Day 1: Arrive in Auckland
This morning you will arrive in Auckland and be transferred to your centrally located accommodation. The rest of your day is free to explore Auckland.
Day 2: Rangitoto Summit - Rotorua
This morning you are a short walk to Auckland city’s viaduct where you will take a 25 minute ferry ride to Rangitoto Island. From here, you will begin a short hike which climbs through lava fields and forest to the island’s peak at 259m above sea level. From the summit of this dormant volcano, you will enjoy panoramic views of Auckland City. Dominating the Hauraki Gulf with its conical peak, Rangitoto is an Auckland icon. This is a self-guided excursion and does not include ferry tickets.
Length: 2 hours return for hike
Difficulty: Easy - Medium
Returning to Auckland, you will pick up a rental car and drive 3 ½ hours south to Rotorua, where you will spend the next two nights.
Day 3: Rotorua / Whirinaki
Today on a small group tour you will experience one of NZ’s best one day walks. Discover ancient trees, extraordinary ecology and learn about the conservation challenges to protect some of the rarest creatures on earth. Whirinaki Forest is one of the world’s premier rainforests. Five hundred-year-old trees standing 60m high, rare birds calling overhead – Whirinaki is a worldclass example of unique rainforest that’s barely changed since dinosaurs roamed under the canopy. This lush forest is unlike anything else in New Zealand with ancient trees such as rimu, kahikatea, miro and matai. Whirinaki provides outstanding habitat for many of New Zealand’s rarest birds – kaka (North Island parrot), yellow-crowned kakariki (parakeet) and toutouwai (North Island robin), to name just a few.
Length: 4-5 hours return for hike
Difficulty: Easy – Medium
About Te Urewera National Park:
The largest national park in the North Island, Te Urewera is home to a vast world of stunning lakes, forest and mountains. Together with neighbouring Whirinaki Forest Park, Te Urewera is the largest remaining stand of native forest in the North Island. Lake Waikaremoana, within the park, is noted for its scenic shoreline.
Day 4: Rotorua - Tongariro National Park / Tongariro Sunset Walk
This morning is free to explore Rotorua, before making the drive 2 ½ hours south to Tongariro National Park, where you’ll arrive in time for a guided sunset walk. Your tour guide will pick you up at your accommodation before driving up the Whakapapa road to a height of 1500m on Ruapehu. From here, you’ll head out walking for 45 minutes on the "round the mountain track" to a ridge where you can sit, relax and watch the sun setting over Mt Taranaki (140kms to the west), whilst indulging in one of New Zealand's finest wines. Your guide will share his knowledge of geology, volcanology and New Zealand cultural history. This is a stunning time of day with great sunset lighting in a majestic Alpine setting. You’ll spend two nights in the Tongariro National Park.
Length: 45 minutes for hike
About Tongariro National Park:
This is New Zealand's first national park, and one of only 27 World Heritage Sites recognized for both outstanding natural and cultural value. The park encircles three active volcanoes: Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro and includes several sacred Māori sites. Emerald lakes, alpine meadows and hot springs surround the largest active volcanoes in the North Island, offering an environment of stunning diversity and some of New Zealand’s most contrasting landscapes.
Day 5: Tongariro Alpine Crossing
After breakfast join your guide for your Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This 19km (11.4mile) trek is New Zealand’s best day one day walk. The track leads up to the saddle between Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Tongariro and then diverts over Mt Tongariro. Mt Tongariro is not a single volcano, but a complex of craters that have been active at different periods. The landscape on Tongariro is peppered with different colored and shaped craters, scoured volcanic rocks, mountain springs, and brightly colored emerald lakes.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing starts at the Mangatepopo Valley (1100m), and the first 2 hours of the trek is an upward gentle gradient to Soda Springs. To avoid others, you are taken off track and up to the saddle between Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe saddle. This section has a steep gradient and is taken slowly to enjoy the spectacle and scenery. You have now arrived at the South Crater (1650m). Here take a break and photos, then traverse up the side of Tongariro to the famous Red Crater summit (1882m). This takes approximately 1 hour. After taking in the view of the active Red Crater with the Otarere and Rangipo deserts in the background, descend to the Emerald Lakes for lunch, refreshments and a well-earned break. From here divert up and over Mt Tongariro to its summit (1967m). The summit has a great photo opportunity of the Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu peaks. Take the main track back over Mt Ngauruhoe’s pyroclastic flows with sunset views of Mt Taranaki, 150kms (60miles) away before returning your accommodation. Note: This tour is available Nov - Apr (except Christmas Day), Jun - Nov on request.
