Your pilot, Harvey Hutton arrives this morning to whisk you south to Hokitika. Leaving the Abel Tasman National Park behind, you will enter the Kahurangi National Park (a Maori name meaning prized, precious, treasured) which is the second largest of New Zealand’s national parks.
It hosts a large variety of animals and plants unique to this region. Highlights along the way include Mt Arthur which is one of the highest mountains in the Nelson region, Mokihinui River which flows through to the West Coast, possible sightings of Red Deer which abide in the Alpine and beech forest, and onto the world renown Punakaiki “Pancake” Rocks.
Upon landing at Hokitika you’ll be greeted by Bevan Climo (flight time approximately 1hr15 – 1hr30 min).
Bevan Climo is the son of the Paramount Chief in the Hokitika area. This is the centre of pounamu (greenstone) in New Zealand. The local sacred river, the Arahura, is only accessible by Maori and Bevan will take you up it, looking for pounamu, explaining how it is found and its properties as well as how to work it.
Bevan is acknowledged as one of the foremost carvers in New Zealand. We like to keep our days with him loose as they can go in a variety of directions, although we recommend a walk up the Arahura. Bevan is a local character, knows many of the local characters, fronts an excellent bluegrass band, and can provide a unique introduction to life on the West Coast.
This area, home to a frontier mentality is notoriously difficult to get in on the inside of, unless your guide is someone like Bevan. 4WD transfers are included.
After lifting off from Hokitika you’ll fly along the West Coast enroute to Queenstown, potentially sighting whales and dolphins below. You’ll have views of Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers and, weather permitting, possibly even Mt Cook – New Zealand’s highest mountain. Heading inland over the World Heritage listed Westland National Park, you’ll fly via the Cascade Plateau (Greenstone fields) towards the icon of the Southern Alps – Mt Aspiring, The Matterhorn of the South. Known to Maori as “Tititea” meaning “Steep Peak of glistening White” it boasts two of the largest glaciers in the Southern Alps – The Bonar and Volta Glaciers. Greenstone trails along mountain passes are still in use today, one being the main tourist route through the Southern Alps from Haast to Makarora, known as the “valley of healing waters”. Land on the Tyndall Glacier for a once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity before heading down into the Wakatipu Basin to Queenstown where you’ll spend four nights at Matakauri Lodge (flight time not including landing approximately 1hr30min – 1hr45min).
Spectacularly situated on Lake Wakatipu, Matakauri Lodge offers stunning views from every angle of the Remarkable, Cecil and Walter Peak mountain ranges. This luxurious alpine lakeside retreat spares no attention to detail, with the focus on making your life easy being nothing short of breathtaking. Arguably the best food in Queenstown can be found here in one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes. With just a seven minute drive to the centre, you can also explore some of Queenstown’s restaurants and bars if you are here for a number of nights.