The Long White Cloud Tour

19 days, 28 hours flying.

New Zealand was first discovered about 1000 years ago by the great Polynesian navigator Kupe who sailed here from his homeland Hawaiki. He named the islands Aotearoa, or “Land of the Long White Cloud”.

Kupe returned to Hawaiki and left instruction on how to get here. About 400 years later Maori arrived back in Aotearoa in seven great canoes and began to populate the North Island. You will fly the length of our Long White Cloud on this tour.

This tour includes all the highlights of our seven and eleven-day itineraries, plus many in the North Island.

Less mountainous than the South, the North Island has a central volcanic plateau – still active with boiling mud pools, geysers and steam vents. It is also a major centre for Maori art and culture. You can take your time in the modern museum of New Zealand (Te Papa) in Wellington. Visit the temperate wine and fruit growing regions of the East Coast. Fly north to remote East Cape, then to the Coromandel Peninsula and Hauraki Gulf. Still further north, you can fly the 90 mile beach to Cape Reinga (the very northern tip of New Zealand) and enjoy the semi tropical areas of Northland and the Bay of Islands.

Beginning at one end of the country and finishing at the other, the Long White Cloud makes excellent use of every minute that you spend in New Zealand.

Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five
Day Six
Day Seven
Day Eight
Day Nine
Day 10
Day 11
Day 12
Day 13
Day 14
Day 15
Day 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19

Day One

9am – You will be met by your personal host and instructor at Queenstown Airport. After your briefing, fly to Geordie Hill Station – Flyinn’s base. Here your hosts will have prepared morning coffee and hot scones to welcome you to Geordie Hill Station. You’ll get to meet our staff, familiarise yourself with your accommodation, as well as your aircraft and the local area.During this time we continue the process for validation of a foreign PPL and issuing of a NZ Certificate. Weather permitting, it is possible to explore beyond the local region and to one of the destinations on your itinerary.

Evening: settle into your surroundings before joining your hosts at the Geordie Hill Homestead for the first of many shared evenings. Enjoy a pre-dinner drink, accompanied by excellent cuisine, selected wines, and great Kiwi company.

Day Two

Fly to the world famous Milford Sound via Te Anau, the Wilmott Pass and the Milford Track. Here spectacular, deep fiords and rainforest running up onto weathered peaks abound. Many high mountain tarns and lakes feed waterfalls, which fall vertically hundreds of feet into the fiords below. Land at Milford Sound. Take a walk and view the Bowen falls, and absorb the magnificent atmosphere. Fly to Big Bay, and land on the vast beach (depending on tide). Lunch at Milford or enjoy Elsie’s date loaf at Big Bay. Fly back to Geordie Hill via Aspiring National Park and lakes Wanaka and Hawea. Mt Aspiring is known as the “Matterhorn” of the South, and is flanked by pristine glaciers.

 

Day Three

Fly to Stewart Island.  Land at the immaculately kept Mandeville Airfield and visit Croydon Aircraft Company where vintage aircraft are restored, and an interesting and rare collection is kept.  Enjoy morning coffee, or light lunch at ‘The Moth’ café.  There is the option to fly a Tiger Moth here. Fly further south over green Southland countryside, and across Foveaux Strait to land at Stewart Island. Settle into your accommodation and take a short bush walk or a stroll through the township and along the beach.  Perhaps visit the Department of Conservation museum. In the evening enjoy fresh local seafood at either the Hotel Restaurant or Church Hill Café. Relax and enjoy the quiet pace of island life.

 

Day Four

Fishing Excursion: Morning boat trip with local island fisherman. Enjoy viewing marine life which can include blue penguins, seals and molymawks (of the albatross family). Learn some of the history of the area. Try your hand at fishing for Blue Cod – the local staple – a sweet, succulent, white flesh fish. Visit the nature reserve of Ulva Island to enjoy the native bush, which is alive with native birdsong. In the afternoon fly back to Geordie Hill via the very beautiful Catlins coastline.  Here there are numerous deserted beaches and cliffs, plus farm and forest land. Be sure to deliver your catch of the day to your host when you get home, so a delicious appetiser can be prepared for dinner.

 

Day Five

A day out in the city of Dunedin: Built around a natural harbour, and on the back of a gold-rush, Dunedin was one of the first cities to be established in New Zealand. It offers interesting architecture, a highly regarded historic museum, botanic gardens, excellent shopping, and also some marine life.Various tracks south east from Geordie Hill take you over mountain ranges and wide river valleys.View an open cast gold mine from above, and track up the Dunedin harbour and over the city. Or track over rock lands or follow lake Marhingarangi to approach from the south. Enjoy either being guided, or spend some free time exploring. Today is when you get your slice of real Kiwi city life.

 

Day Six

Explore the dramatic Glenorchy region and experience the Dart River Jet Boat excursion. 

