A South Island Walking Adventure


Walk in Fiordland National Park; cruise of Milford Sound; Hike the Routeburn Track; Jet Boat the Dart River Valley, Explore the quaint village of Glenorchy; Scenic forest hiking; Thundering waterfalls; Explore Queenstown; Southern Alps Mountain views; See endangered native wildlife; Hike around Aoraki/Mt Cook


Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices below are per person, twin-sharing costs in US Dollars (USD). Pricing does not include airfare to/from the tour and any applicable taxes. For single supplement rates and taxes (if any), please refer to the entries under the blue box below.

Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Fri 20 Nov 2020Tue 01 Dec 2020 $5860 USD
Fri 05 Mar 2021Tue 16 Mar 2021 $5860 USD
Fri 19 Nov 2021Tue 30 Nov 2021 $5860 USD

If you're booking your flights, due to the nature of our journey on the last day of the tour, please do not book anything that departs Christchurch before 3:00 pm. The tour pricing includes New Zealand's 15% Goods & services tax (GST).

Optional Single Supplement: $1453 USD (number of singles limited).
This tour may require a mandatory single supplement charge of $727 if you join our share program and we are unable to pair you.

Tour Overview

What a stunning addition to our popular series of active adventures! True to our overall concept with respect to our "X"-coded tours, this one features a nicely-balanced mix of non-hiking travel/sightseeing days and leisure time, as well as some carefully-selected hiking (or "tramping" as the Kiwis say) routes that will blow you away with some of the most stunning and dramatic scenery in the Southern Hemisphere. Our walks are moderately easy, with plenty of time for pictures, snack breaks, informational chats, and just for taking it all in. We overnight in charming small hotels and lodges -- no camping! All you carry is your camera, water bottle, granola bars, and spirit of adventure, Down Under style.

Regions visited: Oceania And South Pacific
Countries visited: New Zealand

Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrival in Queenstown
We start our adventure in Queenstown - welcome to New Zealand!

Surrounded by majestic mountains and nestled on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is New Zealand's premier four-season lake and alpine resort. Queenstown has a compact and sophisticated downtown area tucked into a picturesque bay on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Dwarfed by the surrounding mountains, there are amazing views from everywhere.

Tonight we’ll have an orientation with our local guide and our first dinner together at a local restaurant.

Overnight in Queenstown.

Included Meal(s): Dinner

Day 2 Fiordland National Park & Milford Sound
Today we dive right into the heart of New Zealand’s largest National Park – Fiordland.

At over 11% of the South Island it's a wee drive to get there, but it’s a stunning journey and we’ll stop along the way to experience some great short walks such as mirror lakes, the Marian gantry and ‘the Chasm’. After journeying through the Homer tunnel we’ll emerge at the top of the Cleddau valley with amazing views down into Milford Sound – our destination and home for the night!

On arrival we’ll board a Milford overnight boat which will take us on a cruise of the beautiful fjord itself. You’ll even have the chance to take a short walk on the famous Milford Track with a nature guide, or just sit back and take in the dramatic sea cliff scenery. A scrumptious dinner on board the boat will lend to a great night's sleep while listening to the gentle lapping of the water.

Day's Activities: Short walks along the route (Chasm, Mirror Lakes, Marian Gantry), 45 minutes

Milford Mariner Overnight boat.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 3 Hike the Routeburn Track
After a final lap of the sound, ensuring we’ve seen every part of the beautiful mountains and waterfalls, we’ll head back to port and back on the road out of Milford to our next hike - on the Routeburn track to Key Summit.

During the last ice age, which ended about 14,000 years ago, a huge glacier flowed down the Hollyford Valley and overtopped Key Summit by 500 m, with ice branches splitting off into the Eglinton and Greenstone Valleys. Key Summit is an outstanding easy excursion, and its position at the intersection of multiple major valley systems gives Key Summit commanding views of several of Fiordland's spectacular mountain ranges. The track is well graded and passes through pleasant forest with limited views. As the trail emerges from the forest, there are outstanding views down the Hollyford Valley as a taste of the more expansive views to come of high snowy peaks, alpine lakes, and deep bush clad valleys.

This walk offers spectacular views of Fiordland National Park and passes a range of native vegetation: beech forest, sub-alpine shrublands, alpine tarns and bogs. Birdlife is prolific and tomtits, robins, New Zealand pigeons and bellbirds are commonly seen.

