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14 Day Winter Rimu Tour - Ski / Snowboard Option
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Brief Description
Winter is one of the best times to hike in New Zealand as we’ll almost always have the tracks to ourselves, and with all the snow-capped mountains, it’s a beautiful time of year to explore. Our maritime climate ensures we have mild winters suitable for outdoor pursuits (typical day temperature is about 45-60°F or 8-15°C) and the Winter Rimu trip is well adapted to suit the cooler conditions. We do two incredible multi-day guided backpacking trips to alpine hot pools, glaciers and remote snowfields. We take some of the best day hikes in the country and head out for unforgettable sea kayaking and biking, or if you prefer, a couple of days of skiing or snowboarding in the mountains surrounding Queenstown. We maintain plenty of options so we can make sure the trip suits everyone and we generally have two guides per trip to take good care of you. The accommodations vary – for over half the trip we stay in accommodations of comfortable standards (B&Bs, lodges, etc... ) and for the rest of the trip we have chosen more rustic accommodations in order to be in the most beautiful, isolated and off-the-beaten-track places in New Zealand. 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 Mt John
Tue: Hike Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park or ski at Ohau Ski Area
Wed: Hike Mt Aspiring National Park
Thu: Hike Mt Aspiring National Park
Fri: Free day in Queenstown
Sat: Multi-day cycling and kayaking OR skiing/snowboarding options
Sun: Multi-day options continued
Mon: Multi-day options continued
Tue: Hike to Copland Hot Pools, Westland National Park
Wed: Hike to Douglas Rock and soak in the hot pools
Thu: Hike Copland Valley and relax in Okarito
Fri: Kayak Okarito Lagoon, hike beach and forest
Sat: Hike Punakaiki rainforest and beaches
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, hike Mt. John

Most people leave the Northern Hemisphere on a Saturday evening, and arrive in Auckland early on Monday morning. Youll lose a day to the dateline – but you get it back on the way home! You’ll take a short flight to Christchurch in the South Island arriving by around 10am. We’ll meet you there, and then head south for a hike at Mt. John. We’ll walk along the shores of Lake Tekapo then head uphill through fragrant wilding pine, before emerging above the treeline for breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Then we’ll drive to the remote and beautiful Lake Ohau Lodge, near Mt. Cook. With awesome views of Lake Ohau, Glen Mary Glacier, Mt. Cook and the Lake Ohau Range, you’ll see why this is one of our favourite winter hideaways! The stars here are amazing too, as there is no artificial light for miles in any direction. You’ll have the rest of the afternoon to relax at the lodge or head out for another short walk to explore your surroundings. We always make sure the first day of our trips is relaxing and undemanding, so you can recover from your flight. Depending on where you’re coming from, you’ll probably find jetlag is no big deal. For instance, it’s a 12-hour direct overnight flight from the West Coast of the USA to Auckland, and there’s only a five-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’re coming from further afield.

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

Tuesday Hike Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park or ski at Ohau Ski Area

We’ll have a leisurely start today. After a late breakfast on the balcony overlooking Lake Ohau, it’s a short drive to Mt. Cook village, at the head of Lake Pukaki. Here we’ll take an impressive hike up Hooker Valley to a glacial lake complete with icebergs! This is a great spot for lunch and on a clear day the views of Mt. Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain, are stunning. Then we’ll return to Lake Ohau where we’ll enjoy a sumptuous dinner. Another option today is to spend the day skiing at the small and friendly Ohau Ski Area, one of the South Island’s more remote backcountry ski fields. (Skiing option about US$100.)

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

Wednesday Hike Mt. Aspiring National Park

Today we start the first of two memorable multi-day hikes. This hike is well suited to winter conditions, due to the sheer beauty and unpopulated nature of the area at this time of year. It is a gentle valley walk of less than three hours, but we have a great side hike to Rob Roy Glacier on the way to the hut, which is considered one of the best day hikes in the South Island. The trail passes tumbling rivers, towering snowfields and huge mountain peaks straight from the set of “The Lord of the Rings”! We hike up a narrow glacial valley, coming out of the forest in a dramatic alpine cirque, with incredible views of the Southern Alps. When we arrive at the hut, you can continue further up the valley or simply head for the cosy fireplace and relax. Mt. Aspiring Hut is a spacious mountain hut, albeit in the middle of nowhere, with floor to ceiling windows that perfectly frame Mt. Aspiring – one of New Zealand’s tallest peaks at nearly 10,000 feet – at the head of the valley. We limit numbers on this hike to minimise our impact on the area. If you prefer not to stay in the hut, we offer an alternative option, staying at the more luxurious Lake Wanaka Lodge and doing day hikes into the surrounding hills, or just relaxing and enjoying Wanaka’s laid-back, small town atmosphere! The choice is yours.

