12
days

Milford Track & World Heritage Hiking Tour

Te Wāhipounamu - South West New Zealand World Heritage Hiking

This is a world-class scenic landscape and a treasure trove of awesome geology, rare flora and fauna that is full of truly wonderful history. On this 12 Day New Zealand self drive itinerary you walk, fully guided and supported, the Milford Track - renowned as the 'finest walk in the world'  Then explore the Wild West Coast experiencing its glaciers, forests and wildlife before taking a spectacular train journey over the Alps to Christchurch. 

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Itinerary

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1
Welcome to Queenstown

This alpine resort of Queenstown sits on the shore of the crystal clear waters of Lake Wakatipu set against the dramatic Southern Alps. The surrounding area is known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards and the natural landscape with wild rivers, high peaks and deep canyons has allowed Queenstown to developed an exciting array of outdoor adventure activities.

Queenstown's compact downtown area is a cosmopolitan hub that's relaxed during the day and huge fun at night. In any season, you can count on stylish designer shops and many trendy restaurants offering a kaleidoscope of dining experiences.

Recommended Queenstown Excursions:

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
 

Accommodation: Queenstown - 2 nights

2
Morning Steamboat to Historic Walter Peak Station

Tomorrows the start of your big adventure on the Milford Track so this morning relax onboard the historic TSS Earnslaw, a vintage steamship that has been cruising up and down Lake Wakatipu for over 100 years. Your destination is to the Colonel’s Homestead at Walter Peak Station (Farm). Walter Peak Station was headquarters of what was once a 70,000ha (173,000 acres) station with 40,000 merino sheep and 50 staff. The charming lakefront location is a real draw card, as is the great dining experience on offer, so sit back and enjoy some fine high country hospitality or take one of the tours offered around the workings of the station.

16:45) Milford Track Pre-Departure Briefing

A short Pre-Departure Briefing will be held in central Queenstown this evening. This is also the opportunity to collect your 40 ltr Backpack (weighs approx. 2 kg) or PVC Waterproof Raincoat with hood (weighs approx. 500 gms) if required - further details upon booking. 

3
QUEENSTOWN TO GLADE HOUSE

DAY 1 - MILFORD TRACK : Walking 1 km (1 mi) / 20 Min

Your adventure starts from Queenstown, where you'll depart at 9.00am on a coach to Te Anau.  There will be time for lunch and you'll get to meet the rest of the group you'll be walking with - the perfect opportunity for a before walk group photo. Then we'll reboard the coach and head to Te Anau Downs boat harbour, where our boat will take us to the end of Lake Te Anau. On disembarking it's a short walk to our first stop - Glade House - and a great meal, hot shower, and warm bed.

(Lunch and Dinner)

Accommodation: Glade House - Milford Track - 1 night

4
GLADE HOUSE TO POMPOLONA LODGE

DAY 2 - MILFORD TRACK : Walking 16 km (10 mi) / 5-7 Hours

After breakfast we'll depart Glade House and use the swing bridge to cross the emerald green waters of the Clinton River. Heading up Clinton Valley we'll continue through to the lunch shelter at Hirere Falls. Your guides will be with you the whole way and will point out highlights like Mackinnon's original hut site and other points of interest.

The further we walk, the more luxuriant the Beech forest becomes, and the steeper the valley walls get. It's not always sunny on the Milford Track, but when it is there's a fantastic swimming hole to stop at for a cool swim!

Then it's onwards and upwards to an open meadow called the Prarie, where you can capture the true nature of the ice carved Clinton Canyon. By this point the rock walls tower up to 4000 feet above your - little wonder early walkers on the Milford Track called this the Valley of the Perpendicular. It just a short climb to Pompolona Lodge from here to the second lodge on the Milford Track.

(Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner)

Accommodation: Pompolona Lodge - Milford Track - 1 night

5
POMPOLONA LODGE TO QUINTIN LODGE

DAY 3 - MILFORD TRACK : Walking 15 km (9 mi) / 6-8 Hours

Of the 5 days on the Milford Track, if you're going to find one day challenging it will be today - but it will also be the most memorable and rewarding!

We'll get away to an early start and back on the track it leads us toward the head of the Clinton Valley. As the climb starts the three "leaps" of St Quintin Falls are quite spectacular. The track continues through a series of zig zags, affording amazing views as the valley floor drops away beneath you.

Reaching the top of the Mackinnon's pass you'll be ready for a rest, but it will all be worth it. We'll have a selection of cold and hot drinks ready for you at Mackinnon's memorial cairn. It's a great place for lunch and then the track takes us down a long descending section to Quintin Lodge. On the descent you will pass huge rock cliffs, chilly glacial streams, moss covered forest, many cascading waterfalls and your get your first view of Sutherland Falls.

Quintin Lodge is a final check-in and a great place for a warm drink and a rest.  You can leave your backpack here for the 1.5 hour return walk to Sutherland Falls, the fifth highest waterfall on the planet at 540 metres/1904 feet. Best take your waterproof jacket though if you dare to walk right in and behind the falls - a once in a lifetime experience!

(Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner)

Accommodation: Quintin Lodge - Milford Track - 1 night

6
QUINTIN LODGE TO MITRE PEAK

DAY 4 - MILFORD TRACK : Walking 21 km (13 mi) / 6-8 Hours

Today is the longest walking day, but also your final day on the Milford Track. We'll follow the Arthur River as it heads down to Milford Sound. As we descend we're back into the deep luxuriant beech forest, and get a final view of Sutherland Falls.  It won't be long and we'll be arriving at The Boatshed for morning tea.

Then it's another swing bridge crossing before continuing on to MacKay Falls and Bell Rock. Continuing along the track you will hear the steady roar of Giant's Gate Falls, where we'll enjoy lunch.

