Contiki crew, are you ready? Our Southern adventure starts in Wellington, NZ's San Fran, where we'll dart across the Tasman via the Inter-Island ferry. Our first port of call on the South Island will be Picton, the gateway to wine country. Sauv blanc, anyone? Our next drive takes us through Marlborough’s wine country along the rugged east coast. Arriving in Kaikoura will see us amongst a seaside settlement known for whales & dolphins, so the camera needs to be on 110% charge 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
Alright, it's time to return our adrenaline levels to a normal level and make tracks to the spectacular natural wonder of Milford Sound. Welcome to New Zealand's most stunning attraction, with a magical combination of mountain peaks, forest-clad cliffs and deep dark waters.
We take an included cruise of the fiord and experience the beauty of this pristine destination by boat, the best way to see Milford Sound in all its glory. Arriving in the stunning lakeside town of Te Anau, we'll visit a local farm, learning about life in the outback, as well as playing some games and activities. Laura, who runs the farm, founded the Fairlight Foundation, a charity helping local girls to learn a range of practical farming skills and gain important qualifications. The goal is to advance women in the agricultural industry. For every traveller that attends this Farm Experience, Contiki will donate more funds to the Fairlight Foundation! It's feels good to do good – especially when all it takes is meeting some locals in a spectacular setting.
After our trip to the farm, you'll have the day to do as you please. Decisions, decisions... If I were you, I'd opt to take a guided jet boat trip to Fiordland National Park. From Te Anau through Lake Manapouri, it's a pretty exhilirating way to soak up the scenery. Prefer to keep you feet (or wheels) on dry land. You can also take a trip to the ethereal glow worm caves (woaahhh) or simply cycle the gorgeous trails through native bush. (B)