14Days
South ISLAND
ACTIVITY
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Price US4999 +tax

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13Days
South ISLAND
ACTIVITY
LEVEL
Price US5999 +tax

See our trips
side-by-side

14Days
South ISLAND
ACTIVITY
LEVEL
Price US4799 +tax

See our trips
side-by-side

8Days
South ISLAND
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5Days
North ISLAND
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Masterpiece Adventure Tour – Experience It All

And find the heart of New Zealand

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Trip information
14 Days
South
Island
Starts

Queenstown

Finishes

Queenstown

Activity level
Price

US$4999 +tax

2017-2018 Customer Ratings

Masterpiece Adventure Tour – Experience It All

4.7 Out of 5 (from 71 reviews)
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Masterpiece Trip Map
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Soak it all in with longer stays at the best destinations and the widest variety of outdoor activities, all at a comfortable pace. This is a truly restorative trip.

Combine this trip with our Sweet North for the best of both North and South islands over 19 days.

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“We were extremely happy with our tour! We made some wonderful new friends (including our fantastic guides!) whom we hope to see again someday, and we thoroughly enjoyed experiencing the amazing beauty of New Zealand in an active and “close-up” manner! We will cherish wonderful memories of this adventure for many years to come! Thank you for everything!”

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Mark and Jane Brossart (Masterpiece , Mar '18)

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Masterpiece Day-by-Day Itinerary
Day 1
Arrive Queenstown
Wakatipu Basin

Includes

Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Hiking
Sightseeing

Accommodation

Glenorchy
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Day 1 – Welcome to Queenstown & a Jet Lag Remedy

The Masterpiece is an all-encompassing experience created to replenish the mind and uplift the spirit. Each day combines a blend of beautiful scenery and exceptional experiences with healthy meals, comfortable accommodations, time to relax and, of course, good company. Designed to share the best of New Zealand without the need to rush, this is adventure travel at its finest.

Begin your journey in Queenstown, a gorgeous alpine resort nestled on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. After meeting your guides and fellow travellers, we’ll enjoy a refreshing walk to soak up the mind-blowing scenery and fresh mountain air – the perfect antidote to any residual jetlag you’re feeling! We’ll spend the next couple of nights in Glenorchy, a peaceful township at the head of the lake, home to jaw-dropping mountain views, friendly locals and gateway to some of New Zealand’s best hikes.

 

Hike Wakatipu Basin

Welcome to our backyard! Queenstown is home to some incredible walks in and around the Wakatipu Basin and as locals, we know the best of the best. As your introduction to New Zealand, we’ll take a brisk but devastatingly scenic walk to give you a taste of what’s to come over the next 14 days. 

Feel like you've walked onto the set of Lord of the Rings

This afternoon we’ll travel from Queenstown to Glenorchy at the top of the lake, following a road regularly voted one of the most scenic drives in the world. Sitting in a valley at the foot of the Southern Alps and Mount Aspiring National Park, we’ll be staying in pleasingly cosy accommodations with outstanding views right at your doorstep. If it feels like you’ve walked onto the set of Lord of the Rings, you’re not mistaken as many of the film locations are around here. Take your time to settle in and absorb your surroundings.

Day 2
Mt Aspiring National Park
Hiking

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Hiking

Accommodation

Glenorchy
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Day 2 – Hike Routeburn Track in Mount Aspiring National Park

After a good night’s rest, it’s time to get out and stretch our legs on a section of the picture-perfect Routeburn Track, one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks. Depending on how energetic you’re feeling today, there are longer and shorter hiking options available – the choice is yours! Round off a fantastic day skimming stones on the glassy waters of the Wakatipu, gazing up at the clear night sky, or sipping an excellent local wine as you admire the views.

