The South Island of New Zealand is arguably the world’s most beautiful hiking destination and for good reason; the network of trails through mesmerizing scenery is unparalleled. Imagine snow-capped peaks, beautiful pristine lakes, lush valleys, cascading waterfalls, fjords and more. This region is truly spectacular. This itinerary begins in Nelson and explores Nelson Lakes National Park, Abel Tasman Park, Marlborough Sounds including Queen Charlotte Track, Kaikoura Peninsula and Hanmer Springs.



Nelson, New Zealand

Nelson Lakes National Park

Nelson Lakes National Park, Tasman, New Zealand

Abel Tasman Park

Abel Tasman National Park, Tasman, New Zealand

Marlborough Sound

Picton, Marlborough, New Zealand

Queen Charlotte Track

Queen Charlotte Track, Te Mahia, New Zealand


Kaikoura, New Zealand

Hanmer Springs

Hanmer Springs, Canterbury, New Zealand

Queenstown Extension

Queenstown, Otago, New Zealand

What’s Included in the Cost of Your Trip?


Services of one or more experienced Great Explorations guides
Support vehicle
8 nights lodging
All breakfasts, 8 lunches, and 7 dinners
Entrance fees for selected historical sites and museums
Detailed map and route instructions
All baggage transportation
Travelogue & Pre departure Trip Planner with tips on what to bring and general information about travelling in New Zealand
All tips in hotels, restaurants, etc. (excludes discretionary tips for guides)




Jan 1-9
Jan 15-23
Jan 29-Feb 6
Feb 12-20
Feb 28-Mar 7
Mar 9-17


Dates available upon request

Trip can start at any date. Self-guided and custom trips also available. Call or email for details.


4-12 participants


9 days / 8 nights


Nelson / Christchurch





Land Cost:
USD $3,650
Includes 8B/8L/7D

Single Supplement:
USD $920

Optional Queenstown Extension (US $495):
-2 nights at Hotel St Moritz with breakfast
-1/2 day hike with local guide
-Hiking routes and City Guide

Please note: Final itinerary is subject to revision; any changes made are done so in an attempt to provide the best possible trip given route conditions and available services. Due to the nature of our business and exchange rates, prices are subject to change. All prices quoted are U.S. dollars but we gladly accept payment in Canadian dollars also. Due to cancellations and waiting lists, trip availability fluctuates daily. If you have any questions or would like to confirm space on this trip before making your reservation, please contact us at or by telephone at 604.730.1247

When to go:

The warmest months of the year are from September through to April. Spring is from September – November. December, January and February are the three hottest months of the year (Summer). Autumn (Fall) is from March to May.


Day 1


We meet at the Hotel Rutherford at 11:00 am and transfer to Nelson Lakes National Park, situated in the northernmost ranges of the Southern Alps. (90 min shuttle). After lunch and settling in to the Alpine Lodge, we will walk a trail in Rotoiti Nature Recovery Project area that is a great introduction to hiking on the South Island. This 100,000 hectare park also boasts the spectacular Rotoiti and Rotorura Lakes, surrounded by tranquil beech forest, soaring mountain peaks, clear streams, open tussock lands and river edge clearings.


Day 2

Nelson Lakes National Park

After a leisurely breakfast, walk the Brunner Peninsula Nature Walk and an optional add-on that climbs through beech forest and stands of manuka and kanuka to a viewpoint at Black Hill – a solid mound of volcanic rock. Near the top is a clearing from which St Arnaud Village and Big Bush can be viewed. Or consider a trail that zigzags up the aptly named Pinchgut Track on to Mt Robert, with beautiful Lake Rotoiti in view for much of the way. If time allows, the side-trip along Robert Ridge towards Lake Angelus is irresistible, with expansive mountain vistas into the heart of the park. Amble back down via the gentler Paddy’s Track. Back at the Alpine Lodge, enjoy delicious dinner in the dining room.


