An active adventure exploring New Zealand's most epic trails from Auckland to the Southern Alps by foot and boat
Make the most of New Zealand by joining this small group adventure for 22 days while you explore the best of what the country has to offer. From the wonderful waterfront city of Auckland all the way to the unbelievable southern Alps, New Zealand is an incredible country blessed with so many natural wonders.
The best way to experience them is by foot and boat. Sail the waterways, hike amongst volcanic peaks, jet boat around Mount Aspiring National Park, and more.
You’ll arrive in Auckland with some time to explore parts of the city before a cruise across the gulf to Rangitot Island. From there, the hiking starts with walks near Blue Lake, Tongariro National Park, Tasman National Park, Punakaiki, Okarito, and Fox Glacier.
The final hike is a summit walk above Christchurch to take in the spectacular vistas. In between, take a jet boat around Matiukitiki, an overnight boat to Milford Sound, and a tour on an historic steamship to Walker Peak sheep station.
This adventure includes one full day hike, and five half days. The itinerary is also full of activities that require a moderate level of fitness. Your expert guides will help you every step of the way, ensuring that you make the most of your Trails of New Zealand adventure.
Enquire today to learn more.
Why We Love This Adventure
- A chance to explore this incredible country from Auckland to the Southern Alps
- One-day Tongariro Crossing and loads of exciting walks
- A great mix of organised walks and activities and free time to explore
Please make an enquiry and we'll send you the full itinerary for each day including meals, activities, travel and accommodation.
The day is free to relax and recover from the jet lag. Auckland is a beautiful city and worthy of some time to explore. The nearby Viaduct restaurants are an ideal means of overcoming the last of the jet lag and the day just slowly passes by. If you are feeling lucky visit the Sky City Casino tower for one of those lunches you just don't forget. Those not flying with the group should meet at the start point at the Auckland City Hotel at 6pm for a full briefing with your leader. *Auckland City Hotel or similar*.
Auckland is the City of Sails, so what better way to start your holiday than to take a cruise across the Gulf to the beautiful Rangitoto Island; which at only 600 years old, is the youngest volcano in New Zealand. The island has undergone a significant restoration programme and is entirely pest-free which encourages the native flora and fauna to thrive. We will walk through lava fields and forests to the summit of the island which stands 259m above sea level and has some stunning panoramic views of Auckland and the Hauraki Gulf. *Auckland City Hotel or similar*.
Leaving the city behind us we head south to Rotorua (approx. 3.5 hours drive) and our accommodation. On arrival we stretch our legs with a hike around the redwood forest followed by an optional afternoon at leisure in town or a hike at Blue Lake. The evening highlight is the Marae (ceremonial ground) visit. Our Maori hosts welcome us in their traditional manner before entertaining us with a concert and hangi (traditional meal). *Jet Park Rotorua or similar*.
We explore one of New Zealand's most colourful thermal areas with boiling mud pools, hot streams and silica terraces. The natural wonders that first attracted the Maori in the 14th century, and later the European's, still draw large numbers of tourists every year. Rotorua is a unique natural wonder and a must see destination. Leaving Rotorua we drive south (approx. 3 hours) to Tongariro National Park. On the way we visit the steaming Wai-O-Tapu geothermal valley and impressive Huka Falls. *Skotel Alpine Resort or similar*.
From the many walking options that exist, you are free to take your choice as we explore this volcanic landform. Two half-day walks to beautiful waterfalls and bush lands (unguided) or the amazing 8hr Tongariro Alpine Crossing are on offer. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing has been called one of the greatest one-day walks in New Zealand and provided the weather is kind the rugged volcanic desert, craters and glacial valleys combined with the incredible views make this a day to remember. The crossing should not be under estimated and there are a number of steep sections where the loose surface can make it tough going, so come well-prepared. The crossing can take 7-8 hours depending on walking ability. A magnificent scenic flight option also exists for those wanting to understand the volcanic origins of the area. *Skotel Alpine Resort or similar*.
Relax following yesterday's efforts as we drive (approx. 5 hours) south to Wellington. Continue across the Rangitikei and Manawatu Plains and down the Kapiti Coast to Wellington. Across from our hotel is Te Papa, the NZ National Museum which we can explore in the afternoon along with the beautiful Botanic Gardens and cable car and enjoy the exciting nightlife of New Zealand's capital city. *The Bay Plaza Hotel or similar*.
After an early breakfast we board the ferry and leave the North Island behind as we cross the Cook Strait, passing the Marlborough Sounds with 1500kms of beautiful coastline. From Picton we have a 90 min drive to Nelson where we can take time out to explore the city and a chance to stretch the legs with a short walk to the gographical centre of New Zealand (1 hour). After this visit we drive to Motueka (approx. 60 min) on the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park, with its idyllic golden sand beaches and forests. *Avalon Manor Motel or similar*.
Out of Marahau, this morning coastal walk takes us through the beautiful beaches and ancient forests as the track weaves through the park, providing a kaleidoscope of impressions. The path is well maintained and the walk will take approx 3-4 hours. We meet our sailing boat at the Anchorage Bay, providing the return to Marahau and some time to relax dining out at the small town of Motueka. *Avalon Manor Motel or similar*.
Our departure from the Abel Tasman National Park is followed by a scenic drive down the mighty Buller River. After a short stop at Cape Foulwind to see the local seal colony, we then stop at Punakaiki, home of the famous Pancake Rocks, to watch the setting sun (total driving time approx. 5 hours). If the tide is up the ground can physically shake and water spurts from the blow-holes and fissures that dot the coastline. *Paparoa Park Motel or similar*.