Day's Walking:
3.2km (2mi)
+/- 380m (+/- 1,246 ft), 3-4 hours

Overnight in Te Anau.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 4 Dart River Valley by Jet Boat
Travelling North today we’ll head out of Fiordland and into our second National Park of the trip – Mount Aspiring National Park. We’ll stop in the cute hamlet of Glenorchy for some lunch before jumping onto a scenic and thrilling jet boat ride of the Dart River Valley, a classic New Zealand experience.

This stunningly beautiful area has been the scene for many of the ‘Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ movies, and you’ll see why with its dramatic scenery! Taking the boat gets us right up to the head of the river where there are no roads, so you’ll really feel immersed and remote in this wilderness area. Be prepared to get wet in this boats--but don't worry about your clothing, because our hosts will outfit you in water resistant raingear.

Whizzing back down the river we’ll head back to Camp Glenorchy – our stunning eco camp accommodation for the next couple of nights.

Day's Activity: 3-hour boat excursion

Overnight in Glenorchy.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 5 Hike Mt Aspiring National Park
We’re back on the Routeburn Track today; usually a 3-day walk, we’ll be hiking from the other end of the trail which has dramatically different scenery. Wandering alongside the turquoise Routeburn River through lush forest and with native birds twittering around you, you may think you’ve landed in paradise.

Named for Mt Aspiring, one of New Zealand's highest peaks, this park is a dreamland of mountains, river valleys, and alpine lakes. This glacial and mountainous world is home to 100 permanent glaciers. In fact, the area is part of the Te Wahipounamu – Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area, truly a hiker's paradise.

We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch in the valley flats while absorbing the dramatic mountain views, before heading back down the trail to Glenorchy.

Day's Walking: 12km (7.5 mi), 5 hours

Overnight in Glenorchy.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 6 Explore Glenorchy Wetlands & Queenstown
After the great hiking effort of yesterday, we’ll take today at a slower pace, with your choice this morning to relax or have a stroll around the local Glenorchy Wetlands to see native ducks and black swans.

Wetland is a collective term to describe a habitat which is permanently wet, usually in shallow water with undefined land-water margins. They are important because they hold 22% of bird species in New Zealand and an astonishing array of flora and fauna; however, they make up only 2% of the country's land area.

In the afternoon we’ll journey back along the beautiful shores of Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown. Lake Wakatipu fills a deep valley carved into the mountains by ancient glaciers. Because of its unusual shape, Lake Wakatipu has a 'tide' (more correctly, an unusually large seiche or "standing wave"), which causes the water to rise and fall about 10 centimetres every 25 minutes or so. Maori legend links this phenomenon to the heartbeat of a huge monster named Matau, who is said to be slumbering at the bottom of the lake.

Dinner on your own this evening.

Day's Walking: 3.58 km (1.6mi), 1-2 hours

Overnight in Queenstown.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Lunch

Day 7 Queenstown: Day at Leisure
Today is a nicely-timed free day (and a mandatory rest day for our tireless crew).

Surrounded by majestic mountains and nestled on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is New Zealand's premier four-season lake and alpine resort. Queenstown has a compact and sophisticated downtown area tucked into a picturesque bay on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Dwarfed by the surrounding mountains, there are amazing views from everywhere.

You may choose just to relax, wander the streets, and soak up the atmosphere of the place. Or you may wish to join one of the optional excursions available (booked locally), such as a lake cruise, wine tour, jet boating, or a local garden tour. Your Tour Leader can help you plan your day (dinner on your own this evening).

Overnight in Queenstown.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast

Day 8 Cromwell Winery & Lake Wanaka
Travelling east out from Queenstown we’ll head through the small town of Cromwell, surrounded by fertile land perfect for fruit and grape growing. So naturally we’ll stop along the way here at a winery for some lunch and to sample the delicious wines. Afterwards we’ll follow along the Clutha River to the stunning township of Wanaka, a small resort town serving both summer and winter seasons. Historically, Maori visited the Wanaka area to hunt and fish in summer; the current town was founded during the gold rush of the 19th century.

This afternoon there will be time for those who want to have a gentle stroll along the lakeshore and to spot the famous ‘wanaka tree’, a picturesque lone tree growing in the shallows of the lake.

