This tour has been designed to include many of New Zealand's iconic hiking tracks whilst also offering wonderfully comfortable accommodation in beautiful locations at the end of each day.
This trip has a strong focus on New Zealand's natural history with the guides having plenty of time to interpret the flora and fauna and explain the geological and social history of the areas you'll visit. You also have the choice of a selection of the best day hikes Fiordland National Park has to offer, along with an overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound, or hiking the famous Milford Track in its entirety.
- Explore the West Coast beaches and rainforests
- Visit Mt Aspiring National Park
- See the imposing limestone tors of Castle Hill
- Hike in Paparoa National Park
- Visit Fox Glacier with the option to hike or heli-hike on the glacier
- Explore Mt Cook National Park on foot
- Hiking options include: Routeburn, Milford & Kepler tracks
This itinerary also provides you with a choice of multi-day hiking options between days 7 and 11. You can either opt to take the Active Great Walks Discovery which combines the Routeburn, Milford and Kepler Track day hikes, plus the Milford Sound cruise and overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound or you can opt for the full Milford Track Guided Walk (at an additional supplement).
The 'Manuka' is an active hiking trip, but has options to suit a wide range of fitness levels and outdoor experience. Typically hikes on the 'Manuka' trip take 3 to 6 hours to complete, with longer hikes on the Milford Track Guided Walk option.
Itinerary & Accommodation
- Day 1: Christchurch - Punakaiki
Today you will travel west to Kuru Tawhiti Conservation Area in the heart of the Southern Alps. We'll take a gentle one-hour walk among the imposing limestone tors of Castle Hill, which were once a meeting place for moa hunters of the Ngai Tahu tribe. The Dalai Lama visited this area and described it as a 'spiritual centre of the universe'. This afternoon we'll continue on to the West Coast and the seaside village of Punakaiki, where you'll have the rest of the afternoon to relax or walk along the beach.
Overnight: West Coast lodgings, Punakaiki. Lunch and dinner included.
- Day 2: Punakaiki
We'll spend most of today hiking the Inland Pack Track through temperate rainforest and limestone canyons in the footsteps of the gold miners who established this trail over a century ago. We'll also follow the Truman Track to a rocky cove and check out the famous Pancake Rocks and blow holes – aptly named limestone formations that have been sculpted through relentless pounding by the Tasman Sea. The Punakaiki coastline is a magnet to marine wildlife, including little blue penguins and Hector's dolphin (the world's smallest) that can sometimes be seen close to shore.
Overnight: West Coast lodgings, Punakaiki. All meals included.
- Day 3: Punakaiki - Franz Josef
We'll travel down the coast to hike the Point Elizabeth track through native coastal forest and flax. The fibres of the flax plant are a traditional resource for Maori, used for weaving a variety of baskets, mats and clothing. Then it's on to Hokitika where we'll stretch our legs and check out local art galleries and pounamu-carving workshops (pounamu is Maori for jade). Next we'll visit West Coast Treetop Walk, an exhilarating treetop adventure among giants. This walk will take you up above the forest floor, allowing you to pass through an ancient canopy of rimu and kamahi trees. From here, we'll carry on down to Franz Josef where we'll stay for the next couple of nights. Nestled in the rainforest-clad foothills of the Southern Alps, Franz Josef is the heart of New Zealand glacier country. After dark, we can head out to look for the eerie lights of Arachnocampa luminosa – the native glowworm – and listen for some of New Zealand's nocturnal birdlife such as the distinctive hoot of the morepork owl.
Overnight: Rainforest Retreat, Franz Josef. All meals included.
- Day 4: Franz Josef - Makarora, Mt Aspiring National Park
Today we'll visit one of the formidable West Coast glaciers. We'll take a morning hike to the historic Tatare Tunnels, and then continue on to Franz Josef Glacier, where we walk to a great view of the terminal face. Franz Josef Glacier is an enormous river of ice, unusual in that it comes from its névé, high in the Southern Alps, and down into the rainforest near sea level.
Heli-Hike Option (additional cost): an outrageously scenic alternative to today's hike is to heli-hike on Franz Josef Glacier itself. After being fitted with crampons, ice axes and so on, you'll board a turbine helicopter and fly towards the highest peaks of the Southern Alps, landing on the glacier at 1300 metres (4000 feet) above sea level. Led by specialist glacier guides, you'll hike through the grand ice formations of the glacier, checking out its crevasses, seracs and tunnels – no previous experience is required! The constant movement of the glacier means every day is different, so your guides will cut steps in the ice to make the most of the conditions. At the end of your hike on the ice, you'll take another helicopter ride out of the mountains and back to civilisation.
