With its glorious fjords, glaciers, mountains, lakes, rivers, and tracks that crisscross it all, New Zealand's rugged South Island is a trekker's dream. On this amazing journey, hike in Abel Tasman, Paparoa, Nelson Lakes, Fiordland National Parks, Franz Josef Glacier, and sections of two Great Walks. Take an exciting jetboat safari, cruise spectacular Milford Sound, soak in soothing hot pools, and experience Maori culture firsthand. Along the way, enjoy exclusive hotels, taste world-class wine, and encounter native wildlife, from sperm whales to wandering albatross.
Experience the splendor of New Zealand's South Island on this custom-designed hiking adventure
Take unforgettable hikes through diverse landscapes, from rugged coastline to alpine forests
Explore the remote, beautiful Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area by helicopter, hiking, and jetboat
Welcome to the South Island! Upon arrival at the airport in Nelson, your MT Sobek guide will meet you outside the arrivals area and transfer you to your hotel. Relax before joining the group for a welcome dinner and trip briefing.
Today is dedicated to the spectacular Abel Tasman National Park. From Kaiteriteri, a seaside village and gateway to the park, cruise the rugged coastline past golden-sand beaches and granite headlands into the heart of Abel Tasman. Step ashore at Bark Bay and follow the famed Abel Tasman Coastal Track through native forests and along empty beaches. A well-formed trail leads up and over a gentle ridge into Torrent Bay, where you check out the clear, fresh water of Cleopatra's Pool before continuing to Anchorage, from where you boat back to Kaiteriteri.
Depart Nelson bound for St Arnaud and the picturesque alpine lake Rotoiti situated in the northernmost extent of the Southern Alps. A short water taxi ride accesses the head of the lake to hike and have a picnic lunch in the splendid Travers Valley. The track traverses crystal clear river pools, tranquil beech forest, rushing streams and grassy river flats surrounded by mountains. The return boat ride to St Arnaud and a late afternoon drive down the broad Wairau Valley into the wine growing region of Marlborough delivers you to your accommodation for the night.
Heading south, stop at Yealands Estate. Taste wines from this award-winning vineyard renowned for innovation and sustainable wine production, tour the grounds, and enjoy the sweeping views. Continue along one of the most stunning coastal drives in the country, with superb scenery and common New Zealand fur seal and dolphin sightings. On arrival in Kaikoura, experience remarkable coastal scenery with a hike around the Kaikoura Peninsula, passing by historic whaling and Maori pa sites.
Start the morning with a whale-watching cruise offering close-up views of majestic sperm whales, New Zealand fur seals, dusky dolphins, and the endangered wandering albatross. Then drive to the thermal resort of Hanmer Springs and up to Jack's Pass, your first alpine experience. Enjoy the scenic vistas of the Hanmer Range, Clarence Valley, and Amuri Basin as you hike down the Chatterton Track and back to town. The remainder of the day is free to browse the shops, soak in the Hanmer Springs thermal pools, and savor dinner in a local eatery.
Hike today in the Victoria Conservation Area amidst pristine beech forests, meandering rivers, and mining relics. The return track leads up the Klondyke Valley through ancient gnarled beech forests draped in verdant green mosses. Take time out to enjoy a cup of tea and a snack beside the river before returning the same way. Afterward, stop in the historic and quaint town of Reefton for a coffee and a stroll down the main street, lined with restored heritage buildings that offer insight into the past. On arrival at Punakaiki, take a short walk around the famous Pancake Rocks and watch the mighty blowholes. Tonight enjoy dinner at a local pub.
Spend today discovering beautiful Paparoa National Park. Start hiking from the Punakaiki River, following the Inland Pack Track to the Pororari River canyon which leads back to Punakaiki. Hike down the Pororari River Track, passing through nikau palm groves as you climb out of this spectacular canyon - stopping to swim in the river's beautiful deep pools along the way. After hiking, spend the afternoon exploring more of this wild section of coast or just relaxing at the beachfront resort.
Get another early start to drive south down New Zealand's picturesque West Coast to Franz Josef Glacier, situated in a protected UNESCO World Heritage Area. Hike with our guide to the foot of the glacier. Or, book an (optional and subject to weather conditions) heli-hiking trek on the glacier with crampons. After your Franz Josef adventure, drive over the forested moraine hills to the quaint village of Fox Glacier for dinner in a local restaurant.
