Get an insider’s view of the South Island on this unique, action-packed wilderness adventure
From the 3,900-foot-high fjords of Milford Sound, to the snow-capped peaks and sapphire lakes of the Wakatipi Basin (made famous in the Lord of the Rings films), the South Island is blessed with an astonishing quantity of beautiful places. Rather than rushing from one site to another trying to see it all, we’ve specifically designed our itinerary to minimize driving, and maximize your opportunities to enjoy some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery. Our MTS guide, Adrian Fogg, spent many years here as a heli-hiking and river rafting guide, and he will show you remote and very special places that other travelers pass right by. You’ll get from point to point in a variety of exhilarating ways. When you travel by vehicle, you’ll head to exclusive lodges in secluded locations only accessible by 4x4. This relaxing but action-packed adventure is unique to MTS—and as full of variety as the South Island itself.
5 days of moderate hiking, sea kayaking, scenic plane ride (optional), 4WD safari
- Explore the South Island’s mountains, rivers and fjords on kayaks trips, gondola rides and day hikes
- Our thoughtfully planned itinerary minimizes driving time while maximizing time spent in some of New Zealand’s most spectacular places
- Stay at an exclusive new lodge on Ben Lomond Station, accessible only by 4x4
- Sea kayak passing waterfalls, watching wildlife and soaking up the majestic wonderland that surrounds you in Milford Sound
- Hike towards the famous Mueller Hut for breathtaking views over the Hooker Valley and Aoraki/Mount Cook
Duration: 7 days Start Location: Queenstown End Location: QueenstownDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Welcome to the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown
Arrive in Queenstown in the mid-afternoon and spend the remainder of the afternoon stretching your legs, relaxing, and just soaking up the atmosphere. Queenstown is renowned for the countless adventure activities available to its visitors. Welcome dinner in the evening with your group.
Day 2 : Mount Cook, Hooker Glacier
Leaving Queenstown, we’ll transfer north to Mount Cook Village, which provides access to Mount Cook National Park. At 12,316 feet, Mount Cook (called Aoraki in Maori) is an awe-inspiring sight, and the highest mountain in New Zealand. Climbers from around the world are drawn to the mountain and its neighboring peaks within the national park. We’ll take a hike up the Hooker Valley towards the Hooker Glacier and the southwestern slopes of Aoraki/Mount Cook. The glacier is approximately 6–7 miles in length. (500–1,500’ ascent/decent, 1.85 miles each direction or longer, 1.5–4 hours hiking, depending on how far the group wishes to hike.)
Day 3 : Mueller Hut Hike
We have a great but challenging day planned for the group today! We’ll also have options for those who prefer a less strenuous experience.
Option 1: The group will hike up a good, but steep trail that leads towards the famous Mueller Hut, for breathtaking views over the Hooker Valley and Aoraki/Mount Cook. This hike is tough, and will be strenuous for many people unaccustomed to mountain hiking. However because this is an “up and back” trail, we can turn around at any time, based on the group’s desires and abilities. (3,444’ ascent/decent, 3.25 miles each direction, 8 hours hiking.)
Option 2: Enjoy a relaxing, but memorable day on an Ice Explorer excursion, an amazing up-close encounter with icebergs on a glacial terminal lake. Departing from Mount Cook Village just outside The Hermitage Hotel, a bus will take us on a pleasant trip to the Tasman Valley, followed by a ½ hour alpine walk through the national park. We'll then board a MAC boat, and enjoy the ever changing ice face of the Tasman Glacier and the many icebergs floating on Tasman Glacier's terminal lake. Commentary throughout the trip will be provided by an experienced local guide. This option has an additional fee of US $150.
Option 3: Enjoy a relaxing day of scenic fixed-wing or helicopter flightseeing (additional price to be advised).
Day 4 : Ben Lomond Saddle
After breakfast, we’ll head back to take the Queenstown Gondola to the top of a tree-covered crag known as Bob’s Peak. From here, we’ll embark on an alpine hike through open tussock land to the saddle of Ben Lomond, one of Queenstown’s prominent peaks, named by early Scottish settlers after an area in their home country’s highlands. It’s easy to see why this saddle reminded the Scots of their native landscape—here you’re immersed in amazing views of the Southern Alps, as well as beautiful Queenstown Bay and Lake Wakatipu. If there’s interest, we can take a group to the summit of Ben Lomond (5,577') for views of Mt. Earnslaw and Mt. Aspiring, two of New Zealand’s highest peaks.
We'll descend from the saddle towards Moonlight Creek to connect with our 4WD vehicle waiting to transfer us to Moonlight Lodge, where a delicious dinner awaits. This new lodge is located on Ben Lomond Station, a large privately owned farm in remote, mountainous country. (6 miles hiking, 3,018' elevation gain / 4,265' loss)
Day 5 : Fiordland National Park
Today we say goodbye to the lodge and embark on a 4WD journey that takes us up Moonlight Creek, past majestic Moke Lake and out to the main road, where we transfer vehicles to drive along the shores of Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown. The scenery here can only be described as spectacular. Departing Queenstown we continue to beautiful Fiordland National Park, with plenty of scenic stops along the way. Fiordland National Park holds World Heritage status and is renowned as the home of iconic Mitre Peak and the fiords of Milford Sound.
