Time to return our adrenalin levels to normal and make tracks to the wild (and often wet) West Coast and it's towering glaciers. But before we do, bridge bungy jump, anyone?Enjoying our scenic drive we'll stop for lunch in Wanaka, a pretty ski resort town situated on a lake front and dwarfed by mountains. This town is fast becoming one of NZ's most popular spots, and a trip to the 'Dough Bin' for a luscious pie should be high on the list today.
Our first piece of NZ eye-candy comes in the form of Hasast Pass, beautified by ancient rainforests, small glaciers and waterfalls. Note how the scenery changes as we roll away from Queenstown through the Southern Alps. Playing host tonight is the town of Franz Josef, home to some of NZ's finest natural beauty with bushlands and glaciers that almost reach the sea. Tomorrow we'll be out and about making the most of it - who's excited? (B/D) Stay: Rainforest Retreat (or similar)
We'll set off on an inspiring tour of Christchurch this morning, the city that was totally rebuilt after the Christchurch earthquake. Look out for the Cardboard Cathedral, which as the name suggests, is the only cathedral in the world to be built mostly from plain old cardboard! After that, it's another jaw-dropping drive up to the top of the South Island. The coach cuts across the Canterbury Plains to Kaikoura. Arriving in Kaikoura will see us amongst a seaside settlement known for whales & dolphins, so have those cameras at the ready as we roll around the coast. We'll stop at a seal colony, where you'll struggle not to break into a collective 'cuuuute' as you watch these guys sunning themselves on the rocks.
Next up, we'll visit Kaikoura Wildlife Rescue to meet a local wildlife biologist, Sabrina Leucht, who has been working to build a dedicated wildlife hospital in Kaikoura. We'll learn about the types of wildlife we might encounter here, which threats they face, and what we can all do to make a difference - locally and in our own hometowns. After a busy day of wildlife wonders, we'll check into our seafront hotel, before heading out for a spot of dinner. Did you know that Kaikoura literally translates into 'eat (kai) crayfish (koura)'? So, no prizes for guessing what type of local cuisine we'll be trying! (B) Stay: Sudima Hotel Kaikoura
As we leave Lake Taupo keep an eye out for even more recognisable ‘The Lord of the Rings’ backdrops.220,000 litres (58 000 gallons) of water gush over Huka Falls per second. Just let that sink in for a minute. Wild, right? Even wilder still is the Huka Falls Jet experience – a thrilling ride that will get you experiencing the full force of the falls and leave you with even more of a taste for adventure. When you catch your first whiff of that… ‘unusual’ sulphur smell, you’ll know we’ve arrived in Rotorua.
Upon arrival in Rotorua we get to learn some fascinating info on NZ's national birds, as well as watch new lives hatch right in front of our eyes! How impressed are you right now? Soak in a hotspring, go skydiving or take a canopy tour - there's plenty of time for you to make the best of this town. Tonight we enjoy a Maori dance performance and feast on a Hāngi dinner that is sweetly roasted in the ground. (B/D) Stay: The Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua (or similar)