Passing through areas of lush forests, we continue south down the beautiful west coast. We drive onto the small village of Okarito nestled on the lagoon, home of the rare Kotuku (white heron). On offer here is optional kayaking where we float in on the incoming tide and explore the bush-clad waterways seeking out the abundant bird life the lagoon is famous for. Those looking to stretch their legs can hike to the nearby Trig station (approx. 1.5 hours) for the spectacular views over the Southern Alps. Later we continue the short drive through to Fox township. *The Westhaven or similar*.
After breakfast we stroll around the reflective Lake Matheson, a photographer's dream. As an optional extra (weather permitting), you can take a helicopter ride over the glaciers that lace the Southern Alps. As we head out of town, we take a drive up the valley and hike to a viewpoint of the spectacular Fox Glacier. We then continue south along bush-clad roads and past the dramatic coastline with its wild windswept beaches to the settlement of Haast. Turning inland we climb over Haast Pass, the southernmost crossing of the Southern Alps that forms the boundary between Westland and Otago. From here the tussock lands of the eastern slopes merge with the beech forests. We travel through to Wanaka, home for the next two nights. *Wanaka Heights Motel or similar*.
In the morning we head into the Mount Aspiring National Park and experience an exciting jetboat ride along the braided rivers leading into the park. Jetboating was invented in NZ as a means to negotiate the shallow braided rivers which we use to access a track leading to a hike into the cirque surrounded by huge mountain walls. Back at our coach we eat our picnic lunch before driving onto our 3 hr hike at the beautiful Diamond Lake that provides stunning views of the river delta and the landscape. *Wanaka Heights Motel or similar*.
From Wanaka we depart early heading for Te Anau and then into the Eglington Valley, enjoying a series of short walks in the spectacular Milford region and then into Milford Sound itself where we join our floating accommodation for the night. The newly refurbished boat has private two bed cabins with shared facilities amidst dolphins and mighty peaks towering above the fjord. *Real Journeys- Wanderer boat*.
After an early morning breakfast we cruise the inner sound again searching for dolphins and seals before disembarking and retracing our tracks to The Divide and the start of the Routeburn Track. Here we take a 3-hour walk (approx. 9km) to Key Summit for some spectacular views. After this hike we drive via Te Anau (approx. 4 hours) onto Queenstown, where we stay for the next two nights. *Blue Peaks Lodge or similar*.
A free day to enjoy the scenic delights of this world famous destination, home of the famous bungy jump! Optional activities include a 4x4 drive into the remote Skippers Canyon; a visit to the historic gold mining centre of Arrowtown; a cruise aboard the historic steamship to Walter Peak sheep station; paragliding or bungy jumping! Then again, you may just prefer to simply spend the day shopping or relaxing. *Blue Peaks Lodge or similar*.
Travel through the barren Kawarau Gorge where large amounts of gold were dredged at the turn of the century. Drive over Lindis Pass to the tussock-covered plains of the Mackenzie basin and into the Mt Cook National Park (total approx. 4 hours). Beneath NZ's highest peak we walk into the Hooker Valley with its crashing glaciers and glacial lakes. By early evening we reach our motel and watch the spectacular view from the warmth of the restaurant. *Aoraki/Mt Cook Alpine Lodge or similar*.
After breakfast we have the option to hike (approx. 2 hours) to the nearby red tarns on Mt Sebastapol or an optional visit to the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre and the local Department of Conservation Centre. By late morning we depart for nearby Lake Tekapo and visit the observatory on the summit of Mt John, a short hike down to the township. From here we drive (approx. 3.5 hours) across the mosaic of the Canterbury Plains out to Christchurch and the end of our drive. *Pavilions Hotel or similar*.
Above Christchurch is the summit walkway and in the morning we have a final hike (approx. 2-3 hours) enjoying the spectacular views into the Lyttleton harbour and across the Canterbury Plains. After the devastating earthquakes of 2010/11, the city is undergoing a major rebuild, unrivalled in the world. The afternoon is free to explore this city rebuild as well as the beautiful gardens and Hagley park. *Pavilions Hotel or similar*.
- All breakfasts and 2 dinners
- All accommodation
- All transport and listed activities
- Tour leader throughout
- Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
Trip Duration19 days
Average Group Sizemin 6, max 14
All breakfasts and 2 dinners are included.
This adventure can also be booked with UK return flights by the operator – to get prices, dates and availability for the flight option please complete an enquiry form today and mention your flight interest in the message section. Thanks!
Dates & Availability
- 14 Dec 2019 – 01 Jan 2020
- 04 Jan 2020 – 22 Jan 2020
- 25 Jan 2020 – 12 Feb 2020
- 07 Mar 2020 – 25 Mar 2020
If you’re looking for a company with experience you can’t beat these guys. This operator started life in February 1974 when two friends got together to provide an overland truck to travel to the Minaret of Jam, deep in the heart of the Hindu Kush, the most inaccessible of the world’s great monuments.
For the company, and people who work for them “it’s all about adventure” which is what they were founded on and what they are still about today. Their trips take place all around the world where they help travelers to delve into local traditions, cultures, cuisine, lifestyles – anything that contributes to a country’ unique identity.
We love that their groups and guides travel courteously and respectfully, in smaller groups to minimise the impact, to ensure that every holiday is a beneficial experience for everyone involved.
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