NZ World Heritage Itinerary

World Heritage

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.

We’ll dust off any cobwebs with a refreshing but relaxed hike in beautiful Arthur’s Pass National Park, before continuing to the remote West Coast where we’ll stop in Punakaiki, home of the aptly named Pancake Rocks. After a delicious meal, you’ll spend the night in comfortable accommodation with the sound of crashing waves lulling you to sleep.

Meals: Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation ​Punakaiki - 2 nights

Arthurs Pass National Park
Surrounded by the Paparoa National Park and with stunning views of the Tasman Sea, Scenic Hotel Punakaiki is in 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.

Scenic Hotel Punakaiki


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, Lunch, Dinner

Nile River Caves


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 

Kayaking Okarito Lagoon
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.


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

Fox Glacier Hike

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


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! 

The Cardrona Valley and Queenstown

Our afternoon drive takes us through the Cardrona Valley and over the Crown Range, down into the Wakatipu Basin. Prepare to be wowed as we wind our way down the mountain road and towards the bustling hub of Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation Queenstown - 3 nights

Mou Waho Island
Offering luxuriously appointed rooms and apartments, Ramada Queenstown Central is situated in Queenstown. The hotel is set on a central elevated position and features a fitness centre, free unlimited high-speed WiFi and a restaurant. All rooms are designed to give a modern and spacious feel achieved with sleek and contemporary furnishings, along with a flat screen TV.
Ramada Queenstown Central


The Routeburn Track 16km (9,2mi) 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

Routeburn Day Walk


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 WalkHighest Bungey JumpExplore 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



Fiordland Experience: helicopter to Martins Bay, jetboat and explore Long Reef

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. 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. You'll get a chance to explore the Milford Sound foreshore before we are whisked away in a helicopter to Martins Bay.

Helicopter ride to Martins Lodge, jetboat and explore Long Reef seal colony

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation Martins Bay Lodge - 1 night

Te Anau Wharf
Our accommodation tonight is in Waitai 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.
Waitai Lodge


Hollyford Track and return to Te Anau

Regarded by many as New Zealand’s most beautiful wilderness valley, this is the perfect setting for another incredible walking experience. Our Fiordland Experience continues today with a jetboat across Lake McKerrow and up the Hollyford River before your expert Hollyford guide leads you off on your day’s hiking through the World Heritage beauty of the Hollyford Track.

Hiking on the Hollyford Track

The Hollyford Track is the only major track in Fiordland that is consistently at a low altitude, undulating gently through native forests, beside picturesque lakes and roaring waterfalls as we shadow the swift, clear waters of the Hollyford River. Naturally spectacular, this valley has an unparalleled diversity of vegetation and wildlife with 1,000-year-old giant rimu trees, ancient beech forest, intricate ferns, crimson southern rata, and emerald mosses and lichens of the under-story. Our private Hollyford Expert on hand to point out each precious piece of nature completely enriches the experience.

We’ll spend the day walking out of the valley along the beautiful Hollyford Track. This evening, we’ll return to civilisation, spending the night in Te Anau.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

​Accommodation: Te Anau - 2 nights

Milford Track
Distinction Luxmore Hotel provides comfortable newly refurbished accommodation in one of New Zealand's most popular scenic areas - Te Anau. Within easy walking distance of the township, surrounded by all local services, this 4-star hotel welcomes guests with 2 restaurants, free self parking, a fitness centre and free unlimited WiFi. Luxmores management and staff take pride in providing a warm, friendly and efficient service to all guests.
Distinction Luxmore Hotel


Jetboat & Hollyford Track Hiking 17km (10,9 MI) 5-6 Hours Hiking

Doubtful Sound Cruise

Doubtful Sound is known as Patea to the Maori people - meaning ‘place of silence’. On your nature cruise of the fiord, you'll find silence amongst a dramatic landscape with echoing birdsong or cascading waterfalls the only sound to break the stillness. With no road to the fiord, the experience of getting to Doubtful Sound is an adventure in itself. We'll firstly board a boat to cruise across the peaceful Lake Manapouri before crossing Wilmot Pass and descending into Doubtful Sound where we'll take our nature cruise. This is your chance to learn more about the unique Fiordland environment from your Doubtful Sound nature guide on board while enjoying the sights, sounds and wildlife of the fiord. This evening we'll retire to our hotel for some delicious kai (the Maori word for food) and a well-earned rest.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Gibbston Valley Winery & Mount Cook National Park

After a relaxed start this morning, we'll make our way to the gorgeous mountain setting of Gibbston Valley, where we'll enjoy a selection of locally-produced wines and a leisurely lunch. This afternoon we’ll journey to the heart of the Southern Alps, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, an area of vast snow-covered mountains and glacier-fed lakes. We’ll then stay the night in our most famous mountain hotel, the Hermitage at Mount Cook.

Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park

This National Park is truly a jewel in New Zealand’s crown. Named in honour of our highest peak, the majestic mountains tower above bright turquoise lakes surrounded by vast fields of golden tussock. With a settlement population of less than 100 people and building restrictions enforced, Aoraki/Mount Cook offers not only a feast for the eyes, but a rare tranquillity that soothes the soul.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Accommodation Mt. Cook - 2 nights

Mt Cook National Park

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


Mt Cook National Park 8km (4,2 Mi) /4 Hours Hiking

The last full day on your New Zealand luxury walking tour will be one of the most unforgettable. Home to not only our highest and most sacred mountain, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park boasts a further 19 peaks topping over 3000 metres. After a scenic glacier boat tour this morning, options this afternoon include hiking, exploring the village or a glacier heli-hike for truly mind-blowing views. Whichever option you choose you won’t be disappointed. After a full day of activities, we’ll meet up and return to the Hermitage Hotel for our final dinner together and a chance to trade stories from the day. Your last night of the trip will be a memorable evening as you look back on your adventure and the places you’ve travelled.

Glacier boat and Hiking in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Mt Cook


The Last Day - Lake 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

Lake Pukaki


Included Highlights

Highlights of the World Heritage

1: Walk in Arthurs Pass National Park
Walk one of New Zealand’s best short hikes to a thundering 131m waterfall.

2: Paparoa National Park
Set foot on one of the newest of our Great Walks, the Paparoa Track, with its ancient forests and gold-mining history.

3: Franz Josef Glacier
Head through the rainforest to see the terminal face of this stunning glacier and its valley.

4: Mou Waho Island Eco Sanctuary
Cruise over the clear waters of Lake Wanaka to a predator-free island, home to precious rare birds.

5: Queenstown and the Routeburn Track
Experience one of the world’s most magnificent trails before heading to Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand.

6: Fiordland Experience
Helicopter through Milford Sound to Martins Bay Lodge, sleep in a wilderness lodge, and walk on the Hollyford Track.

7: Doubtful Sound
Spend the morning surrounded by waterfalls on your Doubtful Sound cruise.

8: Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park
Cruise to the face of the Tasman Glacier to gaze in awe at its 500-year-old ice crystals.


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


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

World Heritage Large Map

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Profile picture for user Tracy
What Tracy 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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