Exclusive high country tours launched at Queenstown

One of New Zealand’s most famous and historic backcountry farms is open for visitors with the launch of a new series of exclusive tours.

Mt Nic station sits on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, on the opposite side to Queenstown, and is only accessible by water. The tours, excursions available aboard Queenstown’s newest on-water tourism attraction the Spirit of Queenstown catamaran, will provide an unrivalled opportunity to access an isolated and beautiful natural landscape.

The catamaran and high country tours are offered by long-time Kiwi tourism icon Southern Discoveries - an award-winning tourism company that has been operating for more than 50 years.

The new Spirit of Queenstown catamaran, which launched scenic trips on Lake Wakatipu earlier this summer season, is now taking passengers to the high country station for the first time.

Mt Nicholas High Country Station

Located in a peaceful and normally-inaccessible area on the western shore of Lake Wakatipu, ‘Mt Nic’ is New Zealand’s oldest family-run high country station.

Southern Discoveries general manager John Robson said it was an amazing opportunity to work with the owners of Mt Nic Station to provide a unique insight into New Zealand’s rural heritage.

"Mt Nic showcases the high country at its best," he said. "It’s truly breath-taking out there and also a place to escape and relax while enjoying the peaceful surroundings."

Covering 100,000 acres, the working station which runs 30,000 merino sheep would provide different experiences daily, Robson says. "Along with the stunning views, you may encounter cows with their calves, shepherds and their dogs moving merino sheep, fallow deer or rabbits."

Three excursions

Southern Discoveries is offering three exclusive Mt Nic excursions including the Merino Woolshed experience, 4WD Musterers Safari and High Country Walk. All excursions include a scenic cruise on Spirit of Queenstown.

Each trip offers a chance to escape everyday life and visit an area that few tourists or locals have seen.

The wool from Mt Nicolas is used exclusively for New Zealand’s world-famous Icebreaker clothing. Visitors choosing the woolshed/merino experience will have an exclusive look at the authentic shearing shed which is occupied by a 15-strong shearing gang throughout the months of August and September.

Woolshed trips depart daily at 9.30am, 11.30am and 1.45pm and guests will follow the wool’s journey from rugged high country merino to premium quality, world-leading Icebreaker clothing in an interactive, informative, fun and unique way.

Guests can also try their hand at stone skimming, horseshoe tossing, gumboot throwing and even compete at virtual shearing, which is exclusive to Mt Nic and Southern Discoveries.

Go bush - 4WD

Others may prefer to "go bush" and explore high country living, learning about what inspires high country farmers to live in such stunning but remote locations.
Departing from Queenstown each day at 9.30am, guests can choose from a six hour 4WD safari or high country walk into the vast station wilderness.

The 4WD experience explores back country New Zealand, the Mavora Road and Mt Nicholas Station aboard customised 4WD coaches, following in the footsteps of New Zealand’s intrepid settlers.

"With river crossings, back country roads and spectacular Von Valley views, this is a pristine, remote and rugged area of New Zealand that’s rarely been seen by locals or visitors to New Zealand," Robson says.

"Guests will visit Old Nick, the original home site of the White family, who settled Mt Nicholas Station and travel deep into the back country to Bullock Creek, a restored musterer’s hut where they can enjoy a relaxed rustic lunch of local cheeses, relishes, meats and breads.

"People will simply be blown away by the isolated location. If you think you’ve experienced remote New Zealand wilderness before, think again. This will leave you breathless."

High country hiking

The half-day high country walk explores a different part of the station including Lovers Leap, the spectacular Von River mouth, native forest and the original homestead site.

Guests follow the lake shore to the old bake house and walk up into the foothills of Mt Nicholas Station where they’re rewarded with spectacular uninterrupted views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

The fully-guided walk, which takes approximately two hours and covers around 6km of high country, enables guests to soak up the peace and tranquillity of New Zealand’s remote back country and a light packed lunch is provided.

Individual experiences

The Mt Nic experiences have limited numbers per trip to ensure a unique, individual experience every day.

"If you’ve ever wondered what it’s really like to live, breathe and work on a working farm or escape the rat race and embrace nature, then this is the perfect trip for you," says Robson. "From the moment you board our state-of-the-art catamaran and start your scenic journey across the sparkling waters of Lake Wakatipu, you’ll feel peaceful and relaxed.

"Guests and locals alike will want to ensure there’s enough battery in the camera as there are ‘picture perfect’ views at every turn."