New Zealand Vacation: Off the Beaten Track Adventure

This New Zealand Vacation: Off the Beaten Track Adventure was designed for a honeymoon couple from Los Angeles. They were avid hikers, and they wanted to experience beautiful wilderness and outdoor adventures away from the usual tourist areas. We sent them on a road trip to some of the most breathtaking parts of the South Island for a truly unique New Zealand honeymoon.

First for their New Zealand Vacation: Off the Beaten Track Adventure, they stayed in a lakeside retreat in Wanaka. They took a helicopter into a remote area of Mt Aspiring National Park, took a guided nature walk, and finished the day’s adventure with a heart-pounding jetboat ride. They also took a boutique winery tour in the Central Otago, an area known for fabulous pinot noirs.

Next, they visited Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki, a secluded eco-retreat surrounded by a natural playground. They enjoyed plenty of hiking here, as well as kayaking on the crystal-clear alpine lake. Then they drove to Franz Josef Glacier, where they were able to heli up to the top and hike around on the glacier’s surface!

Continuing their New Zealand Vacation: Off the Beaten Track Adventure, they drove further up the West Coast on a thin strip of land between the ocean and the mountains. They stayed in a cozy B&B in coastal Punakaiki. The next day, they explored some amazing nearby caves and went blackwater tubing on an underground river! Then it was on to the sunny Golden Bay. They took a wilderness tour of Farewell Spit, far from where most tourists go in New Zealand, and saw countless seals basking on the beach.

Next for their New Zealand Vacation: Off the Beaten Track Adventure, they drove to Nelson. This sunny town neighboring Abel Tasman National Park has something for everyone. They explored the amazing World of Wearable Arts Museum and took a boutique wine and craft beer tour. Finally, they journeyed to Picton, an absolutely breathtaking area in the heart of New Zealand’s famous Marlborough wine region. They loved exploring this gorgeous area on foot, in kayaks, and on mountain bikes, and retreating to their cozy lodge in the evenings to relax.

At last, their unforgettable New Zealand Vacation came to an end. They took the ferry over to Blenheim and began their journey home.

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1
Welcome to New Zealand! Arrive in Auckland and catch a short connecting flight to Queenstown. Here, you’ll pick up your rental car and make a scenic drive to Wanaka, about 1 hour away. Your fabulous resort is nestled right on the shores of Lake Wanaka, with magnificent views of the Southern Alps. Enjoy dinner at the resort or at a nearby restaurant this evening, savoring a delicious glass of New Zealand red as you gaze out over the lake.
4-star resort in Wanaka

Day 2
Today, you’ll have a special opportunity to explore the breathtaking Mt Aspiring National Park. Enjoy a scenic flight into the remote Siberia Valley, where you’ll be treated to views of rugged mountains, glaciers, lakes, valleys, and rainforests. Upon landing, you’ll be guided on a bush walk through river valleys and native beech forest. Top off your adventure with a thrilling jetboat ride in the Wilkin Valley, heading down the river back to Makaroa.
4-star resort in Wanaka

Day 3
Today, you will discover some of the Central Otago regions’s wonderful vineyards and scenery, while meeting some of the numerous characters that produce these award-winning wines. Uncover the hidden gems that are quietly making a big name for themselves with their dedication to producing the best possible wine. Enjoy gourmet food and wine tastings at 4 boutique vineyards in this fertile region of New Zealand.
4-star resort in Wanaka

Day 4 – 5
Make your way over to the west coast, allowing extra time for short hikes and photo ops along this scenic route. Your drive takes you along pristine lakefronts, through Mt Aspiring National Park, over the breathtaking Haast Pass, and along the western coastline. Settle in at Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki, a fabulous eco-retreat in the midst of inspiring scenery. Spend your time here at leisure. Complimentary guided tours are included in your stay, or you can hike, kayak, or fish on your own. The lodge offers a tranquil retreat after a day filled with adventure.
Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki

Day 6
Continue your scenic driving adventure today as you make your way along the rugged west coast to the alpine town of Franz Josef, home to Franz Josef Glacier. Enjoy the inspiring mountain scenery and lush gardens from the comfort of your hotel.
4-star hotel in Franz Josef

Day 7
Today, it’s time for an unforgettable adventure: hiking on the surface of a glacier! Take in the majesty of Franz Josef Glacier from above on a scenic helicopter flight up to the glacier’s surface. Then you’ll gear up, strap some crampons on your feet, and start hiking along the glacier’s surface. Explore the ice caves, pinnacles, and seracs of this beautiful glacier with the help of expert guides, then heli back into town and recount the day’s exciting stories over a pint!
4-star hotel in Franz Josef

