Where the wild things are

The Wild South Experience is like no other. A South Island wildlife and wilderness extravaganza, this trip is one of our favourites. Taking you well and truly off the beaten track, this tour will show you a South Island few visitors have the privilege of seeing, from the kiwi bird sanctuary of Stewart Island in the south to the nikau palm forests of the Heaphy Track in the north, finishing with a stay in the heart of the sublime Abel Tasman National Park.

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All payment is in NZD. Pricing in other currencies is indicative based on the current exchange rate. Final payment amount is determined by your bank based on the latest conversion.

Single supplement from: NZ$4,860
Price based on double occupancy. Single supplement is a surcharge for single occupancy.

Length21 days | 20 nights
DestinationDunedin to Nelson

Classic Stays
Modern, well-appointed properties that provide a comfortable, convenient base from which to explore. Perfect for the region, they’re typically within easy access to cafes and other amenities.

Premier Stays
Quality lodgings in superb settings, from stylish lakeside lodges to restful alpine retreats. Note that in a few cases, Classic Stays are used on a trip classified overall as Premier to allow access to stunning, remote locations where Premier Stays are not available.

Luxe Stays
Exclusive, indulgent hideaways with exceptional facilities and service. The best in New Zealand (and perhaps the world). Note that in a few cases, Premier Stays are used on a trip classified overall as Luxe to allow access to stunning, remote locations where Luxe Stays are not available.

Special Stays
Some tours feature overnight cruises and multiple-day hikes, with stays in private lodges or Department of Conservation huts, for special wilderness experiences.


You’re comfortable on tracks with gently undulating terrain and can move comfortably and freely. Suitable for families with young children. Note, activity add-ons may change rating.

You enjoy walking/light hiking, can handle a hill or two, and appreciate life-affirming soft adventures that dip a toe outside your comfort zone.

You’ve got a bit of Kiwi in you and are ready to hit the hills and push yourself a little. Some of these trips include multi-day hikes that get you further into the wild. It’s not all Bear Grylls, though. You’re happy to enjoy a rewarding glass of pinot at day’s end.

This is an overall guide. Our trips include a range of activities across the spectrum. Request a Detailed Itinerary for more details on fitness levels needed for individual activities.

StyleSmall Group

Small Group
Scheduled, guided adventures with just the right number of like-minded travellers to share in the laughs and make new friends.

Guided, professionally crafted trips with your own group and your choice of travel dates.

Self Drive
Self-guided, stress-free road trips with all the elements sorted for you. Our professionally crafted itineraries and booking team, your dates and travel companions.

Guided or self-guided, this is your personal New Zealand dream made manifest. A fully customized experience based on your passions, finessed with our professional planning.

Walking & Hiking,

Trip Departures


Want to make this itinerary exclusive to your own group? Request As a Private Trip and we can advise pricing based on your dates and the number of travellers in your group.

Daily Brief

Click on the orange icons to read about lodging along the way (not available on mobile). C=Classic, P=Premier, L=Luxe, S=Special Stays. Note accommodation may vary based on departure date. For hotel links and more information, Request a Detailed Itinerary above.

Your adventure begins in the South Island city of Dunedin. Visit
Larnach Castle, perched on the highest point of the scenic Otago Peninsula, for a bird's eye view of your domain. Recover from your international flight with a peaceful stroll through the manor's manicured grounds. At dinner this evening, get acquainted with your fellow travellers.


Rare, sub-antarctic creatures are your companions today. Local naturalists make the introductions as yellow-eyed penguins, Hooker's sea lions and royal albatross welcome you to the Otago Peninsula. Hike the
labyrinth of trails that overlook this stunning coastline.


Without a tour bus in sight, feel like the region's first visitor as you explore pristine beaches and fern-fringed waterfalls on your way to Invercargill, New Zealand's southernmost city. Take a short flight to remote Stewart Island and settle into a beautiful lodge overlooking picturesque
Halfmoon Bay. Open wide and say Aaahhhh...''.


Stewart Island is laid back at full recline. With its unspoiled nature and a population of roughly 400 residents, this is the ultimate retreat. Travel by boat around the coast, viewing albatross, mollymawk, prion, petrel, cormorants and blue penguin. Visit an island sanctuary rich in native bird life and unique flora for an interpretive hike with a naturalist. Alternatively, remain on Stewart Island and explore the nearby walking tracks.


Fly back to Invercargill for your continued journey north to Queenstown, a town abuzz with the thrill of impending adventure. After settling into your lakeside hotel, take the short stroll into the town centre to soak in the atmosphere and make your own culinary discoveries.


Queenstown is New Zealand’s adrenalin center. Because there are so many things to do here to cater to your diverse interests, we have left the next two days free for you to pick and choose whatever optional activities you desire, be it rafting, jet boating, or bungy jumping, or more leisurely pursuits such as walking and wine trails.


It's another free day in Queenstown to enjoy all this beautiful region has to offer. Continue to pursue your bucket list, or just enjoy the chance to unwind in this sublime setting. During your stay, we highly recommend an adventure in the Glenorchy region at the top of the lake, famous as a Lord of the Rings filming site. Request a detailed itinerary for recommended activities.


