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Milford Hiking Adventure

Manuka

4.43 out of 5 (from 884 reviews)

  • 14 Days - From US$6199 + tax

Trip Introduction

If you wish to concentrate on hiking the iconic tracks of New Zealand and like your creature comforts, we’ve crafted this trip just for you. It has a strong focus on New Zealand’s natural history. Our guides have 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. The ‘Manuka’ really is hiking New Zealand in style!

Activity level: 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 range between three and six hours to complete, with longer hikes on the Milford Track Guided Walk option.

Highlights

Hike
West Coast beaches and rainforests
Mt Aspiring National Park
Castle Hill
Paparoa National Park
Fox Glacier
Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

Choice of multi-day options...
Active Great Walks Discovery (Routeburn, Milford, and Kepler Track day hikes, plus Milford Sound cruise and overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound)
OR Milford Track Guided Walk

Plus...
Explore Queenstown

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, hike Castle Hill

Most people leave the Northern Hemisphere on a Saturday evening, arriving into Auckland early Monday 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 in the South Island where we’ll meet you. We’ll then head 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. Depending on where you’re coming from, you’ll probably find jetlag is no big deal – for instance, it’s a 12 to 13 hour direct overnight flight from Los Angeles to Auckland, and there’s only a 3 hour time difference between New Zealand and US Pacific time. If you’re coming from further afield, you’ll appreciate the gentle start to your New Zealand adventure.
West Coast lodgings, Punakaiki (Lunch, Dinner)

Day 2—Rainforest and beach hikes in 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 blowholes – 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.
West Coast lodgings, Punakaiki (All meals)

Day 3 —Hike Point Elizabeth, explore West Coast Treetop Walk

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 experience the West Coast Treetop Walk, an 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 the wind-swept coast to Franz Josef. 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.

Rainforest Retreat, Franz Josef (All meals)

Day 4 —Hike to 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 this giant frozen river (Franz Josef Glacier) imperceptibly grinding its way down through temperate rainforest to just 250 metres (820 feet) above sea level. We’ll take a morning walk to the historic Tartare Tunnels, and then continue on to Franz Josef Glacier where we’ll walk to an incredible view of the terminal face. 

Optional Heli-hike (add US$350 + tax)
A less strenuous, but 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 (4265 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.

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 rainforest and inland to Makarora, a small village bordering Mt Aspiring National Park, with incredible views of the snow-capped mountains.
Makarora Lodgings, Makarora (All meals) 

Day 5—Hike Diamond Lake, explore Wanaka

This morning we’ll hike the Diamond Lake track, a spectacular circuit through an area carved out by ice-age glaciers, with stands of native forest and shrub land. We’ll enjoy lunch after our hike in Wanaka, then it’s a short but dramatic drive over the Cardrona Saddle to Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, our base for the next couple of nights. You’ll have time to explore and plan your free day tomorrow before dinner. You’ll sleep sweetly at this lakefront hotel located in the heart of Queenstown.
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 6—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, fishing, winery tours, an 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. This afternoon, there’s a pre-departure briefing for the Milford Track Guided Walk if you’ve chosen that option.
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (No meals included)

Day 7—Multi-day options begin

Active Great Walks Discovery

Day 7 (continued) — Overnight cruise in Doubtful Sound

Variety is the spice of life and that’s exactly what this option is all about - hike three of New Zealand’s Great Walks and take an overnight cruise, all in five days - it’s unheard of! We kick things off with a relaxed breakfast, and a drive to the lakeside town of Manapouri, where our journey into Doubtful Sound begins. We’ll board a boat for the cruise across Lake Manapouri, before a drive over Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove where we’ll board the Fiordland Navigator for our overnight cruise. Doubtful Sound is a large and remote wilderness area, where you’ll have the opportunity to take a kayak out on the water or hop aboard the tender craft 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 Fiordland Navigator, though there is the option to upgrade to a private ensuite room, if you prefer.
Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound (All meals)

Day 8 - Cruise in Doubtful Sound, hike Routeburn Track

After our cruise ends we’ll hike part of the Routeburn Track, the first of the Great Walks you’ll experience. We hike through beech forest, sub-alpine shrub land 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 the eighth natural wonder of the world and it’s truly breath-taking, 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 9 - Hike Milford Track, cruise Milford Sound

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.
Matai Lodge, Te Anau (All meals)

Day 10 - Takahe Bird Park, hike Kepler Track

This morning we’re heading for a Department of Conservation birdlife park in Te Anau. The centre takes care of injured or ageing birds which would struggle to survive in the wild - it’s a great opportunity to see some of our rarest birds up close, so don’t forget your camera! Afterwards we’ll tick off our third Great Walk in three days - the Kepler Track. Interestingly, the Kepler Track differs from the Routeburn and Milford Tracks in that it didn’t actually evolve from a necessary Maori greenstone trail, but was custom-built for hiking. The section we’ll hike today passes over the control gates at the outlet of Lake Te Anau and meanders through ancient beech and podocarp forest.
Matai Lodge, Te Anau (All meals)

