13
days

New Zealand World Heritage Walking Adventure (Premium)

This tour incorporates the great outdoors whilst enjoying the beauty of nature with fun friendly people just like you. You`ll experience New Zealand's best hikes and activities in the stunning Southwest World Heritage New Zealand area, comfortably staying in premium accommodation and enjoying excellent food and wine.

World Heritage Hiking, Great Cuisine & Comfortable Accommodation. Walking New Zealands most famous day hikes - The World Famous Milford Track, the Spectacular Routeburn and the Mystical Hollyford.

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Itinerary

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1
TranzAlpine Train and Arthur's Pass 4 km (2,9 Mi) /3-4 hours hiking

This morning you'll meet with your tour leader and group in Christchurch for introductions and a brief orientation before heading up into the Canterbury high-country on the world famous TranzAlpine railway.Your journey takes you across the Canterbury Plains and through the Waimakariri Gorge and her stunning viaducts before breaking out into the wide expanses of Arthur's Pass and the majestic Southern Alps - the 'back bone' of the South Island.

This afternoon we discover a handful of our favourite places which are hidden inside the National Park, these places include on our hike up  the stunning Bealey Valley  into ancient beech forest, along the crystal clear mountain streams and alpine wetlands towards the alpine zone of Mt Rolleston and her permanent glaciers. This is a great start to your New Zealand World Heritage Walking Adventure! Our hike today is not long but does go over some uneven ground. Including lunch and breaks. Then we finish the day with a short drive to the beautiful seaside town of Punakaiki.

Meals: Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation ​Punakaiki - 2 nights

2
Paparoa, Nile River Glowworm Caves /2 - 2,5 hours hiking

Welcome to Paparoa National Park
We spend this day discovering Paparoa National Park, one of the most untouched and undiscovered parts of our country. Explore the limestone landforms, deep river canyons, mountain ridges, sinkholes and caves inside a thick lush cover of Gondwanaland rainforest!

Underworld Glowworm Walk
Hiking through the forest trail towards the cave entrance generally takes 30-40 minutes with a short climb right at the end. Whilst inside the cave we'll walk at a slow pace on mostly flat ground as we take our time to take in the surroundings. The Nile River Cave is untouched by man and is completely in its natural state only discovered recently. You'll be able to view thousands of glowworms above you with the option of gearing up in wetsuits to float on a small inflatable raft inside the cave or to stay dry and walk further into the cave with your guide.

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

3
Okarito Lagoon Kayak and the Wild West Coast

Our journey of discovery continues down the West Coast of the South Island - known as the 'Wild West Coast' for good reason.  We leave the sandy beaches of Punakaiki behind as much more rugged coastline unfolds before our eyes, all the while with the omnipresent Southern Alps visible inland to the east.  Our destination today is glacier country, the two most accessible of the Southern Alps glaciers, Fox and Franz Joseph are the draw card in this part of the country which we will explore fully tomorrow.

Guided Sea Kayak on Okarito Lagoon
But for us our visit to Westland begins with something of a slightly different flavour - a guided kayak experience on Okarito lagoon. Okarito is a tiny settlement of around 30 people, very much a sleepy hollow - which makes it the perfect spot to launch on our activity into this serene setting for the day.  We will be in the company of our friends and expert local nature guides - expect nothing other than a  typical relaxed and friendly West Coast greeting.  Okarito is the largest coastal lagoon in New Zealand and a breeding ground for many different kinds of water dwelling birds - including the rare Kotoku (White Heron), which we will keep our eyes out for as it is always a pleasure to see their grace and beauty.  Your guide's knowledge and experience in the area add a whole new level of learning to the day as they happily share their vast knowledge of the history and conservation projects of the area.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation Fox Glacier - 1 night 

4
Glacier Hiking and Mount Aspiring National Park

Fox Glacier Guided Hike
One of the most unique natural features on your New Zealand World Heritage walking tour is the glaciers of the Southern Alps and what makes Fox Glacier such a special place to visit is that it is easily accessible in half a day, without any technical climbing skills or know how required.  If you have never experienced hiking on a glacier then today is the day, we will get all the gear we need and follow our expert local glacier guide up to the terminal face and out on the ice for at least an hour.  The ice world is one of amazement and discovery, your surroundings will amaze you and what you learn about the power of the ice will astound you!

Mount Aspiring National Park
This afternoon we say farewell to glacier country and head south, then inland into the wide open spaces of Mount Aspiring National Park, over the Haast Pass and past the lakes of Hawea and Wanaka. Our priority on our small group tours is to enjoy activity outside in our wonderful national parks and time in transit is kept to a minimum, but it has to be said that New Zealand roads are some of the most scenic anywhere in the world and the area around 'the Gates of Haast' fit this bill perfectly.  There's plenty of time for photo stops along the way!

