World Heritage Hiking Itinerary

 
1

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. 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

Accommodation:

Surrounded by the Paparoa National Park and with stunning views of the Tasman Sea, Punakaiki Resort is a great location. The resort is situated only 300m from the famous Punakaiki Blowholes and has been designed in harmony with the local environment.  Evenings are spent relaxing in a standard resort room with views of the sea or an Eco Suite with rainforest and distant seaviews.


 

Punakaiki Resort

2

NILE RIVER GLOWWORM CAVES 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 Okarito - 1 night 

Accommodation:
The Okarito Beach House is a real haven, away from the main tourist trail.  It is situated within a stone’s throw of dramatic West Coast beaches. During your stay, you can kayak on the Okarito Lagoon, home to white herons (Kotuku) and paddle up estuarine rivers surrounded by rainforest. Single and double kayaks are available to rent locally or there are multiple boat trips daily, a great way to explore this birders paradise.
Okarito

4

Glacier Country & Mt Aspiring National Park

Keep your camera handy today to capture the picture-perfect views of Lake Matheson and Franz Josef Glacier’s terminal face, as we enjoy our morning hike together in Glacier Country. We then continue along the West Coast to our third National Park of the trip, Mount Aspiring. You’ll sleep soundly tonight in the relaxed lakeside town of Wanaka.

Franz Josef Glacier

At 12 kilometres (7.4 miles) in length, Franz Josef Glacier is the largest and most accessible of the West Coast glaciers. The terminal valley itself is a testament to the sheer force of nature. The valleys and lakes around the Franz Josef township are remnants of the ice age and provide some excellent hiking trails for us today. We’ll hike to terminal face of Franz Josef Glacier, as well as stretching our legs on the Lake Matheson track. The reflections in the water of our highest peak Aoraki/Mount Cook are outstanding! For those who want to set foot on the ice, you have the option to take a heli hike up to the glacier itself.

The Haast Pass, Mount Aspiring National Park and the Wanaka Lakes

As we make our way down the coast and inland, the stunning views continue. Once over the Haast Pass, the landscape changes dramatically as we head into the mountains. Linking the West Coast to Central Otago, this pass was used by early Maori on Pounamu (jade) gathering expeditions. We follow the Haast River into Mount Aspiring National Park and the Wanaka Lakes area to continue our luxury walking tour of New Zealand.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation Wanaka - 1 night

Accommodation:

Situated on the lake shores, a stroll across the lawn will have you gazing across Lake Wanaka to the spectacular Southern Alps. Choose between one bedroom suites, studios and two bedroom apartments. Savour the lakeside atmosphere while you are treated to a fresh and contemporary menu in Sargoods Restaurant and Wineglass Cafe.

The Edgewater Resort Lake Wanaka

5

MOU WAHO ISLAND HIKING 5KM (3,2 MI) /2,5 HOURS HIKING

Lake Wanaka Cruise & Island Wildlife Walk

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

Sitting on the crystal-clear shores of Lake Wakatipu, Novotel Gardens is centrally located - only a five-minute walk to town on level ground - home to prime restaurants and boutique shopping. Rooms are spacious and comfortable with views from private balconies over manicured landscapes, with the property being adjacent to the beautiful Queenstown Gardens.

Novotel Queenstown

6

THE ROUTEBURN TRACK 16KM (9,2 MI) 6-7 HOURS HIKING

NZ'S BEST DAY HIKE 

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


7

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 Day Walk Highest Bungey Jump Explore Arrowtown

Wine Tasting Central Otago      

Biking Skippers Canyon       Round at Millbrook Golf Resort
Earnslaw Steamboat Cruise   Dart River Jetboat Safari      

Gibbston Valley Wine Trail


Meals: Breakfast


8

THE VALLEY OF THE VINES AND FIORDLAND

We’ll enjoy a relaxed start to the day before journeying to one of the most pristine corners of New Zealand for the next three days. You’ll get your first glimpse of the glorious Fiordland National Park on your afternoon hike along the Kepler Track. Tonight, you’ll enjoy a delightful dinner in Te Anau ahead of tomorrow’s adventure.

Hiking on the Kepler Track

This is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, renowned for its vivid green moss and stunning mountain ranges. We’ll follow the Waiau River as it weaves through native beech forest, emerging out onto a spectacular viewpoint at the lakeside Moturau Hut. There, you’ll enjoy views of the beautiful Lake Manapouri. After you’ve had your fill of the vista, we’ll head back to Te Anau for the night.

