Save up to £200 per person

New Zealand Guided Walking Holiday

Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
Duration: 23 nights
Type: Worldwide Multi-Centre
Walking Grade: 2
from £7,899pp with flights

Our New Zealand holiday is designed to show you the best of this stunning country. Taking you from the lush sub-tropics of the North Island to the alpine beauty of the South, we give you a chance to experience for yourself the warmth of true ‘Kiwi’ hospitality. Our walks provide time for photography and observation of New Zealand’s unique range of plant life, native birds, insects and (harmless!) reptiles. Most walks have longer and shorter options, and there is usually a choice of an easier and a more challenging walk during the days spent in the national parks. From the bays around Auckland, through the Maori cultural heartland of Rotorua and all the way down to Queenstown and shimmering Milford Sound, this trip of a lifetime includes many of New Zealand’s highlights along with some of its lesser discovered secrets.

Holiday Highlights

  • Comprehensive tour of the best of New Zealand with plenty of local flavour
  • Wonderful mix of great walking, scenery, sightseeing and culture
  • Traditional Maori and modern New Zealand culture
  • Options to extend your stay with the Milford Track or Routeburn Track.  Please call 020 3974 8865 for more information.

What’s included

  • A full programme of guided walks and excursions led by Local Guides
  • 'With flight' holidays include return flights from the UK and hotel transfers
  • Half Board with en-suite accommodation - 21 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 13 evening meals
  • All national park fees
  • All transport and internal flights during tour (tour ends in Queenstown)
  • Scenic helicopter flight, iceberg boat trip and fiord cruise

Trip Notes

Trip notes are detailed, downloadable PDFs for each holiday.

On our Guided Walking holidays, our day-by-day descriptions will help you understand where you’ll be exploring and what you’ll be doing. The itineraries are put together carefully to give you the best experience. While every effort will be made to adhere to the described itinerary, we may occasionally vary the sequence shown here or substitute an alternative to suit local conditions or for other operational reasons. In the wake of disruption caused by the Coronavirus outbreak to planning, this is particularly relevant to itineraries in 2021.

Depart UK, overnight flight to arrive in Auckland


We arrive in Auckland in the early afternoon and after passing through immigration you’ll meet your local guide and transfer as a group to the hotel. After check-in and time to freshen up, you can relax at the hotel or explore this “city of sails” before our pre-trip meeting and evening meal.


This morning we leave our Auckland hotel and head south to Rotorua (approx. 3 hours), stopping at a café en route for an early lunch.

We continue south to Wai-O-Tapu thermal reserve. Here we enjoy a gentle walk through this thermal wonderland amidst mud pools, sinter springs and hissing steam vents. We’ll see some astonishing colours as we walk – from sulphur yellows and bright greens to vibrant charcoals and surreal blues, 

this will be a feast for the senses, including – perhaps unfortunately? – your sense of smell!

Dinner this evening is at a vibrant café in the city.


This morning we’ll take a short drive to Lake Tarawera. Here, we’ll hike around this beautiful bush-fringed crater on a well-made trail. Along the way there are many beautiful beaches, which offer great swimming in the summer months, as well as freshwater springs. Distance: 4½ miles (7km) with 950 feet (290m) of ascent on an undulating trail, approx. 3 hours.

We return to our hotel where there’ll be time to relax or do some independent exploring of the city before freshening up and a short drive to our evening Maori cultural experience, where we’ll enjoy a hangi (earth oven) meal.


We drive east to the Jurassic-like rainforest of the Whirinaki Forest. We’ll walk on a loop trail alongside the Whirinaki River to a small waterfall. Our return route takes us through what is arguably New Zealand’s finest podocarpus (a type of conifer) rainforest. There’s also the option to do a shorter there-and-back walk if you prefer. Distance: 6 miles (9½km) with little ascent, approx. 3-4 hours.

We head south to our accommodation in Taupo, stopping at the thunderous Huka Falls along the way.


Enroute to Tongariro National Park we drive south alongside Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake.

We have two days in the Park, which enables flexibility based on the local conditions. We use the day with the best weather to take on the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing and the other day to enjoy short walks. Your local guides will advise at the time what the plan will be, but the following will give you some idea what to expect across the two days.

On the Tongariro Crossing day we’ll depart at around 7.30am and drive to the start of the trail. Considered one of New Zealand’s greatest one day walks, it takes you on an awe-inspiring journey through outstanding volcanic scenery.

Beginning with a gradual ascent to Soda Springs (the first turn-around point), the track then follows a zig zag path on volcanic rock to the rim of the South Crater (the second turn-around point). Known as the Devil’s Staircase, this is a steep 850 feet (260m) climb. On a clear day, your reward is an unobstructed view of Mount Taranaki, far away on the west coast of the North Island.

Those continuing on pass through the flat moonscape of the South Crater, before the route follows a steep ridge up to the top of Red Crater, so called because of the red oxide in the volcanic rock. From here a steep descent brings you to the beautiful Emerald Lakes. Their striking colour is a result of minerals leaching from the surrounding rock.

We continue across Central Crater with a short ascent to Blue Lake and follow the track around the lake to enjoy stunning views of Lake Rotoaira and Lake Taupo in the distance. Continue your descent, passing below Ketetahi Springs through the forest. Distance: 12 miles (19½km) with 2,950 feet (900m) of ascent and 3,700 feet (1,150m) of descent.