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation Wanaka - 1 night

5
Wanaka and Mou Waho Island Hiking 5km (3,2 Mi) /2,5 hours hiking

Mou Waho Island Nature Reserve
The picture postcard scenery of Lake Wanaka is our stage today, this morning we're heading out onto the lake with a short cruise to one of five small islands on the lake and a very special place indeed - Mou Waho Island.  With a history of boat building, Mou Waho is now a predator free bird sanctuary, home to endangered native species including the comically curious Weka.  Your guide today is a local conservation stalwart and he will enlighten us all on the efforts going in to protect our native species on our hiking / nature walk.  Aside from the insights into conservation and ecology, the views from the top of the island will make your photo highlights reel for sure - from the high point of the island looking north there is no evidence of human habitation as far as the eye can see.

The small lake on top of Mou Waho island is one of those places you'll remember forever - where else in the world can you see an island in a lake, on an island in a lake, on an island in the ocean?  Don't worry, it will all make sense once you are there! This afternoon we travel the stunning Cadrona Valley and over the Crown Range to Queenstown, easily the most picturesque route into the Wakatipu basin and onto a place you have probably heard a lot about and our home for the next two nights - Queenstown.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation Queenstown - 3 nights

6
Explore Queenstown

So many people’s favourite place during their visit to New Zealand, Queenstown offers a world of possibilities.  Known for so long for adventure activities, in recent years a whole range of more leisurely pursuits have been added to the menu.

You’ll have the whole day available  to take in the scenery, enjoy local walks, shopping,  pamper yourself or try one of the many activities on offer.  Your guide knows Queenstown really well and will be available to help you find just the right thing to make your day special.

Recommended Excursions in Queenstown:

Routeburn Track Guided Day Walk Explore Historic Arrowtown Highest Bungy Jump
Wine Tasting Tour Central Otago Biking Skippers Canyon Round at Millbrook Golf Resort
TSS Earnslaw Steamboat Cruise Dart River Jetboat Safari Gibbston Valley Wine Trail
 

Meals: Breakfast

7
NZ's best day hike - The Routeburn Track 16km (9,2 Mi) /6-7 hours hiking

Lake Wakatipu
There are so many great walking tracks in New Zealand and today we're heading to one of our favourites - the Routeburn Track.  Before we start our hike though, we take journey to the northern tip of Lake Wakatipu on one of the most memorable roads you will ever travel - you could be forgiven for thinking this is middle earth as this particular view appeared in the earlier Lord of the Rings films many times.

Routeburn Track Hiking
One of New Zealand's 'Great Walks', and a must on the New Zealand World Heritage Walking adventure is the Routeburn Track and it should be on everyone's hiking bucket list - our walk follows the emerald green waters of the Routeburn river through some of the best Beech Forest in the country,  four to five hundred year old red beech trees just 20 minutes into our hike.  This was the proposed route of a wagon trail to carry gold over, the walking track is in great condition but it's hard to imagine having much fun in horse drawn stagecoaches in the 1860s! We follow the river past stunning mini gorges into the alpine sanctuary of Routeburn Flats, where we leave the forest to reveal the mountain panorama.  Relax and enjoy the peace and solitude of Flats or take on the challenge of the climb to Routeburn Falls - it's your choice.  Views from the top make it worth the effort!

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

8
The Valley of the Vines and Fiordland

Southern Lakes BBQ lunch
This morning we’re off to begin three exciting days exploring the New Zealand’s most famous countryside - Fiordland National Park.  We start our day with a spectacular trip down Lake Wakatipu and on to Te Anau for a Barbecue lunch, with Lake Te Anau and the Fiorldland mountains providing the inspiring views. 

Fiordland National Park & Milford Sound
Let our Fiordland adventures begin, we’ll following the trails of the greenstone hunters and gold miners as we head into this World Heritage Wilderness.  We enjoy the road and plenty of stops in peace and quite, as we’re travelling into Milford Sound from early afternoon to avoid the rush. We’ll make lots of stops on the way -  The Eglington Valley, Mirror Lakes, our first glimpes of the Hollyford and the Homer Tunnel are just some of the highlights on this journey you’ll never forget.

Arrive into Milford with plenty of time for a walk before dinner, your camera will be working overtime here!

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation Milford Sound - 1 night

9
Milford Track, Martin's Bay Flight 10km (6,4 mi) /3-4 hours hiking

Milford Track Hiking
This morning you are spoilt for choice as we are in Milford Sound - take your pick from either a guided half day hike on the Milford Track, guided sea kayak or nature cruise on Milford Sound.   This is not the kind of choice your are faced with every day - a walk on the 'finest walk in the world' or an experience on the water in 'the eighth wonder of the world'.  Not a bad way to start the day, but your afternoon only gets better.

Helicopter Flight to Martins Bay
Time for get intrepid now as we board our helicopter for our flight out into Milford Sound then across the Fiordland backcountry to Martin's Bay right on the Tasman Sea end of the Hollyford Valley.  If you have experienced a helicopter ride before or not, the magic of flight and majestic Fiordland scenery will have you grinning from ear to ear when we land at our remote wilderness lodge - that's a guarantee.  Our afternoon is spent walking the Hollyford Track out to Long Reef, home to a resident population of New Zealand fur seals and at the right time of year, Fiordland Crested penguin.  This is a special place and one of the most natural wildlife experiences you will ever have - there are no crowds of people, no ticket booths and no fences or cages and certainly no hurry as you enjoy this close up encounter.

