Fiordland Explorer Tour

8 Days, 12 hours flying included.

Steeped in variety, this tour encompasses the southern spirit of New Zealand. From the moment we meet in Queenstown, your days will be filled with stunning scenery, clear airways and fantastic flying.

For this tour you will be based at Wanaka, a scenic town nestled at the foot of New Zealand's forth largest lake. With easy access to the Airfield plus a great variety of walks, vineyards, shops and restaurants, this location offers something for everyone.

From here you will take day trips. There is one night away on Stewart Island, at the most southern end of the country. This means you unpack once, and each day take only what you need. It also allows tremendous flexibility for weather within the itinerary.

Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five
Day Six
Day Seven
Day Eight

Day One

You will be met by your personal host and instructor at Queenstown Airport.  After your briefing, fly to Geordie Hill Station near Wanaka, where you will be welcomed by Jo & Matt McCaughan, founders of Flyinn.  Here you’ll enjoy great morning coffee and hot scones to welcome you to the Flyinn experience.

Today is your introduction to mountain flying, plus familiarization to the Wanaka Airport and region.  If weather permits we shall also explore further afield to one of the destinations of your itinerary.  

Toward the end of the day transfer to Wanaka, where you can enjoy a tour of the town, before being shown to your apartment.  This is where you will be based for this itinerary.  

Evening:  Settle into your surroundings, before enjoying the short scenic walk into town for your choice of dining.  Stroll home for a good night’s rest in readiness for the wonderful flying and scenic adventures of the coming week.

 

 

Day Two

Fly to world famous Milford Sound via Te Anau, the Wilmott Pass and the Milford Track. 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 (depends on tide). Lunch at Milford or enjoy Elsie’s famous-at-Flyinn date loaf at Big Bay.

Back to Wanaka via Aspiring National Park and view the expanse of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea in the late afternoon light.  (Mt Aspiring is known as the ‘Matterhorn’ of the South, and is flanked by pristine glaciers).

Evening:  Enjoy your choice of restaurant dining in Wanaka.

Day Three

Fly to Stewart Island. Route via the Nevis or Kawarau River Valleys where Central Otago high country descends to lower and more fertile rolling hills and more intense farming systems.

Land at the immaculately kept Mandeville Airfield and visit Croydon Aircraft Company. Here vintage aircraft are restored, and there is a hanger where a 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 Foveaux Strait to land at Stewart Island. Settle into your accommodation and take a short bush walk or a walk through the township and along the beach.  Relax and enjoy the quiet pace of island life.

Evening:  Enjoy fresh local seafood at the hotel restaurant with your guide.   (Dinner and drinks incl.)

 

Day Four

Fishing Excursion: Morning boat trip with local island fisherman. Enjoy viewing marine life, including blue penguins, seals and mollymawks (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 Wanaka via the very beautiful Catlin’s coastline. Here there are numerous deserted beaches and cliffs, plus farm and forest land.

Evening:   Stroll down town to revisit a favourite restaurant.  Or take the vehicle, assemble a picnic, and head up the lake to enjoy a quiet time at the waters edge.  

Day Five

Meander Eastwards to arrive at the coastal city of Dunedin.  Known as the ‘Edinburgh of the South’ Dunedin was built around a natural harbour on the back of a gold-rush. It was one of the first cities in NZ and as such offers interesting architecture, excellent local-history museum, botanic gardens, shopping, and also some marine life.

Today is your slice of NZ city life.

Alternate:  Join the Geordie Hill Station program and watch shepherds shifting stock with their dogs. Learn first-hand about our farming systems and infrastructure.  Join the staff for morning tea before heading out to explore your choice of local attractions.

Local attractions include: boutique shops at Tarras. Excellent vineyards cellar doors of Tarras, Cromwell or Bannockburn. Or simply enjoy more of Wanaka’s shops or outdoor attractions.

Evening:  Take the popular walk up Mount Iron on the outskirts of town, to view 180’ evening light on the mountains.  Try a new restaurant, or order take-out food to enjoy from the small wharf on the waterfront with a chilled local beer.  Options are endless.

 

 

 

Day Six

Dramatic Glenorchy region and the Dart River Jet Boat excursion. This day can begin by flying to an interesting local airstrip or two. 

At Glenorchy there is time for a brief lunch before joining the Dart River Jet experience. This is a mighty river and mountain experience. The jetboat is a NZ invention and a must-do when visiting New Zealand.  The spectacular scenery in this region is popular the film industry. Returning to Wanaka, you will now recognise the surrounding countryside, and feel like you are on your way home.

Evening: Catch up on your photos and share a few with friends, as you relax with a chilled wine and reflect on all you have done so far.   You’re familiar with the stroll into town and know your favourite restaurant which can make tonight’s decision easy.  Enjoy another delicious dinner before getting an early night.  Your week has been active, and it’s not over yet!

 

Day Seven

Mt Cook Region and Glaciers: Explore this most dramatic area with its razor sharp ridges and steep sides valleys, carved from years of glacial activity. View the icefields 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.

Fly back via the long and winding Landsborough River valley. Visit Haast or Makarora village for a break. Land on some interesting backcountry strips: Minaret or the Dingleburn airstrips- both remote high country properties. And closer to home land on some local Tarras strips. Today is full of a wonderful variety of scenery.

Evening:  Dine out with your hosts Matt and Jo McCaughan, and share stories of your week.  Evening meal included.

Day Eight

The last day of your tour can also be full of surprises... so if possible please keep this day free!

If during the week, weather has caused a postponement to any destination, today is our chance to go there. It’s also a chance to do some extra strip flying and test your skills on one or two more challenging local strips.  Sometimes, this is your day to visit Geordie Hill Station to watch sheep dogs working, and to enjoy hearing first- hand about the high-country farming industry of New Zealand.

 If there’s time, use the morning to take a walk around picturesque Wanaka, ending up at your favourite coffee spot.  (Kiwi’s love a great coffee!)

 Today we provide you with a detailed flight log and invoice.

 Once all plans have been accomplished, we say farewell and fly to Queenstown

 You will have the most flexibility with this day if you are able to stay the night in Queenstown. The next best option is to book your flight or onward travel from Queenstown, as late in the day as possible please.  Thanks.

 

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