Join this 3-week New Zealand walking holiday and explore both islands as you weave your way from north to south with a skilled guide. The day hikes and short walks have been specially selected to get you into the best and most diverse wilderness areas of New Zealand. From strenuous alpine hikes to strolls along the beach, choose the walks to suit you. After a great day’s hiking, you get to relax in quality hotel accommodation. You don’t even need to bring all your own gear as the tour company can offer quality hiking equipment at no additional charge.
Go underground in the Waitomo glow worm caves, explore the geothermal area of Rotorua and hike the volcanoes of Tongariro National Park. Spend even more time hiking in the south: the Abel Tasman coast, Punakaiki’s luscious green rainforests and the majestic Aoraki/Mount Cook. Finish your New Zealand walking tour under the immense peaks of Mount Aspiring National Park before arriving in exciting Queenstown where we’ve added a 3-night stay.
This is a fantastic option if you are a solo traveller as you’ll be with a small group – average group size is 8. If your time is short, simply choose one of the single island options.
This itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements, please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.
You will depart the UK today from your chosen airport
On arrival at your chosen airport, you will be taken to your city centre accommodation for one night
Meet your North Island guide and the rest of the group in the Heritage Hotel foyer at 7am before driving south through the classic patchwork green farming country alongside the Waikato River.
Arriving at the Waitomo Caves area, descend into the vaulted galleries of the Ruakuri Cave with its limestone formations and crystals. You'll be captivated by the thousands of tiny glow-worms that cling to the cave ceiling and mimic a starlit night sky. Afterwards, you’ll emerge into the sunshine and wander on a loop trail through an outstanding limestone canyon.
You'll arrive in the volcanically active area of Rotorua in the late afternoon. Rotorua is also the centre of Maori cultural tourism in New Zealand and tonight you’ll enjoy an evening meal and cultural performance.
Hike alongside the beautifully clear Lake Tarawera, enjoying the shade that towering tree ferns and ignimbrite cliffs offer. Jump into the water to cool off at any one of the tiny pumice beaches. There are astonishing views all along this trail, giving glimpses of how expansive this massive wilderness of forest, lakes and volcanoes really is.
In the afternoon, explore some of the amazing thermal areas located a little south of Rotorua. Wander along boardwalks that connect pools of bubbling mud, mineral-tainted hot pools and plumes of rising steam as you wonder at this unique area before driving to the lakeside town of Taupo.
At Huka Falls, feel the power as the huge Waikato River gets pinched through a narrow rock corridor. Your accommodation is at the southern end of this stunning lake. Relax with a drink and enjoy the views.
Today, you'll drive around Lake Taupo’s shores to New Zealand’s first national park – Tongariro.
Take a leisurely morning walk through the stunning forest around the slopes of Mt Pihanga and to the mystical Lake Rotopounamu (Lake of Greenstone).
The next two nights are spent in a lodge on the edge of the park, providing a great opportunity for you to explore the area at your leisure.
Join the guide this afternoon for a great walk to Taranaki Falls, cascading 20 metres over a 15,000-year-old lava flow. Enjoy dinner with the group in the comfort of the Chateau.
Join your guide today for a full day walking on the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing, regarded as one of the best day walks in the world.
The track is extremely well built and even a novice hiker will enjoy the gradual ascent up to the top of Mt Tongariro. Your guide will set a pace that lets you stop and admire the views of the Red Crater, Emerald Lakes and steaming vents that make this hike so iconic. It will all be worth it when you celebrate at dinner with a bottle of fine New Zealand wine.
Those who prefer a more restful day can find plenty to do at the village: Soda Springs walk, Taranaki Falls walk, or simply drink coffee and view the great exhibits at the Park Visitor Centre. Enjoy your second night in this alpine village.
Rest your legs this morning as you’re driven south to the capital city of Wellington.
The rest of the afternoon is yours, so take your time as you stroll along the fabulous waterfront and through the busy streets of this buzzing city. Absorb some of New Zealand’s history in the national museum - Te Papa, explore the waterfront or simply get lost admiring the heritage houses along one of the many improbably steep streets.
You are spoilt for choice for places to dine this evening, so take your pick.
Grab an early breakfast before boarding your scenic flight over Cook Straight as you hop from the North to the South Island.
Your southern guide will meet you at the Nelson airport before your picturesque drive to Kaiteriteri. This seaside village is the gateway to the popular Abel Tasman National Park, and a popular holiday spot for the locals.
Board a water taxi for a journey into the heart of the National Park. Step ashore and follow the famed Abel Tasman coastal track through native forests and along golden sand beaches. The lovely clear fresh waters of Cleopatra's Pool may tempt you to take a dip or for those more daring a slide down the naturally formed hydro-slide!
After passing through Torrent Bay a well-formed trail leads us up and over a gentle ridge into Bark Bay where you meet the water taxi for a return journey to Kaiteriteri. On your return to Nelson, there is time to freshen up before strolling downtown for dinner, the town centre is well known for its vibrant and arty atmosphere.
On the way to the West Coast, you’ll stop for a remarkable hike to marvel at natural flames which have been burning since the 1920s. You can access this phenomenon with a local guide over a privately owned working deer farm.
Unlike the Eternal Flames of the Chimera in Turkey, these flames are surrounded by lush tree ferns and beech forest. A cup of 'billy tea' and hot cakes prepared over the flames gives this experience a distinctly kiwi flavour.
Continue your journey alongside the mighty Buller River as it cuts through the massive wilderness of the upper South Island, arriving on the coast at Westport. Take a short stroll at Cape Foulwind to view a colony of New Zealand fur seals splashing around in the rock pools.
You'll then head south to catch the sunset at Punakaiki and visit a local pub for dinner.
