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South Island Explorer

Kiwi

4.69 out of 5 (from 254 reviews)

  • 14 Days - From US$5799 + tax
  • 12 Days - From US$5499 + tax
  • 8 Days - From US$4699 + tax

Trip Introduction

New to adventure vacations or not quite ready to hang up your hiking boots just yet? On this South Island walking tour you'll experience beautiful, famous and little-known places – taking plenty of time to explore along the way! For a great way to see the North Island too, combine this trip with our 11-day 'Kauri' (5 day 'Kauri' options available).

Activity level: The ‘Kiwi’ suits anyone who enjoys walking and likes to give things a go. The pace is flexible and relaxed with most hikes taking one to three hours to complete on well-formed tracks with some undulations.

Highlights

Hike
Routeburn Track
Kepler Track
Punakaiki
Abel Tasman National Park
Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park
Franz Josef Glacier
West Coast beaches and rainforest

Plus...
Explore Queenstown
Cruise Milford Sound
Wine tasting at Torlesse Winery
Visit Kiwi Birdlife Park
Whale watching option near Kaikoura

What's included in our NZ trips?

  • All guiding services
    - Two experienced guides per trip. In New Zealand you'll have a lead guide and a co guide. 
  • All accommodations
    - A range of hotels, lodges, chalets, inns, sheep stations and backcountry huts, depending on which trip you choose. 
  • All meals
    - Breakfast, lunch and dinner on all days, except where indicated on the itinerary (usually 1 day per trip is a free day, allowing you to choose your own dining location). 
  • All activities
    - Hiking, kayaking, biking, rafting, scenic flights, jet boating and more! 
  • All transport
    - Airport transfers.
    - When you're not travelling under your own steam, they'll be comfortable air-conditioned vans to stretch your legs.
Check Availability

Interactive Trip Map

Daily itinerary

Day 1—Arrive, visit Gore Bay and hike Kaikoura Peninsula

Most people leave the Northern Hemisphere on a Thursday evening, arriving into Auckland early Saturday morning. You’ll lose a day crossing the dateline – but you get it back on the way home! It’s a short flight from Auckland to Christchurch on the South Island where we’ll meet you. We’ll travel north to Gore Bay to stretch our legs and get some fresh air after your flight. Then we’ll continue north to the seaside town of Kaikoura, referred to as the ‘Serengeti of the South Pacific’ as it has an amazing variety of whales, dolphins, fur seals and other marine life that feed from the surrounding waters. We’ll hike around the Kaikoura Peninsula to visit the local New Zealand fur seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) colony, watch the sea birds and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding coastal mountains.

Optional: Whale Watching (add US$150 + tax)

Alternatively, if you’re keen for an even closer view of Kaikoura’s abundant marine life, then the ultimate way is to hop aboard a uniquely designed catamaran and explore the krill-rich waters off the coast. With a 95% success rate of seeing whales year round, this is one of New Zealand’s most iconic wildlife viewing opportunities. Sperm whales and other species including humpback, blue, minke, southern right and beaked whales are common here. You may also get the chance to observe albatross, penguins, New Zealand fur seals and inquisitive local dolphins.

This is an extremely popular activity, so we offer advance reservations with this operator. At the time of booking, or up until one month before your trip, we can reserve a space for you, or you can leave your decision until the start of your trip and your guides will get you a spot if it’s available.

Tonight, we’ll kick back and enjoy some delicious kiwi cuisine and get to know your fellow adventurous.
Kaikoura Lodgings, Kaikoura (Lunch, Dinner)

Day 2—Wine Tasting and hike Pelorus Track

From Kaikoura, we’ll travel along the coast to Blenheim, a town in the Marlborough wine region. We’ll visit Forrest Estate Winery to sample some of their fantastic wines and have a picnic lunch, before we head back into the wilderness. The Pelorus River Track is our destination this afternoon, an idyllic spot for a hike, through cool, green native bush, alongside the Pelorus River. You can expect crystal clear waters in this enchanting scenic reserve and even a little bit of Middle-earth magic, as one of the locations for the filming of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Later, we’ll settle into our lodgings for the night in Marahau, a small settlement in the Tasman Region and the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. 

