New Zealand: South Island



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Activity types:

  • Coastal
  • Culture
  • High Mountains
  • Stay longer


  • 3
More information

Choosing the level of your walks

Our easy grading system shows whether a region offer gentle strolls or more challenging routes to help you choose the right holiday for you. Difficulty is measured on many factors such as distance, ascent/descent, terrain, weather and more. There's no magic formula, but from our experience we grade our walks 1 to 5 (where 1 is easy and 5 hard). Our challenger holidays require a high level of fitness and stamina.

More about difficulty levels

Holiday overview

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Download Trip Notes 2018

This striking landscape of crystal clear lakes, towering peaks and the silently gliding Franz Josef and Fox Glacier showcases nature in all its glory. From vibrant Wanaka to the imposing Mount Cook and the popular Abel Tasman National Park, the South Island is one of extremes. Trek along the Milford or Routeburn Tracks, superb alpine multi-day hikes that will stay with you forever.

Holiday highlights

  • An in depth tour of South Island
  • Walk on some of the world’s best tracks
  • Follow in the footsteps of early pioneers on the spectacular Routeburn Track
  • Walk in the Mount Aspiring National Park and the Hooker Valley below Mount Cook
  • Stay in the attractive city of Christchurch, on the Avon river
  • Explore Queenstown and the surrounding area, one of the adventure capitals of the world
  • Stay in comfortable hotels and lodges in great locations
  • Options to take either the Milford Track or the Routeburn Track


In pictures...


The hotels used on this tour have been selected for their excellent locations, service and friendly atmosphere. They offer comfortable 3 and 4-star standards, en-suite rooms, and are a mix of modern city hotels and country lodges.


Exterior of the Elms Hotel, Christchurch

Elms Hotel, Christchurch - 1nt

Our first accommodation in New Zealand is just a short hop away from the airport at the welcoming Elms Hotel. The rooms are all en-suite and have tea/coffee making facilities, fridge, telephone, sky TV, hair dryer, iron/ironing board etc. 

 Exterior of the Beachcomber Inn, Picton

Beachcomber Inn, Picton - 2nts

Beginning our journey, we head north to the Beachcomber in Picton. Located right on the waterfront, each room at the hotel offers fantastic views over this beautiful harbour from either the room's patio or balcony. The views are just as good from the relaxing vantage point of the hotel's outdoor swimming pool.  

 Exterior of the Trailways Hotel in Nelson

Trailways Hotel, Nelson - 2nts

On to Nelson and for a warm welcome at the Trailways Hotel. Located in the centre of this quaint town it is ideal for exploring. If you'd rather relax, there's a pool here too for you to enjoy, or sit an enjoy a drink in the restaurant bar, with its riverside views.

 Exterior of the Punakaiki Resort

Punakaiki Resort - 1nt

Travelling west we stay at the Punakaiki Resort, where we're greeted by breathtaking ocean views. Situated only 300m south of the famous Pancakes Rocks and Blowholes, the Resort is surrounded by the Paparoa National Park and is only a stone's throw from the beach. All rooms are modern studio units, with en-suite bathrooms, tea/coffee-making facilities, Sky TV and wireless internet access.

 Exterior of the Scenic Hotel at Franz Joseph

Scenic Hotel, Franz Josef - 1nt

Our next stop is the Scenic Hotel at Franz Josef, where we enjoy comfortable cosy rooms in this stunning setting. There is a swimming pool here for use too, if you'd like to relax after your day exploring.

 Bar and cafe at the Edgewater Hotel in Wanaka

Edgewater Hotel, Wanaka - 3nts

Reaching Wanaka, our hotel is situated on the shores of the lake. At the Edgewater we can relax in the spa or sauna, or take a stroll on their lawn to admire this picturesque panorama. Their lawn stretches right down to the shore of Lake Wanaka.

 Exterior of the Distinction Hotel at Te Anau

Distinction Hotel, Te Anau - 3nts

Another lake-front location again when we arrive at Te Anau, and the comfort of the Distinction Hotel. Only a 10 minute walk from the town centre, we're in the ideal place for our walks. The hotel also offers a heated swimming pool, spa and sauna for guest use.

