Auckland – Rotorua 1-2km (1.4 MI) 2 Hours Hiking
Meet your North Island guide and the rest of the group in the Heritage Hotel foyer at 7am before driving south through the classic patchwork green farming country alongside the Waikato River. Arriving at the Waitomo Caves area descend into the vaulted galleries of the Ruakuri Cave with its limestone formations and crystals. Be captivated by the thousands of tiny glowworms that cling to the cave ceiling and mimic a starlit night sky. Later we emerge into the sunshine and wander on a loop trail through an outstanding limestone canyon. We arrive in the volcanically active area of Rotorua late afternoon. Rotorua is also the centre of Maori cultural tourism in New Zealand and tonight we enjoy an Evening Meal and Cultural Performance.
(Lunch and Dinner)
Accommodation Rotorua - 1 night
Rotorua – Lake Taupo - 8km (4.2mi) /5 Hours Hiking
Hike alongside the beautifully clear Lake Tarawera, enjoying the shade that towering tree ferns and ignimbrite cliffs offer. Plop into the water to cool off at any one of the tiny pumice beaches as you wait for the others to catch up. There are astonishing views all along this trail, giving glimpses of how expansive this massive wilderness of forest, lakes and volcanoes really is. In the afternoon we explore some of the amazing thermal areas located a little south of Rotorua. Wander along boardwalks that connect pools of bubbling mud, mineral-tainted hot pools and plumes of rising steam as you wonder at this unique area. Grab a cuppa before we drive toward the lakeside town of Taupo. At Huka Falls feel the power as the huge Waikato River gets pinched through a narrow rock corridor. Our accommodation is at the southern end of this stunning lake. Relax with a drink and enjoy the views.
(Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner)
Accommodation Lake Taupo - 1 night
Tongariro 8km (4.2mi) 2-4 Hours Hiking
We drive around Lake Taupo’s shores to New Zealand’s first national park – Tongariro. Take a leisurely morning walk through stunning forest around the slopes of Mt Pihanga and to the mystical Lake Rotopounamu (Lake of Greenstone). The next two nights are spent in a lodge on the edge of the park, providing a great opportunity for you to explore the area at your leisure. Join the guide this afternoon for a great walk to Taranaki Falls, cascading 20 metres (65 ft) over a 15,000 year-old lava flow. Enjoy dinner with the group in the comfort of the lodge.
(Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner)
Accommodation Tongariro National Park - 2 night
Tongariro Crossing 23km (14.5mi) 6-8 Hours Hiking
Join the guide today for a full days walking on the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing, regarded as one of the best day walks in the world. The track is extremely well built and even a novice hiker will enjoy the gradual ascent up to the top of Mt Tongariro. Your guide will set a pace that lets you stop and admire the views of the Red Crater, Emerald Lakes and steaming vents that make this hike so iconic. It will all be worth it when you celebrate at dinner with a bottle of fine New Zealand wine. Those who prefer a more restful day can find plenty to do at the village: Soda Springs walk, Taranaki Falls walk, or simply drink coffee and view the great exhibits at the Park Visitor Centre. Enjoy your second night in this alpine village.
(Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner)
Wellington - Our Cool Little Capital
Rest your legs this morning as we drive south through rolling hill country to the capital city of Wellington. The rest of the afternoon is yours, so take your time as you stroll along the fabulous waterfront and through the busy streets of this buzzing wee city. Absorb some of New Zealand’s history in the national museum - Te Papa, explore the waterfront or simply get lost admiring the heritage houses along one of the many improbably steep streets. Nowhere is very far in Wellington. You are spoilt for choice for places to dine this evening, so take your pick.
Suggested outings in and around Wellington.
|National Museum - Te Papa||Visit Cuba Street||Weta Workshop Tour|
|Zealandia Wildlife Reserve||Carter Observatory|
(Breakfast and Lunch)
Accommodation Wellington - 1 night
Kahurangi National Park
8.5-18.5km/4-8 hours hiking
Your guide will meet you at the Rutherford Hotel (9 am) before driving to Nelson airport to collect those walkers that are doing the full New Zealand Uncut and are on a flight from Wellington. Sit back and enjoy the picturesque drive to Flora Saddle in Kahurangi National Park.
On a well-formed track, we meander our way up to the bush-line and the Mt Arthur hut. Those feeling keen can venture further with the guide along the rugged marble ridge-line towards the summit of Mt Arthur. Alternatively, perch on a rock and soak in the view before reuniting with the group for the descent (usually via a different track).
