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New Zealand South Island Hiking

Fjords, Mountains & the Franz Josef Glacier

 

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

Contact an Expert

Arrive:

Nelson, New Zealand

Depart:

Queenstown, New Zealand

Price: from $8,795

Duration:

13 Days

Departures:

See Dates

Group Size:

6-15 Guests

Min Age:

14 yrs

Activity:

Level 3

You can enjoy a range of multisport adventures on this trip, including: whale-watching, jetboating and an optional glacier hike. You should feel comfortable hiking 3 to 5 hours a day and up to 7 miles. No previous experience is required, but participants should have a generally good level of fitness.
Learn more here.

Download Detailed Itinerary

Click here to download the Detailed Itinerary.

  • Arrive in Nelson

    Day 1

    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.

    Accommodation: Rutherford Hotel-Nelson, New Zealand

    The Rutherford Hotel in Nelson is the city's only 24-hour fully-serviced hotel, offering luxurious rooms and suites. The central location means Nelson's many galleries and city attractions are just a stone's throw away. All of the rooms have Wi-Fi and offer a view of either the harbor, the city, historic South Street, or Nelson's beautiful cathedral.

    Meals: Dinner

  • Go Deep into Abel Tasman National Park

    Day 2

    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.

    Accommodation: Rutherford Hotel-Nelson, New Zealand

    The Rutherford Hotel in Nelson is the city's only 24-hour fully-serviced hotel, offering luxurious rooms and suites. The central location means Nelson's many galleries and city attractions are just a stone's throw away. All of the rooms have Wi-Fi and offer a view of either the harbor, the city, historic South Street, or Nelson's beautiful cathedral.

    Activity: 3 hours/7 miles hiking with 1,938' elevation gain and loss

    Transportation: 2-hour round-trip private van transfer and 2-hour round-trip boat transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Experience Nelson Lakes National Park

    Day 3

    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.

    Accommodation: Marlborough Vintners Hotel-Blenheim, New Zealand

    This boutique vineyard accommodation and restaurant is set on six tranquil acres surrounded by vineyards in the heart of sauvignon blanc country. Each suite comes with top amenities, including king-size beds, a spacious bathroom, DVD player, TV, complimentary DVDs for loan, private patio, and a small kitchenette with tea and coffee making facilities. High-speed wireless broadband access is also available.

    Activity: 3 hours/6.2 miles hiking with 460' elevation gain and loss

    Transportation: 2-hour drive and 1-hour water taxi

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Get a Taste of Local Wines & Maori Culture

    Day 4

    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.

    Accommodation: The White Morph

    This lovely hotel is a Heritage Collection property right on the Esplanade in coastal Kaikoura. It is an excellent base from which to explore the natural wonders and native wildlife of the area, and serves all travelers, from business visitors to busy adventurers. Studios and apartments have kitchenettes or full kitchens, patios or balconies, and garden or ocean views.

    Activity: 2 hours/2.5 miles hiking with 413' elevation gain and loss

    Transportation: 2-hour private van transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Enjoy Whale-Watching, Hiking, and Hanmer Springs

    Day 5

    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.

    Accommodation: Tussock Peak

    Located in the Hanmer Springs alpine village, Tussock Peak offers affordable luxury, in tranquil and comfortable surroundings, and with an emphasis on being environmentally friendly. Their suites include balconies with mountain views or cozy garden terraces, free wifi and kitchenettes stocked with coffee, tea and milk. For relaxation, there are hot pools and a spa as well as proximity to many good restaurants.

    Activity: 1.5 hours/2 miles hiking with 1,361' elevation loss, 2.5-hour whale-watching cruise

    Transportation: 2-hour private van transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

  • Experience Beech Forests & Pancake Rocks

    Day 6

    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.

    Accommodation: Punakaiki Resort-Punakaiki, New Zealand

    Situated on New Zealand's wild west coast, 30 minutes north of Greymouth and 300m south of the famous Pancakes Rocks and Blowholes, the Punakaiki Resort is surrounded by the Paparoa National Park and is close to the beach. Its spacious, modern studio units all have en-suite bathrooms and either an ocean or garden view.

    Activity: 2 hours/2.5 miles hiking with 528' elevation gain and loss

    Transportation: 3.5-hour private van transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Explore Paparoa National Park

    Day 7

    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.

    Accommodation: Punakaiki Resort-Punakaiki, New Zealand

    Situated on New Zealand's wild west coast, 30 minutes north of Greymouth and 300m south of the famous Pancakes Rocks and Blowholes, the Punakaiki Resort is surrounded by the Paparoa National Park and is close to the beach. Its spacious, modern studio units all have en-suite bathrooms and either an ocean or garden view.