Drive south toward Hannah's Clearing, where you board a jetboat and embark on a remarkable Waitoto River safari. This unforgettable journey takes you deep into the otherwise inaccessible UNESCO-listed Te Wahipounamu, also known as the South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. The scenery changes dramatically from wild coastline to mountainous primeval beech forests upstream. Part way up the river, take a short hike among the towering trees. After the jetboat safari, enjoy fish and chips at Craypot Restaurant before driving over the Southern Alps at Haast Pass to Wanaka.
Take it easy today with a moderate morning hike amongst the post-glacial features of Diamond Lake and the Rocky Mountain area. Relish spectacular views of Glendhu Bay, Roy's Peak, Lake Wanaka, and the patchwork of farmland and wilderness areas. Return to your lakeside accommodation for a relaxing afternoon. Got energy to burn this afternoon? Hike the lakeside trail that passes in front of the hotel. Otherwise simply wander around the alpine resort, grab a bite to eat, or loll and dine at the hotel.
After transferring to Te Anau, hike part of the Kepler Track - one of New Zealand's famed Great Walks, located in Fiordland National Park. The section meanders around the lake through lush mountain and red beech forest before emerging at Brod Bay, a delightful picnic and swimming spot. From here, catch the water taxi back to Te Anau; it's just a short walk to your hotel. Later in the afternoon you can visit Te Anau Bird Sanctuary for an opportunity to see some New Zealand's more elusive and endangered native birds.
This morning drive out to breathtaking Milford Sound for a memorable cruise. Get up close to the soaring cliffs and thunderous waterfalls, plus stop at the underwater observatory. After lunch, take an afternoon hike to Key Summit on another of New Zealand's Great Walks, the Routeburn Track. The trail offers stunning views of the Darran Mountains and the Hollyford Valley, and passes through an alpine region of meadows, tarns, and a diverse range of alpine flora. Then drive back to Te Anau through lovely Eglinton Valley.
Transfer to Queenstown this morning in time for a midday airport drop-off. If you're staying longer, you can also be dropped at a central Queenstown hotel.
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MT Sobek has been exploring the Pacific for over 20 years, working with the best local guides for an immersive and fun experiences.
Follow many of the famed "tracks" of the southern island including Abel Tasman, Queen Charlotte, Kepler and more!
Indulge in delicious local food and wines of the region on this expertly designed multi-faceted tour.
Our expert guides and trip leaders are truly the key to our trips' success. Many are locals who live in-country year-round; others have made it their second home—all are passionate, enthusiastic and endlessly knowledgeable. Meet a few of the guides that might be on your trip.
Hiking 2-8 miles per day, plus wine tasting, whale watching, jetboat safari, fiord cruise and underwater observatory visit - plus optional glacier heli-hiking experience.
Comfortable, contemporary, and amenity-laden hotels, mostly located within spectacular natural settings.
Temperatures can vary between 50°F to 90°F during the day and may include sunshine, rain, and even snow at higher altitudes.
We do not travel to high elevations on this trip. The highest altitude we will reach hiking is 1,840 feet on Rob Roy Glacier. We will sleep no higher than 1,000 feet above sea level at any time.
Yes. We take a cruise through the fiord and visit the underwater observatory.
We travel in a comfortable air-conditioned Mercedes mini-buses, in which each seat has a seatbelt. We travel with a custom-built trailer, where luggage is securely stored.
The jet boat is the ideal means to access this remote, beautiful and otherwise accessible part of the South Island deep in the South Westland World Heritage Area. It is not about thrills and spins as much as it is about enjoying the stunning scenery and learning the local history and stories.
The heli-hiking is an optional activity at an additional cost that must be paid on arrival. Please keep in mind that the heli-hike is subject to weather conditions and may be cancelled that morning.
You will take a short helicopter ride to the glacier and spend up to three hours walking on uneven and icy terrain. You will be provided crampons, boots, cold weather attire and walking poles.
The driest and warmest time of year is December - February, but September - November and March - May can be quite good too! As an island, New Zealand has a temperate maritime climate so one can experience all four seasons in one day. You should be prepared for either sunshine and warm days or rain and wind at any time during your trip.
Make any of our trips a custom adventure or start from scratch. Take two itineraries and match them up to create a unique third. Add extras and extensions and more...if you can imagine it, we can make it happen!
"My first experience with MT Sobek was a trip to New Zealand. Everything about it met or exceeded my expectations. The guides, the dining, the accommodations, the activities were all top notch and I would recommend MT Sobek without hesitation!"
MT Sobek Guest, New Zealand South Island Hiking
"MT Sobek's New Zealand adventure is the best way to immerse yourself in the beauty and culture of the country. You have to experience New Zealand with MT Sobek!"
MT Sobek Guest, New Zealand South Island Hiking
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