Hike The Routeburn Track

This morning we’ll walk the Routeburn Track to the Flats Hut through native beech forest and lowland woodland, following a babbling river to a wide-open clearing. For those who are keen to carry on and up, we’ll leave the river behind and take the track that climbs up through the trees to Routeburn Falls. Your efforts will be rewarded at the top with uninterrupted views of the remarkable Routeburn Valley spilling out around you. A tapestry of alpine flowers, mountain tarns and trickling waterfalls, it’s a vista you won’t forget in a hurry.

Hike Lake Sylvan (Optional)

If conditions don’t allow us to hike the Routeburn safely or there’s time spare afterwards, we’ll walk a track through old moraine river terrace and giant red beech woodland, leading to the scenic Lake Sylvan. A secret hideaway, this lake is popular with local fishermen quietly casting a line in hopes of a catch. Luckily, they don’t mind sharing this spot with us though! The fresh smell of the native ferns, sounds of the birds and feel of the earth underfoot will invigorate your senses. 

Tonight take a walk outside under the stars in the evening and you may be lucky enough to glimpse New Zealand’s only native mammal – the bat.

Day 3
Fiordland NP
Hiking & Overnight Boat

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Hiking
BoatCruise

Accommodation

Milford Sound Overnight Boat
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Day 3 – Mt Nicholas farm, Mavora Lakes & Milford Sound overnight boat

Today we’ll catch a boat across Lake Wakatipu to Mt Nicholas Station to learn about the region’s farming history. From there we’ll take a journey reserved for the lucky few, a 4x4 ride through the beautiful but rugged backcountry to Mavora Lakes. From there we head into Fiordland National Park where we’ll spend a comfortable night aboard a boat on world-famous Milford Sound.

Lake Wakatipu, Mount Nicholas high country sheep station and Mavora Lakes

Today we take a boat across Lake Wakatipu from Queenstown to Mount Nicholas - a family run, fully operational high-country farm rich with agriculture history and a world away from the bustling hub of Queenstown across the waters of the Wakatipu. Meet the animals, hear the stories of old and get a glimpse of life on a working station here in New Zealand. We’ll then take an exciting 4x4 drive through the beautiful backcountry to the glistening Mavora Lakes. There’re no roads here, let alone highways, so getting there is all part of the adventure!

Journey into Fiordland National Park

We travel together through the lakeside town of Te Anau, following one of the world’s most incredible road journeys to our next destination – Milford Sound. There’ll be plenty of chances to capture images along the way on this dramatic journey. We’ll pass through the extraordinary feat of engineering that is the Homer Tunnel. Hopefully, you’ll get a chance to meet a few keas, New Zealand’s cheeky alpine parrots that live around the area.

Milford Sound Overnight Boat

On arrival at Milford Sound, you’ll board your vessel to spend a night on the fiord itself. Once you’ve settled into your cabin and enjoyed afternoon tea in the saloon, you’ll have time to appreciate Milford’s undeniable grandeur as we cruise to the mouth of the fiord leading out into the wild Tasman Sea. Sheer granite faces rise sharply from the deep-sea floor while cascading waterfalls tumble from heights above. Enjoy maritime tales over dinner and relaxed drinks before retiring to the comforts of your cabin.

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Day 4
Fiordland NP
Routeburn Track

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

BoatCruise
Hiking

Accommodation

Te Anau
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Day 4 – Cruise Milford Sound & Hike to Key Summit

With the boat anchored overnight in one of Milford’s secluded bays, you’ll wake up this morning to birdsong and the gentle sound of lapping water against the hull. Enjoy a hearty breakfast as we cruise back through the fiord - be sure to keep an eye out for local wildlife, including dolphins, seals and penguins. Once back on dry land we’ll hike to the dramatic Key Summit on the Routeburn Track, before making our way to the lakeside town of Te Anau for the night.

Cruise Milford Sound (actually a fjord!) 

Whether the sun’s shining brightly or the sky’s clouded over, the beauty of Milford Sound never disappoints. In a perfect world, it would be raining heavily as that’s when the fiord’s hundreds of waterfalls are at their most powerful. Get close enough to feel the spray on your face as the thundering torrents cascade down the vertical rock faces – it’s an exhilarating experience.