ACCOMMODATION: Mt. Aspiring Hut, Mt. Aspiring National Park (B,L,D)

Thursday Hike Mt. Aspiring National Park

We have a leisurely start today, enjoying a healthy breakfast and admiring the views, before hiking back out to the trailhead. From here we have a short drive to Wanaka where we’ll meet up with the rest of the group. Then we’ll cross the Cardrona Saddle and drop into Queenstown, a picturesque town set in a basin on the edge of Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by snowy peaks. 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)

Friday Free day in Queenstown

ACTIVE NEW ZEALAND is based in Queenstown for a good reason – it’s the adventure capital of New Zealand and you’ll find all the comforts of civilisation: massage therapists, restaurants, sidewalk cafés, window-shopping and adrenaline-pumping activities! You’ll also find incredible optional activities here too, such as hang gliding, bungy jumping, jet boating, skydiving, horse trekking, fishing and winery tours. Many of our clients have noted that the Winter Rimu caters very well to people with quite different interests and our time in Queenstown is a good example. For instance, there are great hiking, biking and kayaking opportunities in this region. Also, being winter, you can go skiing or snowboarding for the day at one of four world-class ski areas – all within an hour’s drive from central Queenstown (approximate cost US$100 for ski or snowboard hire, transport and lift pass – available as snow conditions suit, generally from July to September). Or you can do nothing and just soak up the atmosphere, or lounge about reading a book.

ACCOMMODATION: Queenstown apartments, Queenstown (B)

Saturday Start multi-day options

When you book, you have the choice of a multi-day cycling and kayaking option in Fiordland National Park or a skiing/snowboarding option in Queenstown. Each is wonderful in its own way, so we’ll let you decide! After breakfast together, we head off for our various activities:

Saturday to Monday - Multiday options continued

Cycling and kayaking Option in Manapouri and Milford Sound Saturday (continued)
Today is a cycling day, for the keen cyclists among us! You’ll be fitted with a 21-speed front-suspension Specialized mountain bike for a spectacular ride near Queenstown, or if you prefer to avoid cycling in winter, you’ll have most of today available for extra Queenstown options. 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 to Lake Manapouri, which will be the base for our sea kayaking adventure to Milford Sound. We’ll stay at Lake Manapouri Inn, with great views over the lake and the surrounding mountains of Fiordland National Park. ACCOMMODATION: Lake Manapouri Inn, Manapouri (B,L,D)

Sunday Sea kayak Milford Sound The day starts very early this morning as we head towards Milford Sound. Milford was rated the 8th Natural Wonder of the World by Rudyard Kipling and it’s easy to see why. Sheer granite walls plunge thousands of feet into calm indigo water, broken only by the reflection of the towering snowy peaks that border the sound. 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 finish your paddle, we’ll head back to Lake Manapouri and arrive by mid afternoon for a BBQ dinner. ACCOMMODATION: Lake Manapouri Inn, Manapouri (B,L,D)

Monday Cycle near Lake Manapouri This morning, cyclists will have another opportunity to stretch their legs, biking through the peaceful rolling farmland surrounding Te Anau. The earlier you set out, the more ground you’ll cover. The rest of the group can enjoy a late-morning start and we’ll pick up cyclists on our way to Queenstown, where we’ll stop for lunch and meet up with the skiers/snowboarders. You’ll have the chance to do any last-minute shopping, send postcards home, or whatever you need before heading back into the wilderness for the rest of the trip.

Skiing/Snowboarding Option in Queenstown (available as snow conditions suit, generally July-Sep)

With Coronet Peak, the Remarkables, Cardrona and Treble Cone ski areas all within an hours drive of Queenstown, there are plenty of skiing and snowboarding options for novices and experts alike, and being locals we’ll be happy to point you to the best of them! You’ll get two full days enjoying the snow, with lift passes and transportation to either ski area provided. If you want to brush up on your skills, or if you’re relatively new to the sport, lessons are a great option. You can bring your own gear, or you can rent gear down here (gear hire is about US$40 per day). Conditions vary throughout the season, but you can expect good skiing and riding, on and off-piste, with scenery that will blow you away! If you want to go skiing, but you don’t want to miss out on Milford Sound, you can also use today or tomorrow to take a day trip to the world famous Fiordland National Park. We’ll pass onto your guide that it’s something that you’re keen to do and they can help arrange this for you.

ACCOMMODATION: Queenstown apartments, Queenstown (B)

Sunday Skiing or snowboarding

Now that you’ve got your ‘ski-legs’, today is the day to really carve it up – have fun out there!

ACCOMMODATION: Queenstown apartments, Queenstown (B)

Monday Hike to Copland Hot Pools, Westland National Park

We’ll spend the morning relaxing in Queenstown before rejoining the cycling and kayaking group around lunch time and heading north to Makarora.