There’s a variety of terrain (from board walk to loose scree and one small exposure with a fixed chain for assistance) and the day is sure to be exhilarating. For those who don’t fancy the entire trail, there’ll be the option to do smaller sections to explore the park and climb to the South Crater, a magnificent spot with spectacular views. There’s also the possibility of other shorter, less demanding hikes that can be enjoyed near our hotel. After our exploration of the park, we head to our hotel.

If it wasn’t possible to do the Crossing on Day 7, we’ll attempt it on Day 8. Otherwise, there’ll be a couple of walk options offered to further explore this incredible park. Possibilities include:

Taranaki Falls: A loop walk through open tussock and forest to the falls which plunge over the edge of an ancient lava flow. A good area to observe small native birds flitting among the mountain beech trees in search of insects. Distance: 3½ miles (5½km) with 150 feet (50m) of ascent.

Tama Lakes: This longer walk continues from Taranaki Falls to the Lower and Upper Tama Lakes, offering fine views of Mounts Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu, before returning the same way. Distance: 10 miles (16km) with 1,450 feet (450m) of ascent.

Lake Rotopounamu: A stunning little gem of a lake in remnant beech forest. Popular with birdwatchers, its name comes from the Maori words ‘roto’ (‘lake’) and ‘pounamu’ (‘greenstone’). Distance: 3 miles (5km) with negligible ascent.

Soda Springs: A gentle climb alongside Mangetepopo Stream around the edges of old lava flows to the cold-water Soda Springs. Distance: 6 miles (10km) with 850 feet (260m) of ascent.

 

*Owing to weather and group trail choices, lunch on these days may be at own cost


We leave the national park and travel to Wellington (approx. 4 hours) for independent sightseeing in New Zealand’s capital city. You could visit Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum, explore the harbour area, take the cable car for views over the city or enjoy the vibrant café and restaurant scene. There’s plenty to choose from so you’re sure to find something that takes your fancy.


This morning we have some more time to enjoy this busy little harbour capital before saying farewell to the North Island. In the early afternoon we have a short flight to Nelson in the South Island where you’ll meet the South Island guides.

We take a hike up Botanical Hill, also known as the “Centre of New Zealand” and enjoy the sweeping views of Tasman Bay, Nelson City and Maitai Valley, or an alternative option suggested by your guides. Later we enjoy a meal out together in Nelson. Distance: 1½ miles (2½km) with 500 feet (150m) of ascent.


We drive to Kaiteriteri, a beach resort that acts as the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. We’ll take a water taxi into the park and hike a beautiful section of the well-maintained coastal path between Bark Bay and Anchorage.

The trail undulates and is at times close to sea level, passing small coves and view points over the Tasman Sea. There are shaded sections along the way and at the end of the trail there’s a chance to enjoy a refreshing dip in the sea.

We later return to Kaiteriteri by boat and on to Nelson. Distance: 5-7 miles (8-11½km) with 1,000 feet (300m) of ascent. The distance on the day depends on whether we take a high or low tide route.


Travelling southwest from Nelson, we drive over Hope Saddle and then alongside the mighty Buller River as it follows the southern boundary of Kahurangi National Park. We’ll pass through the spectacular Buller Gorge before reaching the West Coast.

At Cape Foulwind we’ll hike for about an hour along the lighthouse path, a well-formed trail, to a New Zealand fur seal colony. Your guides may not do the whole of this walk with you as they will bring the vehicles to meet you at the end of the trail. Distance: 2 miles (3½km) with negligible ascent.

After a simple picnic lunch at Tauranga Bay, we’ll drive to Punakaiki, home to the well-known Pancake Rocks. We’ll enjoy a gentle walk through the lush rainforest on the Pororari River Canyon trail, which weaves alongside the glass-like river and ducks beneath limestone formations. Distance: 4 miles (7km) with 300 feet (100m) of ascent.


We’ll visit the Pancake Rocks, taking a path which crosses the arches and towers of limestone, to see the spectacular watery display these formations put on. Distance: 1 mile (1½km) with minimal ascent.

We drive across the Southern Alps via Arthur’s Pass and on to hike a section of the Arthur’s Pass Walking Track. Later, we’ll walk among the imposing limestone outcrops of Castle Hill. Distance: 3 miles (5km) with 1,000 feet (300m) of ascent for both walks.

On the east of the divide, the roads are straighter, and we skirt the foothills as we head south on the Canterbury Plains to Methven.


Our drive south takes us inland and transitions from rolling green pastoral lands to landscapes awash with tawny-brown steppes – much like you’d expect to see in Patagonia – as we climb to the intermontane Mackenzie Basin. We head towards Lake Tekapo, the first of three large glacier-fed lakes, all of which are a startling and almost unbelievable turquoise colour. We’ll drive to the summit of Mt John, the location of powerful astronomical research telescopes, and hike a loop trail which gives unobstructed views of lakes and glaciated summits.

After lunch we continue for approx. 1 ½ hours to Aoraki/Mount Cook. On arrival we’ll stretch our legs on a hike which climbs up through Governors Bush and then, for those wanting the challenge of more ascent, continue up to Red Tarns which offer a panoramic viewpoint of the valleys below and across to the Southern Alps and Aoraki/Mount Cook. The falling ice from Mt Sefton will no doubt command our attention, the cracking sounds making it feel closer to us. Distance: 2½ miles (4km) with 1,100 feet (335m) of ascent.


Today you have the choice of two stunning hikes from the same starting point as well as the option of a scenic flight.

