With acute attention to detail, this tour visits interesting destinations as you fly north to explore the Southern Alps, snowcaps and glaciers, and braided riverbeds feeding both the West and East coast regions. You’ll enjoy time in the Abel Tasman National Park with golden beaches, excellent bush walks, and abundant marine life.
Your base remains at Wanaka. As well as one night scheduled away in Dunedin, (as with the 8 day Fiordland Explorer tour) this tour includes two further nights away in the northern township of Motueka, situated near the Abel Tasman National Park.
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. Weather permitting 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.
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 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.
Night away in Dunedin. Begin today navigating a southern 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 its more rugged hinterland, the Catlins. Intersect the untamed Catlins Coastline, where a nor-east heading will track past cliffs and rocky outcrops, beaches and river mouths, all the way to your destination – Taieri Airfield and Dunedin City.
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 period architecture, an excellent local-history museum, a surprising abundance of marine life, plus botanic gardens and local shops for a little more indulgence.
Once settled in your accommodation, enjoy your choice of city life.
Evening: Join your hosts to dine at one of Dunedin’s excellent restaurants. (Dinner and drinks incl.)
Harbour Cruise: join Rebecca for a tour of Dunedin’s harbour and beyond. Learn about the local marine and bird-life including penguins and an established Albatross Colony. There is a delightful variety of wildlife living right on the parameters of this busy port city.
Back on land, explore more of the city before driving over the surrounding hills to reconnect with your aircraft. Fly westward, over an increasing arid landscape to sunny central Otago, and your home in Wanaka.
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.
Explore local Central Otago: Land on some farm airstrips as you make your way around this prosperous region where farmers raise merino sheep, winegrowers are renowned for their Pinot Noir and fruit growers for stone fruit.
Tucked away in an unsuspecting corner is a fabulously preserved slice of history - Hayes Engineering. Here one family lived, invented, and developed practical and leading technology of the day. Take a walk back through time, and learn of this families’ entrepreneurial contribution, some of which is still used on farm today.
Make your way around the region to land back where you first began, at Geordie Hill Station. Join the farm program on the day. Learn first-hand about our farming systems and infrastructure. Watch how shepherds shift stock with their dogs. See if you can make a Shepherd’s whistle work.
Evening in Wanaka: Free to wander and enjoy the mountainous vista before choosing your favourite restaurant. Perhaps tonight’s cuisine and glass of local pinot noir, will be enhanced by memories of your day.
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 mountain and river-valley scenery in this region is popular with 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!
Mt Cook region to Nelson: (Pack your bag for two nights away).
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.
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 Hokitika 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.
Alternately choose a path through the foothills of the Southern Alps. This exciting route passes the headwaters of many magnificent river valleys, giving spectacular view of their braided nature, 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.
Nelson, where you will spend two nights, is considered the sunshine capital of New Zealand and gateway to both Abel Tasmas National Part, and the Marlbourgh Sounds. Accommodation is well appointed motel or lodge. You will be shown the township and settled into your accommodation.
Evening: You are completely free to relax and enjoy your choice of dining.
Day in the Abel Tasman National Park. This park offers a wonderful escape into New Zealand native beach forest.
Water Taxi can deliver you along a well -defined walking track where you may walk as far as you like 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.
Evening: At the end of your day, freshen up and enjoy dinner out with your guide at one of the excellent restaurants in the vicinity. (Dinner and drinks incl.)
Marlborough Sounds and Kaikoura en route south to Wanaka. Fly East and slightly north over the Tasman Bay to find the beginning of the Marlborough Sounds. This is a region of islands, many of which are farmed, and others are bush clad. Most offer numerous sheltered bays for boating and fishing, and holiday homes can be seen dotted about their shores.
Land at Omaka Airport by Blenheim to visit the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. This centre 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 like no other. Equally interesting to those who are not aviation followers – this is a museum not to be missed.
Fly south along the East Coast via Kaikoura – the feeding territory for sperm whales. These may be spotted from the plane, and often large pods of dolphins also.
Further South is the possibility of a stop in Christchurch or Ashburton to stretch your legs and enjoy a break, before continuing over the completely flat Canterbury plains, to foothills and mountain passes, high country valleys and finally via the Lindis Pass to the north-eastern hills surrounding Wanaka Airfield.
By now you will recognise this area as you descend into the Wanaka basin. After the short drive to town, your apartment and familiar surroundings will welcome you home.
Evening: Enjoy dinner at your favourite easy dining spot in Wanaka, then perhaps end the day with a relaxing spa and welcome sleep.
Strip Flying Day: There are many airstrips, of various degrees of complexity to hone your skills on. Today offers a chance to try some of these while enjoying visits to local destinations.
To the west Makarora airstrip is nestled near the gateway to the west coast and mountains. Further west arrive at Haast and the west coast. Or track down lake Wanaka to Minaret Station airstrip, then through ‘the neck’ to Lake Hawea and the Dingleburn Station airstrip. Today you will get to explore the local valleys, meet some local people, enjoy excellent country cafés as well as spend an exciting day flying.
Alternate is to visit local attractions. These include boutique shops at Tarras. Excellent vineyard cellar doors of Tarras, Cromwell or Bannockburn. Or simply enjoy more of Wanaka’s shops or outdoor activities.
Evening Dinner: complete your itinerary by joining Flyinn hosts Matt and Jo McCaughan for evening dinner. (Dinner and drinks incl.)
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.