Abel Tasman Lodge, Marahau (All meals)

Day 3—Boat ride and hike Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park is famous for its golden beaches, sculptured granite cliffs and the world-renowned Abel Tasman Coast Track. This morning, we’ll take a water taxi through crystal clear, sheltered waters - we’re at the whim of the tides here, though our boat captains know the Abel Tasman Coastal Track like the back of their hands, so we’ll find the best section to hike. Once ashore, we’ll make our way along the coast through stands of ancient rimu, totara and rata. The rata (known as the South Island Kiwi Christmas tree) blossoms with brilliant red flowers between November and January. After our hike, we’ll relax on a white sandy beach and go for a dip in the ocean if you’d like. This area of New Zealand is famous for receiving the most sunshine hours of any place in the country.
Abel Tasman Lodge, Marahau (All meals)

Day 4—Hike Cape Foulwind and Punakaiki rainforest

Today we journey to Cape Foulwind on the West Coast, where we’ll hike a spectacular track that takes us to a view point overlooking a New Zealand fur seal breeding colony, then on to a lighthouse, taking in panoramic views of the coastline. The sparsely populated West Coast stretches 600 kilometres (372 miles) from north to south and is home to temperate coastal rainforest and two magnificent glaciers. After a picnic lunch, we’ll hike the Pororari River Trail in Paparoa National Park, which passes beneath magnificent limestone cliffs and through dense temperate rainforest full of distinctive coastal plants including the southern rata and towering rimu. This area has a unique micro-climate that supports the native nikau palm, a tree usually found much further north. In nearby Punakaiki, we’ll also visit the famous Pancake Rocks and blowholes – aptly named limestone formations that have been sculpted through relentless pounding by the Tasman Sea.

West Coast Lodgings, Punakaiki (All meals)

Day 5—Hike Truman Track, visit Hokitika, explore West Coast Treetop Walk

We’ll begin the day travelling on the coast to Te Miko and the start of Truman Track, rated one of New Zealand’s finest short walks. We’ll hike through dense native forest with tall flax stands near the ocean, eventually giving way to a pebbled bay and barren sandstone cliffs. Travelling along the scenic coastline, we’ll stop in Hokitika to check out local art galleries and pounamu-carving workshops (pounamu is Maori for jade). Next we’ll experience the West Coast Treetop Walk, a 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.
Rainforest Retreat, Franz Josef (All meals)

Day 6—Hike coastal forest and beach, kayak Okarito Lagoon (optional)

This morning we’ll take a short journey over to Okarito, a little-known beach community on the coast. We’ll take to the water in sea kayaks and glide along a picturesque lagoon, set against a stunning backdrop of snow-capped peaks. Okarito is home to the only native white heron colony in New Zealand, as well as a host of other interesting birds. If you’d prefer not to kayak, we’ll point you in the right direction for a relaxing hike through lush coastal forest or along the black sand beach. Later we’ll head back to Franz Josef where you’ll have the option to take another hike or relax in the hot tub, before enjoying a traditional Kiwi roast dinner.
Rainforest Retreat, Franz Josef (All meals)

Day 7—Hike at Franz Josef Glacier

With some 140 glaciers making their way down from the Southern Alps, this area is fittingly known as glacier country. Few sights equal the spectacle of two of these giant frozen rivers (Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers) imperceptibly grinding their way down through temperate rainforest to just 250 metres (820 feet) above sea level. Our hike will take us along the Waiho River bed up the valley right to the terminal face of Franz Josef Glacier.

Heli-hike option (add US$350 + tax)
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 and make sure you 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.

The heli-hike is extremely popular, so we offer advance reservations with the helicopter operators and guiding company. At the time of booking, or up until one month before your trip, we can reserve a space for you, or you can leave your decision until the start of your trip and your guides will get you a spot if it’s available.

From Franz Josef, we'll travel down the coast through lush forest visiting historic Ship Creek to explore the Kahikatea forest, providing a glimpse back in time to what the West Coast may have looked like prior to human settlement. Tonight we’ll stay in the small settlement of Makarora, where you can enjoy incredible views of the mountains right outside your window.
Makarora Lodgings, Makarora (All meals)

Day 8—Hike Mt Iron, visit the Kiwi Birdlife Park

The landscape this morning changes rapidly from dense beech forest to semi-arid terrain before transforming to an impressive vista of lakes and mountains. At Lake Wanaka, we’ll hike the Mt Iron track, a spectacular circuit with great views of Mt Aspiring National Park.  From Wanaka, it’s a short but dramatic journey over the Cardrona Saddle to Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, our base for the next couple of days.  This afternoon we’ll visit the Kiwi Birdlife Park to view and learn about New Zealand’s icon, the flightless kiwi bird. You’ll sleep sweetly tonight at a lakefront hotel located in the heart of Queenstown.

Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 9—Free day in 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 and skydiving, as well as some great hiking opportunities. Or you can just soak up the atmosphere at one of many local cafés. Your guides will happily share their favourite haunts and point you in the right direction for your free day today.

Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (No meals included)

Day 10—Hike Routeburn Track

This morning, we set off for our largest and perhaps most spectacular national park, Fiordland. We’ll hike part of the Routeburn Track for unsurpassed views of the Hollyford Valley, as well as Lake Marian and Mt Christina. 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. Rudyard Kipling rated this fiord 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.
Milford Lodge Chalets, Milford Sound (All meals)

Day 11—Cruise Milford Sound, hike Kepler Track

Today you’ll have the opportunity to explore Milford Sound and hopefully spot some friendly fur seals and dolphins. We’ll jump on board a boat cruise, where you’ll gaze in wonder at the waterfalls tumbling down enormous vertical rock faces all around and journey right out to the entrance of the fiord. We’re on a smaller boat than is typical in Milford Sound, which means we’ll be able to get up close to the wildlife and also have a good chat to the specialist nature guides who’ll give a lively and informative commentary. This afternoon, we’ll explore the Fiordland wilderness on foot to check out some of its endemic flora and fauna, like the kea (Nestor notabilis), New Zealand’s notoriously cheeky and intelligent alpine parrot and the kotukutuku (Fuchsia excorticate), the world’s largest fuchsia. Later we’ll hike a section of the Kepler Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks.
Lake Manapouri Inn, Manapouri (All meals)

Day 12—Visit Cromwell Old Town, journey over Lindis Pass

Carefully relocated or lovingly reconstructed, the buildings of Cromwell Old Town represent the character of Cromwell’s gold-mining history. We’ll explore the intriguing buildings and eat lunch here together. Then we’ll drive through the tussock country of Lindis Pass to the remote and beautiful Lake Ohau Lodge. The lodge is tucked in beside an alpine lake, with stunning views stretching across to Aoraki Mt Cook and the Southern Alps – the ideal spot to soak in the hot tub and star gaze!

Lake Ohau Lodge, Ohau (All meals)

Day 13—Hike Aoraki Mt Cook National Park

This morning you won’t have to pack your bags as we’ll be returning to this wonderful setting in the evening. The highest mountain in New Zealand, Mt Cook was first named Aoraki or ‘cloud piercer’ by South Island Maori. This region was Sir Edmund Hillary’s training ground as he prepared for his and Tenzing Norgay’s famous summit of Mt Everest in 1953. Feeling inspired, we’ll take an impressive hike up to a lake at the base of the Hooker Glacier, complete with icebergs! The track is surrounded by peaks, glaciers, native vegetation and mountain streams, and provides excellent views of Aoraki Mt Cook on a fine day. If you’re keen for a challenge, another option is to take a day hike to the main ridge above Mueller Glacier. It’s a tough hike and the weather would need to cooperate, but the views across the Southern Alps are worth it! Afterwards, we’ll return to Lake Ohau Lodge for the last night of the ‘Kiwi’ and we’ll enjoy a celebratory dinner as we sit outside and watch the sun set on Aoraki Mt Cook.
Lake Ohau Lodge, Ohau (All meals)

Day 14—Visit Tekapo, depart for home

After breakfast we’ll head north past Lake Pukaki to Lake Tekapo. With yet more views of Aoraki Mt Cook to your left, you’ll be amazed at the sheer scale of these lakes and their cobalt blue allure. We’ll stretch our legs with a visit to the Church of the Good Shepherd, easily one of the most scenic locations for a church you’ll ever come across!  After our lunch stop, we’ll head to Christchurch, arriving in time for afternoon flights. This is the end of your ‘Kiwi’ 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! For a great way to see the North Island too, where you’ll experience Maori culture, pristine beaches and geothermal areas, combine this trip with our 11-day ‘Kauri’ (5-day ‘Kauri’ options available).
(Breakfast, Lunch)


Activity Key - zoom in to see activity detail

Hiking Biking Kayaking Boating Flying

Itinerary

Day 1 — Arrive, visit Gore Bay and hike Kaikoura Peninsula

Most people leave the Northern Hemisphere on a Thursday evening, arriving into Auckland early Saturday morning. You’ll lose a day crossing the dateline – but you get it back on the way home! It’s a short flight from Auckland to Christchurch on the South Island where we’ll meet you. We’ll travel north to Gore Bay to stretch our legs and get some fresh air after your flight. Then we’ll continue north to the seaside town of Kaikoura, referred to as the ‘Serengeti of the South Pacific’ as it has an amazing variety of whales, dolphins, fur seals and other marine life that feed from the surrounding waters. We’ll hike around the Kaikoura Peninsula to visit the local New Zealand fur seal (Arctocephalus forsteri) colony, watch the sea birds and enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding coastal mountains.

Optional: Whale Watching (add US$150 + tax)

Alternatively, if you’re keen for an even closer view of Kaikoura’s abundant marine life, then the ultimate way is to hop aboard a uniquely designed catamaran and explore the krill-rich waters off the coast. With a 95% success rate of seeing whales year round, this is one of New Zealand’s most iconic wildlife viewing opportunities. Sperm whales and other species including humpback, blue, minke, southern right and beaked whales are common here. You may also get the chance to observe albatross, penguins, New Zealand fur seals and inquisitive local dolphins.