Taking the time to stay in Milford Sound offers you a chance to enjoy the majestic beauty of the sound and the rainforest surrounding it in the sublime quiet that descends upon the area when the crowds have gone, further enhancing your enjoyment of this very special place.
Day 6 : Sea kayak Milford Sound
Rise and shine! It's time to gear up in our paddling attire, have a complete safety and paddle briefing, then launch our comfortable double sea kayaks into majestic Milford Sound. We'll begin by paddling out of the basin to the mouth of the Arthur River. Approaching the towering northern cliffs of Milford Sound, you'll skirt the boulders at the foot of Lady Bowen Falls (524 feet), the highest permanent waterfall in Milford, and continue under the Cascade Peaks (3,966 feet) to Harrison Cove. Mount Pembroke, the highest mountain in Milford Sound, towers above us at 6,610 feet. Rounding Williamson Point we'll head to Stirling Falls, which cascades a precipitous 495 feet directly into the sea.
After lunch we'll head back to Te Anau and enjoy this idyllic little town beside Lake Te Anau. We will enjoy a celebratory farewell meal this evening.
Day 7 : Depart Queenstown
Early morning transfer back to Queenstown Airport. From Queenstown Airport you'll fly back to Auckland and connect with your homeward-bound flights. Or you can remain in Te Anau and take advantage of one of our exciting extension we have on offer.
3-Day Hollyford Track: Located in spectacular Fiordland National Park, the dramatic Hollyford Track guided walk is one of the greatest wilderness experiences in New Zealand. Rated by many as one of the world's greatest walks, the Hollyford Track is perfect for those looking for adventure.
5-Day Milford Track: Traversing the heart of New Zealand's wild fiord country, the Milford Track has long been described as "the finest walk in the world". Since Quintin Mackinnon pioneered the route in 1888, everyone from hardened trekkers to novices sporting their first pair of boots have taken up the challenge of the Milford Track.
3-Day Routeburn Track: Since the 1880's the Routeburn Track has proved to be one of the most accessible and popular routes into New Zealand's forests and mountains.The Routeburn Track passes through two national parks—Fiordland and Mount Aspiring—and is part of Te Wahipounamu, South West New Zealand World Heritage Area.
DATES: Best time to go: February, November - December Departures: No group departures scheduled. Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availablity. Call us for details.
$3,395 (10-12 members)
$800 single supplement
Crowne Plaza HotelQueenstown, New ZealandLake view rooms enjoy stunning views over Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables Mountain Range, as well as Queenstown township.Lake view rooms feature their own private balcony and a choice of 1 super king or 2 double beds. In room features include bathrobes, quality amenities, LCD TV, cordless telephone, in-room safe and WIFI access.
The Hermitage HotelMount Cook Village, New Zealand
The Hermitage Hotel is the perfect 'base camp' to discover your Peak Experience.
The Hermitage Hotel has ensuites, tea and coffee making facilities, satellite TV, IDD telephones and fridges. Wireless internet is available in all hotel rooms.
Moonlight LodgeBen Lomond Station, New Zealand
Moonlight Lodge is a remote upmarket mountain lodge with modern luxuries situated in the back-country. Relax on the lawn, enjoy the long summer evenings and starry skies.
Milford LodgeMilford Sound
Nestled beneath the towering peaks of the Darran Mountains, the facilities include a large comfortable lounge, a communal kitchen and the indoor/ outdoor courtyard dining areas.
Distinction LuxmoreTe Anau, New Zealand
4 star accommodation in beautiful Te Anau, Distinction Luxmore Hotel now offers guests a wide range of brand new hotel accommodation.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Adrian grew up in New Zealand, where he began guiding river trips in 1986 while still in high school. Becoming a river guide was a natural progression for a kid who spent most of his spare time training for national and international competitions in whitewater slalom and downriver racing. His career guiding rafts and safety kayaking has taken him all around New Zealand, as well as to the US, Nepal, Canada, Chile and Ecuador, on trips ranging from the most challenging class V rivers to remote expedition-style trips. He first guided for MTS in 1997 on the Bio Bio River in Chile. In addition to river guiding, Adrian has worked as a heli-ski guide, a hiking guide, a glacier guide and a ski patroller. Adrian operated his own heli-rafting business, Rivers Wild, from 2000 to 2008. The company specialized in taking guests into New Zealand’s most remote and wild rivers. Adrian feels very fortunate to have shared so many amazing experiences with the people he has guided in wild and beautiful places. His favorite part of his job is seeing the look on guests’ faces when they’re having a wonderful experience, especially in the stunning settings of his native country. He is patiently waiting for his two young sons to grow up so they too can join him on fun adventures. Over the years Adrian has called many places home -- right now they are Queenstown, New Zealand and Truckee, California. He holds an undergraduate degree in Geography and a MBA in Sustainable Business Management.