What to Expect
Marvel at the diverse landscapes of New Zealand’s North and South Islands on a 22-day hike. See lava fields and glacial lakes, enjoy panoramic views from mountain summits, and take optional bike tours and/or a river cruise to Milford Sound. Spend the nights sleeping under a canopy of stars, and cook as a group for the ultimate in remote and scenic camping.
Day 1: Auckland - Rotorua Lakes (12-kilometer/6-hour hike) (L)
Following a short briefing, head south to Rotorua and spend the afternoon exploring the thermal parks. Hike one of the lake or river trails, and remember to pack for the overnight hike the following day before heading into town. Order a meal, and get to know your fellow travelers.
Day 2: Lake Waikaremoana (12-kilometer/4-hour hike) (B, L, D)
Spend the morning at beautiful Lake Waikaremoana, a perfect spot for a picnic lunch. Organize your backpack before hiking a track along the shore to a new lake-side hut and lovely campsite perched above a small beach. Cook your evening meal as a group, and soak up the surroundings. Enjoy the reflections of the forest and mountains in the lake as you listen to bird song.
Day 3: Lake Waikaremoana (up to 15-kilometer/7-hour hike) (B, L, D)
Hike for 2 hours through the lake-side beech forest to the next hut and your water-taxi pick up. However, anyone wanting a rest can stay at the camp to be collected by water taxi later. Set off for an afternoon hike to Panekiri Bluffs. Those who are keen can continue all the way to Bald Knob (5 hours return) with the guide. Head back to the cabins and cook a meal at the camp as a group.
Day 4: Waikaremoana - Taupo (3-kilometer/2-hour row and 8-kilometer/2-hour hike) (B, L, D)
Hike an easy 1-hour track to the calm waters of Lake Waikareiti. If conditions allow (light wind), row out across this splendid lake to a wee island in the middle. In the afternoon, drive west then south to Lake Taupo. Stop at the powerful Huka Falls and feel the spray of the powerful cascades on your face, before relaxing in a lodge near Tongariro National Park.
Day 5: Tongariro (13-kilomter/5-hour hike) (B, L, D)
Hike through waving tussock grasslands between volcanoes to a hut set in an enclave of native beech forest. After lunch, traverse across stony deserts to an alpine hut perched on the edge of an old lava flow at 1,400 meters above sea level. Enjoy fantastic views of the three main peaks of Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe.
Day 6: Tongariro (15-kilometer/6 to 8-hour hike) (B, L)
Hike through a moon-like valley of contorted lava flows and ash fields, before climbing up a steep section to the Emerald Lakes for lunch. Cross the volcanic plateau and admire the lava valleys and steaming craters. In good conditions, there is an option to climb one of the volcanic peaks. An evening drive to a lodge right inside the National Park is the perfect place to relax. Enjoy a meal out in the alpine village.
Day 7: Tongariro - Wellington (1-kilometer/1 to 2-hour hike) (B, L)
Check out at the Park Visitor Centre, and enjoy an espresso at the alpine café. Alternatively do a loop walk from the lodge to Taranaki Falls (2-3 hours). Those taking the bus back to Auckland are dropped at National Park Village before noon. The train passes through National Park the following day. Drive south to Wellington, New Zealand's wonderful harbor capital, arriving in the late afternoon. Wellington is well known for its vibrant café scene and accessible downtown area.
Day 8: Wellington - Tonga Quarry - Abel Tasman National Park (5-kilometer/1.5-hour hike) (B, L, D)
Depart North Island and fly across the Cook Strait to South Island. Transfer to Nelson to meet anyone joining the group for the South Island leg of the safari. From Nelson, pack your gear for a 2-night stay in the park and board the water taxi. Take a short hike to the campsite at Tonga Quarry where the packs and tents have been dropped by boat.
Day 9: Tonga Quarry - Bark Bay (7 to 10-kilometer/up to 5-hour hike) (B, L, D)
Today you can sea kayak in the magical National Park. Those who prefer to hike have a rewarding steady climb through stands of Manuka forest to a saddle where you again catch views of the ocean. Later, the group will set up camp and prepare dinner before relaxing at the beach side camp. Please enquire at the time of booking for the sea kayaking option.
Day 10: Bark Bay - Murchison (20 to 24-kilometer/7 to 8-hour hike) (B, L)
Winding inland through lush forest, cross the Falls River on an airy 47-meter suspension bridge. At the southern end of Torrent Bay, cross a low ridge to Anchorage. The countryside opens out by Tinline Bay before arriving back at the Marahau Causeway, where a transfer vehicle will be waiting to take you to the campsite near Murchison. Enjoy a meal at a local pub in Murchison.
