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 Christchurch and explores Arthur’s Pass National Park, Lake Moeraki, Lake Wanaka and Queenstown. For this itinerary, you fly into Christchurch and out of Queenstown.
Arthur's Pass National Park
Arthur's Pass National Park, Canterbury, New Zealand
Franz Josef Glacier
Franz Josef Glacier, West Coast, New Zealand
Lake Moeraki, Haast, West Coast, New Zealand
Lake Wanaka, Otago, New Zealand
Queenstown, Otago, New Zealand
What’s Included in the Cost of Your Trip?
INCLUDED IN REGULAR TRIP
Services of one or more experienced Great Explorations guides and support vehicle
Lodging as per final itinerary
All breakfasts, 8 lunches, and 7 dinners
Entrance fees for selected historical sites and museums
Detailed map and route instructions
All baggage transportation
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)
Feb 22-Mar 1
Dates available upon request
Trip can start at any date. Self-guided and custom trips also available. Call or email for details.
ARRIVE / DEPART
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.
Arthur’s Pass National Park
We meet at 9 am in Christchurch and depart towards Arthur’s Pass National Park. En-route we will stop at the Kura Tāwhiti Conservation Area for a morning hike through the lush hills that feature limestone monoliths popular with rock climbers and also a sacred place for the Maori. Afterwards, we’ll have lunch at a 36,000 acre sheep farm. Early afternoon, we continue on to the Wilderness Lodge set in Arthur’s Pass. This eco-lodge boasts 3,000 acres and a working sheep farm where you can watch (or participate) in sheep shearing or mustering with sheep dogs. Still feeling energetic? There is a daily hike at 5:00 pm with a naturalist guide from the lodge (hiking distance: 3km to 3.4km).
Arthur’s Pass National Park
Today, hike through beech forest to open mountain tops high above the Waimakariri River. Learn about alpine plants and enjoy lunch at a historic hut which once sheltered shepherds when this area was part of the Wilderness Lodge farm.
Hiking distance: 15.3km; 860m (easier walks available also).
Franz Josef Glacier
Walk through a glacier basin to the Upper Otira Glacier, enjoying mountain panoramas, alpine flowers, cascades culminating in a mountain picnic below Mt Rolleston. After returning to the lodge, we’ll transfer to Kapitea Lodge for lunch and then continue the drive through the Southern Alps to Te Waonui Forest Retreat.
Hiking distances: 6km; 200m ascent; afternoon walk option: 3km+-
Franz Josef Glacier
Today is your chance to see the Franz Josef glacier up close. Walk from the trail head all the way to Franz Josef village. If you wish to try a scenic flight over the glacier this can be arranged (weather permitting – additional cost). The Douglas Walk takes you over glacial landforms formed between 1600 AD and 1750 AD by glacial advances and retreats. Visit Peters Pool, a reflective kettle lake, and the historic Douglas Bridge. Enjoy time in Franz Josef town and then late afternoon, transfer to Lake Matheson, nestled in ancient forest and and famous for mirror views of Aoraki/Mount Cook and MountTasman. It’s mirror-like reflecting properties are due to the dark brown colour of the water – the result of organic matter leached from the humus of the forest floor. Following this hike, we transfer to Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki.
Hiking distances: 5.4 km; Douglas Track option: 5km; Lake Matheson loop distance: 4.6km
Described as one of the most wild and natural places left on earth, the Te Wahipounamu is a South West World Heritage Area boasting pristine natural paradise of rainforests, beaches, lakes and rivers. Hiking options include a hike that traverses dramatic and challenging seacoast. Scramble over volcanic boulders, climb through rainforest and enjoy tea beside a tumbling waterfall. There may be a chance to see fur seals and penguins. The Moeraki Pack Track & Historic Hut is a more adventurous walk on a trail that provides access to the upper valley. Cross a swing-bridge spanning thunderous rapids and enjoy lunch in a historic hut before returning to the lodge.
Walking distance options: 5.5 km; 40m ascent; Munro Beach distance option: 5.5km; min ascent
Today, transfer to the Otago Peninsula and Lake Wanaka. We begin a hike at Lake Hāwea along the Hāwea River track. We stop for lunch in Albert Town and then continue to Wanaka via Beacon Point. Stay at beautiful Edgewater Resort, directly on the shores of Lake Wanaka. Optional scenic flight over Milford Sound including a boat cruise through the fiord. Alternatively, you can walk up to Diamond Lake or kick back and relax at the lodge.
Walking distance options: 6.5km; 13.5 km; 20km
Our day begins with a one hour drive along the beautiful Matukituki Valley into the Mount Aspiring National Park, an amazing world of mountains, glaciers, river valleys and alpine lakes. At the road’s end, the Rob Roy Glacier Track follows the Rob Roy Stream through beech forest – enjoy waterfalls and the luxuriant understorey of ferns and mosses. At the tree line, the forest gives way to alpine vegetation and spectacular views of the hanging glaciers beneath Mount Rob Roy. Spectacular waterfalls line the jagged cliffs.
Hiking distance options: 11.3 km; 380m ascent
We leave Wanaka behind to transfer to Gibbston Valley where we walk along the Arrow and Kawarau rivers between Arrowtown and Gibbston, crossing historic Kawarau Bridge and the spectacular Edgar suspension bridge, rising 80 m above the Arrow River. Afterwards, we taste wine in one of the prominent vineyards in the valley and enjoy lunch before continuing to Queenstown, the acknowledged adventure capital of New Zealand.
Walking distance options: 5.5 km; 8.1km
Stroll through Queenstown and choose from the many activities that are on offer here, from jet boating, bungy jumping, and more. We’ll provide hiking routes for you to choose between in case you want additional walking. We offer transfers to the airport for those departing.
The Wilderness Lodge Arthur’s Pass is on a 6000 acre sheep farm and nature reserve surrounded by the mountains of Arthur’s Pass National Park. Owned by a family whose passion for conservation led them to reintroduce natural woodland and conserve the resident wildlife, its eco-credentials have won various awards. This is a real family business, with genuine Kiwi hospitality.
Te Waonui is the only luxury property of its kind in the area. The retreat is nestled in the lush bush with views of the natural environment at almost every turn. Located in Franz Josef, the retreat offers easy access to the many natural wonders of the South West World Heritage Area. Mountains, glaciers, rivers, lakes, coastline, and native flora and fauna all lie in wait at the doorstep for visitors to admire and explore.
A pristine natural paradise of rainforests, beaches, lakes and rivers in the heart of New Zealand’s South West World Heritage Area, Te Wahipounamu. Lake Moeraki is a dream destination for nature lovers and those wanting to experience the very best of wild New Zealand.
This is the only resort directly on Lake Wanaka. There’s a cafe featuring a terrace with lake views, plus a restaurant, a spa and a sauna. Other amenities include tennis courts.
Overlooking Lake Wakatipu to The Remarkables mountains, this refined hotel boasts an elegant lake-view restaurant and a bar with regular live music, in addition to a chic lounge with a stone fireplace. Other amenities include a sauna and outdoor hot tubs.