Today is your chance to explore one of the most beautiful towns in the southern lakes region with plenty of activities to tempt every lover of the outdoors. Included today – a visit to Mou Waho Island. Accessible only by boat from Wanaka and famous for being home to an (unnamed) island, in a lake (Arethusa Pool), on an island (Mou Waho), in a lake (Lake Wanaka), on an island (the South Island) in the ocean (the Pacific).
Sounds complicated, but once you are there it will all make sense! Mou Waho Island is also a predator-free reserve with a natural glacial-formed lake at its summit. On Mou Waho you can see the rare flightless Buff Weka (extinct on New Zealand's mainland since 1920) and the Mountain Stone Weta. In Wanaka there are many walks, hikes and biking trails to choose from – check out the famous “Wanaka Tree” while making your way around the lake! Or, if you feel like relaxing, ask your guide to recommend their favourite secret spots to enjoy the surrounding scenery. After a busy day checking out Wanaka, head back to the hotel and rest up for another day of exploring the sites en route to Franz Joseph.
After a relaxing morning in Wanaka, the journey to Franz is another stunner – many of our Haka Guides rate it as their most favourite drive in New Zealand. As we hit the road, we'll stop at one of our most popular lakeside lookout points at Lake Hawea or Lake Wanaka. Your guide will keep an eye on the weather and pick the best option. From the cascading waterfalls of Haast Pass to classic Kiwi coastal views, you won't want to nap on the bus in case you miss anything.
Your guide will have some epic surprise photo stops and short walks along the way. Between September and December it's whitebait season (a small fish that's a delicacy in New Zealand). Fried up with eggs and served on toast, it's a local treat and shouldn't be missed. We'll stop at one of the local spots for a taste during the season. We roll into Franz Josef around late afternoon/early evening. This UNESCO World Heritage area is famous for its spectacular glacier, just 5km from town, which is begging to be explored tomorrow.
After breakfast we head further along the beautiful west coast on another of the most spectacular drives in the country (and, some would say, the world): a rugged, primaeval landscape of luxuriant rainforest juxtaposed against breathtaking beach and ocean waves. We stop at Hokitika and visit a greenstone factory, a great place to stock up on souvenirs for your friends and family back home. Time permitting, we may also visit the National Kiwi Centre, where there is guaranteed viewing of rare kiwi birds in their nocturnal house.
On the way back to Christchurch, you'll traverse the South Island on the stunning TranzAlpine train crossing. Travelling across the Southern Alps through Arthur's Pass, this is considered as one of the world's most scenic train journeys. Along the way you'll see epic vistas, travel the edges of the ice-fed Waimakariri River and see miles of native beech forest. You'll arrive in Christchurch around 6.30pm before transferring to your accommodation.
The first part of the day is the stunning drive up the coast to Marlborough, the region at the top of the South Island. One of the best ways to explore Marlborough is with your tastebuds. So before heading on to Picton, there's a crucial stop for a wine tasting, to sample some of the best vineyards in the country. Today we say goodbye to the South Island and take one of the world's most scenic ferry journeys as we cross the Cook Strait. It's a stunning farewell – gliding through the Marlborough Sounds as we depart Picton Harbour, you'll feel like you're in another world. And then… Wellington! Perched on the edge of a spectacular harbour, encircled by green, towering hills, Wellington is a stunning and compact city.
Vibrant, exciting and cultured, the nation's capital combines the stimulation and sophistication of a big city with the quirkiness and personality of a much smaller town. This evening, the city lights are yours to enjoy. Discover why Wellington is celebrated for its foodie culture – you are truly spoilt for dining choices tonight. Wellington is also widely regarded as the craft beer capital of New Zealand. Want to test this for yourself? Talk to your Haka guide to find the hidden gems.