For a more laid-back option, the Hooker Valley hike offers superb views of Aoraki’s south face and over the Hooker Lake, the terminus of the Hooker Glacier. This is a relatively flat walk, taking about 3 – 4 hours in total. Distance: 6 miles (10km) with 400 feet (120m) of ascent.

If you’d prefer a more challenging walk, you can take the trail to Sealy Tarns. Following a zig-zag path on a series of steps (c. 2,000 in total) you’ll gain about 500m in vertical height climbing up through the alpine shrubs and herb fields to the small tarns trapped by a rise of lateral moraine. Distance: 3½ miles (6km) with 1,950 feet (600m) of ascent.

Generally, both guided walks are possible, with the Hooker Valley offered in the morning and Sealy Tarns after lunch. Also, as there are trails linking to our accommodation, it’s possible for you to explore the area independently at your own pace; your guides will be able to advise you further.

It’s also possible to enjoy a scenic flight today – speak to your guides ahead of arriving in Aoraki/Mount Cook who will help arrange this. (Basic options start at around NZ$250; longer flights, which may include glacier landings and hiking, cost from NZ$399 - 599).


Today sit back and enjoy the surrounding scenery during a cruise on the Tasman Glacier lake. As we travel between and get up close to icebergs, we’ll learn more about this dynamic, ice-carved landscape. The glacier is the longest in New Zealand, and the lake has formed within the last 40 years as the ice has retreated.

After lunch we drive to Wanaka, a resort town set alongside a lake of the same name. Wanaka is the gateway to a vast wilderness area of beech forests, glaciers, pristine rivers and sparkling lakes. We’ll arrive mid-afternoon, which allows you time to relax and enjoy the views from our ideally located lakeside accommodation. There are several great restaurant options nearby for tonight’s dinner.


We start our day with a drive to Makarora, a tiny settlement with a frontier town feel. From this unassuming starting point, we begin today’s exciting adventure.

We’ll board a helicopter for an extraordinary and no doubt unforgettable flight among the ice-carved peaks of the Mt Aspiring National Park, a part of Te Wāhipounamu-Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area.

We land on a small helicopter pad in the remote Siberia Valley and hike along an old pack trail through beech forest to the Wilkin River. At the river, we’ll board a jet boat – one of New Zealand’s great inventions, perfect for navigating the South Island’s massive braided rivers – for an exciting 30-minute ride back to Makarora. Distance: 4½ miles (7km) with 650 feet (200m) of ascent.

Once there, we then drive over the Crown Range to Queenstown, arriving at around 5pm.


Today is a free day for you to explore Queenstown at your leisure. Situated on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, with the Southern Alps providing a dramatic backdrop, there are plenty of activity options.

If you fancy more walking, there are several stunning self-guided walks you can enjoy that start near the hotel – ask your guides for more information if this takes your fancy. Alternatively, they can also advise on lots of other fantastic options, from skydiving to vineyard tours.


We’ll depart early this morning for Lake Manapouri and board a boat for an enjoyable journey across the lake. Back on dry land, we’ll drive over the mountains at Wilmot Pass and into Doubtful Sound.

Here, we’ll enjoy a remarkable day in a true wilderness. At 40km long and with three distinct arms, this is the largest fiord in New Zealand. As we cruise along the waters, there are countless waterfalls to marvel at, thickly forested islands and, if we’re lucky, plenty of opportunities to spot dolphins, seals and penguins.

After a magnificent day, we’ll continue to the lakeside town of Te Anau.


Today we hike part of the Kepler track, one of the famed ‘Great Walks’. Starting with an easy walk around the lake shore to Brod Bay, you then have the option to catch the water taxi back across the lake to Te Anau.

For those looking for a much greater challenge, if the weather is favourable we’ll continue along the track as it climbs its way to the bush line near Luxmore Hut to enjoy the expansive views of the Fiordland wilderness and the Te Anau basin before descending to catch the water taxi back to Te Anau. Distance: 3½-13½ miles (5½-22km) with 2,500 feet (760m) of ascent on the harder option.


Our day excursion takes us through magnificent mountain scenery to the famous Milford Sound, one of New Zealand’s most iconic visitor destinations.

We stop at The Divide to start our morning walk along a section of the Routeburn Track to Key Summit. Distance: 4½ miles (7km) with 1,000 feet (300m) of ascent. Easier short walks, and the preferred option if cloud is likely to rob Key Summit of views, are located below in the Hollyford Valley. Distance: 1½ miles (2½km) with 525 feet (160m) of ascent.

Although smaller than Doubtful Sound, Milford’s topography will leave you spell bound. Experience its true magnificence as you cruise the deep waters between glaciated mountains and sheer cliffs hundreds of metres high which plummet into the fiord’s dark waters. Enjoy wonderful views of mile-high Mitre Peak and Lady Bowen Falls as you keep an eye out for marine wildlife. You may spot dusky dolphins, New Zealand fur seals and – if you’re lucky – the rare Fiordland crested penguin. We return to Te Anau in the afternoon.


After a relaxed breakfast we start to make our way back to Queenstown, with our return route taking in a detour down the Gibbston Valley. Known as the ‘Valley of the Vines,’ the rugged schist mountains and impressive Kawarau Gorge make this a dramatic place. We’ll enjoy lunch together at a local vineyard before continuing our journey to Queenstown, arriving mid-afternoon.