Length: 7-8 hours walking time
Difficulty: Medium – Difficult
Distance: 11.4 mile
This is a challenging walk for many. If you prefer, this can be substituted for an easier half day guided walk.
Day 6: Tongariro - Nelson
This morning you will return your rental car to Taupo or Rotorua Airport and fly to Nelson. Upon arrival in Nelson, pick up another rental car and make your way to your accommodation for the next two nights.
Day 7: Abel Tasman National Park
Today you’ll explore Abel Tasman National Park. It’s a 1.5 hour drive to Kaiteriteri to catch the water taxi out to the park. There are a variety of walks available within the park.
Note: This is not a guided walk, however an ‘Open Day Pass’ is included. When you call the night before to confirm your trip, you’ll be advised on your best options for that day depending on weather, tides and how active or relaxed you would like your day to be.
About Abel Tasman National Park:
The smallest national park, this popular visitor destination has numerous tidal inlets and beaches of golden sand along the shores of Tasman Bay. "Doing the Abel Tasman" as a tramping (hiking) or kayaking journey is a popular activity.
Day 8: Nelson – Queenstown - Wanaka
After breakfast, return your rental car to Nelson Airport for your flight to Queenstown. In Queenstown, you’ll pick up another rental car and make the one-hour scenic drive to Wanaka, where you will spend the next two nights.
Day 9: Wanaka / Rob Roy Glacier
Today you will be collected from your accommodation for your trip to Rob Roy Glacier, which begins with a scenic drive around Lake Wanaka, and into the Matukituki Valley. After driving through several fords, you’ll arrive at Raspberry Hut, an old sheep farmers hut. From here, the guided trekking begins with a 30-minute walk along the banks of the Matukituki River. After entering Mt Aspiring National Park by a swing bridge across the river, the trek steadily climbs into a New Zealand rainforest - a variety of moss, ferns, and shrubs. Often the glacier can be seen through the bush.
After leisurely trekking for 2 hours, the forest drops away and you’ll enter open ground of alpine herbs and flowers, and the glory of the Rob Roy Glacier comes into sight. Here you can take time to relax and enjoy one of the best views Mother Nature offers, while eating a picnic lunch. Large chunks of ice and snow (sometimes the size of a car) can usually be seen from a distance dropping 150-300 metres. A 261-metre waterfall descends from here creating an amazing windblast. Following lunch, it’s a downhill walk back to the carpark. Note: This tour operates Nov - Apr, May - Oct on request. Does not operate on Christmas Day.
Length: 5 hours walking time
Distance: 6.2 miles for hike
About Mt Aspiring National Park:
A complex of impressively glaciated mountain scenery centered on Mount Aspiring/Tititea(3,036 m), New Zealand's highest peak outside of the main divide. Hikers love this dreamland of mountains, glaciers, river valleys and alpine lakes.
Day 10: Wanaka – Te Anau
This morning after breakfast, you will make the scenic 3 ½ hr drive southwest to the small town of Te Anau, where you’ll spend the next three nights.
Ata Whenua - Shadowland
This evening we highly recommend dining at 'Redcliff' in Te Anau and seeing 'Ata Whenua' - Shadowland. This 32 minute movie brings you the Fiordland World Heritage Wilderness you would otherwise never see. Mysterious, evocative, exhilarating and utterly spectacular, filmed across extremes of season, climate and terrain, it will take you on an unforgettable journey through one of the most awe inspiring landscapes on earth. Filmed by a local helicopter pilot, this show is well worth your time. Screenings daily at Fiordland Cinema. Check show times at: www.fiordlandcinema.co.nz.
