Friday, Dec 1 - Sunday, Dec 10, 2017
About the Event
A Biogeographical and Cultural Exploration of New Zealand's South Island
Fred and Nancy Morris Professor of Biophysics and Biology
Join the Caltech Alumni Association, Caltech professor Rob Phillips and some of his students in New Zealand to explore a tropical rainforest…at the foot of a glacier. A climatic impossibility? No, it’s just the gorgeous, startling South Island. This was the real- world setting for The Lord of the Rings movies, so spectacular scenery is to be expected. But Caltech will also introduce you to a land you would not find on your own. We’ll spend a day walking through beech forest spotting birds. You’ll sip the best pressings at some of the region’s fast-emerging vineyards, and stargaze by ship-deck on a fiordland cruise. Our local guide also arranges for naturalists, historians and other experts to share their knowledge. As you sample the green lip mussels…learn about the startling biogeography of New Zealand…and go on an evening stroll lit by glowworms, you’ll remember this as one of the most unique journeys of your life.
As part of this trip, Phillips and several of his students will provide an optional (not included in tour price) weekend long molecular biology boot camp at Caltech on September 9 and 10, 2017 aimed at giving our travelers the chance to see how to obtain DNA sequences and how such sequences can be used to understand how the animals and plants of New Zealand got there. During the trip, he will give several presentations that build on the themes discussed in the boot camp with special emphasis on the different views of the biogeography of New Zealand. (RSVP: To Elizabeth Emerald at email@example.com by August 4, 2017)
Joining us on Our Tour
Prior to the privilege of a life in science, Phillips spent seven years of travel and self-study (and work as an electrician). Over the last decade, he has merged his love of travel with this research theme by exploring the ways in which the study of DNA sequences can help us understand the living world around us, with special emphasis on the hidden world of viruses and bacteria. As a result, he has traveled with students to the Galapagos Islands, the Wallace Line in Indonesia and the South Island of New Zealand.
DNA Boot Camp
September 9 and 10, 2017
As part of this trip, Phillips and several of his students will provide a weekend long molecular biology bootcamp aimed at giving our travelers the chance to see how to obtain DNA sequences and how such sequences can be used to understand how the animals and plants of New Zealand got there. During the trip he will give several presentations that build on the themes discussed in the bootcamp with special emphasis on the different views of the biogeography of New Zealand.
RSVP: To Elizabeth Emerald at firstname.lastname@example.org by August 4, 2017 Hotel, travel and some meals at your own expense. Please make your own travel reservations--this is separate from the main tour.
Itinerary at a glance
DAY 1- CHRISTCHURCH
Arrive into Christchurch at your leisure - with independent transfer to your hotel. If you have free time, wind your way through the historic and charming streets - past striking Gothic architecture, stone buildings, lush green parks and flower-filled gardens. Whatever you may choose, the day is yours to enjoy.
DAY 2 - BANKS PENINSULA
Today is a fascinating exploration onto the Banks peninsula, formed by the eruption of two volcanoes. This morning we have the wonderful opportunity to swim with (or just watch, if you prefer) the world's smallest and rarest dolphins - the Hector's or New Zealand Dolphin. After our refreshing swim, we stop to enjoy lunch before transferring to Arthur's Pass.
DAY 3 - ARTHUR'S PASS
Awaking in Arthur's Pass, we walk from our lodge into a natural paradise of beech forest, tussock clearings, moss-lined streams and lakes on a network of nature trails. Along the way, we may see Keas (mountain parrots). These fascinating birds are camouflaged with forest green feathers, but have beautiful orange underwings. With large powerful beaks, they’re known for being very mischievous. This day also gives us the chance to appreciate the biogeographical stories told by the plants and animals of New Zealand, as well as to consider the impact of invasive species on the island nation.
DAY 4 - FOX GLACIER
We continue to the west coast, crossing the Otira viaduct. As we follow the coast south our views change to lush forests and wetlands, spectacular beach views and ferns. Now at sea level, our route takes us through small towns along the coast of the Tasman Sea, with a backdrop of soaring snow-capped mountains. We'll make a stop in Hokitika, founded during the gold rush 1865, to explore the pounamu (jade) and glass shops. We'll have a picnic lunch overlooking a lake near the dairy farming settlement of Hari Hari. Just as the afternoon sun hits its best angle, we arrive in Okarito, a historic town with a population of thirty!. It rests on a sand spit that juts into the sweeping Okarito Lagoon, the largest untouched wetland area in New Zealand. You can poke around the town or take a guided walk to the beach with our guide. After a day of exploration, we continue south via Franz Josef Glacier to our peacefully secluded hotel.
DAY 5 - LAKE MATHESON
Today, our morning walk leads us to Fox Glacier’s face. Or, choose a an optional flight that includes a glacier landing, or a fly-in, fly-out heli hike on the ice, combining the thrill of a helicopter ride and the opportunity to walk on the ice. Leaving the Glacier we head for a walk around Lake Matheson. The calm air allows for the best reflection of Mt. Cook and Mt. Tasman in its deep crystal-blue waters. Our walk follows a track through native bush that surrounds the lake. This fine nature walk has excellent viewing on land and water. After lunch, we drive south to our lakeside lodge. You'll have time to opt for a kayak on the lake or a riverside walk.
DAY 6 - LAKE MOERAKI
Our lodge sits on the shore of Lake Moeraki, famous for trout fishing and surrounded by a native 1,000 year old forest boasting New Zealand's tallest trees, the Kahikatea and the Rimu. We have a leisurely start to the morning to enjoy a number of the options available at the lodge or to just relax over breakfast, then join our guide along a scenic rainforest track to Munro Beach.
DAYS 7-8 - QUEENSTOWN
The road in which our journey sets out was opened in the 1960's and only asphalted several years ago, leading us to Ships Creek. Here, we explore the beach and visit an historic swamp forest. After lunch, we drive along the scenic Crown Range to the historic gold-mining village of Arrowtown. The Amisfield Winery nestles at the foot of the mountains, and we take time in this great setting to taste their award-winning pinot noir. Then we wrap our afternoon with a visit to the 100-year-old Kawarau Suspension Bridge, better known as the world's original bungee jumping site. Later this afternoon, we settle into Queenstown. The next day is on a jet boat safari and discovery walk. On our journey, experienced local guides take us for a thrilling ride along the Dart River. We disembark and enjoy a lovely cultural walk along the edge of Te Wahipounamu, New Zealand's World Heritage Area, which embraces Fiorland and Mt. Aspiring National Parks.
DAYS 9-10 - FIORDLAND CRUISE
We depart Queenstown early morning for Te Anau, the gateway to the World Heritage Fiordland National Park. It’s a true natural wonder, and we’ll see it in the very best way – from the decks of the overnight cruise onboard the Navigator. From the observation lounge and the large open deck, you’ll have a front-row seat for the waterfalls, rainforests, mountains and wildlife. The next day, the Fiordland Navigator returns to Manapouri where we make the scenic transfer back to Queenstown.
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