From Franz Josef, we'll travel down the coast through lush rainforest and inland to Makarora, a small village bordering Mt Aspiring National Park. We'll stay at a family-style homestead on the edge of the village with incredible views of the mountains from your window.
Overnight: Makarora Lodgings, Makarora. All meals included.
- Day 5: Makarora, Mt Aspiring National Park - Queenstown
The landscape this morning changes rapidly from dense beech forests to semi-arid terrain before transforming to fantastic lake and mountain views. At Lake Wanaka, we'll hike the Diamond Lake track, a fantastic circuit through an area carved by ice-age glaciers, with stands of native forest and shrubland. From Wanaka, it's a short but dramatic journey over the Cardrona Saddle to Queenstown, on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. There's no shortage of local restaurants to choose from tonight, and you'll sleep sweetly at the lakefront Crowne Plaza Hotel, located in the heart of Queenstown.
Overnight: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown. Breakfast and lunch included.
- Day 6: Queenstown
Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand (if not the world!) and all the comforts of civilisation are packed into this tiny resort town: restaurants galore, stylish lounge bars, day spas, and boutiques. You'll also find incredible optional activities here, including horse trekking, a gondola, fishing, winery tours, a historic steamship, bungy jumping, jet boating, skydiving, as well as some great hiking opportunities. Or you can just soak up the atmosphere at one of many local cafés.
Overnight: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown. No meals included.
- Days 7-11: Option 1 (Active Great Walks Discovery)
Day 7: Queenstown - Te Anau
After a relaxed breakfast, we'll ride up the gondola to the top of a tree-covered rocky crag, known as Bob's Peak, to start our alpine hike. We pass through open alpine tussock-land to the Ben Lomond saddle and will be rewarded with panoramic views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by the often snow-covered Southern Alps. For those keen to press on to the top, Ben Lomond's summit reveals views of Mt Earnslaw and Mt Aspiring, two of New Zealand's highest peaks, and even a glimpse of Aoraki/Mt Cook on a clear day. Once back at lake level, we'll give our legs a break and travel to Lake Te Anau, on the fringe of Fiordland National Park.
Overnight: Matai Lodge, Te Anau. All meals included.
Day 8: Te Anau - Fiordland National Park
This morning, we set off for our largest and perhaps most spectacular national park, Fiordland. We'll hike part of the Routeburn Track, the first of the Great Walks you'll experience. We hike through beech forest, sub-alpine shrublands and picturesque alpine tarns, before reaching Key Summit. Here you'll be standing at the head of three different valleys (the Hollyford, Eglinton and Greenstone), with stunning views over the Great Divide, which separates west and east flowing rivers. We'll take a short drive through the Homer Tunnel and emerge at the top of a spectacular glacier-carved valley for a memorable descent to the shore of Milford Sound (actually it's a fiord!). Rudyard Kipling rated Milford as the eighth natural wonder of the world and it is truly breathtaking, with steep granite walls plunging over a thousand metres to the Tasman Sea and waterfalls cascading into deep inky water. Tonight we'll stay in some fairly basic accommodation in a wonderful remote location, enjoying the simple things in life.
Overnight: Milford Lodge, Milford Sound. All meals included.
Day 9: Fiordland National Park - Te Anau
It's worth getting up early to take a photo of Mitre Peak – quite possibly the most photographed mountain in New Zealand – but your challenge is to find a unique angle! After breakfast, we'll take a short boat ride across Milford Sound to hike from Sandfly Point to the Giant Gates waterfall, a spectacular section of the famed Milford Track. The forest here is lush and rich with mosses and ferns as we follow the Arthur River past Lake Ada. By hiking from the Milford Sound trailhead, we'll enjoy the track to ourselves, which is a luxury others seldom get. Once we return to the Milford wharf, we'll board a boat for a two hour nature cruise to the head of this spectacular fiord. We'll then leave Milford Sound behind to hike some lesser-known tracks in eastern Fiordland before returning to Te Anau.
Overnight: Matai Lodge, Te Anau. All meals included.