 


You can choose to see more of the Queenstown region today with a hike option provided by your guides (lunch included with this option) or continue to independently explore anywhere you didn’t get to on our first stop here. Perhaps now is the opportunity to take the plunge and try one of the adrenaline sports that the town is famous for. More leisurely and one of the best ways to view Queenstown’s landscape is a cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard the century-old steamship TSS Earnslaw (approx. NZ$70).

This evening we’ll get together as a group for farewell drinks and reminisce on what is sure to have been a fantastic trip. Dinner has not been included this evening to allow for flexibility and choice – your guides can help coordinate a meal for anyone who’s keen, but you’re welcome to make your own plans independently or with new-found friends.


After breakfast, we’ll transfer to Queenstown airport for the return flight to the UK.


Depart UK, overnight flight to Auckland


We arrive in Auckland in the early afternoon and after passing through immigration you’ll meet your local guide and transfer as a group to the hotel. After check-in and time to freshen up, you can relax at the hotel or explore this “city of sails” before our pre-trip meeting and evening meal.

Heritage Auckland, Auckland - New Zealand

We begin in Auckland at the modern Heritage Auckland Hotel. Centrally located on Hobson St, the hotel is a short walk from the harbour.


This morning we leave our Auckland hotel and head south to Rotorua (approx. 3 hours), stopping at a café enroute for an early lunch.

We continue south to Wai-O-Tapu thermal reserve. Here we enjoy a gentle walk through this thermal wonderland amidst mud pools, sinter springs and hissing steam vents. We’ll see some astonishing colours as we walk – from sulphur yellows and bright greens to vibrant charcoals and surreal blues, this will be a feast for the senses, including – perhaps unfortunately? – your sense of smell!

Dinner this evening is at a vibrant café in the city.

Distinction Hotel, Rotorua - New Zealand

We stay at the Distinction Hotel in Rotorua. Located near the Whakarewarewa Forest, the hotel offers the perfect place to relax after a day exploring the local area.


This morning we’ll take a short drive to Lake Tarawera. Here, we’ll hike around this beautiful bush-fringed crater on a well-made trail. Along the way there are many beautiful beaches, which offer great swimming in the summer months, as well as freshwater springs. Distance: 4½ miles (7km) with 950 feet (290m) of ascent on an undulating trail, approx. 3 hours.

We return to our hotel where there’ll be time to relax or do some independent exploring of the city before freshening up and a short drive to our evening Maori cultural experience, where we’ll enjoy a hangi (earth oven) meal.

Distinction Hotel, Rotorua - New Zealand

We stay at the Distinction Hotel in Rotorua. Located near the Whakarewarewa Forest, the hotel offers the perfect place to relax after a day exploring the local area.


We drive east to the Jurassic-like rainforest of the Whirinaki Forest. We’ll walk on a loop trail alongside the Whirinaki River to a small waterfall. Our return route takes us through what is arguably New Zealand’s finest podocarpus (a type of conifer) rainforest. There’s also the option to do a shorter there-and-back walk if you prefer. Distance: 6 miles (9½km) with little ascent, approx. 3-4 hours.

We head south to our accommodation in Taupo, stopping at the thunderous Huka Falls along the way.

Beechtree Motels, Taupo - New Zealand

Modern accommodation which offers style and comfort and is only a 5-minute walk from the lake.


Enroute to Tongariro National Park we drive south alongside Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake.

We have two days in the Park, which enables flexibility based on the local conditions. We use the day with the best weather to take on the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing and the other day to enjoy short walks. Your local guides will advise at the time what the plan will be, but the following will give you some idea what to expect across the two days.

On the Tongariro Crossing day we’ll depart at around 7.30am and drive to the start of the trail. Considered one of New Zealand’s greatest one day walks, it takes you on an awe-inspiring journey through outstanding volcanic scenery.

Beginning with a gradual ascent to Soda Springs (the first turn-around point), the track then follows a zig zag path on volcanic rock to the rim of the South Crater (the second turn-around point). Known as the Devil’s Staircase, this is a steep 850 feet (260m) climb. On a clear day, your reward is an unobstructed view of Mount Taranaki, far away on the west coast of the North Island.

Those continuing on pass through the flat moonscape of the South Crater, before the route follows a steep ridge up to the top of Red Crater, so called because of the red oxide in the volcanic rock. From here a steep descent brings you to the beautiful Emerald Lakes. Their striking colour is a result of minerals leaching from the surrounding rock.

We continue across Central Crater with a short ascent to Blue Lake and follow the track around the lake to enjoy stunning views of Lake Rotoaira and Lake Taupo in the distance. Continue your descent, passing below Ketetahi Springs through the forest. Distance: 12 miles (19½km) with 2,950 feet (900m) of ascent and 3,700 feet (1,150m) of descent.

There’s a variety of terrain (from board walk to loose scree and one small exposure with a fixed chain for assistance) and the day is sure to be exhilarating. For those who don’t fancy the entire trail, there’ll be the option to do smaller sections to explore the park and climb to the South Crater, a magnificent spot with spectacular views. There’s also the possibility of other shorter, less demanding hikes that can be enjoyed near our hotel. After our exploration of the park, we head to our hotel.

If it wasn’t possible to do the Crossing on Day 7, we’ll attempt it on Day 8. Otherwise, there’ll be a couple of walk options offered to further explore this incredible park. Possibilities include:

Taranaki Falls: A loop walk through open tussock and forest to the falls which plunge over the edge of an ancient lava flow. A good area to observe small native birds flitting among the mountain beech trees in search of insects. Distance: 3½ miles (5½km) with 150 feet (50m) of ascent.

