Nelson - Kahurangi
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
Nelson - Abel Tasman
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
Nelson - Punakaiki
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
Methven - Aoraki/Mt Cook
Drive south following the edge of the Canterbury Plains 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.
On arrival at Mount Cook Village we hike up to Red Tarns for magnificent views of Aoraki/Mt Cook and the surrounding alps. Relax here and enjoy the views before wandering back down arriving at the door of our accommodation, where we stay for the next two nights
Meals: Lunch and Dinner
Accommodation: Mt. Cook - 2 nights
5-8km/4 hours hiking
Hike up to Sealy Tarns and enjoy the awesome views of Mt Sefton, Mueller Glacier and across the Hooker Valley to Aoraki/Mt 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 Sealy 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
Aoraki/Mt Cook - 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 Wanaka follows 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
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Accommodation: Wanaka - 1 night
ROB ROY GLACIER / QUEENSTOWN
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
- Experience the golden sands of the Abel Tasman National Park
- Visit the ‘Natural Flames’ phenomenon for a distinctly ‘kiwi’ experience
- Crystal clear rivers and limestone canyons of the West Coast
- Explore the majestic Aoraki/Mount Cook
- Cruise a glacier terminal lake and touch 300-500-year-old glacial crystals
- 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
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: Meals that are included in the trip price are detailed in the itinerary. Two evening meals are not included (Nelson and Methven). The typical cost for a restaurant main course in New Zealand is about $28.