Hike the Routeburn Track to Key Summit

Heading deeper into the wilderness of Fiordland National Park, this walk on the world-famous Routeburn Track is well worth the effort. A well-formed track through an other-worldly beech forest allows you to really take in your surroundings - from the towering tree ferns, minuscule mosses that seem to have created their own micro-civilisations, to the plethora of birds providing the soundtrack to our hike, it’s hard not to love it here. The view from the top, across to the Darran Mountains and down the Hollyford Valley to the Tasman Sea, is one of Fiordland's most iconic scenes. We’ll spend some time here before heading back to the town of Te Anau.

Day 5
Mackenzie Country
Biking Queenstown

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Biking

Accommodation

Mt Cook Village
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Day 5 – Bike Near Queenstown & Stay in Mt Cook Region/Mackenzie Country

Our journey continues today from the Southern Lakes region, north towards New Zealand’s highest peak. Along the way, we’ll make a stop in the historic gold-mining town of Arrowtown, before getting fitted out with a bike and helmet for a chance at some sightseeing on two wheels. You’ll follow a purpose-built cycle trail next to the Kawarau River, riding past homesteads, meadows, mountains and vineyards towards the world’s first commercial bungy bridge. After our ride, we’ll carry on towards Aoraki/Mt Cook, where we’ll spend the next two nights (on a high-country station when available). 

Bike Near Queenstown

On our way north, we’ll pick up bikes in Arrowtown and get set for an impressive ride through the local countryside. The biking today is suitable for all levels of riding experience. Experts can go hard, while others can meander their way at a relaxed pace. If cycling’s not your thing, there are plenty of other options available.

Road Trip to Mount Cook

After our ride, you can rest your legs as we travel out of the region and towards New Zealand’s highest peak standing tall at 3724m (over 12,000 feet). Along the way, we’ll travel over the Lindis Pass and down into wide open valleys before catching our first glimpse of Aoraki/Mt Cook, ‘the cloud piercer’ as it’s known in Maori. Tonight, you’ll appreciate the majestic night skies of the Mackenzie Country, famous as an International Dark Sky Reserve.

Day 6
Aoraki/Mt Cook
Multiple Choice

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Choices

Accommodation

Ohau/Mt Cook Village
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Day 6 – Your Choice in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park

Some of New Zealand’s best alpine hikes are located here in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. Home to our highest and most sacred peak, the area boasts a further 19 peaks towering over 3,000 metres.

These are the mountains where Edmund Hillary honed his skills before becoming the first to successfully summit Mount Everest with Tenzing Norgay in 1953. An imposing alpine region that lends itself to various experiences, you’ll have a choice of activities today, from the relaxing, through to the more challenging.

 

Day 6 Continued

Whichever option you decide on, you won’t be disappointed. After a full day of activities, we’ll meet up and return to our accommodation for a delicious home-cooked meal and a chance to trade stories from the day.

Choice 1

Hike to Mueller Ridge (Challenge)

The hike up to Mueller Hut via Mueller Ridge is one of our favourites and with a bit of grit and determination, most can enjoy jaw-dropping views usually reserved only for serious mountaineers. It’s the most challenging option today and involves a steep but steady climb on a well-formed track. The views are worth every drop of sweat.

Choice 2

Walk the Hooker Valley Track

This is one of the South Island’s most popular glacier country trails. Looking down from swing bridges over rushing rivers, you’ll walk a track that leads to an alpine lake complete with icebergs. For those with an interest in New Zealand flora, the Hooker Valley is one of the best places to see Mount Cook lilies in season.

Choice 3

Free time around Mt Cook Village

Today is a great opportunity to explore on your own. Visit the museum and planetarium at the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre. Take some short walks around the area or just soak in the views with a coffee and good book.