This is an extremely popular activity, so we offer advance reservations with this operator. At the time of booking, or up until one month before your trip, we can reserve a space for you, or you can leave your decision until the start of your trip and your guides will get you a spot if it’s available.

Tonight, we’ll kick back and enjoy some delicious kiwi cuisine and get to know your fellow adventurous.
Kaikoura Lodgings, Kaikoura (Lunch, Dinner)

Day 2 — Wine Tasting and hike Pelorus Track

From Kaikoura, we’ll travel along the coast to Blenheim, a town in the Marlborough wine region. We’ll visit Forrest Estate Winery to sample some of their fantastic wines and have a picnic lunch, before we head back into the wilderness. The Pelorus River Track is our destination this afternoon, an idyllic spot for a hike, through cool, green native bush, alongside the Pelorus River. You can expect crystal clear waters in this enchanting scenic reserve and even a little bit of Middle-earth magic, as one of the locations for the filming of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Later, we’ll settle into our lodgings for the night in Marahau, a small settlement in the Tasman Region and the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. 

Abel Tasman Lodge, Marahau (All meals)

Day 3 — Boat ride and hike Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park is famous for its golden beaches, sculptured granite cliffs and the world-renowned Abel Tasman Coast Track. This morning, we’ll take a water taxi through crystal clear, sheltered waters - we’re at the whim of the tides here, though our boat captains know the Abel Tasman Coastal Track like the back of their hands, so we’ll find the best section to hike. Once ashore, we’ll make our way along the coast through stands of ancient rimu, totara and rata. The rata (known as the South Island Kiwi Christmas tree) blossoms with brilliant red flowers between November and January. After our hike, we’ll relax on a white sandy beach and go for a dip in the ocean if you’d like. This area of New Zealand is famous for receiving the most sunshine hours of any place in the country.
Abel Tasman Lodge, Marahau (All meals)

Day 4 — Hike Cape Foulwind and Punakaiki rainforest

Today we journey to Cape Foulwind on the West Coast, where we’ll hike a spectacular track that takes us to a view point overlooking a New Zealand fur seal breeding colony, then on to a lighthouse, taking in panoramic views of the coastline. The sparsely populated West Coast stretches 600 kilometres (372 miles) from north to south and is home to temperate coastal rainforest and two magnificent glaciers. After a picnic lunch, we’ll hike the Pororari River Trail in Paparoa National Park, which passes beneath magnificent limestone cliffs and through dense temperate rainforest full of distinctive coastal plants including the southern rata and towering rimu. This area has a unique micro-climate that supports the native nikau palm, a tree usually found much further north. In nearby Punakaiki, we’ll also visit the famous Pancake Rocks and blowholes – aptly named limestone formations that have been sculpted through relentless pounding by the Tasman Sea.

West Coast Lodgings, Punakaiki (All meals)

Day 5 — Hike Truman Track, visit Hokitika, explore West Coast Treetop Walk

We’ll begin the day travelling on the coast to Te Miko and the start of Truman Track, rated one of New Zealand’s finest short walks. We’ll hike through dense native forest with tall flax stands near the ocean, eventually giving way to a pebbled bay and barren sandstone cliffs. Travelling along the scenic coastline, we’ll stop in Hokitika to check out local art galleries and pounamu-carving workshops (pounamu is Maori for jade). Next we’ll experience the West Coast Treetop Walk, a 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.
Rainforest Retreat, Franz Josef (All meals)

Day 6 — Hike coastal forest and beach, kayak Okarito Lagoon (optional)

This morning we’ll take a short journey over to Okarito, a little-known beach community on the coast. We’ll take to the water in sea kayaks and glide along a picturesque lagoon, set against a stunning backdrop of snow-capped peaks. Okarito is home to the only native white heron colony in New Zealand, as well as a host of other interesting birds. If you’d prefer not to kayak, we’ll point you in the right direction for a relaxing hike through lush coastal forest or along the black sand beach. Later we’ll head back to Franz Josef where you’ll have the option to take another hike or relax in the hot tub, before enjoying a traditional Kiwi roast dinner.
Rainforest Retreat, Franz Josef (All meals)

Day 7 — Hike at Franz Josef Glacier

With some 140 glaciers making their way down from the Southern Alps, this area is fittingly known as glacier country. Few sights equal the spectacle of two of these giant frozen rivers (Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers) imperceptibly grinding their way down through temperate rainforest to just 250 metres (820 feet) above sea level. Our hike will take us along the Waiho River bed up the valley right to the terminal face of Franz Josef Glacier.

Heli-hike option (add US$350 + tax)
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 and make sure you 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.

The heli-hike is extremely popular, so we offer advance reservations with the helicopter operators and guiding company. At the time of booking, or up until one month before your trip, we can reserve a space for you, or you can leave your decision until the start of your trip and your guides will get you a spot if it’s available.