Exterior of Copthorne Hotel in Queenstown

Copthorne Hotel, Queenstown - 2nts

Set in a stunning location, the Copthorne Hotel provides us with the best of both worlds as it's only a short stroll from any activities, and from the town centre. All rooms have TV, tea and coffee making facilities, refrigerator and minibar, iron and ironing board, and hair dryer.

 Exterior of MacKenzie Country Inn at Twizel

MacKenzie Country Inn, Twizel - 1nt

Our penultimate stay is in the MacKenzie Country Inn, peaceful accommodation set amidst the magnificent mountains of the Southern Alps. All rooms here have fabulous views from the patio or balcony. The welcome glow of the roaring fires in the lounge areas, makes an excellent place to relax after your walks too.

 Exterior of the Elms Hotel, Christchurch

Elms Hotel, Christchurch - 1nt

For our final night we return to the Elms Hotel in Christchurch. The rooms are all en-suite and have tea/coffee making facilities, fridge, telephone, sky TV, hair dryer, iron/ironing board etc. 

 Lodge on the Milford Track Milford Track & Routeburn Track extensions

For these extension options, you will be staying in comfortable Track Lodges. These provide good, basic accommodation and food, with laundry facilities, heated drying rooms, flush toilets and hot showers. Please note however that lodge rooms are multi-bedded and may be mixed sex.

On occasion we may need to change the accommodation listed above. If this happens, your replacement accommodation will be of the equivalent standard or higher. In the rare instance this is not possible, we will contact you in advance.


New Zealand South Island itinerary

Download Trip Notes 2018

The focus is very much on walking, with walks on 15 days of the holiday. Other days are spent travelling and sightseeing. Short walks, usually on days transferring from one area to the next, are 3-4 miles (4.75-6.5km), with up to 1,000 feet (300m) of ascent. Longer walks range from 5-10 miles (8-16km) with ascents of 1,000-2,200 feet (300-660m).  

Green tram in ChristchurchDays 1-3: Outward flight & Christchurch

Fly from London to Christchurch where we stay for a 1 night on arrival. There's free time to relax or stroll around this pleasant city.




Sandy coves at Marlborough SoundsDays 4-5: Picton & Queen Charlotte Track

Journey along the east coast to Kaikoura, for an optional whale-watching cruise (payable extra) and walk on the Kaikoura Peninsula Trail, with excellent coast and mountain views. Continue to the north of South Island and stay in Picton/Blenheim for 2 nights.

The following day we'll cruise to Ship Cove and walk a classic section of the renowned Queen Charlotte Track to Resolution Bay and Furneaux Lodge. We walk through native bush and coastal path offering wonderful views of the Marlborough Sounds.

Glorious coastline in the Abel Tasman National ParkDay 6-7: Nelson & Abel Tasman National Park

We take the Queen Charlotte’s scenic drive to Nelson, where we ascend Botanical Hill to follow the ‘Centre of New Zealand Walkway’. Stay in the attractive town of Nelson for 2 nights.

Explore one of the world’s most beautiful coastal parks. We cruise into the heart of the park for a trail walk along golden beaches, around rocky headlands and through lush subtropical forests rich in birdlife. 


The mighty Franz Josef glacierDays 8-9: Along the West Coast

Travel through the rugged Buller Gorge and stop at Lake Rotoiti in Nelson Lakes National Park. This afternoon we continue to Cape Foulwind and walk in Paparoa National Park, with its natural arches and cave systems. Stay at Greymouth or Punakaiki for 1 night.

The next day we'll travel down the west coast, passing through former gold mining settlements, to glacier country and the town of Franz Josef for 1 night. Afternoon walk to the Fox Glacier. 

View over the lake at WanakaDays 10 - 12: Wanaka & Mount Aspiring National Park

A morning walk on the boardwalk around Lake Matheson; the Southern Alps are often reflected in the still morning waters. Drive from the wild coast over the Haast Pass to Wanaka for a 3 night stay among the high peaks of the centre of the island.

Our walks in the Mount Aspiring National Park take us through stunning among mountain scenery. We'll follow the Matukituki river to great views of the Rob Roy Glacier, Mt Tyndall and the Shotover Saddle.


