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REGISTRATION & PAYMENT REQUIRED: Once you've reviewed the event details, and decided you'd like to join us, you MUST sign up at the bottom of this page. This is a paid event with payment managed by the trip leader(s) and NOT the AOC. Please read the event description carefully for payment details and instructions.

Aotearoa - Land of the Long White Cloud

The Basics:
STATUS: Cancelled - Hide from Calendar
Event Type:Adventure
Event Location: South Island, New Zealand   Adventure: Aotearoa - Land of the Long White Cloud  National Weather Service Forecast
Date(s) & Time:Wed, Nov 15 2023  10:00 am >> Wed, Nov 29 2023 10:00 am  (Carpool Departure: 9:00 am   *log in for location*)
Registration Opens: Thu, Oct 17 2019 8:13 pm
Registration Cut Off: Fri, Nov 1 2019 8:13 pm
Event Duration:14 Days
Difficulty Rating:D5: Difficult
Distance:75 Miles
Trip Leader(s):
Email Trip Leader(s)
You must be logged in to get the Trip Leader contact information.
Member Cost:$1,680.00/Person (See Detailed Cost Info Below)

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:2
Minimum Group Size:2
Number Registered So Far: 9 / 9 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: No


PLEASE READ ALL OF THE DETAILS CAREFULLY BEFORE SIGNING UP. THIS IS A WAITLIST ONLY EVENT; THIS IS WHY THE MAXIMUM GROUP SIZE IS LISTED AS 2. All registrants will initially be placed on the waitlist to be evaluated by the Trip Leaders prior to being moved to the attendee list. THERE WILL BE A MAXIMUM OF 12 PEOPLE WHO CAN ATTEND THIS EVENT.

Join us for a 15-day adventure to one of the most exotic and beautiful places in the world. Our journey will include 4 days of backpacking, plus 10 additional days exploring some of the unique features and famous landmarks of New Zealand’s South Island. We’ll experience waterfalls and seal pups at Kaikoura, the Marlborough wine country, Pancake Rocks and blowholes at Punakaiki, canoeing the Waiau River Gorge, thermal pools at Hanmer Springs, and backpacking the Heaphy Track  - one of New Zealand’s Great Walks.

We will explore the varied ecosystems of the top third of the South Island, both east and west coasts.  Our scenic 1,000-mile journey will start and end in Christchurch. Along the way we will see spectacular rainforest waterfalls, soaring mountains above alpine valleys, glacial lakes, and rugged beaches.

The maximum group size for this event is 12. Given the daily elevation gains achieved during this event, along with the challenge of multiple back- to-back hikes, only intermediate and advanced hikers with significant D4 and D5 experience should register.  All registrants must be recommended by an AOC trip leader and shall initially be placed on the waitlist so that the Trip Leaders can evaluate the registrant’s fitness and experience level. See Registration Requirements below.

ITINERARY DETAILS - This itinerary is subject to change depending on Hut Ticket availability and other factors. If you sign up, please be prepared to be flexible.

Saturday, November 14th: Christchurch

Attendees arrive in Christchurch, procure their own accommodations for Saturday night near Hagley Park (on your own). Please note: you will lose a day on your flight to NZ, as you will cross the International Date Line (as a bonus you will get it back on the way home!).  A morning arrival is best to give the good part of a day in Christchurch for recovery. We recommend arriving on the morning of Saturday, November 14th.

Sunday, November 15th: Christchurch to Blenheim

Official start of AOC event. ALL participants will be required to meet at the Christchurch Railway Station, Troup Drive, Addington, Christchurch at 9 am. Together we will drive in our 15-seater van to Blenheim, stopping for lunch in Kaikoura. After lunch, we will take the short Ohau Stream and Waterfall Walk to look for seal pups playing in the waterfall. Upon our arrival in Blenheim, we’ll go grocery shopping for supplies. Be prepared for about 4 ½ hours driving time (192 miles), not including stops.  

Ohau Hike:  Difficulty: D1  Elevation Gain: 200 feet  Distance: 1 mile   Pace: Easy

Monday, November 16th: Blenheim

Hike: Waikakaho/Cullen Creek Walkway Difficulty: D4  Elevation Gain: 2300 feet Distance: 9 miles Pace: Moderate

Today we will get an early (8 am) start for a long out-and-back day hike to an abandoned mine. 