From Franz Josef, we'll travel down the coast through lush forest visiting historic Ship Creek to explore the Kahikatea forest, providing a glimpse back in time to what the West Coast may have looked like prior to human settlement. Tonight we’ll stay in the small settlement of Makarora, where you can enjoy incredible views of the mountains right outside your window.
Makarora Lodgings, Makarora (All meals)

Day 8 — Hike Mt Iron, visit the Kiwi Birdlife Park

The landscape this morning changes rapidly from dense beech forest to semi-arid terrain before transforming to an impressive vista of lakes and mountains. At Lake Wanaka, we’ll hike the Mt Iron track, a spectacular circuit with great views of Mt Aspiring National Park.  From Wanaka, it’s a short but dramatic journey over the Cardrona Saddle to Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, our base for the next couple of days.  This afternoon we’ll visit the Kiwi Birdlife Park to view and learn about New Zealand’s icon, the flightless kiwi bird. You’ll sleep sweetly tonight at a lakefront hotel located in the heart of Queenstown.

Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 9 — Free day in 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 and skydiving, as well as some great hiking opportunities. Or you can just soak up the atmosphere at one of many local cafés. Your guides will happily share their favourite haunts and point you in the right direction for your free day today.

Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (No meals included)

Day 10 — Hike Routeburn Track

This morning, we set off for our largest and perhaps most spectacular national park, Fiordland. We’ll hike part of the Routeburn Track for unsurpassed views of the Hollyford Valley, as well as Lake Marian and Mt Christina. 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. Rudyard Kipling rated this fiord 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.
Milford Lodge Chalets, Milford Sound (All meals)

Day 11 — Cruise Milford Sound, hike Kepler Track

Today you’ll have the opportunity to explore Milford Sound and hopefully spot some friendly fur seals and dolphins. We’ll jump on board a boat cruise, where you’ll gaze in wonder at the waterfalls tumbling down enormous vertical rock faces all around and journey right out to the entrance of the fiord. We’re on a smaller boat than is typical in Milford Sound, which means we’ll be able to get up close to the wildlife and also have a good chat to the specialist nature guides who’ll give a lively and informative commentary. This afternoon, we’ll explore the Fiordland wilderness on foot to check out some of its endemic flora and fauna, like the kea (Nestor notabilis), New Zealand’s notoriously cheeky and intelligent alpine parrot and the kotukutuku (Fuchsia excorticate), the world’s largest fuchsia. Later we’ll hike a section of the Kepler Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks.
Lake Manapouri Inn, Manapouri (All meals)

Day 12 — Visit Cromwell Old Town, journey over Lindis Pass

Carefully relocated or lovingly reconstructed, the buildings of Cromwell Old Town represent the character of Cromwell’s gold-mining history. We’ll explore the intriguing buildings and eat lunch here together. Then we’ll drive through the tussock country of Lindis Pass to the remote and beautiful Lake Ohau Lodge. The lodge is tucked in beside an alpine lake, with stunning views stretching across to Aoraki Mt Cook and the Southern Alps – the ideal spot to soak in the hot tub and star gaze!

Lake Ohau Lodge, Ohau (All meals)

Day 13 — Hike Aoraki Mt Cook National Park

This morning you won’t have to pack your bags as we’ll be returning to this wonderful setting in the evening. The highest mountain in New Zealand, Mt Cook was first named Aoraki or ‘cloud piercer’ by South Island Maori. This region was Sir Edmund Hillary’s training ground as he prepared for his and Tenzing Norgay’s famous summit of Mt Everest in 1953. Feeling inspired, we’ll take an impressive hike up to a lake at the base of the Hooker Glacier, complete with icebergs! The track is surrounded by peaks, glaciers, native vegetation and mountain streams, and provides excellent views of Aoraki Mt Cook on a fine day. If you’re keen for a challenge, another option is to take a day hike to the main ridge above Mueller Glacier. It’s a tough hike and the weather would need to cooperate, but the views across the Southern Alps are worth it! Afterwards, we’ll return to Lake Ohau Lodge for the last night of the ‘Kiwi’ and we’ll enjoy a celebratory dinner as we sit outside and watch the sun set on Aoraki Mt Cook.
Lake Ohau Lodge, Ohau (All meals)

Day 14 — Visit Tekapo, depart for home

After breakfast we’ll head north past Lake Pukaki to Lake Tekapo. With yet more views of Aoraki Mt Cook to your left, you’ll be amazed at the sheer scale of these lakes and their cobalt blue allure. We’ll stretch our legs with a visit to the Church of the Good Shepherd, easily one of the most scenic locations for a church you’ll ever come across!  After our lunch stop, we’ll head to Christchurch, arriving in time for afternoon flights. This is the end of your ‘Kiwi’ 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! For a great way to see the North Island too, where you’ll experience Maori culture, pristine beaches and geothermal areas, combine this trip with our 11-day ‘Kauri’ (5-day ‘Kauri’ options available).
(Breakfast, Lunch)

