Walk New Zealand
Designed for those travellers who like to incorporate some walking and time off the beaten track in their travels. A reasonable level of fitness and agility is required but the itinerary does not include demanding or strenuous hiking. The 17-day itinerary features time on some of New Zealand’s Great Walks but also includes some lesser known spectacular walks including the Pororari River Track, the Clutha River Track and the Te Waihou Walkway. Taste a hangi dinner, take an overnight cruise on Milford Sound in remote Fiordland National Park and perhaps walk on a glacier – this is a great snapshot of New Zealand outdoors!.
17 Day Walk New Zealand Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrive Christchurch Welcome to New Zealand! Transfer from Christchurch Airport to your hotel. This afternoon enjoy a walk alongside the meandering Avon River through the extensive Christchurch Botanical Gardens and take a walk through parts of the central city. Remainder of the day free.
Day 2 – Christchurch / Punakaiki This morning take a sightseeing tour of the city by coach including the panoramic views across the city and the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps from the Port Hills and the Sign of the Kiwi. Learn about the effects of the 2011 earthquakes and how the city is rebuilding and redeveloping. Afterwards drive across the alluvial Canterbury Plains towards the magnificent Southern Alps. Stop en-route at view points or for short walks. Cross Arthurs Pass and descend through stunning vistas following the Taramakau River to the coast then travel north through Greymouth north to Punakaiki, known for its rugged coastline and the famous Pancake Rocks and blowholes. These stratified limestone stacks are an extraordinary monument of nature.
Day 3 – Punakaiki Today walk along the Pororari River Track into Paparoa National Park. The track follows the Pororari River upstream into the Paparoa National Park. The lower section of the track passes through the Pororari River Gorge – a valley lined on both sides by dramatic limestone cliffs and bluffs towering over the gorge and river. Time also today to explore the Pancake Rocks and view the Blowhole plus other short walks to explore the beach and surrounding forest.
Day 4 – Punakaiki / Franz Josef Glacier From Punakaiki drive south along the West Coast to Hokitika for a coffee stop and a browse through local craft stores and one of the greenstone factories where a local jade-like stone highly prized by Maori is crafted into exquisite jewellery. Following the stop continue the drive south through forests and farmland with views of the Alps to the east and the Tasman Sea to the west, to the village of Franz Josef. The huge rivers of snow and ice of the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers flow from snowfields high in the Southern Alps almost to sea level which is unusual in a temperate climate. This afternoon there is the option to take a heli-hike walk onto the snow and ice of Franz Josef Glacier (accessible only by helicopter) or alternatively take a scenic helicopter flight over the Southern Alps with a snow landing on a glacier (extra cost).
Day 5 – Franz Josef Glacier / Wanaka Early this morning weather conditions permitting, visit Lake Matheson for a walk around the lake. On a clear day this walk offers unsurpassed reflective views of Aoraki (Mt Cook), Mt Tasman and the forested lakeshore. From Fox travel south along the coast enjoying spectacular views of the Tasman Sea before turning inland and following the mighty Haast River towards Haast Pass. Once over the pass the scenery changes abruptly as you enter the Central Otago region. There are many short rainforest walks en-route to waterfalls and streams. Continue past Lakes Hawea and Wanaka to the lakeside village of Wanaka.
Day 6 – Wanaka Today walk part of the Clutha River Track. Commence walking in Albert Town and walk along the Clutha as far as Lake Wanaka. The walk along the river bank offers views of the Clutha’s emerald-green water – watch for trout lurking in the shadows. Also climb Mt Iron for fantastic views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Time this afternoon to explore the lakeside village of Wanaka and its many cafes and boutique shops or take a walk further around the lakeshore.
Day 7 – Wanaka / Te Anau Today drive across the distinctive Central Otago countryside through Cromwell and the rugged Kawarau Gorge. Bypass Queenstown and travel around Lake Wakatipu to the village of Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park and starting point for some of New Zealand’s most famous walking tracks. This evening depart on a cruise across Lake Te Anau to the Te Anau-au Caves. Experienced guides take visitors into the caves by path and small boats underground. Highlights include incredible limestone caverns, whirlpools, waterfalls and the glowworm grotto. On conclusion of tour, return to Te Anau by launch.
Day 8 – Te Anau This morning enjoy a walk on the Lower Kepler Track. This is a section of one of New Zealand’s Great Walks and it is stunning. After crossing a swing bridge over the raging Waiau River walk through a forest of southern beech festooned with ferns and moss. The tiny beech leaves on the track will add a spring to your steps! Also enjoy free time to explore the village or spend some time in the Department of Conservation headquarters to learn more about Fiordland ecology and wildlife.