Overnight in Wanaka.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 9 Wildlife Island Reserve Cruise & Walk
Today we’ll head out onto Lake Wanaka with a short cruise over to an island called Mou Waho. The Wanaka district is certainly one of the most scenic areas of the country and a trip out on the water gives us a brand new appreciation for this. The short trip to the island takes around 35 minutes each way and the landmass itself is tucked behind the mountains. It is not visible from the town at all, which is mirrored by the fact that when you are on Mou Waho Island you cannot see any evidence of human habitation. No roads, buildings, power lines, nothing man-made at all, the perfect place to slow down and breathe the air.

The island has been established as a nature reserve free of introduced predators so that native bird numbers can flourish. We’ll see many native bird species including the largest population of buff Weka – a hen-like bird that is very curious about humans. Mou Waho is also one of the very few places on earth that you can see an island in a lake, on an island, in a lake, on an island, in the ocean!

We return to Wanaka.

Overnight in Wanaka.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 10 Journey Over Lindis Pass - Aoraki / Mount Cook
We’ll leave the central Otago region today to head towards the Mackenzie Country – open tussock clad hills that roll out before the dramatic snowy peaks of the Southern Alps. We’ll cross over the spectacular Lindis Pass, one of New Zealand's highest alpine road passes, to head to Mount Cook Village.

Mount Cook Village is nestled at the base of Aoraki/Mount Cook, probably the most spectacular national park in the country and one that rivals most scenery you'll see in the European Alps. The park, 680 sq km (270 square miles), contains more than 20 peaks over 3000m (10,000 feet), including Aoraki/Mount Cook, the tallest mountain in Australasia; indeed the Maori word Aoraki means 'the Cloud Piercer.' It also features the world's longest temperate-zone glacier, the Tasman.

For those keen to stretch their legs in the afternoon, we can head out to the nearby Tasman Lake to see some icebergs floating off from the end of the Tasman Glacier.

Overnight at Mount Cook Lodge.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 11 Hike Aoraki Mt Cook National Park
Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is a rugged land of ice and rock. Walking one of the tracks is the best way to experience this ancient landscape.

Our track leads up the Hooker Valley and along the Hooker River, ending at the glacier lake, where there are amazing views of Aoraki/Mount Cook on a clear day. Along the way you will cross three swingbridges and encounter picturesque icebergs, glaciers and majestic mountains that will have you reaching for your camera at every turn. We’ll have great views of Mt Tasman, Mt Seton, and Mt Jellicoe, all with their own glaciers dripping off them.

Day's Walking: 9km (5.6mi), +/-100m (+328/-328ft). A quick hiker could do this route in about 3 hours, but we'll take our time with plenty of stops for admiring, resting, and photgraphy.

Overnight at Mount Cook Lodge.

Included Meal(s): Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 12 Mt Cook - Tekapo - Christchurch & Depart
After a hearty breakfast, we’ll travel to Christchurch via Lake Tekapo where we’ll stop at the stunningly picturesque ‘Church of the Good Shepherd’ to stretch our legs and soak up the last hours of the great scenery. From there we’ll head north to Christchurch in time for flights out after 3pm.


Included Meal(s): Breakfast and Lunch

Tour Map

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*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.

Hotel List

The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.

Scenic Suites

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Queenstown
Country: New Zealand

Scenic Suites Queenstown provides one of the most sought after locations for Queenstown hotels. The hotel’s elevated position gives fantastic
... of the Southern Alps and over Lake Wakatipu. It’s hard to go past Scenic Suites Queenstown with its convenience and quality of four-star apartment style accommodation.
Read More.

Click here to visit hotel website

Milford Sound Lodge

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Milford Sound
Country: New Zealand

Treat yourself to a bit of luxury while you take in the sheer majesty of Milford Sound after the crowds
... There is simply no better way to reward yourself after enjoying Milford Sound Great Walks and scenery.

Read More.

Click here to visit hotel website

Distinction Hotel Te Anau

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Te Anau
Country: New Zealand

Distinction Te Anau Hotel and Villas offers chic, elegant accommodation and FREE unlimited WiFi for the perfect Fiordland getaway. Surrounded
... extensive, colourful gardens and overlooking spectacular Lake Te Anau and the Fiordland ranges, this hotel sets the tone for your stay in one of the world’s most breathtaking regions.
Read More.