This day can begin by flying to one or more interesting, local airstrips. St Bathans is a possibility, and here you will land on a farm top-dressing strip and walk a short distance into the old gold mining town still much in its original state. Visit the historic hotel and enjoy morning coffee before retracing your steps to the aircraft and continuing to the Glenorchy Airstrip. You’ll have time for a brief lunch before joining the Dart River Jet river and mountain experience. The jet boat is a New Zealand invention able to travel in very shallow or swift flowing water. The spectacular scenery in this region is popular with the film industry. Return to Geordie Hill via scenic Shotover or Motutapu River valleys. Or climb in a northerly direction to catch the magnificent views down river valleys as you descend eastwards over Wanaka. And as you make your way back to Geordie Hill, you will now recognise the surrounding countryside, and feel like you are on your way home.

 

Day Seven

Day off:   Join the Geordie Hill Station program and watch shepherds shifting stock with their dogs. Learn more about our farming systems, and the infrastructure required for this to work.  Join the staff for morning tea. Explore Central Otago and Upper Clutha by car. (Use of a station vehicle – car or 4wd is included).

Local attractions include:  gliding at world renown Omarama.  Enjoying the local boutique shops at Tarras offering vintage crafts, country homewares,  fine merino wool clothing. Visit a museum to Shrek the famous merino sheep and take a break in a popular country café. Visit local vineyards in the Tarras, Cromwell, Bannockburn, Gibbston Valley or Wanaka areas.  Or visit the townships of Cromwell or Wanaka.  Spend the day hiking around Wanaka, or to the Rob Roy Glacier in Mt Aspiring National Park.  Choose to drive to Makarora on the Haast Pass road and visit the outstanding blue pools. Another option can be to simply remain at Geordie Hill and enjoy a quiet day at the Station.

Evening Dinner: an exquisitely prepared menu with selected wines, just for you, to be enjoyed at your leisure upon returning home to your cottage.

Day Eight

Mount Cook Region and Glacier, en route to Motueka:  Explore this most dramatic area with its razor sharp ridges and steep sided valleys, carved from years of glacial activity.  View the ice fields that supply cascading glaciers, which in turn feed a variety of lakes and river systems.  At over 12,000’ Mt Cook and surrounds are made all the more spectacular because only 20 nm to the West is the shoreline of the Tasman Sea.

Land at Mt Cook Airfield and spend some time in the village.  Visit an interesting museum of mountain climbing in the region, and view a tribute to Sir Edmund Hilliary – a Kiwi and the first man to climb Mt Everest.  There is also an option here to join a Mt Cook ski plane flight up onto the Tasman Glacier.

Continue north via the West Coast and watch as snow caps and glaciers give way to bush clad mountains, and valley farm land.  An alternate en route destination is Hokitka, known for local greenstone carving.  The west coast route can lead you to the very tip of the South Island and Farewell Spit, which curves protectively into the Tasman Bay.  Follow the coast line south to land at Motueka where you will stay for two nights.  Alternately choose a path through the foothills of the Southern Alps. This exciting route passes the headwaters of many magnificent river valleys, giving spectacular views of their braided nature, the valley systems and surrounding farmland. Again, snow caps and glacial moraine give way to gentler slopes, open valleys, and the Canterbury plains to the east.

On the east coast is a possible option to land at Christchurch Airport and visit the Antarctic Centre.  This tells the story of past exploration and expeditions to the South Pole, as well as current research projects.  Continue north west via fertile rolling farmland, to high country and mountain passes, until you see the Tasman Bay coast line and track to your destination, Motueka. Land at Motueka where you will stay for two nights.

Accommodation is a well-appointed motel or lodge.  You will be shown the township, after which you can settle into your accommodation.  This evening is kept completely free.  A chance to relax, and enjoy your choice of dining.

Day Nine

The Abel Tasman National Park.  This park offers a wonderful escape into New Zealand native beech forest.  Water taxi can deliver you along a well-defined walking track where you may walk to a wonderful bush café serving cold drinks and lunch. Take your time and enjoy the golden sand beaches and clear blue water.  An alternate is to join a kayaking group and see the park this way. Often dolphins and seals can be viewed from the kayak or water taxi. At the end of your day, freshen up and enjoy dinner out at one of the excellent restaurants in the vicinity.

 

Day 10

Depart Motueka for Wellington and the North Island. You may wish to visit Omaka Airport and visit the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, which is home to a captivating display of WWI aircraft, memorabilia and enacted stories. Crafted by the same special effects team from ‘Lord of the Rings,” this display is exceptional.  Equally interesting to those who are not aviation enthusiasts – this is a museum not to be missed. Continue north over the Marlborough Sounds, which is a region of islands, many of which are farmed, and others bush clad.  Most offer numerous sheltered bays for boating and fishing, and holiday homes can be seen dotted about their shores.  Cross Cook Strait to New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington, built on a natural harbour. Visit the modern, national museum of New Zealand known as Te Papa, and perhaps also visit parliamentary buildings and The Beehive.  Free evening in Wellington.

 

Day 11

Depart Wellington along the East coast en route to Hawkes Bay and the township of Napier where you will spend two nights.  Enjoy the warm coastal town with its unique Art Deco architecture. Napier is situated in the heart of one of New Zealand’s most popular viticulture areas. Spend two nights in Napier.  Free Evening.