Day 9 – Te Anau / Milford Sound This morning drive into Fiordland National Park. The scenery is stunning with towering mountains, glacially carved valleys, streams, waterfalls and rainforest. There are many short walks to points of interest enroute including The Chasm and Mirror Lakes. This afternoon board the Milford Mariner for an overnight cruise on Milford Sound. Designed along the lines of a traditional New Zealand coastal trading scow to reflect the heritage of the Fiordland area, the Milford Mariner caters for visitors who enjoy comfort, combined with activity. The vessel has been purpose built to accommodate passengers in private cabins with en-suite bathrooms. Cruise the length of Milford Sound to the Tasman Sea. The vessel explores points of interest, with plenty of time available to view waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and wildlife with the experienced nature guide on board. The vessel returns to and anchors overnight in sheltered Harrison Cove. Conditions permitting you will have the opportunity to explore the shoreline by kayak or by tendercraft. A four-course buffet dinner is served on board.
Day 10 – Milford Sound / Queenstown The Mariner returns to Milford Wharf. Retrace your journey back to Te Anau through the Hollyford and Eglinton Valleys with time for the shorter Fiordland walks en-route. Continue through Te Anau and on to Queenstown, New Zealand’s premier alpine resort set on the shores of picturesque Lake Wakatipu. A brisk climb up Queenstown Hill is recommended for those with energy to spare.
Day 11 – Queenstown Today travel out to Glenorchy at the head of Lake Wakatipu for a full day walking on part of the famous Routeburn Track. This great walk in Mt Aspiring National Park commences with a gradual climb through a world of ferns, mosses, lichens and beech forest where native birds abound. Leave the river gorges below and move into the grandeur of alpine meadows, meandering streams and majestic snow covered mountains. Explore forgotten paths of the Maori, as you travel along their old greenstone trails.
Day 12 – Queenstown Day at leisure for your own choice of activities including lake cruises; thrilling jet boat rides; 4WD Lord of the Rings excursions; white-water rafting; tours of local premier wineries; horse-riding; cycling excursions and adrenalin filled adventure activities including bungy jumping! Alternatively just take time to relax, breath the pure mountain air and enjoy the awe-inspiring scenery.
Day 13 – Queenstown / Rotorua This morning fly from Queenstown to Rotorua on the North Island (not included / extra cost). Located in the heart of New Zealand’s famous thermal region, Rotorua forms part of the geologically active ‘Pacific Rim of Fire’. Situated on the shores of Lake Rotorua, it is also renowned for Maori cultural activities. Stop at St. Faiths Anglican Church at Ohinemutu, where you will see the blending of English and Maori architecture and art. Visit Rainbow Springs, a showcase of New Zealand’s natural flora and fauna – see the rare Kiwi bird in a special nocturnal enclosure and New Zealand’s only reptile, the Tuatara.
Day 14 – Rotorua This morning drive south to the Waimangu Thermal Valley site of the famous Pink and White Terraces, which were destroyed in the volcanic eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886. The resulting 15-km rift contains the Emerald Pool, a 5-hectare boiling lake, a seemingly bottomless blue steaming lake, and colourful silica terraces. Take an interesting walk through the valley and see the Frying Pan Lake, silica terraces and other activity before boarding a boat for a cruise across Lake Rotomahana to see the Steaming Cliffs where the pink and white terraces once stood. This evening visit Tamaki Maori Village for a Cultural Experience and Hangi Dinner. Experience the warmth of the Maori people during an evening of ceremonial rituals, powerful cultural performance, storytelling & hangi feasting.
Day 15 – Rotorua / Putaruru / Auckland Today travel north to Auckland stopping en-route first at Te Waihou near Putaruru to view the extraordinary blue springs then to Tirau and Cambridge before continuing to Auckland, New Zealand’s largest and most cosmopolitan city. Time this evening to explore downtown and the cafés and wine-bars of the vibrant Viaduct Harbour and the central city.
Day 16 – Waitakeres & West Auckland This morning drive out to the Waitakere Ranges west of Auckland. This area is crisscrossed with walking tracks which can be combined with wild beach walks. The Academy Award winning movie, The Piano was filmed in this region. Stop to pick up a picnic lunch in the village of Titirangi and visit the Arataki Visitor Centre before embarking on your final New Zealand hike in this stunning area of forest and beach. After the hike continue to the West Auckland winery region and visit a local winery for wine-tasting. Enjoy a final farewell dinner at a local restaurant this evening.
Day 17 – Depart Auckland Day at leisure to rest, finish shopping, or further exploration before transferring to Auckland International Airport for your departure flight.
* Itinerary subject to change