Tama Lakes: This longer walk continues from Taranaki Falls to the Lower and Upper Tama Lakes, offering fine views of Mounts Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu, before returning the same way. Distance: 10 miles (16km) with 1,450 feet (450m) of ascent.

Lake Rotopounamu: A stunning little gem of a lake in remnant beech forest. Popular with birdwatchers, its name comes from the Maori words ‘roto’ (‘lake’) and ‘pounamu’ (‘greenstone’). Distance: 3 miles (5km) with negligible ascent.

Soda Springs: A gentle climb alongside Mangetepopo Stream around the edges of old lava flows to the cold-water Soda Springs. Distance: 6 miles (10km) with 850 feet (260m) of ascent.

 

*Owing to weather and group trail choices, lunch on these days may be at own cost

Skotel Alpine Resort - New Zealand

A cosy and welcoming alpine resort nestled in the heart of the national park amidst tussock and striking landscapes.

Chateau Tongariro, Tongariro - New Zealand

Chateau Tongariro occupies a prime spot in Tongariro National Park. It's full of old-world charm with stunning views.


We leave the national park and travel to Wellington (approx. 4 hours) for independent sightseeing in New Zealand’s capital city. You could visit Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum, explore the harbour area, take the cable car for views over the city or enjoy the vibrant café and restaurant scene. There’s plenty to choose from so you’re sure to find something that takes your fancy.

Copthorne Oriental Bay - New Zealand

Enjoy a one-night stay in the heart of humming Wellington.


This morning we have some more time to enjoy this busy little harbour capital before saying farewell to the North Island. In the early afternoon we have a short flight to Nelson in the South Island where you’ll meet the South Island guides.

We take a hike up Botanical Hill, also known as the “Centre of New Zealand” and enjoy the sweeping views of Tasman Bay, Nelson City and Maitai Valley, or an alternative option suggested by your guides. Later we enjoy a meal out together in Nelson. Distance: 1½ miles (2½km) with 500 feet of ascent (150m).

Rutherford Hotel, Nelson - New Zealand

A stylish, centrally located hotel. We stay here for 2 nights on arrival on the South Island.


We drive to Kaiteriteri, a beach resort that acts as the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. We’ll take a water taxi into the park and hike a beautiful section of the well-maintained coastal path between Bark Bay and Anchorage.

The trail undulates and is at times close to sea level, passing small coves and view points over the Tasman Sea. There are shaded sections along the way and at the end of the trail there’s a chance to enjoy a refreshing dip in the sea.

We later return to Kaiteriteri by boat and on to Nelson. Distance: 5-7 miles (8-11½km) with 1,000 feet (300m) of ascent. The distance on the day depends on whether we take a high or low tide route.

Rutherford Hotel, Nelson - New Zealand

A stylish, centrally located hotel. We stay here for 2 nights on arrival on the South Island.


Travelling southwest from Nelson, we drive over Hope Saddle and then alongside the mighty Buller River as it follows the southern boundary of Kahurangi National Park. We’ll pass through the spectacular Buller Gorge before reaching the West Coast.

At Cape Foulwind we’ll hike for about an hour along the lighthouse path, a well-formed trail, to a New Zealand fur seal colony. Your guides may not do the whole of this walk with you as they will bring the vehicles to meet you at the end of the trail. Distance: 2 miles (3½km) with negligible ascent.

After a simple picnic lunch at Tauranga Bay, we’ll drive to Punakaiki, home to the well-known Pancake Rocks. We’ll enjoy a gentle walk through the lush rainforest on the Pororari River Canyon trail, which weaves alongside the glass-like river and ducks beneath limestone formations. Distance: 4 miles (7km) with 300 feet (100m) of ascent.

Punakaiki Resort, West Coast - New Zealand

Travelling west we arrive at the Paparoa National Park.

We stay at the Punakaiki Resort, which is situated at the top of the beach near the famous Pancake Rocks.


We’ll visit the Pancake Rocks, taking a path which crosses the arches and towers of limestone, to see the spectacular watery display these formations put on. Distance: 1 mile (1½km) with minimal ascent.

We drive across the Southern Alps via Arthur’s Pass and on to hike a section of the Arthur’s Pass Walking Track. Later, we’ll walk among the imposing limestone outcrops of Castle Hill. Distance: 3 miles (5km) with 1,000 feet (300m) of ascent for both walks.

On the east of the divide, the roads are straighter, and we skirt the foothills as we head south on the Canterbury Plains to Methven.

Ski Time, Methven - New Zealand

Enjoy stunning views from the hotel as you relax with a drink.


Our drive south takes us inland and transitions from rolling green pastoral lands to landscapes awash with tawny-brown steppes – much like you’d expect to see in Patagonia – as we climb to the intermontane Mackenzie Basin. We head towards Lake Tekapo, the first of three large glacier-fed lakes, all of which are a startling and almost unbelievable turquoise colour. We’ll drive to the summit of Mt John, the location of powerful astronomical research telescopes, and hike a loop trail which gives unobstructed views of lakes and glaciated summits.

After lunch we continue for approx. 1 ½ hours to Aoraki/Mount Cook. On arrival we’ll stretch our legs on a hike which climbs up through Governors Bush and then, for those wanting the challenge of more ascent, continue up to Red Tarns which offer a panoramic viewpoint of the valleys below and across to the Southern Alps and Aoraki/Mount Cook. The falling ice from Mt Sefton will no doubt command our attention, the cracking sounds making it feel closer to us. Distance: 2½ miles (4km) with 1,100 feet (335m) of ascent.

