motels, Punakaiki (L,D)

Tuesday Hike Punakaiki Rainforest and beaches

We'll take most of the day in Punakaiki to hike amongst the limestone canyons and lush rainforest of the Inland
Pack Track. We start at a classic submergence, where the river suddenly dries up mid-stream, and goes underground for a mile or so before resurfacing at Cave Creek. The rainforest in this area is unbelievably lush, and the limestone canyons and distant hazy mountains of Paparoa National Park make this an awesome day hike. The gold miners who first opened up the area over a century ago originally established this trail. We'll also check out the Pancake Rocks and the blowholes. This is one of our favorite places in the world, and you'll see why. Finally we'll leave in the afternoon to drive down the scenic coastal road and stop at Hokitika to check out the local art galleries and a pounamu carving workshops (pounamu is Maori for jade). Then we'll carry on to Okarito Lagoon, a gem on the West Coast that is all but untouched due to it being 10 miles down a one-way road from an obscure highway turnoff. There are no shops, no restaurants and no traffic here and a population of only 31 people! We stay at the Okarito Beach House, and you'll love this place. There's plenty here so we'll stay two nights, to catch our breath and relax.

ACCOMMODATION: Okarito Beach House, Okarito. Off-the-beaten-path, and very cosy. (B,L,D)

Wednesday Kayaking in Okarito Lagoon, hike beach and forest

You've got a lot of options in Okarito. You can spend a cruisy day in this sleepy but beautiful beach town to recharge your batteries, or do some awesome hiking and kayaking. The Okarito Lagoon is unique in that it hosts the only white heron colony in New Zealand. You can sea kayak on the lagoon with a backdrop of snow-capped mountains for a few hours, then spend the rest of the day exploring the deserted beach or hiking in the rainforest. In the evening - after a traditional Kiwi roast dinner (with vegetarian options of course) - we can head out to listen for New Zealand's most famous bird, the rare and elusive kiwi. You'll almost never see a kiwi, as they are nocturnal and very shy, but they have a very distinctive call, so it's great fun to go out and listen for them. And the sunsets around here are definitely not to be missed.

ACCOMMODATION: Okarito Beach House, Okarito. (B,L,D)

Thursday Hike to Copland Hot Pools, Westland National Park

We are very privileged to be able to hike into the Copland Hot Pools. This is a stunningly beautiful mountain basin, set directly underneath the towering peaks of the Southern Alps, with one awesome accoutrement - reliable natural hot pools! It痴 a challenging six to seven hour hike of about ten miles up the Copland Valley, with a 1,000-foot elevation gain over that distance, but it痴 worth it to have all of tomorrow to take short side hikes, soak in the hot pools and just enjoy the alpine atmosphere. You don稚 have to carry a very heavy pack - our guides are pretty tough and they値l carry the lion痴 share of the load. You値l be carrying a sleeping bag, a few spare clothes, and some food - no need for any more than that. Once we get to Welcome Flat, we stay in one of New Zealand痴 most modern and spacious backcountry huts. It痴 a hut in name only - it痴 a comfortable two-storied building (a palace compared to many New Zealand huts) and you値l love it here, especially since, at this time of year, we may well have it all to ourselves!br>
ACCOMMODATION: Welcome Flat Hut. (B,L,D)

Friday Hiking to Douglas Rock & Soaking in Hot Pools

Today we'll have a very easy day, for soaking in the hot pools, enjoying the stunning scenery and maybe just hanging out with a book! We can also hike further up the track towards Douglas Rock for even more stunning scenery. But the hot pools are without a doubt the star attraction here, closely followed by the spectacular meals we'll be serving up.

ACCOMMODATION: Welcome Flat Hut. (B,L,D)

Saturday Hiking out & Relaxing in Makarora

An early start sees us on the track and walking the ten miles back to the trailhead. It痴 a little quicker this time, being slightly downhill, and we値l be back at our vehicle by mid-afternoon. Then we値l drive south to Haast for a sumptuous meal, before continuing on to the tiny hamlet of Makarora, on the edge of Mount Aspiring National Park. Here we stay in a comfortable family-style homestead, where you can sprawl by the fire with a glass of mulled wine (or hot chocolate!), before heading into the backcountry again tomorrow.

ACCOMMODATION: The Homestead, Makarora - very comfortable and spacious. (B,L,D)

Sunday Hiking in Mount Aspiring National Park

Today we have another spectacular hike which is, again, most suitable in winter conditions, due to the sheer beauty and unpopulated nature of the area at this time of year! We're going to be hiking up to Mount Aspiring Hut. The hike itself is less than three hours but we have a great side hike on the way up, to the Rob Roy Glacier. Because all our trips have two guides we can split into two groups. One can head for the fireside and one can stretch their legs still further! Mount Aspiring Hut is also a spacious and modern mountain lodge, albeit in the midst of nowhere, and the scenery is arguably even more spectacular than that on the West Coast. Here Mt. Aspiring itself rears nearly 10,000 feet straight up from behind the hut. For such a short walk in, it's amazing how far you'll feel from civilization!

