Queenstown Southern Loop6 daysDepart 15 May 2023Return 21 May 2023
Queenstown Southern Loop
Explore the rugged reaches of the South Island on this six-day trip with Intrepid, beginning and ending in Queenstown. Make your way to the shores of the South Island’s biggest lake and sail the silent waters of glacier-carved Fiordland National Park with an unforgettable cruise on Milford Sound. Cross to the sometimes forgotten corner of Otago – the rugged cliffs of the Catlins – to hike to coastal caves, then span the gap to untouched Stewart Island to explore the wilderness, listening out for the call of the kiwi. Crafted to give the right amount of active adventure and time to relax, this is the perfect southern getaway.
- 5 nights / 6 days tour
- 5 nights twin-share hotel accommodation
- Meals and activities as per itinerary
- Private vehicle transport and ferry
- Soak up the silence of Milford Sound on a cruise across its waters
- Explore the Cathedral Caves of the Catlins
- Cross the Foveaux Strait to unspoilt Stewart Island and enjoy two days to explore the wilderness.
Age: Minimum is 15 years
Group size: Maximum 12
Valid for Departures
- 08 Nov 2021
- 06 Dec 2021
- 27 Dec 2021
- 03 Jan 2022
- 17 Jan 2022
Itinerary & Map
Welcome to the South Island! Make your own way to the hotel, where the adventure kicks off with a 10 am welcome meeting where you'll join up with your leader and group. If you’re looking for more time in ‘Adventure Capital of the world's, look to book in some time after the end of the trip. After the meeting, head to the lovely lakeside town of Te Anau – gateway to Fiordland National Park. Watch the stunning landscapes pass by as you round the bottom of LakeWakatipu with the aptly named The Remarkables mountains in the background. The five-hour drive will take you to the shores of the South Island’s biggest lake, which extends into the fiords and deeply forested mountains. Tonight you there's an optional chance to head underground by boat and see thousands of glow worms illuminate subterranean caves, to spectacular effect.
The stunning, unforgettable sights of the fiords are best experienced by boat, so today you’ll set off for a memorablecruise on Milford Sound, known locally as Piopiotahi. Sail along the waters that pour out into the Tasman Sea, andlook out for bottlenose dolphins and fur seals at play. Nature feels close here in the silence of the sound as you makeyour way past countless tumbling, misting cascades, soaring icy peaks, lush rainforest and twisting inlets. Soak up thesurrounds so stunning that they feel almost fake, and breathe in the crisp mountain air. Afterwards get a differentperspective of the sound, surrounded by native bush, as you take on the lookout track with your leader. There’s a bitof a climb, but the views are more than worth it to look down on the water and up at the peaks. The spectacularviews keep on coming with a Mirror Lakes walk, where the peaks and greenery reflect in the clear lake waters. Returnto Te Anau in time for dinner this evening – maybe seek out some local fare like venison or even lobster for dinner.
- Milford Sound - cruise, leader-led walk to Milford Lookout, walk to Mirror Lakes and Lake Gunn.
This morning it’s time to swap one side of the island for the other as you make your way to what feels like a forgotten corner of Otago – the Catlins. This untamed coastal wilderness is home to rugged cliffs, dense forests, and some spectacular hidden waterfalls. Explore the Cathedral Caves, only accessible at low tide after a walk through the forest down to the beach. The work of water over thousands of years, the impressive sea cave complex reaches up to 200 metres into the cliff and reach heights of over 30 metres inside. Test the aptness of the name by trying out the church-like acoustics. After lunch, take the time to soak up the sights of pounding surf, windswept beaches and sunbathing sea lions as you stroll the sands with your leader.
Cabin (with shared facilities) (1 night)
- The Catlins - Leader-led walk to Nugget Point Lighthouse and Cathedral Caves
Head to the very bottom of the island and take a ferry across the Foveaux Strait to the country’s third largest landmass, Stewart Island. It takes about one hour to travel the 30-kilometre strait. The island is almost entirely national park, which makes its unspoiled forests, beaches and bays a haven for hikers of all abilities as well as birdwatchers – it’s home to endangered brown kiwi, flightless Stewart Island kiwi and nearly extinct kakapo parrots. In the Maori language, the island is known as Rakiura, which means ‘the land of glowing skies’. So tonight your leader will brief you to find the best nearby vantage point to explore the night sky.
- Stewart Island - Leader-led Dark Sky briefing and orientation walk
Enjoy a full day to explore the island as you discover the coast and Rakiura National Park. There will be cruises on thebays and inlets spotting penguins and seabirds and walks along forested coastal tracks past early Maori settlements.Learn about the local flora and fauna, and relax on the beach for a picnic lunch. Take in the views over glisteningWilliam Bay and see if you can spot the mountains of the South Island in the distance. Then give your legs a rest asyou jump in a van for a scenic road trip back to Halfmoon Bay. Return to your accommodation and enjoy the rest ofthe evening to relax after your full day of island exploration, joining the group for an included dinner at localrestaurant tonight.
- Breakfast and dinner.
Your trip comes to an end today when you arrive back in Queenstown at approximately 2 pm. If you have extra timeto spend in Queenstown, make sure to get out and take advantage of the numerous adventure activities on offer.The Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu not only serve as spectacular props to get your adrenaline fix, they’re alsobeautiful to look at. The town is also a great base for exploring Central Otago’s excellent vineyards and historicmining towns.
- Personal expenses and tips
- Meals not specified
- Comprehensive travel insurance.
- Accommodation is on a twin share basis, and single travellers are paired with the same gender. Single supplement room upgrades can be requested at the time of booking.
- The accommodation featured are the usual properties. At certain locations, may use alternative accommodation (of equal standard) when needed.