Kaikoura Wilderness Walk – From £850
Days 3 | Grade: Easy-Moderate
Alpine meadows, and sweeping vistas to Kaikoura ranges.
The first part of the walk is a pleasant mix of bush and forest environments; kanuka, manuka, beech, and fern dominate, but specimens of rimu and totara can also be seen. This part of the walk takes approximately 1.5 – 2 hours, and climbs to the vantage point at Totara Saddle, where a picnic lunch is served. Extensive views of the ocean to mountain tops at 2438m (8000ft) can be enjoyed.
After lunch, the track continues with a downhill section from Totara Saddle to the stream below, then a steady walk up through beech forest for approximately an hour. Climbing gently for 2 hours through an ancient totara forest, you will emerge onto alpine meadows covered in mountain daisies (celmesias), before a short climb to another saddle. From here, the first view of Shearwater Lodge can be seen in its outstanding alpine setting.
The last hour of the walk traverses several streams, before reaching Shearwater Lodge – where you will be welcomed by the Lodge Host. Take a rest, relax for a while, and settle into your room. Simply take in the atmosphere, and let the cares of the world become a distant memory. A complimentary glass of wine is on hand to assist the winding down process before dinner is served.
A keen eye should be on the alert for red deer, Arapawa sheep, and the elusive, and nimble, chamois. Leaving the valley, we climb up onto a high ridge, arriving at Surveyor’s Peak Lookout some 1522m (4995ft) above sea level. The panoramic views from here are simply breath-taking and, if the skies are clear, you can see as far south as Banks Peninsula and as far north as the eastern coast of the North Island.
Walkers may enjoy a picnic lunch at Surveyor’s Peak Lookout, or return to Shearwater Lodge for a late lunch. The afternoon then allows time to relax, explore, or just savour the delights of this alpine environment from the comfort of Shearwater Lodge.
A different track is taken to that on the way in, and much of this is downhill, following the ridge line before re-entering the beech forest. Once again, there are plenty of opportunities to see the local birdlife and wild animals on the descent. The end of the track, and return to Puhi Peaks Station, is reached at approximately 4.30 pm, where your luggage and transport back to Kaikoura will be waiting.
Arrival time in Kaikoura is approximately 5.30 pm.