Enjoy free time in Queenstown for optional activities this morning, then head north through scenic tussockland and past glacial waterways to Mt Cook village at the base of New Zealand’s highest peak. The alpine setting is spectacular and after checking into your hotel, head out and explore.


Take a guided boat excursion onto the terminal lake of the Tasman Glacier, New Zealand's longest, passing alongside icebergs to reach the cleft face of the glacier. Spend the rest of the day walking Hooker Valley trails and watching for unique alpine flora and fauna. This evening, try to think of yet another word for 'spectacular'.


Take a leisurely drive to Akaroa with scenic stops along the way, including the startlingly blue Lake Tekapo. Originally a French settlement, the seaside town of Akaroa strives to retain its roots, from boutique cheese factory, public herb gardens and Provence-inspired wineries, to French street
names and shops. Settle into your lodging and explore this charming hamlet.


Take a cruise on Akaroa Harbour, looking out for the rare, native Hector's Dolphin, as well as penguins and other sea birds. Say 'magnifique' again and again. After enjoying the town's sights, shops and cuisine, travel to Christchurch for your overnight stay in the Garden City.


Board the renowned TranzAlpine train for a trip over the Canterbury Plains into the scenic Southern Alps. From the tiny alpine settlement of Arthur's Pass, travel to your wilderness lodge, sited on its own 4,000-acre
high country sheep station adjacent to Arthur’s Pass National Park. Ponder becoming a full-time shepherd.


Guided activities and a network of mountain, forest, river, and farm walks make for a wonderful day of immersion in high-country ecology and wildlife. After your four-course dinner, enjoy the mountain views, gaze at the
stars in the southern night sky, and browse through the books in the lodge's well-stocked library.


Travel from the highest pass in the Southern Alps down to the Tasman Sea. Flanked by impenetrable rainforest and statuesque rock formations, wind your way along stunning coastal road. Stop at the geologically intriguing Pancake Rocks then continue to the remote village of Karamea, near the road's terminus. Spend three nights in this special area that defines 'off the beaten track'.


Take a scenic helicopter ride to the Heaphy Hut for an unforgettable, all-day hike on the Heaphy Track, one of New Zealand's Great Walks. The final leg of the track, winding through nikau forests and along pristine beaches, is arguably one of the most beautiful day hikes in New Zealand. Because of its remoteness, it is also one experienced by few overseas visitors. Return to your lodging for a relaxing evening.


The area's dense, primeval rainforest is graced with spectacular limestone arches and the vast Honeycomb Caves system. A visit to these caves and a walk beneath the rainforest’s moss-laden canopy reveal the treasures of the region, including the remains of the now-extinct giant moa, the world's largest flightless bird.


Depart Karamea and drive through the lush Buller Gorge to Nelson. Along the way, stop in the Nelson Lakes National Park for a peaceful beech forest walk along one of the lakes, rimmed by the St Arnaud Range. Tonight, stay in a historic B & B in the heart of Nelson, a town renowned for its vibrant arts community.


Today is free to take in Nelson’s offerings. Galleries and studios feature glass, ceramic, jewellery, and other work from local artists and craftspeople. Hike to the Centre of New Zealand atop Botanical Hill for stunning views or stroll along the peaceful Maitai River, hire a bicycle and ride along the waterfront to a beautiful swimming beach, and more. The choices are yours.


This morning, travel by water taxi to a remote lodge in the heart of the Abel Tasman National Park. The lodge’s stunning, environmentally-sensitive architecture is a blend of modern innovation and rustic charm. Meals feature produce from the lodge’s own organic garden. Nestled amongst native bush and framed by forested mountains and golden beaches, this glorious setting is our base for our final two nights.


Enjoy the lodge's setting and activities, including sea kayaking, swimming, and walks along the Abel Tasman track—another of New Zealand’s Great Walks. Tonight, a farewell dinner is your chance to reminisce about the highlights of your trip and to revel in the friendships you've made.


Return by water taxi to the base of the park for your transfer to Nelson Airport. After determining that your guide won’t fit into your suitcase, say farewells and reluctantly await your flight home.

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Trip Inclusions

While Black Sheep prides itself on the intangibles that make our Small Group trips so special, our packages are known for being stuffed with features. Check out what’s included in your Black Sheep adventure below.


All accommodation during your tour

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Guided penguin encounter
Visit to albatross colony
Stewart Island pelagic birding trip
Guided Ulva Island nature walk
Dart River jet boat safari
Routeburn Track day hike
Tasman Glacier boat excursion
Akaroa nature cruise
TranzAlpine train to Arthur's Pass
High country farm tour
Arthur’s Pass nature guiding
Heaphy Track heli-hike
Honeycomb Cave tour
Abel Tasman sea kayak
Additional rainforest and mountain walks, wildlife spotting, stargazing, and more

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All breakfasts
10 lunches
12 dinners with NZ wine sampling
Onboard snacks & beverages

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Tour vehicle with professional driver/guide
Flights to and from Stewart Island
TranzAlpine train to Arthur’s Pass
Water taxis as noted
Airport transfers within tour dates
All baggage transport within tour

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Services of a doting Black Sheep guide
Background support from Black Sheep HQ
Flight assistance available

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Gear & Amenities

Stainless steel water bottle & holder
NZ map & travel journal
Use of walking sticks, neck pillows, onboard library, and more
A few surprises

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Wild South Experience
Small Group