The final section follows Lake Ada to the aptly named Sandfly Point, where the Maori goddess Te Hine-nui-te-po released the sandfly to stop men lingering too long in the beauty of Fiordland (nothing that a bit of repellant can't handle though). From here it's a short launch ride to Milford Sound harbour and our final accommodaiton at Mitre Peak Lodge.  A perfect location to end a perfect trip, we'll have a celebratory dinner.

(Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner)

Accommodation: Mitre Peak Lodge - Milford Sound - 1 night

7
MILFORD SOUND TO QUEENSTOWN

DAY 5 - MILFORD TRACK (No Walking)

After enjoying breakfast we'll have one last opportunity to enjoy this amazing place by joining a Milford Sound cruise. As you cruise through the Fiord you'll soon realise just how massive the mountains are around the Sound.

This whole area is a marine reserve so it's an absolute haven for many marine animals. You'll see plenty of Southern Fur Seals warming themselves on the rocks and well used to posing for photographs. Dusky and bottlenose dolphins are also often seen in the Fiord.

On returning to the wharf, we'll board our coach and start the trip back to Queenstown via Te Anau (arriving at approx 4.15pm).

(Breakfast, Lunch)

Accommodation: Queenstown - 2 nights

8
Queenstown at leisure

We won't call this a recovery day as there is a good chance you have been totally invigorated by walking the Milford Track, but we do think that it is prudent to leave that decision to you - after all it is your holiday.  So today is a free day and you have the choice to get out and about and enjoy a few of the many adventures on offer or just relax and enjoy the stunning lakes & rivers - there is a bounty of vineyards, cafes and restaurants scattered throughout the wider district of Queenstown including Arrowtown an Gibbston Valley.

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
 
9
Franz Joseph Glacier

Franz Josef village is small (only 500 locals) and is located only ten minutes from the Glacier. The Franz Josef Glacier is located in Westland National Park on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island. Together with the Fox Glacier 20 km (30 mi ) to the south it is a unique in the fact that it descends from the Southern Alps to just 200 metres above sea level amidst the greenery and lushness of a temperate rainforest. The glacier is currently 12 kilometres long and terminates 19 km from the Tasman Sea. The glacier exhibits a cyclic pattern of advance and retreat, driven by differences between the volume of meltwater at the foot of the glacier and volume of snowfall feeding the neve.

Accommodation: Franz Joseph - 1 night

10
Punakaiki

On the edge of the Paparoa National Park Punakaiki, lies halfway between Greymouth and Westport and you get there on one of the most spectacular coastal roads in New Zealand.

Nowhere has the effects of Tasman Seas heaving swells had such a dramatic effect on the West Coast landscape than at the beautiful seaside village of Punakaiki. These rocks are a truly remarkable piece of natural sculpture that have been created when a series of stratified limestone stacks have been eroded over thousands of years to give the effect of large piles of Stacked Pancakes. Another prominent feature are the blowholes that at high tide force columns of spray high out of these holes with a bone shaking roar.

Punakaiki is small community that is scattered over a 3 kilometers (2 mile) stretch of coastal flats with many local dwellings hidden in the dense bush or down on the waters edge, many house colourful local crafts people like potters, carvers, painters and jewelers selling their wares from their homes. For an insight into the locals (coasters) pop into the friendly Punakaiki Pub.

Accommodation: Punakaiki - 2 nights

11
galaxies of glow worms

The Nile River Caves were discovered by a couple of locals while chasing their runaway dog, the dog as it happened disappeared from sight from under their very eyes (literally) as he had tumbled down a sink hole that eventually led the pair to discover a vast underground cave network. Fast forward 25 years and still operated by those very same locals the Nile River Caves are a must see for anyone journeying up the West Coast and they boast the most glowworms to be seen of any commercial cave anywhere in the country.

The Tour
To give you an indication of the special nature of the region you have to pass through (by train) the filming location for the BBC series the "The Lost World"  chosen for its dense primordial jungle that's flanked by impossible looking limestone rock formations. Then after a short walk to the Nile River Suspension Bridge you climb up a bush clad track to the cave entrance entrance. Once in, your giide will show you an ancient subterranean cavern full of stalactites, stalagmites, then into the large dry upper levels to experience the galaxies of glow worms.  This is one of the few caves in the world you can walk through and see in its natural, unspoilt state, just the way the dog discovered it.

12
Tranz Alpine Train Journey | Christchurch

Rated as one of the top six scenic train journeys in the world, the famous Tranz Alpine train will take you deep into the heartland of the South Island… a coast to coast journey through some of the world’s most extreme and beautiful scenery. The Tranz Alpine winds its way over massive viaducts and through spectacular gorges and river valleys, tracking slowly across the country's greatest mountain range, the Southern Alps. It stops in the heart of the Southern Alps at Arthur’s Pass before descending to the Canterbury Plains and on to Christchurch.

Christchurch
New Zealand’s second-largest city 'Christchurch' has bounced back after a series of major earthquakes, and has shown its resiliency with a number of new and exciting developments popping up everywhere. Don’t miss the Re Start shopping area, made out of shipping containers, as well as the many funky Pop Up bars dotted throughout the city. All public services and spaces are running as normal, and Christchurch continues to be a vibrant city to live, work and play. 

"Haere rā" Goodbye! and Bon Voyage!
Our promise is to make your travels through New Zealand as hassle-free and hospitable as possible - ensuring that today you leave with a memory card full of photos, and huge smiles on your faces when recalling your time in New Zealand! Have a great homeward journey, farewell and hope to see you again soon in Aotearoa, New Zealand. 

Ready to find out more? Talk to us here in New Zealand about 'Milford Track & World Heritage Hiking Tour'  - We Guarantee it will be the Holiday of a Lifetime!