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New Zealand: Lodge to Lodge in Middle Earth

National Geographic Adventure picks the 25 best new outfitted trips.
Text by Bonnie Tsui

Antarctica  |  Fiji  |  New Zealand  |  Oceania

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Go Active
At the top of New Zealand's South Island, the Queen Charlotte Track winds 44 miles (71 kilometers) through quintessential Kiwi country: secluded beaches speckled with tiny blue penguins, rocky waterfalls hidden behind thick rain forest canopies, and native bushland occupied by foraging wild pigs (descendants of those released by Captain James Cook). In 1770 Cook sailed into Ship Cove, the beginning of the Queen Charlotte Track. Today you can hike the trail in boutique comfort with Wilderness Guides, whose new multiday trek through Marlborough Sounds treats small groups (eight people or less) to private stays in upscale inns. Co-owner Juliet Gibbons, a native of the Sounds, has scouted all lodges and, at day's end, expertly prepares local fare—blue cod, Marlborough mussels, wild salmon, and New Zealand lamb. On day one you'll hike nine miles (14 kilometers) to the just completed No Road Inn, accessible by boat and set on the only private land on Endeavour Inlet. You'll traverse the coast and climb to ridgeline panoramas over Kenepuru and Queen Charlotte Sounds, drinking in views of sunken river valleys, curving bays, and offshore islands. You'll also get your share of bird life, including fantails, bellbirds, and vividly colored kakarikis (New Zealand parrots). At Lochmara Lodge Eco Retreat, set on a bay of the same name, you'll learn about kakariki conservation—over a glass of local Pinot Noir.


Wilderness Guides (


Four days


Antarctica  |  Fiji  |  New Zealand  |  Oceania

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