Hermitage, Mount Cook - New Zealand

Following a drive through the parched high country, we arrive at our accommodation at the Hermitage. The hotel is located at the edge of the high alps of Mt Cook.


Today you have the choice of two stunning hikes from the same starting point as well as the option of a scenic flight.

For a more laid-back option, the Hooker Valley hike offers superb views of Aoraki’s south face and over the Hooker Lake, the terminus of the Hooker Glacier. This is a relatively flat walk, taking about 3 – 4 hours in total. Distance: 6 miles (10km) with 400 feet (120m) of ascent.

If you’d prefer a more challenging walk, you can take the trail to Sealy Tarns. Following a zig-zag path on a series of steps (c. 2,000 in total) you’ll gain about 500m in vertical height climbing up through the alpine shrubs and herb fields to the small tarns trapped by a rise of lateral moraine. Distance: 3½ miles (6km) with 1,950 feet (600m) of ascent.

Generally, both guided walks are possible, with the Hooker Valley offered in the morning and Sealy Tarns after lunch. Also, as there are trails linking to our accommodation, it’s possible for you to explore the area independently at your own pace; your guides will be able to advise you further.

It’s also possible to enjoy a scenic flight today – speak to your guides ahead of arriving in Aoraki/Mount Cook who will help arrange this. (Basic options start at around NZ$250; longer flights, which may include glacier landings and hiking, cost from NZ$399 - 599).

Hermitage, Mount Cook - New Zealand

Following a drive through the parched high country, we arrive at our accommodation at the Hermitage. The hotel is located at the edge of the high alps of Mt Cook.


Today sit back and enjoy the surrounding scenery during a cruise on the Tasman Glacier lake. As we travel between and get up close to icebergs, we’ll learn more about this dynamic, ice-carved landscape. The glacier is the longest in New Zealand, and the lake has formed within the last 40 years as the ice has retreated.

After lunch we drive to Wanaka, a resort town set alongside a lake of the same name. Wanaka is the gateway to a vast wilderness area of beech forests, glaciers, pristine rivers and sparkling lakes. We’ll arrive mid-afternoon, which allows you time to relax and enjoy the views from our ideally located lakeside accommodation. There are several great restaurant options nearby for tonight’s dinner.

Edgewater Resort, Wanaka - New Zealand

Peaceful and directly on the shores of Lake Wanaka, this is a fine place to soak up the intermontane landscapes.


We start our day with a drive to Makarora, a tiny settlement with a frontier town feel. From this unassuming starting point, we begin today’s exciting adventure.

We’ll board a helicopter for an extraordinary and no doubt unforgettable flight among the ice-carved peaks of the Mt Aspiring National Park, a part of Te Wāhipounamu-Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area.

We land on a small helicopter pad in the remote Siberia Valley and hike along an old pack trail through beech forest to the Wilkin River. At the river, we’ll board a jet boat – one of New Zealand’s great inventions, perfect for navigating the South Island’s massive braided rivers – for an exciting 30-minute ride back to Makarora. Distance: 4½ miles (7km) with 650 feet (200m) of ascent.

Once there, we then drive over the Crown Range to Queenstown, arriving at around 5pm.

Heritage Queenstown, Queenstown - New Zealand

In Queenstown we stay at the Heritage Hotel, situated on the edge of Lake Wakatipu. Rooms benefit from a range of views over the surrounding mountains, forests and lake.

Facilities include swimming pool, gym and free Wi-Fi.


Today is a free day for you to explore Queenstown at your leisure. Situated on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, with the Southern Alps providing a dramatic backdrop, there are plenty of activity options.

If you fancy more walking, there are several stunning self-guided walks you can enjoy that start near the hotel – ask your guides for more information if this takes your fancy. Alternatively, they can also advise on lots of other fantastic options, from skydiving to vineyard tours.

Heritage Queenstown, Queenstown - New Zealand

In Queenstown we stay at the Heritage Hotel, situated on the edge of Lake Wakatipu. Rooms benefit from a range of views over the surrounding mountains, forests and lake.

Facilities include swimming pool, gym and free Wi-Fi.


We’ll depart early this morning for Lake Manapouri and board a boat for an enjoyable journey across the lake. Back on dry land, we’ll drive over the mountains at Wilmot Pass and into Doubtful Sound.

Here, we’ll enjoy a remarkable day in a true wilderness. At 40km long and with three distinct arms, this is the largest fiord in New Zealand. As we cruise along the waters, there are countless waterfalls to marvel at, thickly forested islands and, if we’re lucky, plenty of opportunities to spot dolphins, seals and penguins.

After a magnificent day, we’ll continue to the lakeside town of Te Anau.

Distinction Luxmore, Te Anau - New Zealand

A comfortable hotel ideal for our time in Te Anau.

Distinction Hotel, Te Anau - New Zealand

Distinction Te Anau Hotel and Villas offers chic, elegant accommodation and FREE unlimited WiFi for the perfect Fiordland getaway. Surrounded by extensive, colourful gardens and overlooking spectacular Lake Te Anau and the Fiordland ranges, this 4 star hotel and villa accommodation sets the tone for your stay in one of the world’s most breathtaking regions.