Hike the Inland Pack Track from Punakaiki to Pororari. This historic route was once used by prospectors and miners to avoid the immense coastal cliffs while travelling the West Coast.
Pass through deep limestone canyons, towering rainforests and groves of Nikau Palms. You may not be able to resist a speedy swim in one of the many deep clear pools you pass on the way!
After lunch hike along the Truman track to reach stunning waterfalls, sea cliffs and wild beaches. And of course, no visit to Punakaiki is complete without a trip to the Pancake Rocks and blowholes. A walk at high tide when the blowholes are blasting sprays of salt water skyward is the most impressive.
This remarkable highway takes you from the lush green rainforests of the West Coast and over the glaciated Southern Alps to the parched soft yellow savannahs of Canterbury.
This is one of the most cleverly engineered roads in New Zealand. From Arthur’s Pass hike (unguided) four kilometres down to the village on a well-formed walking track. The trail has superb mountain views, thundering waterfalls and a diverse range of alpine plants.
You'll arrive in Christchurch in the mid-afternoon and have time to explore the inner district to see some of the innovative and exciting methods used to rebuild the heart of the city following the 2011 earthquake.
A mid-morning departure gives you time to discover some city cafes or see one of the parks in the ‘Garden City’.
Then drive west to Lake Tekapo, famous for its stunning turquoise waters and the quaint Church of the Good Shepherd, perched right by the lake.
Hike up through wilding conifers and tussock grasslands to the summit of Mt John. Revel in the 360-degree views of the Patagonia-like landscape. The sweeping Mackenzie basin is a sparsely populated region in the rain shadow of the Southern Alps; tawny-brown drylands, braided riverbeds and startling glacial lakes extend to the horizon.
You will arrive at Aoraki/Mount Cook in the late afternoon. Relax and enjoy breathtaking views of New Zealand's highest mountain (3,724 metres).
Hike up to Sealey Tarns and enjoy the awesome views of Mt Sefton, Mueller Glacier and across the Hooker Valley to Aoraki/Mount Cook.
If you’re feeling energetic, join the guide for a further climb from the tarns up to the crest of Mueller Ridge for even wider views of this magnificent alpine landscape.
Those not wanting to climb to Sealey or Mueller can take the flatter option and walk up the Hooker Valley (unguided), enjoying close up views of the Mueller and Hooker Glaciers on the way.
Travel up the Tasman Valley towards the longest glacier in New Zealand, the Tasman Glacier.
Take a short walk through the glacial moraine and board a custom-built boat for a unique spin around the terminal lake. Like most glaciers in the world, the Tasman Glacier is retreating and the terminal lake increases in size every year. This dynamic environment is dotted with icebergs of all shapes and sizes from the collapsing terminal wall of the glacier.
The drive to Wanaka follows the Mackenzie country south before climbing over the tussock lands of the Lindis Pass into the southern lakes district. Wanaka is a lovely holiday town on the lakeside.
A beautiful drive alongside Lake Wanaka leads us to Aspiring National Park.
Hike up the Matukituki Valley beneath some fine peaks before turning up the Rob Roy side stream and climbing abruptly to the bushline. This gorgeous trail through virgin beech forest emerges into a splendid alpine basin below the bulking mass of the Rob Roy Glacier. Watch water tumble off the glacier as you relax and enjoy lunch.
After the hike, grab a drink and unwind on the lawn of the famous old drover’s hotel at Cardrona before you drive over the Crown Range and into the lively scene of Queenstown. Your tour finishes here, in the late afternoon.
You have two days to relax and enjoy this vibrant town. Pure alpine air, stunning views across snow-capped mountains, and crystal clear lakes, Queenstown is located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, overlooked by the majestic Southern Alps.
Queenstown's reputation as the adventure capital of the world is well earned: bungee jump from the world's first commercial bungee site, white-water raft, jet boat down canyons or paraglide just to name a few. But it’s not all about thrill rides, surrounded by scenery you can just take time out and go for long walks, four-wheel drive treks, or lunch at one of the nearby award-winning wineries.
Many of New Zealand’s famous Great Walks start within reach of Queenstown. The dramatic Hollyford Track in the heart of Fiordland National Park is a wonderful guided walk option. The unforgettable Milford Sound is a half-day drive from Queenstown. Steep cliffs and dense rainforest border this spectacular fiord that can be explored by boat. Whatever your preference, we can help you with any activities that you might like to add on to your New Zealand adventure.
Time to bid farewell to New Zealand as you board your onward flight – we have included a shared transfer from your hotel to the airport.
Why not add in a stopover in the Pacific or Asia to break up your journey?
New Zealand is a year-round destination and there is always something to see and enjoy whatever time you decide to travel. High season runs from December to February (summer), prices will be at a premium at these times and availability limited so it is advisable to book in advance. March to April and September to November can be a great time to travel as the weather is fine and the crowds fewer. Low season is May to August (winter) for most of New Zealand, this is, however, the best time for skiing and so ski towns such as Queenstown will be at their busiest.
*This tour operates between November and March only*
We’re experts in planning tailor-made holidays, so whether you’re looking for a luxury New Zealand holiday, ideas for a road trip or multi-stop flights to New Zealand with stopovers – let us help you with the planning. Our experts can tailor-make precisely the trip you’re looking for – this itinerary is purely a suggestion, so please contact us with your dates and requests, and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.
This small group New Zealand walking tour uses a range of hotels and lodges chosen for their good standards and wonderful locations. All rooms have ensuite bathrooms. Rooms are twin share or doubles. If you are travelling on your own you will be given a twin share room with a fellow traveller of the same gender. If you prefer not to share, single supplements are available on this tour.