Tonight, we celebrate our arrival in the South Island by dining together in one of Nelson’s fine restaurants.
Meals: Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Nelson - 2 nights
Abel Tasman National Park
11.7km/3 hours hiking
After an early breakfast, we set off for Abel Tasman National Park. You will be amazed at how different the landscape is here to nearby Kahurangi National Park. Board a water taxi and cruise the coastline past golden sand beaches and rugged granite headlands into the heart of the National Park. Step ashore at Bark Bay and follow the famed Abel Tasman coastal track through native forests and along golden sand beaches. A well-formed trail leads us up and over a gentle ridge into Torrent Bay, where the lovely clear freshwaters of Cleopatra's Pool may tempt you to take a dip or for those more daring - a slide down the naturally formed hydro-slide!
At Anchorage, we will meet the water taxi for a return journey to Kaiteriteri, a seaside village and gateway to this National Park, before heading back to Nelson. There is free time to do some more exploring in this vibrant and arty little town.
Meals: Breakfast and lunch
Punakaiki - A Wild Coast & Unusual Rock Formations
6km/3 hours hiking
On the way to the West Coast we stop for a remarkable hike to marvel at natural flames which have been burning since the 1920's. We access this phenomena with a local guide through a privately-owned working deer farm. Unlike the Eternal Flames of the Chimera in Turkey these flames are surrounded by lush tree ferns and beech forest. A cup of 'billy tea' and hot cakes prepared over the flames gives this experience a distinctly kiwi flavour.
We continue our journey alongside the mighty Buller River as it cuts through the massive wilderness of the upper South Island, arriving on the coast at Westport. We take a short stroll at Cape Foulwind to view a colony of New Zealand fur seals playfully splashing around in the rock pools. We then head south to catch the sunset at Punakaiki and visit a local pub for dinner. Take an evening stroll around the famous Pancake Rocks and blowholes – we try to time our visit with high tides so we may leave the rocks until tomorrow if tide times are more favourable
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner)
Accommodation: Punakaiki - 1 night
PUNAKAIKI - Methven
11km/3-4 hours hiking
Hike the Inland Pack Track from Punakaiki to Pororari. This historic route was once used by prospectors and miners to avoid the immense coastal cliffs while travelling the West Coast. Pass through deep limestone canyons, towering rainforests, and groves of Nikau Palms. You may not be able to resist a speedy swim in one of the many deep clear pools you pass on the way! After the hike, we join a remarkable highway that takes us from the lush green rainforests of the West Coast and over the glaciated Southern Alps to the parched soft yellow savannahs of Canterbury. This is one of the most cleverly engineered roads in New Zealand.
East of Arthurs Pass, stretch your legs and stroll around the enchanting limestone outcrops of Kura Tawhiti (Castle Hill). This area was an important meeting place and food gathering area for early Maori people. Interestingly it was also bestowed a “spiritual centre of the universe” by the Dalai Lama when he visited in 2002. Today it is a haven for rock climbers who climb and boulder on the multitude of rock forms. We then leave the highway and follow the back roads around Lake Lyndon and on to Methven, a ski town by winter and laid-back rural town the rest of the year. The Southern Alps form a spectacular backdrop. Wander in to the village for a meal at a local restaurant.
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
Accommodation: Methven - 1 night
Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park
Our mid-morning departure allows time to discover some city cafes or see one of the parks in the ‘Garden City’. Our drive west takes us to Lake Tekapo, famous for its stunning turquoise waters and the quaint Church of the Good Shepherd, perched daintily by the lake. Hike up through wilding conifers and tussock grasslands to the summit of Mt John. Revel in the 360-degree views of the Patagonia-like landscape.
The sweeping Mackenzie basin is a sparsely populated region in the rain shadow of the Southern Alps; tawny-brown drylands, braided riverbeds and startling glacial lakes extend to the horizon. Arrive at Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park in the late afternoon. Relax and enjoy breathtaking views of New Zealand's highest mountain (3,724 metres 12217 ft).