Tomorrow, we’ll commence the pinnacle experience of our World Heritage Walking Tour, our Fiordland Experience. This is the sole trip out of all the trips we run where you will stay right in the heart of Fiordland National Park. When all the tour buses leave, that is when this iconic part of World Heritage New Zealand really comes alive.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation Te Anau - 1 night

Located on the Te Anau lake front, a short stroll from the Te Anau town centre, Distinction Te Anau Hotel and Villas is perfectly situated for you to make the most of this beautiful area. The rooms are very comfortable and the hotel has all the facilities you would expect from a property of this standard.Distinction Te Anua Hotel and Villas, offering chic, elegant accommodation. This 4 Star hotel is surrounded by extensive landscaped gardens where you can enjoy the spectacular view of Lake Te Anua and the Fiordland ranges.
Distinction Hotel Te Anau & Villas

9

The Fiordland Experience: Milford Sound Cruise, Helicopter & Jetboat in Martins Bay

Today is the day that you’ll forevermore recall the moment someone mentions New Zealand. Moody and dramatic, Milford Sound is simply stunning and offers what is surely the most spectacular fiord scenery in the southern hemisphere. After cruising on the Sound, we’ll take a helicopter into the remote and stunning Martins Bay for the night.

Morning - Milford Sound Cruise

We’ll start our morning with an extraordinary drive through diverse landscapes with incredible views. The Eglington Valley, our first glimpse of the Hollyford, the Divide and the Homer Tunnel are just some of the highlights on this journey. We’ll then head off on a spectacular nature cruise on Milford Sound. This is your chance to learn more about the unique Fiordland environment from your Milford Sound Expert on board, while enjoying the sights and sounds of waterfalls tumbling down around you.

Afternoon – Milford Sound by Air & Fiordland Wildlife Walk

Helicopter into the Hollyford Valley 

This afternoon, you’ll enjoy Fiordland from a different perspective as we take a helicopter flight over the rugged backcountry into Martins Bay. We take off over Milford Sound, gaining a panoramic view of the sheer granite walls rising sharply from the seabed and cascading waterfalls. It’s a sight that will linger in your mind’s eye for many years to come. From here, we’ll fly over the mighty Darran Mountain Range, across the Hollyford Valley and into stunning Martins Bay. 

Martins Bay Seal Colony

After landing, we have the chance to check out Martins Bay on foot. Your guide will tell you of its significance in Maori and European history while highlighting the unique flora and fauna as you uncover the incredible diversity of the area. Our afternoon hike takes us to the Martins Bay seal colony where we’ll get an up-close view of the New Zealand fur seal in an untouched and secluded environment – the ultimate wildlife experience. If we’re lucky we might even catch a glimpse of the rare Fiordland crested penguin! We then take an exhilarating jetboat ride back to our wilderness accommodation for the night. 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

​Accommodation Martins Bay - 1 night

Accommodation:
Our accommodation tonight is in Martin's Bay lodge, with hosts to look after your every need. Set amidst spectacular scenery, this well appointed private lodge at Martins Bay has everything required for a comfortable stay. This is a fully serviced lodge, with hot showers, a drying room, great food and friendly Kiwi hospitality from our hosts.  Absolute comfort in the most remote of settings to end a red letter day. It is the perfect place for you to relax without no mobile phone coverage, you just have to lean back and enjoy the spectacular scenery.
Martins Bay Lodge

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

Located on the Te Anau lake front, a short stroll from the Te Anau town centre, Distinction Te Anau Hotel and Villas is perfectly situated for you to make the most of this beautiful area. The rooms are very comfortable and the hotel has all the facilities you would expect from a property of this standard.Distinction Te Anua Hotel and Villas, offering chic, elegant accommodation. This 4 Star hotel is surrounded by extensive landscaped gardens where you can enjoy the spectacular view of Lake Te Anua and the Fiordland ranges.
Distinction Hotel Te Anau & Villas

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 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.  Your 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

A stunning destination surrounded by the silent splendor of the Southern Alps and with spectacular views of Aoraki/Mount Cook and the surrounding National Park World Heritage area. There is a selection of properties within the Terrace Road campus from Hotel to Chalet and Mountainview Motels - all budgets and standards can be catered for.

Hermitage Hotel Mount Cook

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


NOTES

Included Highlights

•    Guided walking on New Zealand’s best hiking trails - the Milford, Routeburn and Hollyford tracks and in Arthur’s Pass and Aoraki Mt Cook National Parks
•    Arthur's Pass National Park guided hiking
•    A galaxy of glowworms experienced in the most unique way imaginable!
•    Guided kayaking on tranquil Okarito Lagoon
•    Lake Wanaka cruise and island wildlife encounter
•    Explore Gibbston Valley wine country and Queenstown
•    Spectacular helicopter flight from Milford Sound to Martins Bay
•    Martins Bay seal colony and (if we’re lucky) penguins or dolphins
•    Milford Sound Cruise
•    Fiordland back country jetboat
•    Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve guided star gazing and planetarium

Inclusions

•    4 Star Accommodation
•    Comfortable and safe Mercedes-Benz mini coach

Meals

•    Daily hearty breakfast
•    Fresh packed lunch on hike days
•    Lunch in the best little cafes or restaurants
•    Snacks
•    Nearly all dinners


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What Chrissy says about this tour: Wow, adventure caving, guided hiking, walking and all with premium 4 star accommodation and great food and wine to boot. If you're after a lively small group luxury tour, this is a great selection. Special extras like jetboating, star gazing, scenic flights and glaciers are the icing on this world heritage cake!
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