After regrouping we’ll head through the stunning South Lakes over Haast Pass to the tiny hamlet of Haast, located on the West Coast, where we’ll enjoy a homely meal – venison pie!
ACCOMMODATION: World Heritage Heartland Hotel, Haast (B,D)

Tuesday Hike to Copland Hot Pools, Westland National Park

We are very privileged to be able to do this hike. We’ll walk into a stunningly beautiful mountain basin, set directly underneath the towering peaks of the Southern Alps, with an awesome accoutrement – reliable natural hot pools! It’s a challenging six to seven hour hike (17km/10 miles) up the Copland Valley with a gradual 1,000 foot elevation gain, but it’s worth it to have all of tomorrow to take side hikes, soak in the hot pools and enjoy your alpine surroundings. You don’t have to carry a very heavy pack – our guides are pretty tough and they’ll carry the lion’s share of the load. You’ll be carrying a backpack with your sleeping bag, a few spare clothes, and some food – no need for any more than that. Once we reach the hot pools, we stay in one of New Zealand’s most modern and spacious backcountry huts. It’s a hut in name only – it’s a comfortable two-storied building (a palace compared to many New Zealand huts) and one of the best things about hiking this track in winter is we may well have it all to ourselves!

ACCOMMODATION: Welcome Flat Hut, Westland National Park (B,L,D)

Wednesday Hike to Douglas Rock and soak in the hot pools

If you’d like to try skiing or snowboarding down under, we’ve got just the thing! With Coronet Peak and Remarkables ski areas close to Queenstown, and Cardrona ski area just an hour away, there’s a huge variety of terrain for beginners and experts alike. Whether you’re keen to brush up on your skills or learn for the first time, private lessons are a great option (private lessons about US$45 per person per hour). You can bring your own gear with you on the trip, or if you’d prefer, you can rent gear down here (gear hire about US$40 per day). After breakfast, you’ll head up to the ski area for a day on the slopes. Conditions vary throughout the season, but you can expect good skiing and riding, on and off-piste, with plenty of chairlifts and scenery that will blow your mind.

ACCOMMODATION: Welcome Flat Hut, Westland National Park (B,L,D)

Thursday Hike Copland Valley and relax in Okarito

An early start sees us on the track and walking back to the trailhead. It’s a little quicker this time, being slightly downhill, and we’ll be back by mid-afternoon. With a really early start, we’ll have time to stop at Fox Glacier afterwards, for a walk to a view of the terminal face. Fox Glacier is an enormous river of ice, unusual in that it comes right down through the rainforest to sea level. Then we’ll carry on to Okarito Lagoon, a West Coast gem 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, no traffic, and a population of only 31 people! We stay at the Okarito Beach House, and you’ll love this place. There’s plenty to do here so we’ll stay two nights, to catch our breath and relax. Tonight you can sprawl by the fire with a glass of mulled wine (or hot chocolate!) after your long hike.

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

Friday Kayak Okarito Lagoon, hike beach and forest

Today you can spend a relaxing day in this sleepy but beautiful beach town to recharge your batteries, or get out for awesome hiking and kayaking. Okarito Lagoon is home to the only native white heron colony in New Zealand, as well as lots of other amazing birdlife including the Okarito Brown kiwi. 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 hiking along the beach or in coastal rainforest.

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

Saturday Okarito Beach House, Okarito (B,L,D)

This morning we’ll drive along the coast to Hokitika to check out local art galleries and a pounamu carving workshops (‘pounamu’ is Maori for jade). Then after lunch, we’ll carry on to Punakaiki, where we’ll spend the afternoon hiking among 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 trail was originally established by gold miners over a century ago, so there’s plenty of history in the area as well. We’ll also check out Punakaiki’s famous Pancake Rocks and blowholes.

ACCOMMODATION: West Coast lodgings, Punakaiki (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 in the afternoon for flights back to Auckland. Any flight after 4pm is ideal but we can make 3pm flights with a little notice. International flights from Auckland usually leave early evening, so if you’re crossing the dateline you’ll get home some time on Sunday, even though you left on Sunday evening! Flights to Europe, of course, take a little longer. Wherever you’re travelling to, you’ll go back 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 your company 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. Weve chosen interesting and comfortable accommodations throughout. In Punakaiki, Makarora, Queenstown & Ohau its 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. Youll love the places we stay!

RECOMMENDED FLIGHTS: If youre 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 dont have to be young and extremely fit (although if you are, you wont 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 dont have to have any outdoor experience at all to take our trips. We offer trips that allow you to make the most of New Zealands incredible outdoor environment. Our team is highly trained including our experienced outdoor guides; we will look after you! You dont have to carry a heavy pack. You dont need to have ever been in a sea kayak to enjoy kayaking Okarito Lagoon or Milford Sound. You dont 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 dont need to ride at all, if youd rather hike, fish, or just laze around! All we ask is that you be energetic and in reasonable shape and we guarantee youll have an incredible time.

The challenges are there though, if youre 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 youd like to see our country, so just let us know if youd 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 weve 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 youre coming to New Zealand in the first place!

Well see you soon!

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