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Expedition • Flora • Fauna • Natural & Cultural Heritage
In association with the New England Wild Flower Society

November 6-20, 2010

An outstanding introduction to the wild flowers, flora, fauna, and heritage of New Zealand, this 16-day expedition features fine cities, museums, botanic gardens, national parks, and natural areas on North and South Islands, including:

  • Cosmopolitan Auckland, including the Auckland Botanic Garden for native plants and the excellent Museum for New Zealand’s Maori heritage; the picturesque community of Queenstown; and Christchurch, the most English of New Zealand’s cities.
  • Rangitoto Island, a volcanic island reserve near Auckland where the crimson-flowered Pohutukawa (or New Zealand Christmas tree) is found, and the Waitakeres, home of the immense kauri tree, one of the largest trees in the world.
  • The lush rainforests of New Zealand at Fiordland, Paparoa, and Westland National Parks.
  • Wild flowers and native plants from alpine flowers dotting the scree slopes at Arthur’s Pass National Park, to the Mount Cook lily, and perennials and wild flowers of Rangitoto Island, Lake Wanaka, the Pisa Flat Reserve, and the Remarkables Range.
  • The unique geologic history and landscapes of New Zealand, including the sea-washed cliffs of Paparoa National Park, to the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers in the Southern Alps, to the glacial mountains at Mt. Cook and Te Anau.
  • Kiwis, tuis, keas, and other birdlife of New Zealand in habitats varying from marshlands to high tussock shrublands.
  • Spectacular scenery, from sweeping seascapes to green pastureland dotted with sheep and breathtaking fiords, including Milford Sound.

Of special interest will be the unique trees, ferns, wild flowers, birds, insects, and geology which make New Zealand a naturalist’s paradise. On outings by foot, motorlaunch, motorcoach, and mini-train, we will explore the striking contrasts of this island country.

A comprehensive overview, this expedition offers an exceptional opportunity to become acquainted with the people, natural history, flora, and stunning landscapes of New Zealand.


Days 1/2 USA to New Zealand
Flight from Los Angeles to Auckland, New Zealand. Cross the International Date Line en route.

Day 3 Auckland
Arrive in Auckland and meet your expedition leader. Transfer to the Auckland Heritage Hotel (2 nights). Enjoy an introduction to the city, including city sights, Albert Park, and the Auckland Regional Botanic Gardens where we’ll have a special introduction to New Zealand native plants and the Threatened Native Plant Garden by a local expert. Welcome dinner. D

Day 4 Rangitoto Island & Auckland Museum
Today, we’ll enjoy a half-day excursion by boat to one of the finest botanical reserves on North Island, Rangitoto Island. The environment on Rangitoto is unique—the only one of its type in the world. Here, we will explore the Pohutukawa (New Zealand Christmas tree) forest, and see amazing native plants, and ferns in volcanic grottos. The largest and youngest of Auckland’s volcanoes, Rangitoto rises 230 meters above sea level. The Pohutukawa has crimson blossoms and is the canopy tree of the forest. More than 200 other plant species are found on the island. We’ll return to Auckland for a fascinating afternoon at the Auckland Museum, which features excellent exhibits of New Zealand history, Maori heritage, and natural history. B

Day 5 Waitakeres to Christchurch
This morning, we will depart for the Waitakere Mountains and Aritaki Visitors Center. We’ll enjoy a forest walk to see the huge kauri tree, New Zealand’s largest endemic tree and one of the world’s largest. We will continue to the coast where we’ll see the spectacular gannet colony. Here we will enjoy close up views of gannets nesting on top of pillow lava cliffs, high above the Tasman Sea. Lunch will be at a cafe in the heart of an orchard. We will then depart on our flight to Christchurch on South Island, often called the most English city outside of England. Transfer to Rydges Hotel Christchurch. B,L

Day 6 Arthur’s Pass & Paparoa National Parks
Today we will journey across the Canterbury Plains into the heart of the Southern Alps of New Zealand and Arthur’s Pass National Park. Here we’ll take a short bushwalk to look for plants found in the subalpine forest including Copromas, Hebe, and the large white Ranunculus lyallii. Look for endemic flax, Dacrydium pines, snowberries, snowgrass, curly grass, and many species of alpine daisies. Overhead can be found many birds, including the mountain kea, bellbird, fantail, and silver-eye. We will continue to the rugged West Coast and Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki in Paparoa National Park where we will see fascinating limestone formations and impressive geyser-like blowholes. Punakaiki Rocks Hotel. B,L