(Lunch and Dinner)
Accommodation Mt. Cook - 2 nights
Explore Mt Cook National Park
5-8km/4 hours hiking
Hike up to Sealey Tarns and enjoy the awesome views of Mt Sefton, Mueller Glacier and across the Hooker Valley to Aoraki/Mount Cook. If you’re feeling energetic, join the guide for a further climb from the tarns up to the crest of Mueller Ridge for even wider views of this magnificent alpine landscape. Those not wanting to climb to Sealey or Mueller can take the flatter option and walk up the Hooker Valley (unguided), enjoying close up views of the Mueller and Hooker Glaciers on the way.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Tasman Glacier / Wanaka
2km/1 hour hiking
Travel up the Tasman Valley towards the longest glacier in New Zealand, the Tasman Glacier. Take a short walk through the glacial moraine and board a custom-built boat for a unique spin around the terminal lake. Like most glaciers in the world the Tasman Glacier is retreating and the terminal lake increases in size every year. This dynamic environment is dotted with icebergs of all shapes and sizes from the collapsing terminal wall of the glacier.
Our drive to Wanakafollows the Mackenzie country south before climbing over the tussock lands of the Lindis Pass into the southern lakes district. Wanaka is a lovely holiday town on the lake-side.
(Breakfast and Lunch)
Accommodation Wanaka - 1 night
Rob Roy Glacier
10km/4 hours hiking
A beautiful drive alongside Lake Wanaka leads us to Aspiring National Park. We hike up the Matukituki Valley beneath some fine peaks before turning up the Rob Roy side stream and climbing abruptly to the bushline. This gorgeous trail through virgin beech forest emerges into a splendid alpine basin below the bulking mass of the Rob Roy Glacier. Watch water tumble off the glacier’s snout as you relax and enjoy lunch. Keep an eye out for cheeky kea (alpine parrot). You probably won’t need to look too hard as these curious birds normally call in when food is around (although it’s important to never offer them any titbits and upset their natural foraging behaviour)!
After the hike grab a drink and unwind on the lawn of the famous old drover’s hotel at Cardrona, before we drive over the Crown Range and into the lively scene of Queenstown. Your tour finishes here, in the late afternoon.
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
- Waitomo glowworm Caves
- New Zealand's best geothermal activity - Rotorua
- Cross spectacular volcanic terrain - Tongariro National Park
- Golden sands of Abel Tasman Coastal Track
- Crystal clear rivers and limestone canyons of the West Coast
- Explore the majestic Aoraki/Mount Cook
- Come face to face with active glaciers - Rob Roy
- Maori cultural performance and Hangi
- Day hikes and excellent ensuite accommodation
- A roomy minibus
- A knowledgeable guide
- Almost all meals
- First aid kit
- Drinking water
- Safety equipment
- Up to 4-5 hours of physical activity per day
- At times carrying a backpack of 4-5kgs (8-10 lbs)
- Tracks generally in good condition
- Altitude gains of up to 600m (2000ft) on harder days
- No hiking experience necessary
*The full (optional) Tongariro Alpine Crossing on day 4 takes 6-8 hours and has an altitude gain of 750m
This tour uses a range of hotels and quality lodges chosen for their good standards and wonderful locations. All rooms have ensuite bathrooms. Some lodges have units with two bedrooms per unit. Rooms are twin share or doubles. If you are travelling on your own you will be given a twin share room with a fellow traveller of the same gender. Single supplements are available on this tour.
This tour has been created for those that appreciate a high standard of accommodation after a good day of hiking.
Almost all of the meals are included on this tour, but when staying in the cities we let you do your own thing and try some of the excellent local restaurants (see Additional Costs section). Breakfast is usually (but not always) continental-style in the lodges and hotels. There are plenty of opportunities to graze the local cafes if you would prefer to explore in the morning. The lunches we prepare ourselves are often on the run in picnic areas or on trails. Our guides usually set out lunch food for you and you simply help yourself. We provide healthy and wholesome food and include a lot of fresh produce. It is part of our philosophy to get everyone involved so there is a pretty good chance you may find yourself wielding a sharp knife or pushing the tea trolley around at lunchtime. Our customised trailers have a fold down table and cooking area that is perfect for preparing picnics at all those secret places we will take you. Included dinners are frequently in lodge restaurants (either set menu or a la carte), or in a restaurant in the town but occasionally somewhere out of the ordinary!
All activities outlined in the itinerary are included in the trip price.
Meals out: Three evening meals are not included (Wellington, Christchurch and Wanaka). The typical cost for a restaurant main course in New Zealand is about $28. Two breakfasts are not included (Wellington and Christchurch).