Today we hike part of the Kepler track, one of the famed ‘Great Walks’. Starting with an easy walk around the lake shore to Brod Bay, you then have the option to catch the water taxi back across the lake to Te Anau.

For those looking for a much greater challenge, if the weather is favourable we’ll continue along the track as it climbs its way to the bush line near Luxmore Hut to enjoy the expansive views of the Fiordland wilderness and the Te Anau basin before descending to catch the water taxi back to Te Anau. Distance: 3½-13½ miles (5½-22km) with 2,500 feet (760m) of ascent on the harder option.

Distinction Luxmore, Te Anau - New Zealand

A comfortable hotel ideal for our time in Te Anau.

Distinction Hotel, Te Anau - New Zealand

Distinction Te Anau Hotel and Villas offers chic, elegant accommodation and FREE unlimited WiFi for the perfect Fiordland getaway. Surrounded by extensive, colourful gardens and overlooking spectacular Lake Te Anau and the Fiordland ranges, this 4 star hotel and villa accommodation sets the tone for your stay in one of the world’s most breathtaking regions.


Our day excursion takes us through magnificent mountain scenery to the famous Milford Sound, one of New Zealand’s most iconic visitor destinations.

We stop at The Divide to start our morning walk along a section of the Routeburn Track to Key Summit. Distance: 4½ miles (7km) with 1,000 feet (300m) of ascent. Easier short walks, and the preferred option if cloud is likely to rob Key Summit of views, are located below in the Hollyford Valley. Distance: 1½ miles (2½km) with 525 feet (160m) of ascent.

Although smaller than Doubtful Sound, Milford’s topography will leave you spell bound. Experience its true magnificence as you cruise the deep waters between glaciated mountains and sheer cliffs hundreds of metres high which plummet into the fiord’s dark waters. Enjoy wonderful views of mile-high Mitre Peak and Lady Bowen Falls as you keep an eye out for marine wildlife. You may spot dusky dolphins, New Zealand fur seals and – if you’re lucky – the rare Fiordland crested penguin. We return to Te Anau in the afternoon.

Distinction Luxmore, Te Anau - New Zealand

A comfortable hotel ideal for our time in Te Anau.

Distinction Hotel, Te Anau - New Zealand

Distinction Te Anau Hotel and Villas offers chic, elegant accommodation and FREE unlimited WiFi for the perfect Fiordland getaway. Surrounded by extensive, colourful gardens and overlooking spectacular Lake Te Anau and the Fiordland ranges, this 4 star hotel and villa accommodation sets the tone for your stay in one of the world’s most breathtaking regions.


After a relaxed breakfast we start to make our way back to Queenstown, with our return route taking in a detour down the Gibbston Valley.

Known as the ‘Valley of the Vines,’ the rugged schist mountains and impressive Kawarau Gorge make this a dramatic place.

We’ll enjoy lunch together at a local vineyard before continuing our journey to Queenstown, arriving mid-afternoon.

This evening we’ll get together as a group for farewell drinks and reminisce on what is sure to have been a fantastic trip. Dinner has not been included this evening to allow for flexibility and choice – your guides can help coordinate a meal for anyone who’s keen, but you’re welcome to make your own plans independently or with new-found friends.

Please attend your pre-track briefing in Queenstown:

Routeburn Track: Check in at the Ultimate Hikes Centre, Ground Floor, The Station Building at 3.45pm for your briefing ahead of departing tomorrow.

Heritage Queenstown, Queenstown - New Zealand

In Queenstown we stay at the Heritage Hotel, situated on the edge of Lake Wakatipu. Rooms benefit from a range of views over the surrounding mountains, forests and lake.

Facilities include swimming pool, gym and free Wi-Fi.


After breakfast, we’ll transfer to Queenstown airport for the return flight to the UK.


New Zealand Itinerary Map

Heritage Auckland, Auckland - New Zealand

We begin in Auckland at the modern Heritage Auckland Hotel. Centrally located on Hobson St, the hotel is a short walk from the harbour.

Distinction Hotel, Rotorua - New Zealand

We stay at the Distinction Hotel in Rotorua. Located near the Whakarewarewa Forest, the hotel offers the perfect place to relax after a day exploring the local area.

Beechtree Motels, Taupo - New Zealand

Modern accommodation which offers style and comfort and is only a 5-minute walk from the lake.

Skotel Alpine Resort - New Zealand

A cosy and welcoming alpine resort nestled in the heart of the national park amidst tussock and striking landscapes.

Chateau Tongariro, Tongariro - New Zealand

Chateau Tongariro occupies a prime spot in Tongariro National Park. It's full of old-world charm with stunning views.

Copthorne Oriental Bay - New Zealand

Enjoy a one-night stay in the heart of humming Wellington.

Rutherford Hotel, Nelson - New Zealand

A stylish, centrally located hotel. We stay here for 2 nights on arrival on the South Island.

Punakaiki Resort, West Coast - New Zealand

Travelling west we arrive at the Paparoa National Park. We stay at the Punakaiki Resort, which is situated at the top of the beach near the famous Pancake Rocks.

Ski Time, Methven - New Zealand

Enjoy stunning views from the hotel as you relax with a drink.

Aoraki Alpine Lodge - New Zealand

Enjoy your stay in the high alps of the Aoraki/Mount Cook area.

Aoraki Court Motel - New Zealand

Enjoy your stay in the high alps of the Aoraki/Mount Cook area.