Dates

Trip Date Price Status  
Oct 20, 2018 – Nov 02, 2018 US$5799 + tax Almost Full - Check Now! Check Availability
Nov 17, 2018 – Nov 30, 2018 US$5799 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Dec 15, 2018 – Dec 28, 2018 US$6099 + tax Filling up Check Availability
2019
Jan 12, 2019 – Jan 25, 2019 US$6099 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Jan 26, 2019 – Feb 08, 2019 US$6099 + tax Almost Full - Check Now! Check Availability
Feb 09, 2019 – Feb 22, 2019 US$6099 + tax Almost Full - Check Now! Check Availability
Feb 16, 2019 – Mar 01, 2019 US$6099 + tax Almost Full - Check Now! Check Availability
Feb 23, 2019 – Mar 08, 2019 US$6099 + tax Almost Full - Check Now! Check Availability
Mar 09, 2019 – Mar 22, 2019 US$5799 + tax Full Check Availability
Mar 25, 2019 – Apr 07, 2019 US$5799 + tax Great Check Availability
Apr 08, 2019 – Apr 21, 2019 US$5799 + tax Great Check Availability
Oct 19, 2019 – Nov 01, 2019 US$5799 + tax Great Check Availability
Nov 16, 2019 – Nov 29, 2019 US$5799 + tax Almost full Check Availability
Dec 14, 2019 – Dec 27, 2019 US$6099 + tax Great Check Availability
2020
Jan 11, 2020 – Jan 24, 2020 US$6099 + tax Great Check Availability
Jan 25, 2020 – Feb 07, 2020 US$6099 + tax Great Check Availability
Feb 08, 2020 – Feb 21, 2020 US$6099 + tax Great Check Availability
Feb 15, 2020 – Feb 28, 2020 US$6099 + tax Great Check Availability
Feb 22, 2020 – Mar 06, 2020 US$6099 + tax Great Check Availability
Feb 29, 2020 – Mar 13, 2020 US$6099 + tax Great Check Availability
Mar 07, 2020 – Mar 20, 2020 US$5799 + tax Great Check Availability
Oct 17, 2020 – Oct 30, 2020 US$5799 + tax Great Check Availability
Oct 31, 2020 – Nov 13, 2020 US$5799 + tax Great Check Availability
Nov 14, 2020 – Nov 27, 2020 US$5799 + tax Great Check Availability
Nov 28, 2020 – Dec 11, 2020 US$5799 + tax Great Check Availability
Dec 12, 2020 – Dec 25, 2020 US$6099 + tax Great Check Availability
Dec 26, 2020 – Jan 08, 2021 US$6099 + tax Great Check Availability
2021
Jan 09, 2021 – Jan 22, 2021 US$6099 + tax Great Check Availability
Jan 23, 2021 – Feb 05, 2021 US$6099 + tax Great Check Availability
Feb 06, 2021 – Feb 19, 2021 US$6099 + tax Great Check Availability
Feb 20, 2021 – Mar 05, 2021 US$6099 + tax Great Check Availability
Mar 06, 2021 – Mar 19, 2021 US$5799 + tax Great Check Availability
Mar 20, 2021 – Apr 02, 2021 US$5799 + tax Great Check Availability

Useful Info

No Forced Single Supplement:

Most other travel companies charge all solo travellers a single supplement fee. We don't! When it comes to accommodation, our trip fares are based on a twin-share rate, which means we'll match you up with another person of the same gender to share a room with. If there's no one suitable to share with, there's no forced single supplement! Having said that, if you specifically request your own room, you can opt to pay the additional single supplement fee.

Trip start:

On the first day of the trip we can either pick you up from the Heartland Hotel Cotswold in Christchurch at 10.30am, or at the Christchurch airport (CHC) in front of the Travel and Information desk at 11am.

Trip end:

On the last day of the trip we can drop you off at the Christchurch airport in time for the flights below, or anywhere in central Christchurch about 3pm.

Recommended flights:

Arrival: If you’re flying in on the first day of the trip, we recommend arriving in Christchurch before 10am on Saturday.
Departure: Flying out on the last day of the trip, we recommend departing from Christchurch after 4pm on Friday. If you’re considering alternative flight times please check with us. International flights from Auckland (AKL) usually leave early evening, so if you’re heading back to North America, you’ll get home some time on Friday, even though you left on Friday evening! Flights back to Europe, of course, take a little longer.