    Activity: 4 hours/6.5 miles hiking with 843' elevation gain and 1,007' elevation loss

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Tackle the Mighty Franz Josef Glacier

    Day 8

    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.

    Accommodation: Distinction Fox Glacier

    The Distinction Fox Glacier offers luxurious hotel accommodation in the ruggedly beautiful Southern Alps, located New Zealand's magnificent West Coast region. The hotel's 20 spacious rooms are well-appointed with modern amenities, including SKY TV, spacious en-suite bathrooms, coffee-making facilities, and unlimited free Wi-Fi - all rooms also feature their own private balcony. Guests can also enjoy access to the hotel's cozy lounge area and relax with a glass of wine while enjoying the valley views.

     

     

    Activity: 2 hours/3.5 miles hiking with 500' elevation gain and loss (optional heli-hiking for additional fee, booked on arrival)

    Transportation: 3.5-hour private van transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Take a Jetboat Safari in South Westland

    Day 9

    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.

    Accommodation: Edgewater

    The shores of Lake Wanaka host only one lucky property: the aptly named Edgewater. Three room types - hotel/studio rooms, one-bedroom suites, and two-bedroom apartments - suit both short- and long-term visitors and are complemented by lovely views, free Wi-Fi, two dining options, a sauna, spa pools, massage and other treatments, tennis courts, bike rental, putting green, and a children's playground.

    Activity: 2.5-hour jetboat safari

    Transportation: 4.5-hours private van transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Hike in & around Wanaka

    Day 10

    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.

    Accommodation: Edgewater

    The shores of Lake Wanaka host only one lucky property: the aptly named Edgewater. Three room types - hotel/studio rooms, one-bedroom suites, and two-bedroom apartments - suit both short- and long-term visitors and are complemented by lovely views, free Wi-Fi, two dining options, a sauna, spa pools, massage and other treatments, tennis courts, bike rental, putting green, and a children's playground.

    Activity: 3 hours/4.5 miles hiking with 1,886' elevation gain and loss

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

  • Trek the Kepler Track

    Day 11

    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.

    Accommodation: Distinction Te Anau Hotel

    Bordering Fiordland National Park and a short stroll from Te Anau town center, this hotel affords spectacular vistas over Lake Te Anau and the Fiordland ranges. Inside is equally pleasing thanks to well-appointed rooms with garden or lake views, a spa and sauna, and free Wi-Fi. The outdoor pool, elegant restaurant, and lakefront terrace bar offer additional opportunities for comfort and scenery.

    Activity: 1.5 hours/3.5 miles hiking with 200' elevation gain and loss

    Transportation: 3-hour private van transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Marvel at Milford Sound & the Routeburn Track

    Day 12

    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.

    Accommodation: Distinction Te Anau Hotel

    Bordering Fiordland National Park and a short stroll from Te Anau town center, this hotel affords spectacular vistas over Lake Te Anau and the Fiordland ranges. Inside is equally pleasing thanks to well-appointed rooms with garden or lake views, a spa and sauna, and free Wi-Fi. The outdoor pool, elegant restaurant, and lakefront terrace bar offer additional opportunities for comfort and scenery.

    Activity: 3 hours/4.5 miles hiking with 1,620' elevation gain and loss; 2-hour cruise

    Transportation: 4-hour round-trip private van transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Arrive in Queenstown and Depart for Home

    Day 13

    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.

    Transportation: 2.5-hour private van transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

New Zealand South Island Hiking

Download Detailed Itinerary

Click here to download the Detailed Itinerary.

What to Expect

 

Why take this trip with us?

Reason #01

MT Sobek has been exploring the Pacific for over 20 years, working with the best local guides for an immersive and fun experiences.

Reason #02

Follow many of the famed "tracks" of the southern island including Abel Tasman, Queen Charlotte, Kepler and more!

Reason #03

Indulge in delicious local food and wines of the region on this expertly designed multi-faceted tour.

Meet your guides

Jeremy Martin

Jeremy Martin

Jeremy's love for New Zealand's wild places comes from his early years, where he spent most weekends and holidays roaming the National Parks of New Zealand. As an adult he's continued that, and spent the last 15 years working as a freelance mountain biking, hiking, and sea kayak guide in New Zealand, Turkey, Ireland, and Scotland. When he's not guiding for MT Sobek, he's studying for a degree in Environmental Studies, examining maps, planning adventures, and working with school groups near his home in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds in the South Island.