In 1888, gold and quartz were discovered in this area. Within weeks, hundred of men flocked to the area and the township of Cullensville was established, with three hotels, two billiard saloons, a bank, courthouse, and five bakeries. Although none of the buildings remain, the area is rich in history. We’ll start by crossing Prospector Creek, following the track which was cut from rock walls by the miners, and hugs the side of the mountain. Then we’ll climb steadily to Waikakaho Saddle, passing mountain cabbage trees and exotic pine forest. We will follow the old gold miners’ trail to the village clearing. We’ll turn around and retrace our steps back to the carpark.

Tuesday,  November 17th Blenheim

Hike: Sawcut Gorge Streambed  Difficulty: D2  Elevation Gain: 500 feet Distance: 4 miles  Pace: Easy (*water shoes required)

In the morning we’ll drive to Sawcut Gorge for a tramp, which is a fun streambed hike through New Zealand’s finest slot canyon. In the afternoon - for those who choose this optional activity - we’ll enjoy a wine tour (additional cost). We will be picked up from our lodging and transported safely back “home” at the end of the tour. On our half day tour we will get up close and personal with the Marlborough wine region and visit 3-4 wineries.  Dinner will be at our accommodations (BBQ) or somewhere out after the wine tour (attendees pay).

Optional Wine Tour (extra cost) will be this or similar tour:

Wednesday, November 18th: Takaka

Today we will depart our accomodations at 9.30am and make the 3 1/2 drive to Takaka where we will stay the night prior to our Heaphy Track experience the following morning. Our accommodations this evening will be shared twin hotel rooms. 

After lunch we will do a 2-3 hour hike around the Farewell Spit and Puponga Farm Park tracks.

Thursday, November 19th: Backpack - Brown Hut to Perry Saddle Hut


Backpack: Heaphy Track Day 1 Difficulty: D5  Elevation Gain: 2,700 ft   Distance: 10.9 miles  PACE: Easy to Moderate

We will get a very early start today to head to the Heaphy Track, departing our accommodations at 6 am (45 min drive). We’ll start at the Brown Hut and tramp to Perry Saddle Hut.

About 590 feet upstream from the hut, we’ll cross the bridge over the Brown River, then a grass flat, before winding up a well-defined track and into the bush. The track climbs gradually, following a route once surveyed for a road. After approximately 4 hours, Aorere shelter is reached. From here, the Aorere Valley is seen extending northwards and on clear days it is possible to see Mt Taranaki/Egmont. Thirty minutes before Perry Saddle Hut, a short track leads to a viewpoint at Flanagans Corner. At 3,000 feet, this is the highest point on the track.

Perry Saddle Hut is 2,887 feet above sea level. Near the hut in Gorge Creek is a deep but cold pool, popular for swimming.

We plan to go at our own pace, take our time, enjoy it, and soak it up. Everyone hikes at their own speed. hut-to-perry-saddle-hut

Friday, November 20th: Backpack - Perry Saddle Hut to James Mackay Hut

Backpack: Heaphy Track Day 2 Difficulty: D5  Elevation Gain: 1,969 feet  Distance: 15.1 miles   PACE: Easy to Moderate

Undulating terrain starting at 2,887 feet and ending at 2,297 feet.

We’ll start our day walking through tussock clearings and patches of beech. Where the valley widens, the expansive tussocklands of Gouland Downs are revealed. Takahē, which are rare, flightless native birds, have been released here – we may be lucky enough to see one. We’ll pass the famed pole where walkers before you have tied their old boots on our way to Gouland Downs.

Look and listen out for great spotted kiwi/roroa and  takahē around Gouland Downs.

The track continues past moss-covered beech forest and through the tussock to Saxon Hut. It continues on to James Mackay Hut, which offers views of the Tasman Sea and Heaphy River mouth 2,460 feet below. james-mackay-hut

Saturday, November 21st: Backpack - James Mackay Hut to Heaphy Hut

Backpack: Heaphy Track Day 3 Difficulty: D4  Elevation Gain: 300 feet Distance: 12.8 miles  PACE: Easy to Moderate

Starting elevation: 2,297 feet. Ending elevation: 16.4 feet.