Day 8
Ready for more adventures? Set out on a quad bike tour of the Franz Josef surrounds! Head across stony braided riverbeds, see glacial-fed rivers, and gain insight into the local area and history from your guides. Drive though dense rainforest; ride out to the 10,000-year-old moraine left by ancient glacial pathways; view snowcapped peaks and the Franz Josef glacier as it plunges into the green canopy of the forest. Take a break at the shelter and enjoy a cup of tea or hot chocolate as you hear the old Maori legend of the glacier, its geology, and tales of pioneers and adventures from times past. Take on the mud if you dare!
4-star hotel in Franz Josef

Day 9
Continue driving up the West Coast today. Journey past windswept beaches, stark sea cliffs dropping into the roaring ocean, and hazy fog that hangs over the alps to your right as you navigate this thin strip of land between the ocean and the mountains. The drive gets better and better the farther north you drive. Make your way to your cozy B&B, set in an unspoiled location overlooking the Tasman Sea and Paparoa Mountains. This is the perfect place to relax and refresh in gorgeous natural surroundings for a few nights. Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted with a welcome drink and homemade all butter shortbread. Enjoy delicious, hearty breakfasts included in your room rate.
Birds Ferry Lodge

Day 10
Today, discover some of New Zealand’s underground attractions. Take the open-air Rainforest Train through lush foliage and towering limestone cliffs, then walk to the cave entrances and leave daylight behind as you enter a secret subterranean world. Follow your guide through the maze-like, multi-leveled cave system and arrive at a lazy underground river. Go blackwater tubing through the labyrinth and watch in amazement as the cave ceilings light up with countless glowworms. Emerge into daylight once more and float down the gentle river rapids to return to the train.
Birds Ferry Lodge

Day 11
Make your way north today, driving through mountains covered in lush green rainforest. Your destination is the sunny Golden Bay, the western gateway to Abel Tasman National Park. Your cozy lodge will welcome you with famous Kiwi hospitality. Take a walk along Pohara Beach and perhaps enjoy a refreshing dip in the saltwater swimming pool. This evening, enjoy a delicious 3-course meal with local wines in the lodge’s intimate restaurant.
3.5-star lodge in Golden Bay

Day 12
Today, explore the Farewell Spit Nature Reserve on a guided eco-tour. Head to the clifftop of Cape Farewell and see countless seals with their pups basking on the rocks below. Then stop at Fossil Point, where you can find plenty of marine life in the rock pools along the beach. Climb to the top of the landmark lighthouse, where you’ll learn Maori legends of the area and enjoy some refreshments. Finally, head to the top of a sand dune for panoramic views of wind-swept dunes leading out to the ocean.
3.5-star lodge in Golden Bay

Day 13
Drive along the coast to the town of Nelson. This gorgeous, sunny town is a hub for art, culture, food, wine, and craft brews. Visit the fascinating World of Wearable Art Museum, relax on the beach, take a scenic hike, or simply explore the fabulous restaurants and bars in town.
3.5-star hotel in Nelson

Day 14
Nelson is well known for its award-winning local wines and craft beer. Discover the best local treats today on a guided tour. Your friendly, local guides will take you to 2 wineries, a brewery, and the oldest pub in New Zealand (which also offers craft beer tasting trays). You may even get a chance to meet the brewers.
3.5-star hotel in Nelson

Day 15 – 16
Today brings the last leg of your scenic New Zealand road trip. Drive through the northern end of the South Island, along the magnificent Marlborough Sounds, to your Picton, where you’ll catch a water taxi to your secluded lodge. Tucked beside the water’s edge in Lochmara Bay, the lodge has its own sandy beach and is surrounded by the bush-clad hills of the Marlborough Sounds. Explore the area on nature walks, bike along the Queen Charlotte Track, go kayaking in the picturesque sounds, see the incredible marine life in the underwater observatory, and more. After a day of adventures, a glass of famous Marlborough sauvignon blanc will be the perfect refreshment!
Lochmara Lodge

Day 17
Make your way to the Picton Ferry Terminal and travel to Blenheim on the North Island. On the far shore, a private driver will pick you up and transfer you to the airport, where you’ll begin your journey home.

About this vacation
Cost Per Person

Does not include the cost of airfare

Based on
17 day stay
2 travelers

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