Day 7 Greymouth to Westland National Park
This morning, we will follow the coastline south to Franz Josef Glacier to learn about this spectacular river of ice and take a nature walk in the glacier valley. We will check into our lodge, the Franz Josef Glacier Hotel, and then have time for optional scenic flights—a stunning aerial excursion over the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers and Mt. Cook (weather permitting). We will also explore south along the Heritage Highway to Fox Glacier. Here we will take a magnificent rainforest walk alongside the Fox Glacier river beneath tree ferns and rainforest trees covered with epiphytic ferns, mosses, and filamentaceous algae. B

Day 8 Haast Pass & Lake Wanaka
Today, we will begin our journey through the most historic yet the most recently opened of the transalpine routes in New Zealand. We will stop for a short walk to look for wild flowers and native bush near Thunder Creek Falls and enjoy lunch on a working high country farm overlooking Lake Hawea. We will continue to Lake Wanaka, a popular summer and winter holiday location, where we will stay at the Edgewater Resort. In the afternoon, we will visit wonderful country gardens in the Wanaka area with a local expert and look for wild flowers in this delightful alpine location. B,L

Day 9 Pisa Flat & Queenstown
This morning we will join a local wild flower expert as we look for spring blooming wild flowers and perennials at Pisa Flat Reserve overlooking Lake Wanaka. See and photograph the Cabbage tree (Cordyline), endemic and almost immune to fire, a trait shared by many New Zealand species. See the Wild Spaniard (Aciphylla) and the Wild Irishman (Discaria), both with adaptations to protect themselves from herbivores. Many of the endemic perennial plants possess spikes, spines, hooks, and prickles for protection. After a picnic lunch, we will take an excursion high into the Remarkables Range overlooking Queenstown, the lake, and surrounding mountain country. Here we will enjoy a loop nature walk with spectacular mountain scenery. We’ll continue to Queenstown for the night. Queenstown Parkroyal or Rydges Hotel. B,L

Day 10 Queenstown to Te Anau
This morning is free to choose from the many optional activities available in Queenstown, including the Dart River jetboat trip into the back country to experience one of New Zealand’s “inaccessible” areas with views of high peaks, glaciers, ancient forests, spectacular waterfalls, and unique birdlife. This afternoon we will visit the kiwi house for a behind-the-scenes view of this rare bird and to learn about the artificial breeding program underway in an effort to increase the numbers of New Zealand’s most famous bird. We will then depart for Lake Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park. Quality Hotel Te Anau (2 nights). B

Day 11 Milford Sound & Fiordland World Heritage Park
Today we will explore Milford Sound in Fiordland World Heritage Park. The road to Milford Sound is ranked as one of the finest of all scenic drives in New Zealand with towering mountains, primeval southern beech forest, and the historic Homer Tunnel with its rockhewn surfaces near an area rich in alpine plants. We’ll stop at Cascade Creek for a nature walk. Your cruise will show you breathtaking scenery, waterfalls, and famous Mitre Peak, and will give you the chance to see seals, penguins, and dolphins. Included is a visit to the underwater observatory. Below the surface, the stark grey granite walls of the Sound turn into a kaleidoscope of red, pink, lilac, yellow, black and white, as coraline algae, anemones, and sponges contend for space. B,L

Day 12 Te Anau to Mt. Cook (Aoraki)
This morning, we will meet a Conservation Officer at the Wildlife Centre who will show us the rare and once endangered takahe, a flightless rail and other species. We will then depart for Mt. Cook, New Zealand’s finest alpine national park. Mt. Cook National Park takes in the eastern side of the Southern Alps with Mt. Cook at 12,316 ft. the highest point and the Tasman Glacier the longest in New Zealand. The lower elevations will be dotted with spring wild flowers while the upper regions are covered by snow and ice making a breathtaking contrast of environments. Mt. Cook Hermitage Hotel (2 nights). B,L

Day 13 Mt. Cook National Park
Today, we will enjoy excursions with a local botanist to see and photograph some of the more than 550 plants found in the Mt. Cook region (all but 135 are native to the area). Many of the wild flowers of New Zealand are dominated by white and yellow flowers with introduced Russell lupines and foxgloves also giving spring color. The Mt. Cook lily, the largest buttercup in the world, should be in flower. B

Day 14 Mt. Cook to Christchuch
We will depart for Christchurch this morning, and will enjoy our drive across the South Island of New Zealand, passing glacier fed Lake Takapo, and then through Geraldine and farmland to Christchurch. Arrive Christchurch and check in at Rydges Hotel Christchurch (2 nights). B,L

Day 15 Christchurch
Today, we will visit the wonderful Canterbury Museum, the Mona Vale homestead, where we’ll have a special lunch, and the Christchurch botanic gardens. We will also explore the excellent Antarctic Centre and other sights of this lovely city. Farewell dinner in celebration of our journey. B,L,D

Day 16 Christchurch to USA
Fly to Auckland today for your flight home. Arrive in Los Angeles same day. B

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