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Details and Itinerary
Christchurch is the first destination of our New Zealand adventure. An incredible backdrop for learning about the history and culture of “Aotearoa.” We will start with some orientation activities. Explore the city, take a gondola ride to a stunning overlook, and experience warmth and friendly hospitality that is the essence of New Zealand’s culture. Christchurch is also the ideal setting to begin our educational component of our New Zealand journey. We will learn about the 2011 earthquakes, geology, and the science of earthquake prediction from renowned researchers at Canterbury University.
After a morning exploring Christchurch’s Hagley Park, we travel to beautiful Lake Tekapo and the Aoraki Mount Cook region. We visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, then take a stunning hike or optional boat trip and explore the terminal face of a calving glacier. Here, we also get to experience the wonders of the universe with Earth & Sky observatory. Tekapo is far from the city lights and, therefore, has some of the darkest skies found anywhere –Perfect for viewing the starts! Astronomers from the University of Canterbury share some of the discoveries being made here, or perhaps enchant you with tales and views of the Milky Way, distant star clusters, planets, nebulae, or perhaps the craters of the moon!
Genuine people who care deeply about the environment, and some of the best outdoor experiences to be found anywhere in the world are in and around Wanaka. We spend our time in Wanaka learning about sustainable farming practices on a true Kiwi sheep farm, embarking on an overnight guided hike with the Department of Conservation in the stunning Mt Aspiring National Park. It’s here that we see evidence of receding glaciers and learn about the global impacts of this phenomena. Trails take you past alpine vistas, steam covered geothermal lakes, and descend through golden tussock covered slopes to the forest bush-line. Our researcher guides will help us learn about the unique conservation challenges that New Zealand faces as well as how the glaciers have formed this incredible landscape. Much of the mountain footage in the “Lord Of The Rings” was filmed here.
Situated on the west coast of the South Island, Milford Sound is a fusion of spectacular natural features with amazing visual cues around every corner. Milford Sound was carved by glaciers during the Ice Ages. The fjord’s cliffs rise vertically from the still waters, mountain peaks scrape the sky, and waterfalls cascade downwards, some as high as 1000 meters with magnificent effect. We experience the natural wonders of Milford Sound up close with a guided sea kayaking adventure. Penguins, seals, dolphins, and a host of bird life often surround us as we paddle with friends in our double kayaks through this majestic landscape.
Our last full day in New Zealand will be in Queenstown. We have time to explore the town and shop for souvenirs before a final celebratory dinner. At dinner overlooking the lights of Queenstown, we reflect on an incredible two weeks of travels through New Zealand.