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Lynette hoiho wildlife trip
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Brief Outline
Our guides often come to us with great ideas for new activities and places to visit on our trips, so in 2006 we created an annual competition amongst our guides where they design a trip of their own - the "Guide's Choice trip"! The 2006 inaugural winner was Lynette Warmington, and her "Hoiho" Wildlife trip was rated as one of the top 25 new trips in the world by National Geographic Adventure magazine! As the flagship for Guide's Choice, in its first season, Lynette's trip was filled not once but twice, and we were thrilled by the positive responses from people that took the trip!

So, back by popular demand for the NZ summer season, we're offering a limited number of departures. Lynette has been with us for several years, and in that time she has become one of our most popular trip leaders. We think she has come up with an awesome trip by combining our favourite activities with her favourite places, such as hiking on the Hump Ridge Track, and kayaking Doubtful Sound. We know you'll have a great trip, but enough from us though, here's what Lynette says about her dream trip.

My passions are tramping [that's the kiwi term for backpacking] around New Zealand's wild and hard to reach places, and hanging out with unusually cool creatures - like penguins and dolphins in their natural habitat. Having guided with ACTIVE NEW ZEALAND for the past four years, I've always had it in mind to design a trip that offers both of these passions, so being able to combine three days of trekking the Hump Ridge Track, with some quality time in the Catlins where little Blue and Yellow-eyed Penguins hang out, along with swimming with dolphins and checking out whales in Kaikoura makes this my ideal itinerary!

Lynette Warmington

Tour runs from November - March

Start and End Locations

Christchurch to Queenstown

Tour starts:

Mondays and ends on Sunday Week
Breakdown of Days

Mon: Arrive, whale watch in Kaikoura
Tue: Swim with Dusky Dolphins, hike Limestone coastline and the Mt Fyffe track
Wed: Head to Flock Hill Farm Stay, hike in Castle Hill Basin
Thu:Hike in Peel Forest and star-gaze in Mt Cook
Fri:Hike near Mt. Cook
Sat:Visit Moeraki boulders, hike overlooking Dunedin
Sun:Free day in Dunedin
Mon:Explore the Catlins coastline & view rare wildlife
Tue:Hump Ridge Guided Walk: Hiking to Okaka Hut
Wed:Hump Ridge Guided Walk: Hiking to Port Craig Hut
Thu:Hump Ridge Guided Walk: Hiking from Port Craig to trailhead
Fri:Overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound
Sat:Explore Doubtful Sound, visit Queenstown Kiwi Sanctuary
Sun: Depart

Tour Includes:

Milford Track Guided Walk or Hollyford Track Guided Walk, Hike Beaches and Rainforest of the West Coast, Queenstown, Hiking Mt Aspiring National Park, Hiking at Paparoa National Park, Fox Glacier & Mount Cook

Trip Itinerary

Monday Arrive, whale watch in Kaikoura

We will meet you in Christchurch late morning and drive up the coast to the seaside town of Kaikoura. Referred to as the Serengeti of the South Pacific, Kaikoura has an amazing variety of whales, dolphins, and fur seals which feed in the krill-rich waters. This afternoon we will head out on our Whale Watch excursion. Every Whale Watch tour is a unique experience and the sightings vary. Giant Sperm Whales are the stars of the show and year-round residents. We may also encounter New Zealand Fur Seals, pods of Dusky Dolphins and the endangered Wandering Albatross. Kaikoura also attracts the largest concentration and variety of seabirds on mainland New Zealand including 13 species of Albatross, 14 varieties of Petrels and seven types of Shearwater. This makes for a cruisy introduction to New Zealand and depending on where you’re coming from, you will probably find jetlag is no big deal.