For the return journey, our friendly Hollyford Valley jetboat driver will ferry us back to our lodge, but not before stopping off to explore the Martin's Bay sandspit - one place that really feels like the you are on the edge of the world!

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

​Accommodation Martins Bay - 1 night

10
Jetboat & Hollyford Track hiking 17km (10,9 mi) /5-6 hours hiking

Lake McKerrow and the Hollyford River
If you are an earlybird you will want to be up early to make the most of our wonderful surroundings, native birdlife and even wild deer have been seen right outside the lodge!  Your friendly staff will have a hot breakfast ready for you before we start the day in the most splendid of fashions, with a jetboat ride up the stunning Hollyford River and across Lake McKerrow - the buzz of the jetboat ride and the Fiordland mountain scenery will have to pinch yourself to check you are not dreaming.  This is the kind of country jetboats were made for, literally, the only way to discover these backcountry areas is either by jetboat or on foot and today we will do both.

Hollyford Track Guided Walk
The entire Hollyford Valley has a rich and colourful history which your guides will bring to life over the two days you spend here.  Stories of 'the tramper's friend' Davey Gunn, the early European settlement plans, Moa sightings and the legends of the Ngai Tahu people will enrich your time here and pique your curiosity to learn more when you are back at home.  The Hollyford Track traverses from the Tasman Sea into the heart of Fiordland and our walk today takes us through some of New Zealand's most pristine native forest and best walking country, with plenty of time  on the way to spot the birdlife on the way and take in the views.  If you love ferns then the Hollyford Track is one of the best places in New Zealand to see a whole variety, from the huge tree ferns to the tiniest of all ferns, the national icon 'Silver Fern' and unique Kidney Fern. 

We have the whole day to explore and enjoy our Hollyford Track walk before returning to our accommodation in the Te Anau area.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation Te Anau - 1 night

11
Mount Cook National Park and Stargazing

Queenstown Winery Lunch
After our adventures of the last few days you’ll love a relaxed morning, enjoy a sleep in or stroll along the lakefront before we head to the famous Gibbston Valley and our friends at Waitiri Creek wines.  The warm welcome and stunning countryside make this spot extra special, and wine lovers will also have the chance to try some of our best New Zealand wines with lunch.

Our ultimate  destination today is Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, right in the heart of Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area, a spectacular region with glacial lakes, vast fields of golden tussock and the alpine world of the Southern Alps. This is a landscape photographers dream and you will probably have seen Lake Pukaki and Mt Cook in pictures before. We’re staying right in the national park itself tonight, with a population of around 100 people, offering a tranquility which is seldom found, it's uninterrupted natural views will certainly stop you in your tracks!

But it gets even better, recently earmarked  as one of only three Grade 1 “Dark Sky Reserves” in the world, the Aoraki Mt Cook will show you an unforgettable night sky exposing the Milky Way Galaxy, Southern Cross, Alpha-Centauri and more.  You expert guides will get an insight into our universe and beyond, through both telescope and specialized binoculars.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation Mt. Cook - 2 nights

12
Mt Cook National Park 8km (4,2 Mi) /4 hours hiking

Mount Cook Hiking
Today is dedicated to discovering New Zealand's only 100% alpine national park, the rugged wonderland of rock and ice that is Aoraki Mt Cook.  Home to New Zealand's highest peaks, most notably the 3,754m (12,000 feet) Mount Cook, the park is a mecca for climbers and outdoor lovers alike and today we have the choice of two of the best day hikes in the park.  Your choice of the Hooker Valley, a relatively flat hike to the terminal lake of the Hooker Glacier, with Mt Cook framed perfectly in the middle of the valley or the more challenging Sealy Tarns, a good honest climb to an elevated view of the Mueller Glacier, entire Mt Cook area and of course Aoraki Mt Cook itself.

New Zealand has other alpine areas but there is nowhere in the country which affords the ease of access and uninterrupted views of the highest peaks and glaciers of the Southern Alps, which makes a visit to Mt Cook an absolute must for anyone wanting to experience the essence of New Zealand's great outdoors.  At the heart of alpine climbing in this country, Mt Cook is the perfect place to learn all about the history and personalities of Kiwi climbing, with two excellent facilities to visit-  - the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre and the Mount Cook National Park Visitor centre.

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
 

13
The Last Day - Tekapo, Mackenzie Country and Canterbury Plains

Our last day today, we’ll take our time to enjoy Lake Tekapo, the Mackenzie country and the Canterbury Plains before heading into Christchurch for afternoon drop offs at the airport or your city accommodation. Christchurch has been hit in the last few years with devastating earthquakes and was one of our bases for many years, any support you can offer to our city will be much appreciated. Safe Travels!

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

NEW ZEALAND WORLD HERITAGE WALKING TRAIL – AM I UP FOR THE CHALLENGE? First Light Travel Blog_0.png

Brent dusts off his hiking boots and joins the March 2013 World Heritage Hiking Trail. Find out how he got on. Read the review.