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Ever been to Paradise? We just have. With a group of friends we recently experienced the “Paradise Trail”, and given half a chance we would do it over and over again – in fact we thinkthat everybody should give it a go! What a trip.
We were invited by an enterprising couple Matt and Kate, who just happen to live on the road to Paradise, to trial their new guided cycle tour which is aimed at people like ourselves who are ‘not spring chickens’! This cycle tour was no ordinary tour; it lasted for four days and three nights throughout the most spectacularly breath-taking scenery imaginable. Everything was provided, bicycles and helmets, transport, all meals and accommodation and a back-up vehicle for our luggage.
Day one and it’s on the TSS Earnslaw for a trip across to Walter Peak on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, she’s a grand old steamer. At Walter Peak we were treated to a fascinating farm tour and after morning tea set off on our extremely comfortable bikes through some spectacular high country scenery with magnificent mountain views across the lake.
An easy 14km ride took us to one of the high country stations where a water taxi picked us up together with our bikes and ferried us further up the lake to the Greenstone Valley. Back on our bikes again to continue our day’s journey, this time through lush green beech forests following the lake to the historic Kinloch Lodge where a fun night was spent relaxing and story-telling over a delicious evening
Day two and we woke refreshed and after a hearty breakfast we began the second leg of our adventure. An easy ride through the Dart Valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains and crossing the mighty Dart and then the Rees River into the incredible Mt Aspiring National Park, arriving mid-afternoon at the beautifully restored historic Paradise Homestead. The 150 year old homestead has recently been refurbished to its former glory – a step back in time but with the modern facilities needed to allow us some sheer luxury. Dinner that night was at the famous GYC (Glenorchy Café) allowing us ample time to explore the quaint village. A great time was had by all.
The abundant call of the many birds woke us for our third day and we were thrilled to see a wild antlered stag accompanied by two does nonchalantly grazing outside the kitchen window.
Paradise has a ‘strictly no hunting’ policy so the family of deer was in no hurry. A quick sideways glance from the stag and we’d been spotted, so they quickly disappeared into the forest. The breakfast that our guides had set for us was fabulous, after which we set out to walk the Routeburn Track (well part of it). We went as far as the Routeburn Flats, a walk that took us across tumbling crystal clear rivers, passed cascading waterfalls and through magnificent beech forests nestled under the majestic mountains of Mt Aspiring National Park. Lunch was by the river where we watched trout lazily swimming against the current; we just knew that we should have brought our rods!
After our walk into the Routeburn, it was back on our bikes to Paradise Homestead. Fortunately New Zealand’s Deep South provides that beautiful evening twilight, through until around 10:30pm in the mid-summer, allowing ample time to explore Diamond Lake, a casual walk or perhaps a swim on warmer days.
The evening’s meal, Warm Smoked High Country Salmon and Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks, was prepared by a local and highly qualified chef and was served in the homestead dining room where, as we happened to be there at a cooler time of the year, we sat around a crackling open log fire for our pre-dinner and after-dinner drinks. Pure bliss! The evening was full of laughter as we chatted and laughed about our experiences over the last few days.
Day four dawned and we cycled through Arcadia Station along the Dart Valley to Chinaman’sBluff, our final destination – Paradise itself, and whilst our guides informed us of the history of the area, we sat and had what was to be sadly, our last lunch. But just as we were thinking “that’s it, the trip is over” we heard the roar of a Dart River jet boat approaching which stopped at the bluff. At this point we were given the opportunity of experiencing a jet boat ride back to Glenorchy before being transported back to Queenstown to say our fond farewells.
Footnote: Throughout the tour our hosts Matt & Kate kept us informed and entertained with their delightful sense of humour. Their obvious love and passion for the area rubbed off on all of us. We once heard a Spanish wine maker referring to his vineyard as the “Epicentre of happiness”; he obviously hadn’t been to Paradise.
The Revolution Tours package includes pick up and return to your hotel in Queenstown, bikes and helmets(personally fitted), trip across on TSS Earnslaw, Farm Tour, Water Taxi, accommodation with breakfast and dinner provided at Kinloch Lodge, dinner at GYC, accommodation with breakfasts and dinner provided at Paradise Lodge, lunches & snacks, back-up vehicle for all luggage and complete medical provisions, together with two highly trained guides. Priced at NZ$1,850.00 (incl. GST) per person.