Click here to visit hotel website

Camp Glenorchy

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Glenorchy
Country: New Zealand

Aside from providing beautifully-appointed, comfortable accommodation, the founders behind Camp Glenorchy hope to inspire and share learning about new standards
... sustainable tourism. This world-first guest accommodation aims to set new standards in sustainable tourism and has been designed according to the Living Building Challenge
Read More.

Click here to visit hotel website

Oakridge Resort

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Wanaka
Country: New Zealand

Overlooking a picturesque mountain landscape, this contemporary, low-rise hotel is 2 km from Lake Wanaka. The sleek rooms feature feather
... plus balconies, desks, flat-screen TVs and tea and coffeemakers.
Read More.

Click here to visit hotel website

Mt Cook Lodge

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Mt Cook
Country: New Zealand

Located in Mount Cook National Park and offering beautiful mountain views, Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Lodge is a 5-minute walk
... Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Center. All rooms are heated and feature a flat-screen TV and an private bathroom with free toiletries and a hairdryer.
Read More.

Click here to visit hotel website

Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►


All transport, accommodation, guiding services (2 local guides), sightseeing and entrance fees as per the itinerary and necessary Department of Conservation permits. Most meals (as per tour itinerary). Gratuities for our two local guides, driver, restaurant staff, porters (if available).

Airport transfers for land & air customers and for early arriving/late departing land & air customers who also book their extra hotel nights through us.


International airfare (and taxes) to/from the tour. A small number of meals (see detailed tour itinerary). Tour Leader gratuities (one person), alcoholic drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), travel insurance, and any excursions referenced as 'optional'. Airport transfers for Land Only customers.

Seasonality and Weather

The timings of our two annual dates are set to coincide with late spring (Nov) and late summer (Mar), both of which allow us to enjoy comfortable temperatures and favourable weather, while also avoiding the crowds and higher costs associated with the Austral summer holiday period (Dec-Feb).

While we hope, of course, for fine days, mountain weather can be fickle at the best of times and rain/showers can occur throughout the year. One good thing about this part of the world is that if you don't like the weather, you often just have to wait 5 minutes for a change!

Travellers choosing our November (spring) date will enjoy snowy peaks and plenty of wildflowers. March travellers (late summer) will enjoy slightly warmer temperatures, locally-grown fruit and vegetables, and the possibility of some early fall colour in some spots.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Since New Zealand isn't quite small enough to simply walk everywhere and still see all the highlights in a limited amount of time, we travel in fuel-efficient 20-seat Toyota Coasters. Our leader/guides make the journey enjoyable, introducing you to some local music as well as providing interesting commentary and informal conversation. En route we enjoy New Zealand’s ever-changing landscapes -- truly a feast for the eyes. Our focus, as always, is on getting you out of the vehicle and into nature and all of that stunning scenery!

Our "level 3" difficulty rating refers to the walks/hikes that are sprinkled throughout our program. This activity does not occur every day, but as per our tour itinerary, even when not on a "hike," we will be on foot quite a lot with plenty of places with uneven surfaces. While most our our tracks take place in a mountainous setting, none of our hikes occur at high altitudes.

Our hikes: Because some hikes can/may be adjusted at the discretion of your Tour Leader and local guides depending on things like weather and group interest, the final distances/durations of our hikes as indicated in our itinerary should be taken as guidance only. In the meantime, however, we can advise that, generally-speaking, our walks are leisurely on well-trodden pathways over undulating terrain, 3-4 hours actual moving, and likely a longer duration overall once you add breaks for refreshment, photos, and taking it all in. Though this tour is a bit easier than some of our other "activity" trips, in order to be suitable for this program, you must already be a regular hiker and accustomed to moderately-strenuous walks on gravel surfaces and uneven grades.

For day-by-day summaries of our activities, please refer to the detailed itinerary.

All participants will have to complete/submit a medical self-assessment form indicating their suitability for this tour. To preview this form, please click this link:

Am I suitable for this tour? Please refer to our self-assessment form.


We’ve chosen a selection of locally-owned 3 & 4-star lodges and hotels, all of which are cozy and charming, well-appointed, and designed with sustainability in mind. They are also beautifully-situated with great views and delicious food.

For more information and photos, please click/tap the "Map & Hotels" tab elsewhere on this page.

Staff and Support

Tour leader, driver, and two local guides, who will also be preparing our delicious lunches along the way.

Group Size

Maximum 14 plus Tour Leader



TOUR STARTQueenstown

TOUR ENDChristchurch

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