Fitness:

The ‘Kiwi’ is our gentlest adventure trip, and is a perfect introduction to hiking and active vacations. It suits anyone who enjoys walking and likes to give things a go. The pace is flexible and relaxed with most hikes taking one to three hours to complete on well-formed tracks with some undulations. There’s plenty of time to explore and take photos along the way, and while a few activities may take a bit longer, nothing is compulsory and our guides are expert at ensuring everyone makes the most of their trip. If you prefer longer and more challenging hikes, we recommend checking out our ‘Rimu’ trip. Please get in touch with us if you’d like to chat about the various options.

Reviews

  • Amazing Two Weeks

    “We had a wonderful two weeks with a great group of trip mates, two outstanding guides, and a very diverse itinerary. The only thing I would change is the weather. But we trekked on!”
    Marie Shull – North Carolina, United StatesMay 2018
  • Sweet As....

    “My experience with Active Adventures on the South Island of New Zealand was as sweet as the sweetest Manuka honey. I was amazed by the adventure in itself; the dazzling landscapes, the flora and fauna but bedazzled by our expert guides who maneuvered our van and trailer with expertise, prepared fantastic meals and dealt with any and all situations with a professionalism way beyond their millennial ages of 23 and 26. There were never any worries, lots of laughter and organization of each day that caused me to have no worries. Some of the daily itineraries had to be adjusted due to weather, road conditions or cancellations and Jackie and Lauren just rolled with it and kept us informed and happy. The hikes we took were just right for my level of fitness. The sights and sounds met all of my expectations and I would definitely do it all again.”
    Nancy Hopkins – Missouri, United StatesMay 2018
  • Kiwi Adventures

    “The Kiwi trip is an excellent exploration of the South Island. Fantastic scenery, a great variety of relaxed outdoor activities, plenty of good food and great accommodations, and awesome guides from Active Adventures NZ.”
    Michael Wellons – New Jersey, United StatesMay 2018
  • Trip of a Lifetime!

    “After completing the 11 day Kauri trip on the North Island and having a week on our own, we met our group for the 14 day Kiwi tour of the South Island. It was a much larger group with diverse personalities and physical abilities. Once again we were blessed with two excellent guides who love what they do. We had a much larger group on this trip and Koru and Emma made sure that everyone's needs were met (and there were many!). Koru's knowledge about the Mauri culture and New Zealand was astounding. He was also aware of any limitations among the group and made sure that we made the best of every adventure we were doing. Emma was a great guide and super organizer in making arrangements for the day and in preparing meals for all of us and those with special dietary requirements. I don't know how she does it! The meals they prepared were always delicious. The bus was comfortable and once again we always had a plentiful supply of fresh fruits and snacks and water available for us. There was a considerable amount of driving on this trip so it was important to be comfortable. Our schedule was well planned and when adjustments had to be made because of weather our guides were at the ready with other options for us to do. All the activities were designed to meet everyone's abilities and give a sense of gratification upon completion.

    The accommodations we stayed at were great with the exception of the Makarora Lodges which were just a lot more rustic than what we had been used to.

    For us, doing the Kiwi tour was the best way to see and learn about the South Island.”
    Nancy Shaw – New York, United StatesMay 2018
  • Kiwi, March 2018

    “Our guides were fantastic, and of course the scenery and hiking were incredible. The people are friendly, and the country is not crowded or noisy. Several times on the trip, I thought, "Wow, I'm really enjoying being able to do this without the stress of driving, making hotel and dinner reservations, juggling hikes due to the fickle weather, etc." I would do it again in a heartbeat. I need to explore the North Island now!”
    Steve Palkovitz – Virginia, United StatesApril 2018
  • Hiking through the Land of the Long White Cloud

    “After living 20 years in S.E. Alaska, walking in the rain was something I was hoping to avoid. But the spectacular views made it worthwhile and on clear days it was breathtaking. One of those clear days was Mt Cook and though all those steps to the overlook seemed a little daunting the view was worth it. Claire and Emma are outstanding and I doubt you could find a more competent pair. When option 1 and 2 were both closed because of slips (slides) Claire found an outstanding option 3. The friendliness of the people, lack of trash, clear drinkable water from nearly all lakes and streams, good food, beautiful scenery,and great leaders and companions made for a great trip.”
    Bob McGregor – Washington, United StatesMarch 2018
  • Wonderful Tour of South Island

    “Staff were really helpful in planning stages of this trip, and our guides were so knowledgeable and personable; they made the trip the gem that it was.”
    Carlotta Richard – Oregon, United StatesMarch 2018
  • South Island Kiwi Trip

    “This trip took us to lovely places. Everywhere we went, we saw spectacular scenery. The hikes are, for the most part, easy. I loved experiencing the differences between the North Island Kauri trip and this South Island Kiwi trip.”
    Barbara Quinn – Maryland, United StatesFebruary 2018
  • Yes: Adventure!