ACCOMMODATION: Panorama Motel, Kaikoura - with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean from your room! (L,D)

Tuesday Swim with Dusky Dolphins, hike Limestone coastline and the Mt Fyffe track

Rise early this morning to greet the day with a pre-breakfast get together with some of Kaikoura’s more famous local personalities - the playful Dusky Dolphins! With mask, snorkel and fins we’ll have the opportunity to enter their world and swim amongst them. If you’d prefer, stay on the boat and marvel at their acrobatic displays. After breakfast we’ll hike the limestone coastline of Kaikoura Peninsula. There are great views of the Pacific Ocean and Southern Alps from here, and you’l likely see New Zealand Fur Seals cavorting in the waves along the rocky coastline and sea birds soaring above the cliff tops. This afternoon we’ll hike the Mt Fyffe track to gain panoramic views of Kaikoura Peninsula and the surrounding mountains.

ACCOMMODATION: Panorama Motel (B,L,D)

Wednesday Head to Flock Hill Farm Stay, hike in Castle Hill Basin

After breakfast, we head towards Arthurs Pass, and take a hike in the rugged Castle Hill Basin area. Near Cave Stream we hike to the top of Flock Hill. It is a bit of a climb, but it is worth every step as we arrive at an eerie limestone landscape where much of the recent movie Narnia - the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was filmed. From here, we will head to a working New Zealand high-country sheep farm - Flock Hill Lodge, at the foothills of the mountains, where we will spend the nigh

ACCOMMODATION: Flock Hill Lodge, Flock Hill (B,L,D)

Thursday Hike in Peel Forest and star-gaze in Mt Cook

From Flock Hill, we’ll travel south to Peel Forest for a short hike through ancient podocarp forest, dense with many different types of ferns. The fern is a national symbol of New Zealand, worn by our famous rugby team - the All Blacks. After lunch in the area, we will travel inland towards Mt. Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain. We stay near the shore of Lake Pukaki - a glacial lake with an unworldly turquoise-blue color. It’s the middle of nowhere out here! The wide open spaces, regular clear evenings and lack of artificial light gives us the perfect opportunity to check out some of the Southern Hemisphere’s most well known stellar features, including the Southern Cross, the Coal Sack, and views of the Milky Way like you’ve never seen before.

ACCOMMODATION: Mt. Cook lodgings, Mt. Cook (B,L,D)

Friday Hike near Mt. Cook

Mt. Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand, and we have a stunning and little-known day hike (weather permitting) to the main ridge above Mueller Glacier, which is one of Lynette’s favorite hikes from the Rimu trip. It’s a tough slog up, but you’ll remember the view of the Mueller Glacier and the surrounding peaks of the Main Divide forever! This area is also home to the largest buttercup in the world, which is oddly-named the Mt. Cook Lily. There are also other hiking options if you’d like to take it a little easier. The weather conditions are very important in this area, as it’s a true alpine climate notorious for sudden weather shifts. If we aren’t able to do the Mueller hike, we’ll take an impressive hike up the Hooker Valley to a glacial lake at the base of Hooker Glacier, complete with icebergs! Then we head back to Glentanner where we’ll enjoy a traditional Kiwi BBQ and a cold drink as we sit outside and watch the sun set over Mt. Cook.

A unique option today is to take to sea-kayak on the Mueller glacial lake! Upon arrival in the Mt. Cook Village, you’ll be matched with a modern sea kayak and all the necessary safety equipment for paddling. You don’t need any experience to do this option, but if you are an experienced sea kayaker, you won’t be bored. After a thorough safety briefing, you’ll head out with your guide for a paddle through glacial bays and around icebergs. From a safe distance in the water, you can watch avalanches as they thunder off the glaciers of Mt Sefton! The views of New Zealand’s highest peak, Aoraki (Mt Cook), are incredible. You’ll then park up on the Mueller Glacier itself for a stroll up to an area dotted with fresh water springs and plunge pools for the daring! This is truly a unique trip.
(Sea kayak option approximately US$80 per person)

ACCOMMODATION: Mt. Cook lodgings (B,L,D)

Saturday Visit Moeraki boulders, hike overlooking Dunedin

After breakfast we’ll follow the Waitaki River to the East Coast - a stunning drive alongside glacial melt-waters, lakes, and limestone country. Once we meet the coast, we’ll be heading south towards Dunedin, stopping along the way at the Moeraki Boulders. These large geological spheres have eroded from the nearby sea cliffs, forming a bizarre alien-like landscape - it’s simply out of this world! Your guides will tell you more about the Maori legend surrounding this mysterious geological phenomenon.