Day 10: Kepler Track & Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise
Three Great Walks in three days... unheard of! Today, it's the Kepler Track and we'll begin by following the lakeshore through red and mountain beech. Interestingly, the Kepler Track differs from the Routeburn and Milford in that it didn't actually evolve from a necessary Maori greenstone trail, but was custom-built for hiking. After lunch, we'll travel over Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove where we'll board the Fiordland Navigator for our overnight cruise of Doubtful Sound. Far larger than its northern neighbour, Milford, Doubtful Sound is an even more remote wilderness area. You'll have the opportunity to take a kayak out on the water or hop aboard the tendercraft for a guided exploration of the fiord and in the right season you may catch a glimpse of the rare Fiordland crested penguin. Tonight you'll sleep in a quad share room aboard the Navigator, but there is the option to upgrade (at an additional cost) to a private ensuite room.
Overnight: Fiordland Navigator ship, Doubtful Sound. All meals included.
Day 11: Doubtful Sound - Queenstown
Waking up on a boat in misty, mysterious Doubtful Sound is something you have to experience to believe. This morning we'll cruise back to Deep Cove and you may be lucky enough to spot bottlenose dolphins that inhabit this area, before making our way back to civilisation.
Overnight: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown. All meals included.
- Days 7-11: Option 2 (Milford Track Guided Walk)
Please note: additional cost applies on this option.
Day 7: Queenstown - Milford Track
The 4 night/5 day Milford Track is one of the first-established and best-known walking tracks in the country. It takes in glacial peaks, a mountain pass, New Zealand's highest waterfall and the dense rainforest of Fiordland. You'll have four days of exercise, good food and great scenery as you walk 33 miles (53km) from Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound. Because you're doing the guided walk, you'll just be carrying a few essentials and a packed lunch each day, so your pack won't be much heavier than what you'd bring on a regular day hike. Everything else is provided, including excellent meals at the lodges and on the trail, hot showers, bedding, specialist Milford Track guides, and even hairdryers in the rooms!
From Queenstown, head to Lake Te Anau, stopping for lunch along the way. We take a boat to the head of the lake to the start of the Milford Track. It's a short, easy walk to Glade House, where we stay our first night.
Overnight: Glade House, Milford Track. All meals included.
Day 8: Milford Track
We start the day by crossing Clinton River and hiking through lush beech forest to Hirere Falls, where we'll have lunch. After crossing the prairie, the track gets a little steeper as we climb up to Pompolona Lodge. Today's highlights include spectacular flora and stunning views up the ice-carved Clinton Canyon toward McKinnon Pass.
Overnight: Pompolona Lodge, Milford Track. All meals included.
Day 9: Milford Track
Today is the most spectacular day of the Milford Track! We climb a series of switchbacks to cross McKinnon Pass and from the top the views of the Arthur Valley and the surrounding peaks are just magnificent. We'll lunch at Pass Hut, then head down to Quintin Lodge. After some refreshments, a 90-minute round trip hike will lead us to Sutherland Falls, the fifth highest waterfall in the world.
Overnight: Quintin Lodge, Milford Track. All meals included.
Day 10: Milford Track
This is your last day on the Milford Track. It's 21 km (13 miles) of varied terrain, slightly downhill, with no significant climbs. The small waterfalls to be found alongside the track make for a delightful hike today. At the trailhead at Sandfly Point, you'll be picked up for a short cruise across Milford Sound to the marina, and arrive at Mitre Peak Lodge for a night. We'll be staying at the only hotel in the area (Milford Track hikers have exclusive use of it), but with the memories of the last few days you'll almost regret being back near civilisation!
Overnight: Mitre Peak Lodge, Milford Sound. All meals included.
Day 11: Milford Sound - Queenstown
This morning we'll enjoy a cruise to explore the full length of Milford Sound and the ship's captain will nose the boat right up to some magnificent waterfalls that plunge into the fiord. Keep your eyes open for native New Zealand fur seals relaxing on the rocks and the chance to spot dolphins swimming alongside us. An option when you return to Milford Sound village is to take a stunning scenic helicopter flight (additional cost applies), which will have you back in Queenstown for a free afternoon. The rest of the group will take the scenic journey back to Queenstown via Te Anau and this evening we'll all meet up with those who chose the Active Great Walks Discovery to catch up on our Fiordland experiences over dinner.
Overnight: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown. All meals included.
For the first three nights, you'll stay in comfortable mountain lodges, in four and six-bed bunk rooms with shared bathroom facilities. If you prefer your own bedroom and bathroom please contact us and we can arrange this for you.
On the fourth night, you'll stay at Mitre Peak Lodge, an exclusive hotel for Milford Track Guided Walk hikers.