Day 6 Optional Add-ons

Below are some of the optional add-ons you can also enjoy:

Glacier heli hiking

Take a helicopter up to land high on the Tasman, New Zealand’s longest glacier. In the company of an experienced guide, you’ll don crampons to explore the dramatic ice caves of this frozen wonderland.

USD$390+TAX

Glacier lake boat tour

Hop aboard a Zodiac boat and set off across the iceberg-filled lake for an up-close encounter with the Tasman Glacier’s terminal face.

USD$110+TAX
Day 7
Tekapo Geraldine
Kaikoura coastline

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Hiking
Sightseeing

Accommodation

Kaikoura
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Day 7 – Sightseeing & Arrive Kaikoura Peninsula

Today’s journey takes us across the South Island from mountain to ocean, leaving the wide-open spaces of the Mackenzie Country for the green fertile plains of Canterbury. We’ll take our time along the way, stopping in some of our favourite spots to stretch our legs and capture the superb views. Our destination is Kaikoura, a seaside settlement on the East Coast where we’ll spend the night.

Arrive Kaikoura Peninsula

The scenery changes dramatically today and we’ll encounter more evidence of civilization along the way. Once we reach Christchurch, the South Island’s largest city, we’ll head a short way up the coast to Kaikoura. It’s a striking area set on the edge of a deep continental shelf where towering cliffs meet an ocean floor that plunges even further in the other direction. The nutrient-rich water and startling topography have created a unique mecca for an abundance of marine life. Whales, dolphins, fur seals and more are thriving in these coastal waters.

Day 8
Kaikoura
Queen Charlotte Sound

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

DolphinSwimming
Kayaking

Accommodation

Lochmara Lodge
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Day 8 – Dolphin Swimming in Kaikoura & Sea Kayak Queen Charlotte Sound

Today’s an unforgettable day and a dream come true for wildlife lovers. You’ll be up bright and early to swim with Dusky dolphins, a rare breed known for their aerobatics. We’ll see how many different varieties of fish, seals and even whales we can spot in this outstanding marine reserve, where the unusually deep waters make a unique habitat close to shore. We’ll carry on to the town of Picton, where we sea kayak across Queen Charlotte Sound to our accommodation for the night, accompanied by a few curious dolphins if we’re lucky!

Dolphin Swimming Kaikoura

The early start is well worth it today for the best chance at meeting some of the local wildlife that calls this area home. We’ll don flattering(!) wetsuits to swim with a pod of dolphins in their natural environment. Of course, this is dependent on whether the dolphins cooperate, but they usually do! The tour is an educational experience that is designed not to interfere with the natural behaviour, routines or habitat of the dolphins. There are strict regulations in place to protect and respect the dolphins and to keep you safe in the water.  Our boats are well-equipped with swimming/snorkelling platforms. Small Dusky dolphins are typically found in pods of around 400 and are well-known for their aerobatic feats and interactive behaviour. Whether you opt to get in the water or watch from the boat, it’s a joyful experience for all. Many of our guests have told us this is one of the highlights of their time in New Zealand.

Sea Kayak Queen Charlotte Sound

From Picton, we kayak across the glorious Queen Charlotte Sound to our accommodation for the night – the artistic and interesting Lochmara Lodge. You’ll enjoy a tasty meal, stay in lovely rooms by the sea and fall asleep to the sound of gently lapping waves.

Day 9
Queen Charlotte Sound
Marlborough Vineyards

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch

Activities

Kayaking
Biking
WineTasting

Accommodation

Nelson
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Day 9 – Queen Charlotte Sound

This morning we’ll paddle back to Picton, enjoying another opportunity to view the local wildlife. From here it’s a short hop to Marlborough’s wine-growing region, where we sample some of the area’s wines and enjoy a tasty vineyard lunch. For the next few nights, we’ll stay in Nelson, a colourful beachside town and comfortable resting point.