Day 11: Murchison - Ballroom Overhang (8-kilometer/3 to 4-hour hike) (B, L, D)
Drive down Buller Gorge to the west coast and stop at Cape Foulwind. See a breeding colony of New Zealand fur seals. After lunch, hike up a spectacular limestone river canyon in Paparoa National Park. The hike involves several river crossings (your boots will get wet). Collect firewood along the way and set up camp under the massive Ballroom Overhang.
Day 12: Ballroom Overhang - Hokitika (8-kilometer/3 to 4-hour hike) (B, L)
Before the hike back, splash up a beautiful side canyon. Follow the stream until it disappears into a cave. Stop in Punakaiki to check out the famous Pancake Rocks and blowholes. Then, continue down the coast to your overnight accommodation in Hokitika. Tuck into fish and chips on the beach, or eat out at one of the many cafés in the bustling seaside town.
Day 13: Hokitika - Fox Glacier (33-kilometer/4-hour optional bike) (B, L, D)
Today you have the option of hiring a bike and exploring the West Coast Cycle Trail. This stunning, 33-kilometer Milltown to Kumara cycle trail follows a series of old bush tram lines built in the 1860s to cart coal. In the afternoon, relax on the pleasant drive down the coast to Fox Glacier where the group camps for the night.
Day 14: Fox Glacier - Haast (8 to 12-kilometer/3 to 5-hour optional hike) (B, L, D)
Make the most of the calm morning to take a gentle walk around Lake Matheson. After the walk there are an array of options: Enjoy a guided half, full-day or heli hike on the impressive Fox Glacier, or join your guide for a hike up the valley for a great view of the glacier. There is also the option to ice climb for the more intrepid. After your time at the glacier, drive down into South Westland for an overnight at Haast Beach campsite.
Day 15: Haast - Aspiring Hut (8-kilometer/3-hour hike) <em>(B, L, D)
Drive over the main divide and marvel as the scenery changes dramatically. Pass through Wanaka and drive through the Matukituki Valley. Then, hike into Aspiring Hut and see the majestic mountain scenery unfold as you hike gently up the valley.
Day 16: Aspiring Hut - Queenstown (14-kilometer/6-hour hike) (B, L)
Make a side trip and climb the steep hike to view the Rob Roy Glacier. Back in Aspiring Valley, amble back to the road’s end. Sit back and relax on the scenic drive over Crown Range. Enjoy breathtaking views across Wakatipu Valley and its lakes from the summit.
Day 17: Queenstown (B)
Give your hiking boots a rest as you explore Queenstown on your own. Known as the adventure capital of New Zealand, activities include bungee jumping, canyon swings, skydiving, mountain biking and jet boating. There are also some great day hikes into the mountains from the town center with stunning views of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains if you wish to carry on walking. Activities should be booked prior to arrival in Queenstown. This is a rest day for the guide.
Day 18: Queenstown - Milford - Mossburn (optional 2-hour cruise) (B, L, D)
Enjoy breakfast as a group before setting off for Milford Sound and the Fiordland National Park. Upon arrival at Milford by mid morning, join an optional cruise to Anita Bay and the entrance to Milford Sound. In the afternoon, drive back through Te Anau to Mossburn and the idyllic rural campsite set on a 28-acre farm.
Day 19: Mossburn - Ahuriri Valley/Canyon Creek (6-kilometer/3-hour hike) (B, L, D)
Drive up through the Central Otago High Country in the morning, crossing Lindis Pass into Mackenzie Country. Turn off the main road and head up the Ahuriri Valley and Conservation Park. Organize your overnight packs at the road’s end, and follow a track up Canyon Stream to camp for the night in a remote location.
Day 20. Ahuriri Valley/Canyon Creek - Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park (8-kilometer/4-hour hike) (B, L, D)
Explore an alpine valley and, if weather permits, climb higher for expansive views of the Southern Alps. Descend back to the main valley and vehicle for a late lunch before driving through Mackenzie Country to Aoraki/Mt. Cook, where you will camp in the shadow of New Zealand's tallest mountain (3,754 meters).
Day 21: Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park (8-kilometer/5-hour hike) (B, L, D)
Set off with your day pack and hike to Sealy Tarns and Mueller Hut. On the return, there will be time in the afternoon to relax at the campsite or visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre.
Day 22: Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park - Christchurch (8-kilometer/3 to 4-hour hike) (B, L)
Make the most of being in this special place and take one final morning hike. Walk to the terminal lake of the Hooker Glacier with its bobbing icebergs, or make a short drive to the Tasman Valley. The final drive is through mid Canterbury and across the plains to Christchurch where the tour ends.