After lunch we’ll continue on to Dunedin for a hike up Mt. Cargill for 360 degree‹ views of Dunedin city, Otago Harbour and a scattering of extinct volcanoes along the north coast! This city is like a little piece of Scotland in the South Pacific - it has a rightly deserved reputation as one of the best preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere. Along with the beautiful architecture you’ll find all the comforts of civilization: massage therapists, restaurants, sidewalk cafes, window-shopping, and some great art galleries and theatres! You’ll also find plenty of optional activities here too, such as a wildlife tour to Otago Peninsula to see the only mainland breeding colony of Northern Royal Albatrosses in the world, a visit to the historic Larnach Castle, or a trip to a colony of rare Yellow-eyed penguins - it’s all here! There are also incredible windswept beaches to walk along, and numerous tracks through the native forest surrounding the city as well. Or you can do nothing, if you prefer to just soak up the atmosphere.

ACCOMMODATION: George Street Villas, Dunedin - comfortable and central (B,L)

Sunday Free day in Dunedin

It’s all up to you today - enjoy!

ACCOMMODATION: George Street Villas (B)

Monday Explore the Catlins coastline & view rare wildlife

Today we head towards the South Island’s most southern point. The Catlins region is a haven for rare wildlife. The Hooker’s Sea Lion, the rarest in the world, can be found here, along with the Yellow-eyed Penguin, the New Zealand Fur Seal, the Hector’s Dolphin, and even the occasional Elephant Seal visiting from the sub-Antarctic islands south of New Zealand. We’ll explore several of the stunning bays and points in this area including Nugget Point with its historic lighthouse, Cannibal Bay, Purakaunui Scenic Reserve, and Curio Bay - home to a fossilised forest from the Jurassic period. Later in the day, we’ll drive west to our lodgings in Tuatapere, a small Southland country village. Before dinner we’ll also have a pre-departure briefing for the Hump Ridge Track Guided Walk.

ACCOMMODATION: Waiau Hotel, Tuatapere (B,L,D)

Hump Ridge Guided Walk (Tuesday - Thursday)

The 3-day/2-night Hump Ridge Track in South West corner of New Zealand is the country’s newest guided walk with a unique combination of bush, beach and alpine scenery and awesome viaducts. With two new spacious backcountry mountain lodges established along the 27 miles / 43km of track, you’ll have three days of exercise, good food and great scenery. Commanding views of the South Coast, Lake Poteriteri, Lake Hauroko (New Zealand’s deepest lake) and many mountain ranges deep within the Fiordland National Park, the Hump Ridge Track is becoming well known amongst New Zealanders as one of the "must-do" tracks of the South Island. Because you are doing the Guided Walk you don’t have to carry a heavy pack. In fact, you’ll just be carrying a change of clothes and a packed lunch, so your pack won’t be much heavier than what you would bring on a regular day hike. Everything else is provided, including excellent meals at the lodges and on the trail, hot showers, and everything else you need to make the Hump Ridge Track an unforgettable experience. Rooming is in double or twin rooms, with shared bathroom facilities. There is an option to request a private twin or queen room with private bathroom facilities, although there is limited availability so please check with us when you book (private room option - US$250 per room)

Tuesday Hiking to Okaka Hut; 6-7 hours, 8 miles / 13 km

After an early breakfast at the Waiau Hotel, we’ll start our journey along the deserted Bluecliffs beach. At Flat Creek we head inland and start the steady climb up Hump Ridge through the dense Waitutu Forest. Dr. David Bellamy described the Waitutu forest as "probably the most important forest in the world". As the views open up you’ll see surreal sandstone towers peering down on a series of raised marine coastal terraces and views back towards Te Waewae Bay where we began the day. This ancient terraced forest rises out of the sea with each terrace 100,000 years older than the last. The thick vegetation eventually gives way to sub-alpine tussock grasses as we continue on towards Okaka Hut, our back country accommodations for the night. For the extra keen, a short loop track from Okaka Hut will lead you to views across Lake Poteriteri to rugged mountain ranges in Fiordland.