Queen Charlotte Sound

After a nourishing breakfast at the lodge, we’ll take to the water again in our kayaks and paddle back to Picton, exploring some hidden coves and bays along the way. Gliding along on the water is a lovely way to spend the morning, but you have the option of booking a water taxi back instead if you’d prefer.

Day 10
Nelson
rest day

Includes

On your own

Activities

FreeDay

Accommodation

Nelson
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Day 10 – Explore Nelson

Today is yours to enjoy as you wish. Nelson, “the sunniest place in NZ”, is famous for its arts scene, award-winning wines, craft beers and fruit orchards, with plenty to keep you entertained within walking distance. Most of our guests enjoy a relaxed day exploring Nelson, browsing the shops and galleries, strolling along the beach or reading a book – it’s a lovely place to re-energise yourself for the rest of your adventure.

There are over 350 local craftspeople and artists creating Maori, traditional and contemporary art in the area, so it’s also a chance to discover what inspires New Zealanders creatively. Or if you’d prefer something a little more active, we can help you book a tour to explore Abel Tasman National Park on foot or by kayak. Abel Tasman is famous for its glorious coastline, where golden sand beaches meet clear blue seas.

Day 11
West Coast
Hike Nelson Lakes NP

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Hiking
Wildlife

Accommodation

Punakaiki
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Day 11 – Hike Nelson Lakes National Park

This morning we’ll hike alongside Lake Rotoiti in Nelson Lake National Park, it’s somewhat off the beaten path but a firm favourite with Kiwis for good reason. We’ll then carry on to the rugged West Coast, taking our time to stop and enjoy the journey. Maoritanga (Maori culture) is an important part of New Zealand’s culture and if you’re interested, we’ll teach you how to properly pronounce the place names that we encounter along the way. Our accommodation tonight is in the seaside village of Punakaiki, home to the famous Pancake Rocks. 

Hike alongside Lake Rotoiti, Nelson Lakes National Park

The remote but Nelson Lakes National Park is our first stop this morning. It’s not as popular as neighbouring Abel Tasman, but we like it best that way! We’ll hike a track that runs along the edge of Lake Rotoiti through native bush alive with birdsong, before carrying on to the West Coast.

Explore West Coast Beaches

Our next destination takes us west to ‘The Coast’ as it’s known by locals, a journey rated by Lonely Planet readers as one of the best coastal drives in the world. Rainforests, rivers and glaciers meet deserted beaches and crashing waves, making for a unique and sometimes stark coastline. Sunsets on the West Coast are incredibly special and tonight you’ll see just why.

Day 12
West Coast
Paparoa National Park

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Hiking
Sightseeing

Accommodation

Okarito
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Day 12 – Hike Paparoa National Park, the Pancake Rocks & Explore Hokitika

With its towering limestone cliffs and lush vegetation, this area feels like something straight out of Jurassic Park. Today we’ll hike an enjoyable track through Paparoa National Park before checking out the blowholes and limestone formations of the Pancake Rocks. Then we drop in on Pounamu (greenstone/jade) carvers at work in the town of Hokitika. We’ll spend a relaxed evening in the tiny settlement of Okarito (with a population of just 30), enjoying a tasty feast matched with local wines and craft beers. We have exclusive access to the Okarito Beach House accommodation and no doubt you’ll sleep sweetly tonight.

Hike Paparoa National Park & Visit the Pancake Rocks

We’ll hike the Porarari River Trail upstream through Paparoa National Park, a visually rich area made up of dense sub-tropical forest and limestone cliff gorges. You’ll also have the chance to check out an interesting geographical phenomenon in the town of Punakaiki – the curious looking but aptly named Pancake Rocks. The surge of the incoming sea is forced into chambers creating a geyser-like explosion through rock blowholes. The unusual limestone formations, overlaid with soft mud and clay, have been forged over millions of years by the immense pressure of the sea, wind and rain, creating the pancake effect we see today.