Stunning scenery of Doubtful SoundDays 13-15: Fjordland National Park

Travel through more beautiful scenery to Te Anau for 3 nights in the Fiordland National Park. Take an afternoon boat trip across Lake Te Anau to Brod Bay for a walk on the Kepler Track, one of the most popular walkways in New Zealand.

Enjoy a day in the magnificent Doubtful Sound, where peaks rise straight out of the still waters. We take a cruise across Lake Manapori to West Arm, where we might see fur seals or pods of dolphins. This is doubtless one of the highlights of the holiday.

We'll also spend a day on a section of the Routeburn Track, walking from the Divide to Key Summit and on to Lake Howden amid glorious scenery.

Lakeside at Queenstown with TSS EarnslawDays 16-17: Around Queenstown 

A morning drive takes us to Queenstown where we stay for 2 nights. This afternoon there will be a choice of walks around the lake offering wonderful views of the surrounding peaks.

The following day we include an unforgettable full day’s walk over the Ben Lomond Saddle, following the trail of early gold prospectors on the Moonlight Trail.


Mount Cook national parkDay 18: Mount Cook

This morning is spent walking in the Mount Cook area, taking a spectacular route along the Hooker Valley, with views to Mount Wakefield, Footstool and the south face of Mount Cook. Later we head north, stopping at the lovely stone church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake. Continue through the Lindis Pass into the legendary Mackenzie Country for 1 night.



Day 19-21: To Christchurch 

From Twizel we travel to Lake Tekapo for walks along the shoreline and a short ascent of Mt John to enjoy superb views of the whole Mackenzie Basin. In the afternoon we drive over Burke’s Pass and across the Canterbury plains to Christchurch for 1 night.

Day 20-21: Return flight 

Early morning departure for the flight to London via Singapore. 

Track Options

Milford Track option

You can split from the main group to take the 5 day/ 4 night Milford Track walk through the heart of Fiordland from Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound. 

Walkers crossing the mountainous Mackinnon PassDay 13 - to Milford Track, Te Anau Downs
Transfer to Te Anau Downs and take a cruise to Glade House from where we walk to the lodge for our first night and welcome briefing.

Day 14 - to Pompolona Lodge (10 miles)
We cross the Clinton river and walk amidst beech forest to lunch at Hirere Falls. Continue onto the Prairie grassy plain, with spectacular views of Clinton Canyon, before the rocky climb to Marlene’s Creek and Pompolona Lodge.

Day 15 - to McKinnon Pass and Quintin Hut (9 miles)
Today is a fairly challenging but extremely rewarding day’s walking, passing Breathtaking view of Milford SoundMirror Lake before the zig-zag climb up Mackinnon Pass, around Mount Balloon, passing glaciers, native forests and creeks to Quintin Hut, with a visit to Sutherland Falls, the highest in the Southern Hemisphere.

Day 16 - to Mitre Peak (13 miles)
The last day’s walk on the Milford Track, with a long descent with views to the Lovely Lady of the Snows mountain and on past Mackay Falls, Giants Gate Waterfall and Sandfly Point before reaching Mitre Peak Lodge and the end of walk celebrations.

Day 17 - to Queenstown
Morning boat cruise on Milford Sound before travelling back to Queenstown.

Additional charge applies.

Price includes:

  • 4 nights' accommodation (in multi bedded rooms on the walk)
  • Guided escort and briefing for full duration of track walk
  • Accommodation in fully catered walk lodges, in comfortable bunk rooms with duvets, fresh towels, hot showers, soap and shampoo and more
  • Hearty New Zealand-style dinners, packed lunches and large breakfasts
  • Certificate of achievement and other extras 

Routeburn Track Option

The Routeburn guided walk is a superb 3 day / 2 night Alpine adventure through Fiordland and Mount Aspiring National Parks. 

Stunning mountain scenery on the Routeburn TrackDay 14 - to Lake Mackenzie (9 miles)
Transfer to the Divide and walk Key Summit for breathtaking Routeburn views. Descend to Lake Howden for lunch and then climb to Earland Falls, looking over to the glaciated Darran Mountains, before descending to our lodge in the serene setting of Lake Mackenzie for the night.