ACCOMMODATION: Mount Aspiring Hut. (B,L,D)

Monday Hiking in Mount Aspiring National Park

We can have a leisurely start today, enjoying a healthy breakfast and admiring the view, before hiking back out to the trailhead. From there we have a very short drive down the road to Wanaka, then we'll cross the mountains at Cardrona Saddle to drop into Queenstown, a picturesque town set in a basin on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by mountains rearing up all round. It's a great place to spend a couple of days, and you'll find all sorts of options to pique your interest!

ACCOMMODATION: Queenstown apartments, Queenstown. (B,L)

Tuesday Free Day in Queenstown

ACTIVE NEW ZEALAND is based in Queenstown for a good reason - it痴 the adventure capital of New Zealand (if not the world!) - and you値l find all the comforts of civilization, restaurants, sidewalk cafes and window-shopping. But don稚 lose sight of the fact that there are also some fantastic hikes and bike rides at your doorstep, and all sorts of incredible options such as jet boating, bungy jumping, skydiving, horse trekking, fishing, wine tours - it痴 all here! Your guides can help you during the trip to book any of these optional activities. Queenstown is not a big place - the population is about 8,000 - but there痴 plenty to do! Or you can do nothing, if you prefer to just soak up the atmosphere or lounge about just reading a book. Of course, being winter, you can also go skiing or snowboarding for the day at one of Queenstown's nearby ski areas, such as Coronet Peak or the Remarkables (approximate cost US$100 for ski/snowboard hire, transport and lift passes).

ACCOMMODATION: Queenstown apartments, Queenstown. (B)

Wednesday Cycling or Skiing in Queenstown

Today is a cycling day, for the keen cyclists amongst us! In order to adjust for the winter conditions we'll be doing this close to Queenstown, so if you prefer to avoid cycling in winter you have most of today available for extra Queenstown options. Perhaps another day's skiing? If you cycle, we'll do one of the many cycling tracks in the area and the biking is guaranteed to suit all levels of ability. At the end of the day, we have a two-hour drive down to Lake Manapouri which we use as a base for our sea kayaking adventure to Milford Sound. We'll stay at the Lake Manapouri Inn, beautifully placed on the lake's edge. You'll love the great views out over the lake and the surrounding mountains of Fiordland National Park.

ACCOMMODATION: Manapouri Lake View Inn, Lake Manapouri. (B,L,D)

Thursday Sea Kayaking in Milford Sound

The day starts very early, as we head into Milford Sound to go sea kayaking. Milford, rated the 8th Natural Wonder of the World by Rudyard Kipling, is breathtaking. Sheer rock walls plunge thousands of feet to the sea, surrounded by snow-capped mountains! Most people see Milford Sound from the deck of a cruise ship, but we've got a better way gliding along in a sea kayak, causing minimum disruption to the seals and dolphins that are very friendly and often eager to visit. This is an awesome trip, run by specialist kayak outfitters and suitable for beginners or experts. When you get back from your morning's paddle we'll head back through to Lake Manapouri, arriving by mid afternoon so you can relax and enjoy the surroundings or take the bikes out to explore the countryside before a BBQ dinner.

ACCOMMODATION: Manapouri Lake View Inn, Manapouri. (B,L,D)

Friday Cycle near Lake Manapouri

The keen cyclists this morning will have another opportunity to get more miles under their belt exploring some of the farmland around Te Anau by bike the earlier you start the more ground you'll cover. The rest of the group can enjoy a sleep-in and have a gentle, late-morning start. We'll pick up cyclists along the way to Queenstown, where we'll stop for lunch. You'll have the chance to do some last minute shopping, banking, or whatever you need before heading back into the wilderness for the rest of our trip. After regrouping in Queenstown we'll continue up to Lake Ohau, near Mt. Cook, where we'll stay at the remote and beautiful Lake Ohau Lodge. With majestic views of Lake Ohau, Glen Mary Glacier, Mt Cook and the Lake Ohau Range, the views out the window are hard to beat. With no lights for miles around, the stars on a clear night are like nothing you've ever seen. Not a bad place for your last couple of nights in New Zealand!

ACCOMMODATION: Lake Ohau Lodge, Lake Ohau. (B,D)

Saturday Hike Mt. Cook National Park or ski at Ohau Ski Area

We値l have a leisurely start today! After a late breakfast on the balcony overlooking Lake Ohau, it痴 a short drive to Mt. Cook village, at the head of Lake Pukaki. Here we値l take an impressive hike up the Hooker Valley to a glacial lake at the base of Hooker Glacier, complete with icebergs! This is a great spot for lunch and on a clear day the views of Mt. Cook, New Zealand痴 highest mountain, are simply stunning. We値l return to Lake Ohau Lodge, where we値l enjoy a sumptuous dinner on our last night together. An option today is to spend the day skiing at the small and friendly Ohau Ski Area, one of the South Island痴 favorite backcountry ski areas(Skiing option approximately US$100).