 

Day 12

Free day in Napier. Known as the Art Deco capital of the world. Napier was rebuilt in the early 1930s following an earthquake. By the end of the decade, Napier was the newest city on the globe. Nowhere else can you see such a variety of buildings in the styles of the 1930s – Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission, and above all Art Deco, the most iconic style of the 20th Century. Napier’s Art Deco is unique, featuring Maori motifs. Napier is enhanced by palms and the angular Norfolk Island pines. It is surrounded by fertile fruit and grape growing plains, dramatic hills and the shores of the South Pacific. In Napier, you can enjoy the legacy of its brave rebuilding and savour the spirit of the optimistic Art Deco era. Also a great wine-growing region surrounds Napier and vineyard tours are available.

Evening: Dining at one of the many fine Vineyard Restaurants.

Day 13

Depart Napier and continue North up the coastline to Gisbourne, one of British explorer Captain Cook’s early landing sites.  Gisbourne’s airfield is unique due to its traffic lights. When they flash red, all air traffic stays on the apron or holds in the pattern – to wait until the train about to cross the runway departs. If time permits, stretch your legs here, then carry on north, flying over the remote kiwifruit orchards of the East Cape, enabling you to see its many spectacular beaches, cliffs and small remote Maori villages. Continue inland to Rotorua, situated in the heart of New Zealand’s geo-thermal area. Spend the evening in Rotorua at your leisure.

 

Day 14

Spend your day in Rotorua as you wish. Visit the Geysers and boiling mud pools of the volcanic area, or the well known Agridome, which showcases NZ agriculture.

In the evening visit Tamaki Maori Village, an in-depth Maori cultural experience and enjoy Hangi, authentic Maori cuisine, outside the city.  Embracing protocol, the Tamaki Maori Village takes visitors on a cultural journey back onto the Marae (Maori Village) where the life force of our country’s indigenous people is strongest. Enter into a world of ancient Maori and proud warriors. Let the local tribe’s people walk you through “our story” via song and dance. See, learn and taste food being prepared and cooked the ancient way as the night unfolds into a relaxed, friendly and fun atmosphere of feasting and entertainment.

Day 15

Continue north, perhaps landing at Pauanui Airfield, one of New Zealand’s first Aviation home parks, where houses were built with a hangar as the garage. Stroll into town for coffee before continuing en route along the coastline, and around the tip of the Coromandel peninsula. Enjoy sightseeing the unique rock formations and plentiful hidden beaches along the coast. Head further North across the Hauraki Gulf to land on the bush clad semi-tropical popular island get-away of Great Barrier Island.  This island is home to few full time residents, and very popular amongst sailors and people who enjoy remote beaches, bush walks and island life.

 

Day 16

Enjoy a morning stroll on Great Barrier Island before departing via the northern port of Whangarei, before turning northward along the coast to the  Bay of Islands. Watch as the vegetation takes on a semi-tropical look.  Here the climate is noticeably warmer and citrus trees abound.  Inviting beach coves and rocky outcrops form the coastline. Land at Kerikeri Airfield.  You have two nights to explore this region. Free evening.

 

Day 17

Free day in the Bay of Islands. It was here that Dutch explorer Abel Tasman landed in 1642, charted part of the coastline and named it Staten land, believing it was part of the Australian continent. When his mistake was discovered, the country was renamed Nieuw Zeeland. In 1769 James Cook came to New Zealand, extensively charted both North and South Island and gave the Bay of Islands its present name.  Here you can enjoy an outing by comfortable, fast catamaran among the islands or possibly some fishing and sailing.  This beautiful area is also where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, signifying the beginning of a new framework for living alongside New Zealand’s native Maori peoples.

Dine in one of the popular cafés.  If you enjoy seafood, sample the freshly caught snapper or kingfish.

Day 18

Depart Kerikeri and follow the coastline to the furthest most northern tip of New Zealand.  With a lonely lighthouse to mark the spot,  Cape Reinga stretches out as though trying to keep the divide between the mighty Pacific and the Tasman Sea.  Enjoy the remote expanse of magnificent 90 mile beach as you turn to head south. Stop for lunch at one of the townships en route, before continuing over farmland and bush clad gullies.  Before long you will find yourself in the vicinity of Auckland City and nearby Waiheke Island.  Land at Reeve Airstrip and tie your trusty 172 down for the last time.

Evening out in one of the island’s vineyard restaurants, or vibrant village cafés.

Day 19

Breakfast and enjoy the morning reminiscing about your ‘endless’ adventure.  Take a stroll along the beach, or into the village for the morning paper and coffee. Guests often choose to stay on Waiheke for some days to rest and enjoy a quieter pace. Being only 35 minutes from downtown Auckland on the quikcat ferry, there is also the option of a day out in Auckland City. Visit the viaduct basin where the Americas Cup was based. Meanwhile, back on Waiheke you can choose to relax with a book soaking up the atmosphere of island life.  Or visit some of the many art and craft galleries and shops.  Hire a car and travel the island with a picnic.  There are many options.

Today you will say farewell to your guide and friend as he departs for the journey back to Flyinn base and Geordie Hill Station.

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