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New Zealand Nature Explorer

A Small-Group Immersion in the Scenic Splendors of the South Island
12 Days From $11495
Among travelers who covet spectacular natural scenery, New Zealand is legendary. We focus on the South Island, whose rugged coastline encompasses a land of topographic extremes, from seaside rain forests and sapphire lakes to ice-crowned peaks, active glaciers and frigid fjords. On this dramatic itinerary that winds from alpine heights to Pacific shores, we are immersed in nature at its showiest. Explore mountains and lush gorges in Fiordland National Park, hike on remote Mou Waho Island in Lake Wanaka, and walk among towering ferns to wild Monro Beach. Within these diverse landscapes, we find rare and intriguing creatures such as the flightless buff weka, yellow-eyed penguins and the famous brown kiwis. We also experience the hospitable human side of New Zealand, equally renowned. Meet sheep farmers, learn about Maori culture, and find a bit of Scottish heritage in the South Pacific. 
    Ulva Island, New ZealandYellow-eyed Penguin, Stewart Island, New ZealandArthur's Pass, New ZealandNew Zealand Fur Seals, New ZealandArthur’s Pass, New ZealandLarnach's Castle, Dunedin, New Zealand Koru, Stewart Island, New ZealandMilford Sound, New ZealandUlva Island, New ZealandArthur's Pass, New ZealandLake Wanaka, New ZealandBottlenose dolphin, New ZealandSouthern Alps, New Zealand

Trip Highlights

  • Diverse Nature AdventuresFrom secluded wilderness ecolodges, search for wildlife on guided rain forest hikes, paddle a mountain lake, and stargaze under some of Earth's darkest skies 
  • A Rare Visit to Stewart IslandEnjoy an exclusive stay on wild, rarely visited Stewart Island: take a nature walk with an esteemed local naturalist and travel aboard a private boat to view breeding seabirds
  • Private Milford Sound CruiseAboard a private charter, cruise fabled Milford Sound, where mists weave through fjords carved by glaciers and waterfalls plummet in silver ribbons from sheer mountain faces

See More of Natural New Zealand, Farther off the Standard Track

Most New Zealand tours focus on the same few popular highlights, like Milford Sound. While we’d never dream of skipping those notable draws, we take you farther into New Zealand’s remote reaches, away from crowds, for a Down Under nature odyssey you’ll have a hard time finding anywhere else. When you travel with us, you’ll enjoy distinctive experiences like these:

  1. Fly by Small Plane to Stewart Island to Look for Unique Wildlife
    Few travelers to New Zealand visit lushly forested Stewart Island. But we've included it, with the unusual opportunity to look for the endemic flightless brown kiwi bird on a guided night walk. This island is also a breeding and nesting site for one of the world’s rarest birds: the Fiordland crested penguin.
  2. Visit the Isolated Nature Sanctuary of Ulva Island
    Just minutes from Stewart Island lies the wild world of Ulva Island, a predator-free environment for rare and endangered birds such as the yellow-eyed penguin. Explore pristine trails and beaches, observing bird species that no longer exist on the main islands. Not on your standard itinerary!
  3. Stargaze Under Some of Earth's Darkest Skies 
    In two places, we'll have a chance to experience some of the darkest skies on the planet. Look for glowworms and glittering stars on a guided night walk from Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge, located near the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, which is one of just eight such reserves in the world. We'll also take two night walks on Stewart Island, known as Rakiura in the Maori language, which means “Land of Glowing Skies” by the Maori. If we're lucky, we might even see the aurora australis on the southern horizon.
  4. A Small-Group Nature Experience from Beginning to End
    Nat Hab has always been committed to the principle that nature is best experienced in small groups. And unlike other tour operators, we don’t mean just on select outings. For a full 12 days, you’ll travel in a group of no more than 10 people in a private mini-coach—no big tour buses for us! Few other companies come anywhere near our small numbers, which means you have more intimate and authentic experiences, no matter where we go.
  5. Visit a Working Sheep Farm—Not a Tourist Set-Up
    It’s often said that New Zealand has more sheep than people, and you’ll want to get to know more about these famous residents. We visit an authentic working sheep farm to learn from our hosts about the role these animals have played in the country’s history and the significance they hold at present. 
  6. Small Chartered Boats for Private Wildlife Viewing 
    Most companies send their groups on marine wildlife-watching excursions aboard larger commercial vessels shared with other passengers. With Nat Hab, you’ll cruise on privately chartered small boats for a quiet, personal experience of nature, including on Milford Sound.
  7. Stay in Nature’s Most Dramatic Locations
    No cookie-cutter chain hotels for us. Although they range from simple to luxurious, our lodgings place us in the most striking natural places New Zealand has to offer. Sleep in a lodge tucked naturally into an open forest clearing, run by a family that traces its farming roots back to 1860. On the shores of Lake Wanaka, enjoy spectacular views of the lake and the magnificent Southern Alps. In every case, we choose our accommodations for their authenticity, history, atmosphere and proximity to nature. 
  8. Choose Our Active Walking Departure to Cover More Ground on Foot 
    We've planned a special departure that includes longer hikes for travelers who want to explore in greater depth on foot. See our dates list for more information about this option, or ask an Adventure Specialist for details. 
  9. Your Naturalist Expedition Leader Is a New Zealand Native
    NHA has earned an international reputation for employing the highest-quality Expedition Leaders in the industry. Our guides average 15 years of experience and training, with additional resources and access to WWF’s top scientists. On this trip, you’ll also have the advantage of a native New Zealander as your guide, for a truly personalized interpretative experience. Read our Expedition Leader bios and traveler comments regarding the quality of our leaders.
  10. Our Quality-Value Guarantee Ensures Your Outstanding Nature Adventure
    Natural Habitat Adventures is proud to offer our exclusive guarantee that clearly states that we will meet the high expectations we set forth in our promotional materials. To our knowledge, this is the most ambitious guarantee made by any adventure travel company. Read our important promise for yourself!
  11. Feel Good About the Way You Travel
    We all care about the planet, and you can travel with us knowing that the carbon emissions from your trip are 100% offset. Nat Hab is the world’s first carbon-neutral travel company, a feature that is especially critical when considering that many of the species and habitats we observe on our trips are under substantial threat from our planet’s warming temperatures.
  12. Natural Habitat Adventures Is World Wildlife Fund’s Travel Partner
    Because of our commitment to environmentally friendly travel, as well as the exceptional quality of our small-group nature adventures, World Wildlife Fund, the world’s leading environmental conservation organization, has named Natural Habitat Adventures its worldwide travel partner—a designation that makes us exceedingly proud!
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