Hermitage, Mount Cook - New Zealand

Following a drive through the parched high country, we arrive at our accommodation at the Hermitage. The hotel is located at the edge of the high alps of Mt Cook.

Edgewater Resort, Wanaka - New Zealand

Peaceful and directly on the shores of Lake Wanaka, this is a fine place to soak up the intermontane landscapes.

Heritage Queenstown, Queenstown - New Zealand

In Queenstown we stay at the Heritage Hotel, situated on the edge of Lake Wakatipu. Rooms benefit from a range of views over the surrounding mountains, forests and lake. Facilities include swimming pool, gym and free Wi-Fi.

Distinction Hotel, Te Anau - New Zealand

Distinction Te Anau Hotel and Villas offers chic, elegant accommodation and FREE unlimited WiFi for the perfect Fiordland getaway. Surrounded by extensive, colourful gardens and overlooking spectacular Lake Te Anau and the Fiordland ranges, this 4 star hotel and villa accommodation sets the tone for your stay in one of the world’s most breathtaking regions.

Marakura Deluxe Motels, Te Anau - New Zealand

Marakura are ten self contained rooms which each enjoy unrivalled views of Lake Te Anau and Mountains of Fiordland from the comfort of the master bedroom, lounge/living area or patio/balcony.

What to Bring

As you’ll be carrying your own luggage at airports and between your transport and hotels we recommend you try to keep your luggage to a minimum.

These items are a general suggestion of what to pack for an active outdoor and walking holiday; depending on your destination, you may need more of some things and less – or none! – of others. You’ll know best what you prefer to wear when out walking or while taking part in other outdoor activities.

  • Walking boots (worn in), with good ankle support and spare bootlaces Boots must be clean of all soil/mud before entering New Zealand. We recommend you pack them at the top, so they are easy to access, as biosecurity always inspect them.
  • Walking socks
  • Walking sandals and/or trainers
  • Lightweight fleece, thermal top and bottoms
  • Waterproof trousers and jacket (e.g. Goretex or similar)
  • Shorts and short-sleeved t-shirts
  • Long trousers and long-sleeved lightcoloured shirts with collars to protect from the sun.

We recommend wearing walking boots on all our walks, as these provide the best ankle support and grip. Modern ‘approach shoes’ offer appropriate levels of grip and may be worn on some low-level walks, but users should be aware that they offer less ankle support. Lightweight trainers are not recommended for any walks.

Your clothing should ideally be pre-treated with insect repellent and in-built sun protection (available from specialist clothing stores such as Rohan, Cotswold Outdoor).

  • Warm fleece, scarf/buff, hat and gloves
  • Torch or headlamp
  • Comfortable casual clothes and shoes for evenings and sightseeing
  • Sun protection – sun hat, sunglasses, high factor sunscreen and lip protection
  • Water bottle – at least 1-litre capacity but you may prefer 2-litre
  • Lightweight survival bag
  • Small/medium rucksack (20-30 litre) and a liner/dry bags or cover to keep contents dry
  • Insect repellent
  • Personal first aid kit including: personal medication, tissues, plasters, blister kit, painkillers, antiseptic wipes, Imodium, rehydration sachets

Essential:

  • Passport (and copies)
  • Booking confirmation
  • Insurance cover note
  • HF Holidays’ registration form

Please ensure you have access to emergency funds should you need them; carrying a credit card is probably the most convenient method.

Optional:

  • trekking poles
  • camera
  • umbrella
  • binoculars
  • swim towel

Please note that your HF Holidays’ leader reserves the right to refuse to take any guest on a walk should they consider that a lack of suitable clothing/footwear may affect safety

Guest Reviews

All holidays are subject to availability. Prices are subject to change.
Prices based on two people sharing. Supplements may apply.
Non-member fee: £10 per person.

These departure dates can be booked with flights or as land only holiday options. All packages that include flights are ATOL protected. Advertised flight prices are based on UK flights departing from London. Regional departures and/or connections to London, if available, can be requested. Cabin upgrades may also be available on request.

Date (Start - End) Nights Itinerary Price Status Trip Notes Book
2020
22 Oct - 14 Nov
23 2020 Itinerary £7,899 Unavailable to Book Unavailable Trip Notes
30 Oct - 12 Dec
23 2020 Itinerary £7,899 Unavailable to Book Unavailable Trip Notes
16 Nov - 12 Dec
23 2020 Itinerary £7,899 Unavailable to Book Unavailable Trip Notes
19 Nov - 12 Dec
23 2020 Itinerary £7,899 Available Trip Notes Book Now
Date (Start - End) Nights Itinerary Price Status Trip Notes Book
2020
24 Oct - 14 Nov
23 2020 Itinerary £6,699 Unavailable to Book Unavailable Trip Notes
21 Nov - 12 Dec
23 2020 Itinerary £6,699 Available Trip Notes Book Now
2021
09 Jan - 30 Jan
23 2021 Itinerary £6,699 £6,499 Save £200 Per Person Trip Notes Book Now
06 Feb - 27 Feb
23 2021 Itinerary £6,699 £6,499 Save £200 Per Person Trip Notes Book Now
06 Mar - 27 Mar
23 2021 Itinerary £6,699 £6,499 Save £200 Per Person Trip Notes Book Now

Important Information

  • Single room supplement: £1,779
Duration:
23 nights
Type:
Worldwide Multi-Centre
Walking Grade:
2

23 nights from £7,899pp with flights

Save up to £200 per person

...or call 020 3974 8865

For group bookings of 10+ people click here

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