Marios Gavalas

Marios Gavalas

Marios does not have the most Kiwi of names, but since arriving in New Zealand over 20 years ago he has not stopped exploring. With boots laced up, pen, paper, and camera in his backpack, Marios has ventured widely into the nooks and crannies of these folded islands as a researcher and guide. As an avid explorer of Fiordland, Abel Tasman, and the mountainous regions of New Zealand, he has had the privilege to meet extraordinary locals and gain snippets of history and culture. These give depth to the landscape and enrich his interpretation for MT Sobek guests.

Activities

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.

Lodging

Comfortable, contemporary, and amenity-laden hotels, mostly located within spectacular natural settings.

Climate

Temperatures can vary between 50°F to 90°F during the day and may include sunshine, rain, and even snow at higher altitudes.

FAQ

At what altitudes will I be hiking?

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.

Does this itinerary visit Milford Sound?

Yes. We take a cruise through the fiord and visit the underwater observatory.

What kind of vehicles are used?

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.

What is the jet boat experience like?

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.

What is the heli-hiking optional activity like?


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.

What is the best time of year to hike in New Zealand?

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.

2022

The earlier you book, the more choice of available dates you’ll have and once you book, your price is guaranteed.

Scheduled Dates

  • Feb 13 - 25, 2022
    $8,795 price per person dbl occ
    +$1,800 single supplement
    Waitlist
  • Mar 07 - 19, 2022
    $8,795 price per person dbl occ
    +$1,800 single supplement
    Available
  • Nov 20 - Dec 02, 2022
    $8,795 price per person dbl occ
    +$1,800 single supplement
    Available
  • Dec 18 - 30, 2022
    $8,795 price per person dbl occ
    +$1,800 single supplement

    Special Offer

    $500 Holiday Season Surcharge

    Available

Price Includes

  • Expertise and services of our experienced adventure guides
  • All accommodations as noted in the itinerary
  • All breakfasts, almost all lunches and dinners as noted in the itinerary
  • Snacks and water between meals
  • Additional regional guides and experts on many trips
  • Comprehensive Trip Planner with detailed pre-trip information
  • Private guided tours at historic sites, museums, wineries and other select attractions as noted in the itinerary
  • Special events and other select attractions as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All gratuities at hotels and restaurants
  • Equipment and experienced guides for activities as described in the itinerary
  • Park and other entry fees (unless otherwise noted)
  • Fares for trains, ferries and other modes of travel as listed in the itinerary
  • Select transfers as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Baggage transfers and porterage

Price Does Not Include

  • International airfare, airport taxes, and excess baggage fees
  • Alcoholic beverages (MT Sobek provides wine at select events)
  • Gratuities for MT Sobek guides and guide-drivers
  • Travel Protection Program
  • Personal expenses

Contact An Expert

800-974-0300

Need help picking your next adventure? Call us to answer your questions.

Go Private

Go Private

Gather your favorite travel companions to share an MT Sobek adventure on an easy-to-book Private Trip.

Choose from the selection of dates below for your group or if your preferred date is not available, we'll create a departure just for you.

Call or email us to get the ball rolling.

Private Trip Pricing:

2021 Pricing

8 to 15 guests from $10,295 per person double occupancy

2022 Pricing

6 to 7 guests from $9,195 per person double occupancy

8 to 9 guests from $8,995 per person double occupancy

10 to 12 guests from $8,795 per person double occupancy

Additional Costs:

Private pricing excludes potential additional costs such as internal airfare, single supplement, or any park fees that may be required for the trip.

Take Over One of These Dates

Make Your Own Dates in These Months

Price Includes

  • Expertise and services of our experienced adventure guides
  • All accommodations as noted in the itinerary
  • All breakfasts, almost all lunches and dinners as noted in the itinerary
  • Snacks and water between meals
  • Additional regional guides and experts on many trips
  • Comprehensive Trip Planner with detailed pre-trip information
  • Private guided tours at historic sites, museums, wineries and other select attractions as noted in the itinerary
  • Special events and other select attractions as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All gratuities at hotels and restaurants
  • Equipment and experienced guides for activities as described in the itinerary
  • Park and other entry fees (unless otherwise noted)
  • Fares for trains, ferries and other modes of travel as listed in the itinerary
  • Select transfers as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Baggage transfers and porterage

Price Does Not Include

  • International airfare, airport taxes, and excess baggage fees
  • Alcoholic beverages (MT Sobek provides wine at select events)
  • Gratuities for MT Sobek guides and guide-drivers
  • Travel Protection Program
  • Personal expenses

Contact An Expert

800-974-0300

Need help picking your next adventure? Call us to answer your questions.

Go Custom

Create Your Very Own Adventure

Dreaming of an adventure designed exclusively for you? With insider access and decades of experience, our travel experts create custom tailored adventures that are perfect for families, couples, and large groups. MT Sobek's custom adventures are designed to our exacting standards and led by our award-winning adventure guides.