Day 11 - Gondola ride, hike Ben Lomond

Today we’ll drive back along the shores of Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown, and take a ride on 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. Tonight we’ll dine out in Queenstown at your guides’ favourite restaurant.
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (All meals)

Milford Track Guided Walk (from US$799 + tax)

Day 7 (continued) - Boat ride and hike Milford Track

The 5-day/4-night 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 53 kilometres (33 miles) 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! 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, contact us for the latest private room rates. On the fourth night, you’ll stay at Mitre Peak Lodge, a hotel exclusively for Milford Track Guided Walk hikers. From Queenstown, we’ll 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.
Glade House, Milford Track (All meals)

Day 8 - Hike in beech forest

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.
Pompolona Lodge, Milford Track (All meals)

Day 9 - Hike McKinnon Pass

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 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.
Quintin Lodge, Milford Track (All meals)

Day 10 - Hike to Milford Sound

This is your last day on the Milford Track. It’s 21 kilometres (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), and with the memories of the last few days you’ll almost regret being back near civilisation!

Mitre Peak Lodge, Milford Sound (All meals)

Day 11 - Cruise Milford Sound

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, which will have you back in Queenstown for a free afternoon to enjoy (scenic helicopter flight option approx. US$650 per person).  The rest will take the scenic journey back to Queenstown via Te Anau and this evening we’ll meet up with those who chose the Active Great Walks Discovery to catch up on our Fiordland experiences over dinner.
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (All meals)

Day 12—Hike Sam Summers Track, visit local winery

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 continue 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 Aoraki Mt Cook and the Southern Alps - an ideal spot to soak in the hot tub!
Lake Ohau Lodge, Lake Ohau (All meals)

Day 13—Hike Aoraki 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 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.
Aoraki Alpine Lodge, Aoraki Mt Cook Village (All meals)

Day 14—Depart for home

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! For a great way to see the North Island too, where you'll see 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, hike Castle Hill

Most people leave the Northern Hemisphere on a Saturday evening, arriving into Auckland early Monday 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 in the South Island where we’ll meet you. We’ll then head 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. Depending on where you’re coming from, you’ll probably find jetlag is no big deal – for instance, it’s a 12 to 13 hour direct overnight flight from Los Angeles to Auckland, and there’s only a 3 hour time difference between New Zealand and US Pacific time. If you’re coming from further afield, you’ll appreciate the gentle start to your New Zealand adventure.
West Coast lodgings, Punakaiki (Lunch, Dinner)

Day 2 — Rainforest and beach hikes in 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 blowholes – 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.
West Coast lodgings, Punakaiki (All meals)

Day 3 — Hike Point Elizabeth, explore West Coast Treetop Walk

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 experience the West Coast Treetop Walk, an 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 the wind-swept coast to Franz Josef. 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.

Rainforest Retreat, Franz Josef (All meals)

Day 4 — Hike to 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 this giant frozen river (Franz Josef Glacier) imperceptibly grinding its way down through temperate rainforest to just 250 metres (820 feet) above sea level. We’ll take a morning walk to the historic Tartare Tunnels, and then continue on to Franz Josef Glacier where we’ll walk to an incredible view of the terminal face. 

Optional Heli-hike (add US$350 + tax)
A less strenuous, but 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 (4265 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.

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 rainforest and inland to Makarora, a small village bordering Mt Aspiring National Park, with incredible views of the snow-capped mountains.
Makarora Lodgings, Makarora (All meals) 

Day 5 — Hike Diamond Lake, explore Wanaka

This morning we’ll hike the Diamond Lake track, a spectacular circuit through an area carved out by ice-age glaciers, with stands of native forest and shrub land. We’ll enjoy lunch after our hike in Wanaka, then it’s a short but dramatic drive over the Cardrona Saddle to Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, our base for the next couple of nights. You’ll have time to explore and plan your free day tomorrow before dinner. You’ll sleep sweetly at this lakefront hotel located in the heart of Queenstown.
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 6 — 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, fishing, winery tours, an 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. This afternoon, there’s a pre-departure briefing for the Milford Track Guided Walk if you’ve chosen that option.
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (No meals included)

Day 7 — Multi-day options begin

Active Great Walks Discovery

Day 7 (continued) — Overnight cruise in Doubtful Sound

Variety is the spice of life and that’s exactly what this option is all about - hike three of New Zealand’s Great Walks and take an overnight cruise, all in five days - it’s unheard of! We kick things off with a relaxed breakfast, and a drive to the lakeside town of Manapouri, where our journey into Doubtful Sound begins. We’ll board a boat for the cruise across Lake Manapouri, before a drive over Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove where we’ll board the Fiordland Navigator for our overnight cruise. Doubtful Sound is a large and remote wilderness area, where you’ll have the opportunity to take a kayak out on the water or hop aboard the tender craft 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 Fiordland Navigator, though there is the option to upgrade to a private ensuite room, if you prefer.
Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound (All meals)

