Discover the silent Sounds, spectacular scenery and Stewart Island of the south

Explore the rugged reaches of the South Island on this six-day trip with Intrepid, beginning and ending in Queenstown. Make your way to the shores of the South Island’s biggest lake and sail the silent waters of glacier-carved Fiordland National Park with an unforgettable cruise on Milford Sound. Cross to the sometimes forgotten corner of Otago – the rugged cliffs of the Catlins – to hike to coastal caves, then span the gap to untouched Stewart Island to explore the wilderness, listening out for the call of the kiwi. Crafted to give the right amount of active adventure and time to relax, this is the perfect southern getaway.


Start
Queenstown, New Zealand
Finish
Queenstown, New Zealand
Destination
New Zealand
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
PHSQ
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 4, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • Soak up the silence of Milford Sound on a cruise across its waters – you’ll be left speechless by the hundreds of tumbling cascades and deeply forested mountains.

  • Explore the Cathedral Caves of the Catlins, an untamed coastal wilderness home to rugged cliffs, dense forest, and spectacular hidden waterfalls.

  • Cross the Foveaux Strait to unspoilt Stewart Island, a haven for hikers and birdwatches and the place to spot a wild kiwi.

  • Enjoy two days to explore the wilderness of Stewart Island, cruising the bays and inlets to spot penguins and seabirds and walking along its forested coastal tracks.

Is this trip right for you?

  • With six days in the lesser visited regions of the South Island, you’ll have time to visit places others don’t.

  • This trip involves some walking over varied terrain and is best suited to travellers with a good level of mobility. Details on physical activities can be found in the itinerary.

  • Please ensure you consult your local government’s advice regarding domestic travel prior to booking this trip.

Itinerary

Welcome to the South Island! Make your own way to the hotel, where the adventure kicks off with a 10 am welcome meeting where you'll join up with your leader and group. If you’re looking for more time in ‘Adventure Capital of the World', look to book in some time after the end of the trip. After the meeting, head to the lovely lakeside town of Te Anau – gateway to Fiordland National Park. Watch the stunning landscapes pass by as you round the bottom of Lake Wakatipu with the aptly named The Remarkables mountains in the background. The five-hour drive will take you to the shores of the South Island’s biggest lake, which extends into the fiords and deeply forested mountains. Tonight you there's an optional chance to head underground by boat and see thousands of glow worms illuminate subterranean caves, to spectacular effect.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Te Anau - Glowworm caves - NZD98
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance and emergency contact details at this time. If you are going to be late please let your booking agent or hotel reception know.
The stunning, unforgettable sights of the fiords are best experienced by boat, so today you’ll set off for a memorable cruise on Milford Sound, known locally as Piopiotahi. Sail along the waters that pour out into the Tasman Sea, and look out for bottlenose dolphins and fur seals at play. Nature feels close here in the silence of the sound as you make your way past countless tumbling, misting cascades, soaring icy peaks, lush rainforest and twisting inlets. Soak up the surrounds so stunning that they feel almost fake, and breathe in the crisp mountain air. Afterwards get a different perspective of the sound, surrounded by native bush, as you take on the lookout track with your leader. There’s a bit of a climb, but the views are more than worth it to look down on the water and up at the peaks. The spectacular views keep on coming with a Mirror Lakes walk, where the peaks and greenery reflect in the clear lake waters. Return to Te Anau in time for dinner this evening – maybe seek out some local fare like venison or even lobster for dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Milford Sound cruise
  • Milford Sound - Leader-led walk to Milford Lookout
  • Milford Sound - Leader-led walk to Mirror Lakes
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning it’s time to swap one side of the island for the other as you make your way to what feels like a forgotten corner of Otago – the Catlins. This untamed coastal wilderness is home to rugged cliffs, dense forest, and some spectacular hidden waterfalls. Explore the Cathedral Caves, only accessible at low tide after a walk through forest down to the beach. The work of water over thousands of years, the impressive sea cave complex reaches up to 200 metres into the cliff and reach heights of over 30 metres inside. Test the aptness of the name by trying out the church-like acoustics. After lunch take the time to soak up the sights of pounding surf, windswept beaches and sunbathing sea lions as you stroll the sands with your leader.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • The Catlins - Leader-led walk to Nugget Point Lighthouse
  • The Catlins - Leader-led walk to Cathedral Caves
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Head to the very bottom of the island and take a ferry across the Foveaux Strait to the country’s third largest landmass, Stewart Island. It takes about one hour to travel the 30-kilometre strait. The island is almost entirely national park, which makes its unspoiled forests, beaches and bays a haven for hikers of all abilities as well as birdwatchers – it’s home to endangered brown kiwi, flightless Stewart Island kiwi and nearly extinct kakapo parrots. In the Maori language the island is known as Rakiura, which means ‘the land of glowing skies’. So tonight you'll join your leader – armed with snacks and hot drinks – as they take you to find the best nearby vantage point to, if you're lucky, spot the Aurora Australis that gives the island its name.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Stewart Island - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Stewart Island - Leader-led Dark Sky briefing
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a full day to explore the island as you discover the coast and Rakiura National Park. There will be cruises on the bays and inlets spotting penguins and seabirds and walks along forested coastal tracks past early Maori settlements. Learn about the local flora and fauna, and relax on the beach for a picnic lunch. Take in the views over glistening William Bay and see if you can spot the mountains of the South Island in the distance. Then give your legs a rest as you jump in a van for a scenic road trip back to Halfmoon Bay. Return to your accommodation and enjoy the rest of the evening to relax after your full day of island exploration, joining the group for an included dinner at local restaurant tonight.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Stewart Island - Full day Coastal Highlights Guided Walk through Rakiura National Park - NZD295
  • Stewart Island Wild Kiwi Encounter - NZD199
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Your trip comes to an end today when you arrive back in Queenstown at approximately 2 pm. If you have extra time to spend in Queenstown, make sure to get out and take advantage of the numerous adventure activities on offer. The Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu not only serve as spectacular props to get your adrenaline fix, they’re also beautiful to look at. The town is also a great base for exploring Central Otago’s excellent vineyards and historic mining towns.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

5 breakfasts, 1 dinner

Transport

Private vehicle, Ferry

Accommodation

Hotel (5 nights)

Included activities

  • Milford Sound cruise
  • Milford Sound - Leader-led walk to Milford Lookout
  • Milford Sound - Leader-led walk to Mirror Lakes
  • The Catlins - Leader-led walk to Nugget Point Lighthouse
  • The Catlins - Leader-led walk to Cathedral Caves
  • Stewart Island - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Stewart Island - Leader-led Dark Sky briefing

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1.This trip will begin on Day 1 at 10 am at the Queenstown Hotel. Please make your own way to the meeting point - refer to the Essential Trip Information for further details.
2. The trip concludes at 2 pm on Day 6. Please take this into account when making onward travel arrangements.
3. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
4. Minimum numbers: this trip requires a minimum of 4 clients booked and confirmed in order to depart

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View Essential Trip Information

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