ACCOMMODATION: Okaka Hut, Hump Ridge Track (B,L,D)

Wednesday Hiking to Port Craig Hut; 8-9 hours, 12 miles / 19 km

As Kaka parrots chatter above us in the trees and the morning mist clears, we begin the day by traversing the Fiordland side of Hump Ridge towards the south coast. We’ll soon be passing Luncheon Rock, where spectacular views of the Southern Ocean and surrounding forest are laid out in front of you. On a clear day, those with keen eyes might be able to make out Solander Island, an isolated volcanic pillar sticking out of the ocean, and beyond to Stewart Island. At midday we reach an old logging track and arrive at the 410-foot Percy Burn viaduct, the largest wooden viaduct in the world. The Percy Burn stream cuts a deep gorge beneath the viaduct, and great views abound. It’s a couple hours along an old tramway to the hut. Built amongst the remains of an abandoned logging village, Port Craig hut has a lot of history as it was once a major port town for the South Coast.

ACCOMMODATION: Port Craig Hut, Hump Ridge Track (B,L,D)

Thursday Hiking from Port Craig to trailhead; 3-4 hours, 7 miles 11 km

We spend our last day on the Hump Ridge track hiking along the coastline back to the Track Burn where we started a few days ago. If the tide is out, from Te Whata we can hike along the foreshore to Breakneck Beach, otherwise we’ll take the inland route through the coastal forest. Either way, by early afternoon we’ll be back at the Track Burn for our journey back to civilisation. Not many people venture this far south, but you’ll have really enjoyed your time on the Hump Ridge! We’ll head back to Tuatapere for a celebration drink before heading on to Manapouri for the evening. We’ll stay at the Lake Manapouri Inn, beautifully located on the lake’s edge. You’ll love the great views out over the lake and the surrounding mountains of Fiordland National Park.

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

FridayOvernight cruise on Doubtful Sound

We’ve kept this morning pretty cruisy; you can have a bit of a sleep in, relax on the lakefront with a book and a cuppa, or if you have the stamina, take a morning run surrounded by rolling hills and farmland. At midday we’ll take the ferry across Lake Manapouri, disembarking at the head of the lake and traveling over the Wilmot Pass towards Deep Cove and the start of Doubtful Sound. As we reach the top of the pass, we get our first glimpse of Doubtful Sound stretching off into the distance.

Both Doubtful Sound and the more well-known Milford Sound are within the Fiordland National Park. The main difference between them, is that Doubtful is much more remote and chances are there will only be one boat on the water ? Yours! You’ll stay overnight on the Fiordland Navigator, a charming vessel, that has all the mod cons, but still has that old-world charm. Rooming is in 4-6 bed bunk rooms with shared bathroom facilities. A great option, if you prefer your own space, is to request a private twin, queen or single room with private bathroom facilities (private room option - add US$260 + tax per room, as available). You’ll have the chance to explore the fiord by sea-kayak or tender craft, and then we’ll sail west to watch the sun set over the Tasman Sea and visit the local seal population lazing on the rocks. At some point along the journey, we’ll probably be visited by Doubtful Sound’s local pod of dolphins, that like nothing more than to play in the wave made by the boat’s bow.

ACCOMMODATION: Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound (B,L,D)

Saturday Explore Doubtful Sound, visit Queenstown Kiwi Sanctuary

Wake to the silence and serenity of Doubtful Sound. After breakfast there will be time to explore the sound once again before returning to Deep Cove. We then continue the journey through to Manapouri where we started this time yesterday! After lunch we’ll then pass through Southland rolling sheep and deer farming country towards Lake Wakatipu and onwards to Queenstown. This afternoon we’ll head over to the Queenstown Kiwi Birdlife Park. The park is a hidden sanctuary of trees, bush and native trails in the middle of the busy resort town of Queenstown, and is unique in that you’ll get to see New Zealand native forest and birdlife and real conservation in action. You are guaranteed to see New Zealand’s national bird ? The rare and endangered Kiwi! Later we’ll meet up for our final diner together!