Explore Hokitika

After our hike, we’ll visit the quirky town of Hokitika, famous for its greenstone carvings and jewellery. You might also want to check out another form of artwork on the beach, where creative locals have built impressive driftwood sculptures for all to enjoy.

Day 13
West Coast
Fox Glacier

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Kayaking
Hiking

Accommodation

Wanaka
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Day 13 – Kayak Okarito Lagoon & Hike near Fox Glacier

Today you’ll experience mountains, beaches and glaciers all in one fantastic day. We start with a picturesque paddle on the tranquil waters of Okarito Lagoon, enjoying the views and checking out the birdlife. This afternoon we’ll head down the coast for a hike near Fox Glacier as it descends the Southern Alps into the temperate rainforest. We then travel south over the Haast Pass and into the vast beauty and open spaces of Central Otago. We’ll enjoy our final dinner and evening together in Wanaka, a charming lakeside resort snug amongst the mountains.

Kayak on Okarito Lagoon & West Coast Beaches

Okarito Lagoon home to an abundance of native birdlife, including some rare species such as the Kōtuku, or white heron. There’s no better way to quietly observe the birdlife in its natural habitat than by enjoying a peaceful paddle across the lagoon. An unsurpassed view of the Southern Alps makes for the perfect backdrop to our morning kayak.

Rainforest and Glaciers

We’ll then travel on to Fox Glacier and its small township tucked into foothills of the Southern Alps. Fox Glacier descends 13kms into temperate rainforest just 300m above sea level. It’s one of our most accessible glaciers, so we’re able to get close enough for a great view of the terminal face. We’ll learn a little about the geology and history of the area as we soak up the scenery.

Day 14
Wanaka
Queenstown

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch

Activities

Sightseeing

Accommodation

Finish in Queenstown
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Day 14 – Explore Wanaka & Finish in Queenstown

On the last morning of the trip, you’ll have the chance to explore the relaxed town of Wanaka, go for a swim in the lake or even head out for one last hike. We’ll then meet up and head over the Crown Range, appreciating the marvellous views en route, before saying our final farewells in Queenstown.

Explore Wanaka

We’ll spend the morning discovering the small town of Wanaka, a surprisingly cosmopolitan mountain playground, home to some excellent cafes and lovely boutique shops if you’d like to pick up any last souvenirs. If you’re feeling brave, you might like to take a refreshing dip in the glacial waters of the lake or just wander the trails that follow the shoreline to capture some final photographs.

Finish in Queenstown

Our last journey is a short trip up and over the Crown Range, New Zealand’s highest sealed road, down into the Wakatipu Basin. Once back in Queenstown, it’s time to say goodbye to your guides, travel companions and new-found friends as we drop you at the airport or your accommodation. If you’re joining us to explore the North Island on our Sweet North trip, we’ll ensure a smooth transition for you. If not, we hope to see you again soon in the Land of the Long White Cloud.

Masterpiece Tour

14 Day South Island Tour – Queenstown to Queenstown. All inclusive. 10 nights private rooms with ensuite bathrooms. For the 2 nights that we stay in our exclusive lakefront property at Ohau, we have access to a range of rooms, including some multi-share accommodation, and separate bathrooms for men and women. When aboard the Milford Wanderer on Milford Sound, you’ll have private cabins, and bathrooms are shared, with private showers & toilets, as is routine on boats and ships. Our trip prices are set in US dollars. If that’s not your home currency, get an indication of what it converts to by using our currency converter below. Or ask us for trip prices in your home currency. US$49994999 + tax, per person (twin or double share)

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Combine this trip with the Sweet North to see both islands in 19 days! We do have shorter trip options and solo travellers don’t pay more, unless you’d like an upgrade to a private room. PLEASE NOTE: This is a sample of our current itinerary. Keep in mind we are constantly fine-tuning and improving our trips based on feedback from our guests and guides, availability, etc. So your trip will be at least this good, but we reserve the right to make slight alterations without notice to make it even better!

6 group lake pukaki mount cook2

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