Day 3

Abel Tasman Park

Depart for Kaiteriteri, the access point for the famous Abel Tasman Park. The drive is approximately 2 hours, followed by a cruise aboard the comfortable Sea Shuttle. You can enjoy lunch en route, enjoying the scenery along the way. Arriving to Awaroa Abel Tasman Park, walk a trail to the lodge and relax. There is also the option to sea-kayak and explore Awaroa Bay, Onetahuti Beach & Tonga Island. Discover dolphins, fur seals, and penguins! The Abel Tasman Park boasts the highest number of sunshine hours year-round in the country.


Day 4

Abel Tasman Park

After a leisurely breakfast, walk directly from the lodge along the Awaroa inlet and along beautiful trails through beech forests to the visitor center at Totaranui’s National Park Headquarters. The Abel Tasman Coast Track is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. It offers bush and beach walking on a well formed track, mostly shaded by native forest. Weaving between long, golden-sand beaches, there are some gentle climbs between bays with no point higher than 200 metres (650 ft).


Day 5

Marlborough Sound

Begin the day on the Sky Track trail, open only to hotel guests or you can opt for an early morning sea-kayak. Mid-morning, cruise to Kaiteriteri and then drive towards the Marlborough Sound district, stopping in the pleasant Moutere Valley to taste some wonderful wines. Afterwards, choose between a 3-hour cruise, sampling mussels en-route or if you prefer less time on the water (and more time wine tasting), shuttle to Te Mahia jetty (45 minutes drive) for the 10 minute crossing by private boat. Arriving to Raetihi Lodge sit back and enjoy the scenery and serenity of this magical place.


Day 6

Queen Charlotte Track

Today, you can walk another of the Great Walks of New Zealand along the Queen Charlotte Track. Departing from the lodge by short boat shuttle to the trail head, you can walk the distance of your choice. A popular option is to walk from Te Mahia to Portage which takes 4-5 hours and provides some of the most stunning views along this trail.


Day 7


Depart Marlborough Sounds and transfer along the coast passing Waipapa Bay and the Ohau waterfall. In Kaikoura, walk the Peninsula Walkway along the sea, a popular area for whales, fur lions and dolphins. Afterwards, shuttle to the lodge at Hanmer Springs.


Day 8

Hanmer Springs

Half-day walks at Hanmer Springs include a climb to a viewpoint and a stunning waterfall or consider the Chatterton River Track along a trail that is less visited and slightly more remote, but equally beautiful. Complete your day with a soak in the natural hot springs and if you wish, visit town.


Day 9


Depart for Christchurch by shuttle (90 minutes), included in your trip. Consider Extension to Queenstown.


Day 10 & 11

Queenstown Extension

Stay at the Hotel St. Moritz with two days to explore the city and environs. We’ll provide hiking routes and ideas for everything from jet boating to bungy jumping as this is the adventure capital of New Zealand.

Alpine Lodge, Nelson Lakes National Park

The award winning Alpine Lodge is situated at the edge of the Nelson Lakes National Park, only 5 minutes walk from Lake Rotoiti which offers a range of great outdoor pursuits. The property is family-owned and operated by the Alexandra, daughter of the lodge’s founder and her husband Leighton.

Awaroa Lodge, Abel Tasman National Park

Awaroa Lodge is a four-star wilderness lodge set in the midst of the Abel Tasman National Park. Enjoy the perfect blend of natural comfort, contemporary style and creative organic cuisine. The Lodge has 26 villa rooms, restaurant, and the property is surrounded by native bush - a short walk from the famous Awaroa beach.

Raetihi Lodge, Marlborough Sounds

This 4-star lodge, situated in the Marlborough Sounds has been in operation since the 1930’s. Extensively rebuilt, this lodge offers luxury and comfort amid the natural serenity of the Marlborough Sounds.

Braemar Lodge & Spa, Hanmer Springs

This property is one of New Zealand’s premier luxury alpine spa resorts. Offering larges Suites (60 - 80sqm) and a 10 minute drive from the village, the Lodge boasts outstanding views across the valley towards the mountains and alpine forests. Perfect for those wanting to be close to the village, but far enough away for peace and tranquillity.