    “Really enjoyed the natural wonders away from civilization and tourist traps. Our guides, Koru and Jess took outstanding care of us.”
    Hank Nino – Oregon, United StatesMarch 2017
  • Awesome introduction to the South Island

    “Excellently guided; magnificent views of the natural environment, including the birds and the vegetation; the option of two levels of walking made it easy; good accommodation. Kiwi Park in Queenstown a highlight as was the DOC exhibition near the foot of Mt Cook.”
    Jim Phillips – New South Wales, AustraliaFebruary 2017
  • Great food and well organized trip

    “Great overview of South Island hiking trails and activities.
    guides did a great job ---- good driving, delicious cooking, and activity coordination. ”
    Anna Marie Sorriso – California, United StatesDecember 2016
  • Spectacular NZ....

    “Highly recommend the Kiwi trip as a good way to check out Active Adventures. Lots of ocean view hikes with seal sightings, ocean birds and sea side walks, followed by hikes into glacier country and more.....
    Two couples joined just for 8 days of the 14 scheduled trip and enjoyed ourselves though at times felt a little rushed. The pluses definitely outweighed this small criticism. Such a dramatic, beautiful country with extra friendly people who like to be called Kiwis!”
    Jennifer Brady – Ontario, CanadaApril 2016
  • “Had great time and saw lots more than I
    could have managed on an independent trip.”
    Linley Power – New South Wales, AustraliaMarch 2016
  • Kiwi trip

    “The trip was excellent and delivered everything it promised. Our guides were both very knowledgeable, both about the trails and about New Zealand in general. The food was great (good thing we were hiking a lot), and I really liked having the fruit basket on board for snacking as we drove. I highly recommend this trip for active hikers.”
    Carol Drury – British Columbia, CanadaMarch 2015
  • New Zealand is friendly and fun

    “I loved the New Zealand scenery, the New Zealanders we met, and the hiking tracks we walked. This is not a hard-to-do hiking/kayaking trip. And it is so much better than seeing the country from a 60 passenger bus. If you don't want to drive, then this is the best way to see New Zealand!”
    Linda Lightfoot – Virginia, United StatesMarch 2015
  • Kiwi

    “The style of this holiday was a perfect fit for me. I like to be kept busy and to spend my time outside. I loved staying in a variety of different accommodations in scenic places and loved the food prepared by our Guides. ”
    Judy Keeling – Iowa, United StatesJanuary 2015
  • A lot of fun!

    “Great and excellent trip! Friendly people, the guides were cheerful, knowledgeable and were very caring of us (Amanda and Dave)! There were so awesome landscapes (To see the Mt Cook the first day of 2015 in sun Wow)! I had much fun than I've expected! So I would really recommend this trip!”
    Thomas Finck – , FranceJanuary 2015
  • Great way to sample New Zealand's South Island

    “Guides did a great job. They adjusted the schedule to meet most needs and weather conditions. The hiking was enough to be able to see many sites as we worked our way around much of the South Island. Food was very good and allowed a chance to try some of New Zealand's fine dishes.”
    Dick Morse – Pennsylvania, United StatesMarch 2014
  • Great trip!

    “The Kiwi trip was challenging for me. I read that it was the 'gentlest' of all the active trips and that it was appropriate for all fitness levels. I also read that hikes were 1-3 hours in length and thought, 'no problem'. It turned out that some of those hikes were 1 hour uphill climbs that I had trouble with. Of course, I was always rewarded with a spectacular view at the top. I cannot adequately express the natural beauty of New Zealand. 'Awesome' takes on a new meaning. Accommodations were adequate, food was good. Guides were helpful and fun. Our group was friendly, and everyone got along well. New Zealand totally met my expectation and I appreciate being able to see it with a small group, guided tour.”
    Linda Glueck – Missouri, United StatesMarch 2014
  • KIWI TRIP 2014

    “GREAT TRIP AND THE SCENERY WAS SO MUCH BETTER THAN I IMAGINED IT COULD BE. GUIDES WERE GREAT AND THE PEOPLE WARM AND FRIENDLY.”
    John O'Malia – Michigan, United StatesFebruary 2014
  • New Zealand Jan 2014

    “I really liked the kayaking and most of the hikes were great! The time in the buses was a little longer than expected because the roads do not allow for high speed travel.”
    Kurt Guter – Michigan, United StatesFebruary 2014
  • Wonderful New Zealand

    “Fantastic trip for fit people of all ages. We were a group of 8 senior adults and the guides made the trip enjoyable for everyone, no matter what their level of fitness. I would highly recommend the Kiwi trip for anyone who doesn't want to just see New Zealand from the bus window.”
    Bev O'Malia – Michigan, United StatesFebruary 2014

Why travel with Active Adventures?

Legendary Kiwi Hospitality

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

Expert LOCAL Guides & Trip Leaders

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

Everything is Included

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

A Sense of Achievement

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

Small Groups

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

Diverse Experiences

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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