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The South Islands Ultimate Day Hikes

The South Island of New Zealand is a haven for walkers and hikers. This self-drive New Zealand itinerary focuses on easy going guided walks for hikers of modest fitness who love being in the bush and the natural environment. No hiking experience is necessary and you need only carry a day pack, with the knowledge that comfortable accommodations awaits you at the end of the day.

Milford Track, Routeburn Track, Rob Roy Glacier, Mt Cooks Hooker Valley Hike, Glowworm Caves, Milford Sound Cruise.

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Itinerary

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1
Welcome to christchurch!

Christchurch is the gateway to the South Island and sits on the very edge of the Canterbury Plains, bordered by the Pacific Ocean. The city itself 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 many 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.

Some Suggested Activities and Sight Seeing Options

Easygoing Cycling Tour Punting the Avon River Lyttelton Harbour Wildlife Cruise
Māori Cultural Evening French Akaroa Tour Southern Alps Ballooning
Christchurch Gondola Clearwater Golf Arthur's Pass TranzAlpine Hike

Accommodation: Christchurch - 1 night

2
Aoraki / Mount Cook via Beautiful Lake Tekapo

On the scenic drive south explore the high-country splendour of the Mackenzie Basin before reaching the majestic and peaceful setting of Lake Tekapo – a great place for a picnic lunch or to take a lakeside walk! Lake Tekapo is a beautiful turquoise highland lake surrounded by a vast basin of golden tussock and the spectacular Southern Alps Finely ground rock in the glacial melted waters gives Lake Tekapo a beautifully unique colour. This highland location enjoys some of New Zealand's highest sunshine hours and has a reputation for clean and clear air

Pass the turquoise lakes of Alexandrina, McGregor and experience the mountainous drama of the Southern Alps as you reach Mount Cook National Park.

Approximate Distance: 332 kms | 206 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours

Accommodation: Mt Cook - 1 night

3
Hooker Valley Track on to Lake Wanaka

Hooker Valley Guided Hike: 5 Hours Walking, Distance 11 km (6.8 mi)

Start your day with a guided walk up the beautiful Hooker Valley, providing breathtaking views of some of New Zealand's highest and most enthralling peaks. Enjoy a stunning 11 km (6.8 mile) trek along over mostly flat terrain (there are some rocky bits) to the terminal lake of the Hooker Glacier. The journey encompasses an Alpine Memorial and passes over the turbulent Hooker River by Swing Bridge to unsurpassed vistas of Aoraki Mount Cook's south face and the surrounding glaciers. Your guide will point out the unique features of this alpine world as you enjoy lunch in the shadow of New Zealand's and Oceania's highest peak, standing at 3,754 metres (12,316 Feet). After this invigorating walk its off to the beautiful lake-side town of Wanaka.

Approximate Distance: 206 kms | 128 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 20 mins

Accommodation: Lake Wanaka - 2 nights

4
Experience the GRANDEUR - Rob Roy Glacier Hike

Rob Roy Glacier Guided Hike: 4 Hours Walking, Distance 10 km (6 mi)

Mt Aspiring National ParkWow! This route is littered with views of soaring sheer rock cliffs and waterfalls. Walking through alpine rainforest and herb fields you get to view four glacier faces in a collection unsurpassed in one place anywhere in the world. Rob Roy is a massive glacier that begins high above on Rob Roy Peak at 2,606 metres (8548 feet) hanging on to the ever-steepening mountain as it flows into the valley below.

Lunch: This can be a natural drama of epic proportions as chunks of glacier can drop off the cliffs opposite our lunch spot – both spectacular and noisy!.

5
A Day of Leisure Queenstown

This alpine resort town 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.

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
 

Approximate Distance: 71 kms | 44 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 12 mins

Accommodation: Queenstown - 2 nights

6
The Routeburn Track Day Walk

Routeburn Track Guided Hike: 6 Hours Walking, Distance 13 km (8 mi)

Join us on the famous Routeburn Track, one of New Zealand's Great Walks! Our guides will collect you from Queenstown and transfer to Mt. Aspiring National Park. Access to the track is via a swing bridge, where you are immediately immersed into stunning native beech forest. The wide variety of flora and fauna on display is sure to impress! Our guides will share information about the historical significance of the Routeburn Track and how it was used by Maori and European pioneers. They will lead you across the spectacular Routeburn Canyon, where you may be lucky enough to spot some brave individuals taking an icy plunge! There are plenty of waterfalls to enjoy and lots of places to rest along the river. The trail is moderately paced, rising gradually towards stunning snow-capped peaks.

7
Te anau - Lake Cruise and Glowworm Caves

A short scenic drive has you in Te Anau the lakeside town is the gateway to Fiordland National Park.

The scenic cruise across to the western side of Lake Te Anau, is both comfortable and informative, its hard not to be impressed by this 344 km² (214 mi²) ink black lake. The rushing water has sculptured impressive rock formations over an unimaginable length of time, impossibly smooth and intricately patterned the geological movements of this land has been captured for all to see.These are the famed Te Anau Caves. Drifting through silent darkness you sit beneath the luminous shimmer of galaxies of glow-worms on a purpose built raft that gets you closer to these special creatures than by any other means, a truly fascinating experience.

Approximate Distance: 174 kms | 108 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 11 mins

Accommodation: Te Anau - 2 nights

8
Milford Track Hike & Milford Sound Cruise

Milford Track Guided Hike: 3.5 Hours Walking, Distance 11 km (6.8 mi)

Milford Track Guided Hike: Experience a guided walk to Giants Gate, on the world famous Milford Track - suitable for all ages and abilities. Departing from Milford Sound we begin with a short boat ride to Sandfly Point and meander alongside the cascading Arthur River, through lush rainforest to reach a vantage point to view the mighty Giants Gate. This spectacular waterfall is best viewed from the large swing bridge spanning the river. There is much see, from the ancient trees towering above, to the vibrant ferns and mosses, plus the array of birdlife inhabiting this lush environment. Walking in a small group, your nature guide will point out the native fauna and flora, and share the track’s stories, bringing the history of the area to life.

Milford Sound Cruise: On reaching Milford Sound, join a Boat Cruise for a nature style cruise of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea. The cruise provides excellent viewing opportunities and opportunities to view the waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and wildlife.

9
Return to Queenstown

Haere rā 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. 

Approximate Distance: 174 kms | 108 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 11 mins