It's a romantic notion heading into the high country of New Zealand - those big blue southern skies, wild countryside, and dramatic alpine landscape that varies from lush and pristine to windswept and barren. And it's more than just the mind-blowing scenery, there's also the chance to peek back in time and catch glimpses of pioneer life in the heartland. Even the idea feels like stepping on to a movie set.
But how do you get access to these uniquely New Zealand experiences if you don't have rural South Island connections? The Remote High Country Adventure tour is an easy answer - giving you everything from high country station action, to coastal train journeys to mountain vistas, to hot pools to historic cottages and everything in between over six glorious days of adventure. All the fun without the organisational headaches, the perfect holiday for those looking for something a bit different to do this summer. Here's what to expect - day by day.
Photo credit: Nancy Zhou
The first day it's all about Christchurch. Wander the streets and laneways or check out the incredible Riverside Market, the jewel in the city's culinary crown. Lose yourself in the street art and fabulous new retail areas or meander through the Botanic Gardens or Hagley Park. Absorb the city's wonderful art offerings and pay your respects at the earthquake memorial where all New Zealanders can go to remember the 185 lives lost in one of our country's biggest natural disasters. Finish up a stimulating day with a delicious three-course dinner at your hotel (Rydges Latimer) followed by a luxurious night's sleep.
Board the Coastal Pacific Train and enjoy stunning views of the east coast of the South Island as you travel North from Christchurch to Blenheim.
The early start on day two is worth it for a morning aboard the gorgeous Coastal Pacific Train and the stunning views of the east coast of the South Island. On arrival at Blenheim it's into an off road vehicle over the historic Taylors Pass, into the breathtaking Awatere Valley and then on to Middlehurst Station, one of New Zealand's original High Country Stations. Middlehurst Station has everything you would expect - with a few things you might not. The incredible quality merino wool produced there is spun into unique wedding dresses with the help of Italian designers, who knew? There will be some delicious platter action then it's on to tour the station before ending the night with a three course dinner. Accommodation will be at the station itself - a very special experience.
Day three starts with a visit to Molesworth Station, the largest and arguably most famous station in the country. Morning tea is at one of the fascinating historic Cob Cottages; and after refueling, the journey continues stopping at points of interest such as the beautiful Kaikoura mountain range before arriving at Hanmer Springs for a relaxing afternoon. Spend your time at leisure - soaking in the hot pools, mooching around the shops and generally absorbing the alpine vibe before falling into bed at Hanmer Springs Hotel for an incredible night's sleep.
On day four, it's back into the High Country alongside Molesworth Station and St James conservation area stopping in at Lake Tennyson, a stunning glacial lake for morning tea before heading over Island Pass, the highest in the country. Lake Sedgemere is the location for lunch and the drive back from there to Hanmer Springs (staying at the same hotel) is exquisite - seemingly endless mountain ranges, crystal clear rivers and flowing waterfalls will all whizz by as you stare mesmerised out the window. New Zealand at its stunning best.
MARLBOROUGH NZ AND BARE KIWI
After all that time exploring the high country, it's on to something totally different on Day Five. The Iron Ridge Quarry Sculpture Park, nestled against the dramatic landscape of the Waipara Valley wine region, used to be an abandoned lime works but has been transformed by Raymond Herbr. After morning tea with the man himself there is time to wander around exploring the incredible sculptures. The Big Horse is the star of the park, standing at 2.5 metres high and made from fabricated polished steel. Other towering kinetic pieces use steel and recycled materials and contrast perfectly with the lush country scenery. Finish the day with lunch and a tasting at one of many incredible cellar doors in North Canterbury Wine Country before returning to Christchurch and back to the Rydges.
Day six is all about you and however you want to spend your last day in the Garden City before heading home with a heart full of high country memories.