Day 11: Te Anau / Milford Track
Today you’ll experience the famous Milford Track on a one-day guided adventure. The Milford Track, long regarded as the ‘finest walk in the world’ is a four-day trip through the heart of Fiordland National Park. For those who do not have time to do the full walk, this is a great alternative. Join your guide in Te Anau and take a short coach trip to Te Anau Downs. Enjoy a hot drink as you cruise across Lake Te Anau to the start of the Milford Track. The walk takes you along the Glade Burn to historic Glade House where you’ll stop for lunch. The path then follows the stunning Clinton River, across a swing bridge into a mystical beech forest. Experience the tranquility of strolling beneath ancient beech trees, witness emerald waters and listen for native birdsong. Along the way, knowledgeable nature guides will help you interpret the magical surroundings, providing you with information about the track’s history and the unique native birds and plants around you. Note: this tour operates Nov - mid April.
Length: 4-5 hours walking time
Distance: 6.8 miles for hike
About Fiordland National Park:
The largest national park in New Zealand and one of the largest in the world, the park covers the South Island’s southwest corner. The grandeur of its scenery, with its deep fiords, glacial lakes, mountains and waterfalls, make it a popular destination. Ancient rainforest clings impossibly to the mountains; waterfalls tumble hundreds of meters into massive fiords; shimmering lakes and granite peaks look the same today as they did a thousand years ago.
Day 12: Te Anau / Milford Sound Walk and Cruise
This morning, get ready to experience more of Fiordland - by land and water - on the Milford Walk and Cruise. From Te Anau travel along the spectacular Milford Road with local, experienced nature guides/drivers. Upon reaching Milford Sound, join a Nature Cruise for an extended cruise of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea. The cruise provides excellent viewing opportunities and plenty of time to view waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and wildlife. On completion of the cruise, rejoin the small coach and choose a walking option. Stay with your nature guide and enjoy a range of short walks (5-40 minutes in length) through the spectacular alpine area and Hollyford Valley. Or select a 2.5 hour unguided walk to Key Summit on the renowned Routeburn Track. This walk ascends through lush beech rainforest and into the alpine environment with panoramic views of the surrounding Fiordland Mountains, alpine lakes and deep bush clad valleys. The groups then reunite before continuing along the Milford Road back to Te Anau. The day is tailored to weather and seasonal highlights to ensure optimal enjoyment. Note: This tour only operates Oct -Apr.
Length: Up to 2.5 hours walking time
Difficulty: Easy - Medium
Day 13: Te Anau - Queenstown
After breakfast, you’ll make the 2 ½ hr drive back to Queenstown. The rest of your day is free to explore New Zealand’s most popular town.
Day 14: Queenstown / Routeburn Track
Your New Zealand journey culminates with a trip onto the Routeburn Track. From the head of Lake Wakatipu, you’ll begin your walk among towering ancient beech, as you climb gradually through blankets of forest moss and fern. Thundering below, the Routeburn River runs through the gorge it’s carved over the last millennia. Just 90 breathtaking minutes later, the woodland parts to reveal the rich grassland of Routeburn Flats, surrounded by cloud-scraping mountain stacks.
Routeburn Falls is just a short stride through more alpine forest. The walk continues to climb through a vast alpine meadow to the Harris Saddle, some 1300 metres above sea level. High in the clear mountain air a 360-degree view looks out along the Hollyford Valley to the Tasman Sea, and inland. Note: Due to the nature of the terrain, altitude and alpine conditions, the duration of this walk is entirely flexible and dependent on the group's fitness levels. You can enjoy anything from 4 to 14 miles return journey. Note: This tour operates year round, except on Christmas Day.
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
Distance: 4-14 miles
About Mt Aspiring National Park:
A complex of impressively glaciated mountain scenery centered on Mount Aspiring/Tititea (3,036 m), New Zealand's highest peak outside of the main divide. Hikers love this dreamland of mountains, glaciers, river valleys and alpine lakes.
Day 15: Depart Queenstown
Return your rental car to Queenstown Airport.