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

Sunday Depart for home

This is the last day of your two-week trip around the South Island! See the itinerary for the Kauri trip if you want to take a few more days to see the North Island as well. Or check out our ACTIVE AUSTRALIA trips if you’ve got a little more time and want to visit Australia, fondly known as New Zealand’s "West Island". After breakfast, we’ll drop you at the airport for late-morning flights back to Christchurch or Auckland. 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)

"Lynette was awesome.. Personable with a lot of energy, very organized but also laid back. Funny, super knowledgeable about New Zealand and just a wonderful person to be around. She made the trip feel really intimate and did a lot of little things to make it feel more personal. I would be honored to have her guide me again on a future trip."

-- Randy Ching (Los Altos,CA) Mar 2006


ACCOMMODATIONS: Lynette's Hoiho Wildlife trip is an activity-oriented trip around the South Island. Lynette has chosen interesting and comfortable accommodations throughout. Some places are quite luxurious, but many of the other places we stay are off-the-beaten-track - and don't have many accommodation options - but they are really, really spectacular. We think you'll love the places we stay! We prefer to stay in comfortable bed and breakfasts, lodges and apartments. As there's such a variety of accommodations on this trip, some places will have ensuite bathrooms and some will have shared bathrooms - so we may ask you to share a bathroom with other group members on occasion.

DEPARTURE DATES: There are five Hoiho trip departures for the summer of 2007-2008:

2007: Nov 19 - Dec 2, Dec 3 - Dec 16

2008: Jan 21 - Feb 3, Feb 18 - Mar 2, Apr 7 - Apr 20

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 - 10.30am on Monday, and departing from Queenstown after 12 noon on Sunday. Other flight times may also be possible - if you are considering alternative 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 domestic 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 Queenstown airport in time for the flights above, or anywhere in downtown Queenstown in the early afternoon.

FITNESS: You must have a reasonable level of fitness to enjoy yourself on Lynette’s Hoiho Wildlife trip. 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 are not important. For example, a person in their 50s who hikes every couple of weeks will be happier than a 22-year-old couch potato. If you’re concerned about your fitness level, have a chat with us so we can help you choose between the Hoiho and our other trips.

EXPERIENCE: You don’t need any outdoor experience at all to enjoy our trips. All our trips allow you to make the most of New Zealand’s incredible environment. Our experienced guides are highly trained, and will look after you! You don’t have to carry a heavy pack. You don’t need to have been in a sea kayak before to enjoy kayaking on Doubtful Sound. All we ask is that you be energetic and in reasonable shape - and we guarantee you’ll have an incredible time. We manage the level of commitment to suit your experience, and we have an impeccable safety record and we hold all relevant government licenses.

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. We try to make as few changes as possible, but we ask that you know we retain the flexibility to make sure your trip is as good as it can be.

INCLUDED: The trip fare is US$3499 + 12.5% NZ government taxes. You can also join for shorter periods of time, at a pro-rated fare. The trip fare includes just about everything, specifically:
  • All guiding services. We have two guides per trip - a Lead Guide/driver and a Co-Guide who is responsible for meals and accommodations. This means we can really make sure you have a great time! We operate with small groups.
  • Comfortable accommodation for the entire period you are with us. We can also organize accommodation for you if you want to arrive earlier or leave later.
  • Transport as required, in comfortable vehicles, cruise boats and whatever else is required.
  • All your meals, except in Dunedin where your guides will point out the wide range of restaurants. Alcohol is not generally included, although we do spring for a few drinks here and there!
  • All hiking, kayaking and dolphin swimming as described in the itinerary, except the optional extra activities. There are many optional activities available at extra cost, particularly in Dunedin. 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 and paddling which is of course the reason you’re coming to New Zealand in the first place!
NOT INCLUDED: This is your holiday, and we are serious about not nickel-and-diming you! You’ll have a few meals and drinks to cover, extra activities if you choose them, and you’ll probably feel like tipping your guides at the end of a fabulous time, but you won’t be pulling out your wallet every few minutes on your trip!

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