PUREWILD in New Zealand
A Kiwi Adventure in the Making
Adrenaline starts kicking in as our plane approaches the airport through a narrow corridor between jagged mountain ranges. This is Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand. Place of awe-inspiring beauty and adventure capital of the world.
The mission: to find spectacular locations, off the beaten track activities and stunning high-end lodges for the PUREWILD New Zealand Adventures debuting in April 2019.
My first stop is just around the corner from the airport at Over the Top Helicopters, who know the most breathtaking corners of this part of the world, many of which only accessible from the air. As usual when trailblazing, I team up with local friends that have a passion for the challenges and rewards of true wilderness adventure. Together with Shannon from Over the Top and Paul, who runs ‘New Zeal‘ an adventure and empowerment company, we lay out the schedule for the next few days to create a sensational, private adventure itinerary exclusive to PUREWILD.
The first stop is Glenorchy, situated at the far end of Lake Wakatipu, one of the biggest lakes in New Zealand, and an incredibly scenic 45 Km drive along the lakeshore. Just before town a sign marks the entry to the huge lakeside property of Blanket Bay - my luxurious ‚base camp‘ for the night overlooking the majestic ‚Lord of the Rings‘ scenery outside my room.
After the long journey it is time for an early dinner and a good night’s sleep. The next morning I wake up to blue skies, energized to take the MTB for a spin into the surrounding hills.
Next on the agenda is a bit of helicopter trailblazing. I move from Glenorchy back to Queenstown to be closer to the Heli base. Although the weather here is great, we have to cancel our departure for otherworldly beautiful Milford Sound the next morning as heavy rain has set in in the coastal region further West.
Wilderness travel always means dealing with the circumstances so Choppy and Shannon from Over the Top invite me to explore the high country just North of Queenstown instead. Although only a few minutes by helicopter, this rugged terrain is otherwise barely accessible by 4WD vehicle, MTB or on foot. Not only is it a great area for heli hiking. It is a place full of history, where Gold was discovered in the 1860s and a 33,000 acre sheep station is operating today.
We land to meet farmer John at his wonderful lodge in the Moonlight Valley, where he occasionally accommodates small groups to share the remote beauty of the high country, stories about the area’s mining and farming days and enjoy delicious local home cooked food. A rare privilege and the ideal place to change rhythm after several action packed days around Queenstown.
Back down in Queenstown around dinner time it is the perfect moment to taste the famous ‚Fergburger’, perhaps THE culinary highlight in town, and end the day at my hilltop lodge overlooking Cecil Peak and the Remarkables mountain range - in front of me a book about the locations of Peter Jackson's movies that gave 'Middle Earth' a physical destination - I have it right in front of me.
The following day Paul and I meet in Wanaka to drill down on the signature highlight of this trip. Each of our adventures features at least one highlight specifically crafted for PUREWILD that you cannot find or book anywhere else, created together with local friends.
This region offers many incredible possibilities and to get into the mood, we start the day paddling inflatable kayaks down a nearby river.
Paul has 20 years of experience of taking people on challenging excursions far off the tourist loop. He is the perfect person to brainstorm with and come up with incredible itineraries. It will depend on the group, but we favor an extremely remote overnight wilderness rafting adventure where we would fly ourselves and all the rafting, food and camping equipment in by helicopter and raft out on this otherwise inaccessible river. Due to its remote location it is only very rarely rafted at all - perhaps twice a year and never commercially according to Paul. How truly special and amazing!
Our idea is to fly in straight from our stay in the high country and then return from the wilderness to spoil ourselves for the final days on South Island in a spectacularly beautiful Lodge nestled in the hills above Wanaka.
We will have exclusive use of the Lodge and be able to enjoy the exquisite food, wine and setting which spans over 55,000 hectares of majestic beauty in total privacy. Imagine towering mountains, lush green valleys, native bush, forests and meandering rivers combining four high country sheep farms in the largest sustainable farming and conservation undertaking in New Zealand.
There will be ample time to relax and enjoy the luxury of the Lodge and its Alpine scenery. More active options include horseback riding, hiking, pack rafting on one of the local rivers, and a MTB tour to Arrowtown, a former gold mining community.
Finally after 10 magic days of private excursions on New Zealand's South Island, we change scenery one last time to conclude this great adventure in the beautiful Bay of Islands in Northland.
Flying time from Queenstown North to Auckland is two hours and from there only a short connection to the Bay of Islands Airport at Keri Keri. Just a few kilometers onwards we reach the coastline with its lush tropic vegetation and panoramic views across the deep blue Pacific Ocean. Accommodation options here include stunning serviced Villas offering 270° Sea views and exclusive Lodges featuring private beaches and intimate coves.
These final days will be dedicated to winding down and enjoying more water based activities like sailing, kayaking, snorkeling and fishing in a completely different but no less breathtaking environment from the mountainous regions of the South.
The perfect way to end this once in a lifetime PUREWILD Kiwi Adventure debuting in April 2019!
For more information or to pre-register please contact us here.