- Day 12: Queenstown - Lake Ohau
After breakfast, we head out round Lake Wakatipu to the Mt Crichton Scenic Reserve, where we'll hike the Sam Summers Track. This area was mined for gold until the 1930s and there are still many relics to be seen along the way. After hiking, we'll head to the historic picturesque village of Arrowtown for lunch before continuing on to a local winery. This region's dry and sunny climate is ideal for grape growing and is becoming well known for producing world-class pinot noir and other quality wines. We'll enjoy a glass or two and then head to Lake Ohau Lodge. Here we're staying beside a beautiful alpine lake, with stunning views stretching across to Mt Cook and the Southern Alps - an ideal spot to soak in the hot tub!
Overnight: Lake Ohau Lodge, Lake Ohau. All meals included.
- Day 13: Lake Ohau - Mt Cook National Park
A short distance away is Mt Cook, named Aoraki or 'cloud piercer' by South Island Maori, the highest mountain in New Zealand. Directly opposite the mountain, we have a stunning and little-known day hike to the main ridge above Mueller Glacier. This area has a unique alpine environment and includes endemic flora such as the Mt Cook Lily (Ranunculus lyallii), the world's largest buttercup. Many of our clients have said this is the best hike they've ever done and it's a fine way to finish off a great trip. It's a bit of a hike, but you'll remember the view of the glacier and the surrounding peaks forever! The weather conditions are very important in this area, as it's a true alpine climate notorious for sudden weather shifts. If we aren't able to do the Mueller hike, or you'd like to take it a little easier, there's an impressive hike up to a glacial lake (complete with icebergs!) at the base of the Hooker Glacier. After hiking, we'll relax at our lodge nestled right in the heart of Aoraki Mt Cook National Park.
Overnight: Aoraki Alpine Lodge, Aoraki Mt Cook Village. All meals included.
- Day 14: trip concludes
This is the last day of your 'Manuka' trip and we'll leave you refreshed and invigorated from the good food, exercise, rest, and great times you'll have had with us in New Zealand! If you would like to combine this trip with a visit to the North Island, where you'll see Maori culture, pristine beaches and geothermal areas please speak to one of our New Zealand Travel Specialists who will be happy to help you.
Breakfast and lunch included.
- Please note that a minimum of 5 people is required to operate this tour.
A variety of accommodation options are included in this holiday. Please contact us for further details.
Prices & Dates
Prices from £ per person
Guide services ● All transportation ● Comfortable accommodation ● Breakfast, lunch and dinner as shown on the itinerary ● All hiking, kayaking, cycling, rafting and caving as described, except the optional extra activities which are available at extra cost.
International flights and airport taxes (please contact us for a quote) ● Travel insurance ● Optional extra activities.
Please note that a minimum of 5 people is required to operate this tour.
Option 1: Active Great Walks Discovery
This option is included in the price above, no additional cost is required. The overnight Doubtful Sound cruise is based on quad share accommodation with shared bathrooms (gender based).
Optional Upgrade on Overnight Cruise
- Private twin room with ensuite - £229 per person
- Private single room with ensuite - £367 per person
Option 2: Milford Track Guided Walk
This option requires an additional supplement as follows
- Private twin room with ensuite - £401 per person
- Private single room with ensuite - £585 per person
*Shared accommodation is based on 4-6 people per room with shared bathrooms
These activities are optional and prices are in addition to your tour price.
- Heli-Hike option - £268 per person
- Milford Sound helicopter flight option - £373 per person
Departure Dates (Guaranteed)
2017: Jan 09, 23 | Feb 20 | Mar 06, 20 | Nov 13 | Dec 11 & 25
2018: Jan 08 & 22 | Feb 19 | Mar 5 & 19 | Nov 12 | Dec 10 & 24
2019: Jan 07 & 21 | Feb 18 | Mar 04 & 18
Please note this tour departs 10-11am on day one, a pre night in Christchurch is recommended to ensure you can join the tour on time. Please contact our New Zealand Travel Specialists who will be pleased to arrange this for you.
How to book
So that we may send you a personalised quote and confirmation of availability, please click on the link below and complete our Enquiry form. One of our Travel Specialists will then be in touch to complete your booking or answer any further questions you might have.
We will always offer the best price available at the time of booking and guarantee no surcharges - see our 100% Guarantee for full details.
Speak to a specialist: 01737 214 250Book this trip
Our team of Travel Specialists have extensive first-hand knowledge of our destinations and are passionate about travel.