Lots and lots of downhills today. Beech forest gives way to nīkau palms as we descend to the Heaphy River and Lewis Hut, where we will most likely encounter the infamous West Coast sandflies. The 488-foot long Heaphy River bridge is the largest suspended deck bridge built by the Department of Conservation. The track then takes you through a forest of kahikatea, rimu and rātā. Towards the river mouth, nīkau palms become more common, and the roar of the ocean on the wild West Coast grows louder. Optional swimming is available here, unless heavy rains have made the current too swift. The river mouth is at the junction of two pounamu (greenstone) trails, and archaeological expeditions have uncovered evidence of occupation by Maori that extends back 500 years.

Sunday, November 22nd: Backpack - Heaphy Hut to Kohaihai River mouth

Backpack: Heaphy Track Day 4 Difficulty: D4  Elevation Gain: 328 feet  Distance: 10.1 miles  PACE: Easy to Moderate

On our final day of the backpack, the track south to Kōhaihai follows the rugged coastline of the West Coast, and passes through forests of rātā and karaka trees, vines and groves of nīkau palms. Soon Scotts Beach appears. The clearing here is a good spot to rest before climbing over Kōhaihai Bluff. The track follows the bank of the Kōhaihai River for 1,312 feet to the car park. We will stay together hiking this day, We’ll retrieve our vehicle and make the 2 1/2 hour drive (104 miles) to Punakaiki where we will be staying.

Monday, November 23rd: Punakaiki

We’ll take a rest day to relax after completing the Heaphy Track. Optional activities include hanging out on the beach, cave tubing, exploring the town, etc. or booking your own local tours. Our van will be headed out to take one of our leaders cave tubing. Other tours will require you to arrange your own pickup or transport.

Examples of optional excursions include activities similar to the following: coast/punakaiki-horse-treks

Tuesday, November 24th: Punakaiki - Avalanche Peak Hike   

Hike: Avalanche Peak Difficulty: D5 Elevation Gain: 3600 feet Distance:  4 miles PACE: Easy to Moderate

We’ll be rested and ready to tackle a strenuous tramp today. Although the hiking distance to the peak is only 2 miles, we will ascend over 3,600 feet in that climb! And of course then we will have to descend 3,600 feet in just 2 miles back down. go/canterbury/places/arthurs-pass-national-park/things-to- do/tracks/avalanche-peak-route/ avalanche-peak

After finishing Avalanche Peak, we plan to hike the river at Cave Stream Scenic Preserve. The cave passage meanders and twists in pitch darkness for 1200 feet between the two entrances. The cave ends in a deep pool with a 10 foot high waterfall. A ladder of iron rungs in the rock climbs up beside the waterfall, and a chain will help us crawl along the overhang ledge to the exit.  

Caving: Cave Stream Difficulty: D2 Elevation Gain: Negligible Distance: 0.3 miles PACE: Easy go/canterbury/places/cave-stream-scenic-reserve/things-to-do/cave- stream-tracks-and-cave-walk/

Backup plan: If the water levels are too high at Cave Stream, we’ll stop at the scenic town of Moana for a tramp along the Carew Falls Track. This gentle track winds up through forest in the Lake Brunner Scenic Reserve to reach the top of the waterfalls. We can sit on large granite boulders and enjoy the view out over the western end of Lake Brunner.

Time: approx. 1 hour  Distance: 1 ½ miles round trip around-lake-brunner/ coast/places/lake-brunner-area/things-to-do/tracks/lake-brunner-kotuku- whakaoho-short-walks/

Wednesday, November 25th: Punakaiki

Hike: Motukiekie Beach  Difficulty:  D2 Elevation gain: Negligible Distance: 3 miles PACE: Easy to Moderate (* bring water shoes) ***Low Tide Only***

Today we’ll explore Pancake Rocks and do some hiking in the area. and-recreation/places-to-go/west-coast/places/paparoa-national- park/things-to-do/tracks/pancake-rocks-and-blowholes-walk/ Reviews-Pancake_Rocks_and_Blowholes_Walk- Punakaiki_West_Coast_Region_South_Island.html

After admiring the wonders of Pancake Rocks, we will move on to our Motukiekie Beach Walk. It is imperative that we complete this hike at low tide, so again we will need all attendees to be flexible. Our planning will be rewarded with a 6 ½ mile tramp along what has been touted as “the South Island’s most dramatic bit of walkable coast.” High cliffs, arches, caves, and waterfalls gushing off cliffs and perhaps ribboning across the beach will be part of the experience.