ACCOMMODATION: Lake Ohau Lodge, Lake Ohau. (B,L,D)

Sunday Depart for home

This is the last day of your two-week trip around the South Island. We'll leave after breakfast for the four-hour drive to Christchurch, and arrive early afternoon for the flights back to Auckland. Any flight after 4pm is ideal but we can make 3pm flights if we have a little notice. Flights between Auckland and North America usually leave early evening, so we'll get you back home some time on Sunday, even though you left on Sunday evening! Flights back to Europe, of course, take a little longer. You'll be refreshed and invigorated from the good food, exercise, rest and great times you'll have had with us in New Zealand! (B,L)

""We really believe that ACTIVE NEW ZEALAND is one of the best groups providing trips around New Zealand. If your idea of a vacation is one in which you might get you feet a little wet, be out of breath at times, and still be having fun, this is a great trip. This is one vacation where the word 'stress' is never thought of and you can really sit back and enjoy the complete relaxation that overcomes you.". "
-- Dallas & Sabrina Bishop (Marquette, MI) May 2003 Winter Rimu


ACCOMMODATIONS: The Winter Rimu is an activity-oriented trip around the South Island. We've chosen interesting and comfortable accommodations throughout. In Punakaiki, Makarora, Queenstown & Ohau it's quite luxurious. In the other places, the emphasis is more on the amazing locations and our lodgings are really very spectacular. Our clients often say a real highlight of the trip is meeting their New Zealand hosts. You'll love the places we stay!

RECOMMENDED FLIGHTS: If you're flying in on the first day of the trip, or out on the last day, we recommend arriving in Christchurch by approximately 9 - 10am on Monday, and departing from Christchurch after 3 - 4pm on Sunday. Other flight times may also be possible if you are considering other flight times please let us know.

PICK-UP INFORMATION: On the first day of the trip we can either pick you up from the Holiday Inn City Centre in Christchurch at 10.30am or at the Christchurch airport in front of the information desk at 11am.

DROP OFF INFORMATION: On the last day of the trip we can drop you off at the Christchurch airport in time for the flights above, or anywhere in central Christchurch in mid-late afternoon.

FITNESS: You must have a reasonable level of fitness to enjoy yourself. You don't have to be young and extremely fit (although if you are, you won't be bored) but you should be in the habit of doing at least some exercise. Age and experience is not important. A person in their 50s who hikes every couple of weeks rather than a 22-year-old couch potato, will be happier on our trip.

EXPERIENCE: You don't have to have any outdoor experience at all to take our trips. We offer trips that allow you to make the most of New Zealand's incredible outdoor environment. Our team is highly trained including our experienced outdoor guides; we will look after you! You don't have to carry a heavy pack. You don't need to have ever been in a sea kayak to enjoy kayaking Okarito Lagoon or Milford Sound. You don't need to be a serious cyclist to enjoy some of the rides we have available either. In fact, we have so many options available that you don't need to ride at all, if you'd rather hike, fish, or just laze around! All we ask is that you be energetic and in reasonable shape and we guarantee you'll have an incredible time.

The challenges are there though, if you're looking for them. We manage the level of commitment to suit your experience and we have an impeccable safety record. We hold all relevant government licenses and our staff are highly trained and experienced.

FLEXIBILITY: Because of the off-the-beaten-path and non-commercial nature of some of our accommodations on this trip, we sometimes need to change a night stop. But we try to make as few changes as possible.

The Winter Rimu usually has two departures per date, which allows us to operate with smaller groups. The second departure follows this itinerary in reverse, so it starts by heading from Christchurch to Lake Ohau and the last night is in Punakaiki. You are welcome to select the order in which you'd like to see our country, so just let us know if you'd prefer to be on a particular departure!

INCLUDED: Your trip fare includes just about everything, specifically:

  • All guiding services. We usually have at least two guides per trip, and we generally take no more than 14 clients per trip. This means we can really make sure you have a great time!
  • Comfortable accommodations for the entire period you are with us. We can also organize accommodations for you if you want to arrive earlier or leave later.
  • All your meals, except in Queenstown where we've found people prefer to check out the wide range of restaurants. Alcohol is not generally included, although we do like to spring for a few drinks here and there!
  • All hiking, cycling, and kayaking described in the itinerary, except optional extra activities, such as skiing at Lake Ohau. We have estimated the rates for optional extra activities operated by local activity operators in US dollars, including all required equipment, but these rates may vary according to the USD/NZD exchange rate of the day. There are many optional activities available at extra cost, particularly in Queenstown. None of these activities are compulsory, and nor will your trip seem less awesome if you do the cheap or free options. Although some people enjoy sampling hang gliding, bungy jumping, jet boating, skydiving, and so on, others prefer to focus more on the hiking, paddling and cycling, which is of course the reason you're coming to New Zealand in the first place!

We'll see you soon!

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