Day 15 - to Routeburn Valley (9½ miles)
Walk into the mountains for views across the Hollyford valley, which slices through Fiordland to the distant Tasman Sea. After lunch at Harris Saddle (1,277m / 4,200ft) you can ascend Conical Hill for outstanding high peak views. Descend to the upper basin of the Routeburn Valley and the Routeburn Falls lodge for a celebration dinner.

Day 16 - Routeburn Track & to Queenstown
Walk through the alpine pastures of the Routeburn Flats, following the river through the magnificent gorge and through columns of red beech trees to the road end. Transfer to Queenstown to meet the main group.

Additional charge applies.

Price includes:

  • 2 nights' accommodation (in multi bedded rooms on the walk)
  • Guided escort and briefing for full duration of track walk
  • Accommodation in fully catered walk lodges, in comfortable bunk rooms with duvets, fresh towels, hot showers, soap and shampoo and more
  • Hearty New Zealand-style dinners, packed lunches and large breakfasts
  • Certificate of achievement and other extras

Essential Info

A full passport is required and must be valid for at least three months from the date you are due to leave New Zealand.

Visas are not necessary for full British passport holders visiting for less than 6 months. Other passport holders are advised to check with their nearest New Zealand consulate or embassy.

Health advice

Before booking, you should check with your doctor to see if any health precautions are needed. The following websites provide a wealth of information on travelling and health:

Vaccines: Tetanus vaccine is recommended. 

All our holidays are planned around the New Zealand spring, summer and early autumn when all routes are open and the days are long. The warmest weather is likely to be from November to February although October and March are also excellent times to travel with fewer tourists and superb mountain flora.

The local currency is New Zealand Dollars. Banks are open from 9am until 4.30pm on weekdays. Credit cards are widely accepted. There are no restrictions on taking currency in and out of the country. For most people the easiest method will be to use cash machine cards – but please consult with your bank concerning suitable machines and their availability. Traveller’s cheques are not advised.

Tips are included on this holiday.


Walking boots must be clean of mud/soil before entering New Zealand immigration

For flights information please see the Dates and Prices tab, however please note the following:

Currently the return flight connects through Sydney where there is a connection time of approx 6 hours. Should there be a scheduled flight change which means that time in Sydney exceeds 8 hours, you will need to apply for an Australian visa.  Canadian and US citizens require an ETA (electonic travel authorisation). These must be applied for in advance, and cost AUS $20. Please go to or consult your embassy for advice. British and EU passport holders need an eVisitor visa (subclass 651). To do this you need to create an Immiaccount via . There is no charge for an eVisitor visa.  Please see for further information.  Alternatively you can buy one on check in at Christchurch, which will cost approx $NZ 50. This visa allows you to leave the airport in Sydney.


Kath Townsley

Mountain leader Kath Townsley has been leading for HF Holidays since 1990 including in the UK, Europe and Worldwide and enjoys sharing her love of the outdoors with guests. A keen walker all her life, brought up in the Yorkshire hills, Kath has travelled extensively in many countries including Asia, Africa, America and New Zealand – with walking in the mountains being a key feature of her travels.

Kath is leading our 01 November 2018 departure. 


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Dates & Prices

Here at HF Holidays, we pride ourselves in offering a unique holiday full of experiences that you can’t find with anyone else. Find out what's included in this holiday.

We're sorry, there are no dates available for this holiday at the moment. Please check out our other tours and breaks or call our team on 0345 470 8558 to be notified of new dates as soon as they become available.

Prices are per person

Price includes

  • 17 nights’ accommodation in en-suite rooms
  • Half Board from dinner on day 3 to breakfast on departure
  • A full programme of guided walks, led by an HF Holidays’ leader
  • Sightseeing, entrance fees and travel by air-conditioned coach or mini-coach
  • Tips

Other important information

  • Single room: £1,145 (2018)
  • Milford Track: from £969 (2018)
  • Routeburn Track: from £759 (2018)
  • Non-member associate fee: £10 per person

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