Thursday, November 26th: Hanmer Springs

Hike: Conical Hill Difficulty:  D2 Elevation gain: 500 feet Distance:  1.5 miles PACE: Easy to Moderate

Today we’ll check out of our beach house and take the 3 ½ hour (160 mile) drive to Hanmer Springs. We’ll enjoy 1. a short day hike up to the overlook, and 2. soak in the thermal pools _ga=2.120204555.242192339.1539033896-1835596517.1539033896 c_id=7&objectid=11643835

Friday, November 27: Hanmer Springs

Canoeing/Rafting: Waiau River Difficulty:  D3 Distance: 10 miles PACE:  Easy to Moderate

And now for something completely different. We will experience a leisurely day trip canoeing along the Waiau River Gorge followed by Jet Boating. On this day tour our experienced guide will help us negotiate the river in safe, durable and fun inflatable vessels, taking us through the scenic gorge in the beautiful village of Hanmer Springs.

At the beginning of the day our guide will kit us out in our safety gear and teach us all of the techniques needed for the day’s excursion. Along the way they will provide us with entertaining and informative commentary on the surroundings. After all the exertion of canoeing we can sit back and enjoy a delicious picnic lunch on the river bed followed by an exhilarating return journey in a jet boat! thrillseeker-adventures-hanmer-springs-1300/

Saturday, November 28:  Hanmer Springs

For our final full day on the South Island, we will explore the iconic Lake Daniell track. It has been said that this out and back trail can hold its own when compared with any of the Great Walks.

Hike: Lake Daniells Difficulty: D3 Elevation gain: 500 feet Distance: 10.5 miles PACE: Moderate recreation/places-to-go/west-coast/places/lewis-pass-scenic- reserve/things-to-do/tracks/lake-daniell-track/

Sunday, November 29: Christchurch

Time to go home! This morning we will get up early to drive back to Christchurch, ending our official trip between 10 am and 12 pm. This will   be the official end of our AOC event.

Required Items to Bring:
  • Waterproof raincoat and over-trousers
  • Warm woolen or fiber pile clothing
  • Spare dry socks
  • Strong tramping (hiking) boots – broken in.
  • First aid kit
  • Sunhat and Sunscreen (SPF 50 or higher) **MANDATORY as there is a hole in the Ozone layer above NZ!
  • Sunglasses
  • Warm hat
  • Sleeping bag (+liner if you wish)
  • Billy (small cooking pot)
  • Plate, cup and cutlery.
  • Putties (gaiters)
  • Water bottle(s) - enough to carry at least 3 liters
  • Camera with extra batteries/charger and extra memory cards
  • Large backpack to carry your gear, plus rain cover for pack
  • Torch (Flashlight) and Headlamp plus spare batteries
  • High energy food, snacks and drinks – purchase in New Zealand (enough for the duration plus extra for emergencies)
  • Dishwashing liquid (purchase in NZ) and dishcloth  
  • Insect Repellant (purchase in NZ) 
Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.
  • Jet-boil for hot drinks on the trail.
  • Water filter
  • Small camping pillow
  • Quick-dry hiking shorts
  • GPS with NZ maps loaded and spare batteries
  • Map and Southern Hemisphere compass (and know how to use them!)
  • Small day pack for shorter hikes

How to Get There:
Carpool to Event Distance (round trip):0Mile(s)
Carpool Departure Time: 9:00 am
Carpool Location:   Log in for location
Carpool Directions:   Log in for directions



1. You must be either an AOC trip leader or be recommended by an AOC trip leader. This requirement is in place to verify that you have the necessary level of fitness and, most important, that you are a sociable person who will get along with the rest of the group and will not engage in disruptive behavior. If you are not a trip leader, it is your responsibility to ensure that a trip leader sends us a recommendation.

2. Your participation in the event is not ensured until full payment is received.

The Trip Leaders for this event have elected either to personally collect the funds that event participants are required to pay, or to require participants to pay funds directly to a third party. No funds will be paid to the Atlanta Outdoor Club for this event. Therefore, by registering for this event, you acknowledge and agree to the following: (1) the monies paid by registrants will not be monitored, managed, or otherwise accounted for by the Atlanta Outdoor Club; (2) the Atlanta Outdoor Club bears no financial responsibility for this event; and (3) you waive any and all claims against the Atlanta Outdoor Club, and hold the Atlanta Outdoor Club harmless for the loss of any monies you paid for this event.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, any paying registrant may request directly from the Trip Leaders, prior to the event, a breakdown of funds collected, estimated expenses, and deposits made in anticipation of the event. Following the event, the Trip Leaders must complete their financial accounting for the event, with supporting documentation, within 30 days of the completion of the event, and a paid registrant may request a breakdown of funds collected, money spent and supporting documentation after that time. If you are unable to obtain requested documentation, please contact the Director of Paid Events.

Pre and Post Trip Accommodation

We recommend obtaining accommodations around the Riccarton area pre and post the trip.
We have included a map below with the pick-up point at the bottom left and a list of Google-suggested hotels nearby.

We highly recommend taking a stroll through Hagley Park and visiting the Botanical gardens!! botanic-gardens/


* We encourage all members to follow our Etiquette Guidelines while participating in AOC events.

Member Cost:$1,680.00/Person
Cost Includes:

1. Transportation in a rented 15-seat passenger van from Christchurch, New Zealand on Nov 15th, 2020 and to all designated points on the itinerary, with transportation back to Christchurch by 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 29, 2020.  

2. 14 nights accommodation in group lodging facilities or hotels, including 3 nights stay in huts on the Heaphy Great Walk trek.  Some group lodging facilities may include communal showers and group cooking facilities.  Depending on the availability of beds in the lodging facilities, you may expect to share a queen bed with another member of our travel group.  If this is a problem, you may reconsider whether you are suited for this trip.

3. Some meals, including some Breakfasts/Lunches and two group Dinners. Dietary requirements will be requested prior to the event starting. 

Cost does not include:  Airfare from Atlanta to Christchurch (approximately $1,500.00); some food and/or meals for the duration of the trip; personal expenses and incidentals, such as laundry or internet; cell phone service; any additional nights stay in New Zealand.  Our itinerary will include time to shop for provisions at the beginning and during the 15 days.  Plan to spend approximately $80 USD per day for food and other items.

Price changes:  The price of this event is based upon the current fuel prices and currency exchange rate at the time of this writing.  Further, the price is also based upon a minimum number of participants sharing transportation costs.  We will attempt to lock in costs as quickly as possible.  However, fuel prices and/or currency fluctuations in the interim, or a smaller group than expected, can create a slight increase in price.  Please do not register if you are unable to pay a small price increase, should it become necessary.  Your TLs will make every effort to avoid a price increase, and, if one is necessary, to keep it as small as possible.

Additional Payment Information:  Payment in full is due 14 days after you sign up or by November 8th, 2019 - whichever comes first.   You will be moved to the waiting list if you fail to meet this deadline

Payment may be made via PayPal, PC Banking or Check. It is your responsibility to get the deposit payment and/or balance payment to the Trip Leaders by the due dates. Allow two days processing for PayPal and PC Banking and one week to mail a check. 


Make a Payment:Although there is a cost for this event, you do not pay through the AOC. Please review the event details carefully for information about how/where to make your payment.

Cancellation/Partial Attendance:   Please review the AOC cancellation policy.

If you cancel on or before Nov 29th, 2019, you will receive a full refund less a $25 administrative fee.  There will be no refunds for cancellations after Nov 30th, unless someone (approved by the trip leaders) replaces you from the wait list and pays in full. If you are replaced, you will receive a full refund less the nonrefundable fee for the Heaphy Track Hut Fees, transportation fees and the $25.00 administrative fee. There are limited spaces available in the New Zealand hut system. Once all the spaces are filled on the Heaphy Track for November 19th, 20th & 21st, 2020, we will be unable to add a replacement for any cancellations.  Once this happens, there will be no refund for any cancellations. There is no partial payment for partial attendance.