Day 8 - Cruise in Doubtful Sound, hike Routeburn Track

After our cruise ends we’ll hike part of the Routeburn Track, the first of the Great Walks you’ll experience. We hike through beech forest, sub-alpine shrub land 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 the eighth natural wonder of the world and it’s truly breath-taking, 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 9 - Hike Milford Track, cruise Milford Sound

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.
Matai Lodge, Te Anau (All meals)

Day 10 - Takahe Bird Park, hike Kepler Track

This morning we’re heading for a Department of Conservation birdlife park in Te Anau. The centre takes care of injured or ageing birds which would struggle to survive in the wild - it’s a great opportunity to see some of our rarest birds up close, so don’t forget your camera! Afterwards we’ll tick off our third Great Walk in three days - the Kepler Track. Interestingly, the Kepler Track differs from the Routeburn and Milford Tracks in that it didn’t actually evolve from a necessary Maori greenstone trail, but was custom-built for hiking. The section we’ll hike today passes over the control gates at the outlet of Lake Te Anau and meanders through ancient beech and podocarp forest.
Matai Lodge, Te Anau (All meals)

Day 11 - Gondola ride, hike Ben Lomond

Today we’ll drive back along the shores of Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown, and take a ride on 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. Tonight we’ll dine out in Queenstown at your guides’ favourite restaurant.
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (All meals)

Milford Track Guided Walk (from US$799 + tax)

Day 7 (continued) - Boat ride and hike Milford Track

The 5-day/4-night 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 53 kilometres (33 miles) 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! 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, contact us for the latest private room rates. On the fourth night, you’ll stay at Mitre Peak Lodge, a hotel exclusively for Milford Track Guided Walk hikers. From Queenstown, we’ll 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.
Glade House, Milford Track (All meals)

Day 8 - Hike in beech forest

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.
Pompolona Lodge, Milford Track (All meals)

Day 9 - Hike McKinnon Pass

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 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.
Quintin Lodge, Milford Track (All meals)

Day 10 - Hike to Milford Sound

This is your last day on the Milford Track. It’s 21 kilometres (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), and with the memories of the last few days you’ll almost regret being back near civilisation!

Mitre Peak Lodge, Milford Sound (All meals)

Day 11 - Cruise Milford Sound

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, which will have you back in Queenstown for a free afternoon to enjoy (scenic helicopter flight option approx. US$650 per person).  The rest will take the scenic journey back to Queenstown via Te Anau and this evening we’ll meet up with those who chose the Active Great Walks Discovery to catch up on our Fiordland experiences over dinner.
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (All meals)

Day 12 — Hike Sam Summers Track, visit local winery

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 continue 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 Aoraki Mt Cook and the Southern Alps - an ideal spot to soak in the hot tub!
Lake Ohau Lodge, Lake Ohau (All meals)

Day 13 — Hike Aoraki 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 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.
Aoraki Alpine Lodge, Aoraki Mt Cook Village (All meals)

Day 14 — Depart for home

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! For a great way to see the North Island too, where you'll see 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  
Nov 12, 2018 – Nov 25, 2018 US$6199 + tax Great Check Availability
Nov 26, 2018 – Dec 09, 2018 US$6199 + tax Almost full Check Availability
Dec 10, 2018 – Dec 23, 2018 US$6499 + tax Great Check Availability
Dec 24, 2018 – Jan 06, 2019 US$6499 + tax Almost Full - Check Now! Check Availability
2019
Jan 07, 2019 – Jan 20, 2019 US$6499 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Jan 21, 2019 – Feb 03, 2019 US$6499 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Feb 04, 2019 – Feb 17, 2019 US$6499 + tax Almost full Check Availability
Feb 18, 2019 – Mar 03, 2019 US$6499 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Mar 04, 2019 – Mar 17, 2019 US$6199 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Mar 18, 2019 – Mar 31, 2019 US$6199 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Nov 11, 2019 – Nov 24, 2019 US$6199 + tax Filling up Check Availability
Nov 25, 2019 – Dec 08, 2019 US$6199 + tax Great Check Availability
Dec 09, 2019 – Dec 22, 2019 US$6499 + tax Great Check Availability
Dec 23, 2019 – Jan 05, 2020 US$6499 + tax Great Check Availability
2020
Jan 06, 2020 – Jan 19, 2020 US$6499 + tax Great Check Availability
Jan 20, 2020 – Feb 02, 2020 US$6499 + tax Great Check Availability
Jan 27, 2020 – Feb 09, 2020 US$6499 + tax Great Check Availability
Feb 03, 2020 – Feb 16, 2020 US$6499 + tax Great Check Availability
Feb 17, 2020 – Mar 01, 2020 US$6499 + tax Great Check Availability
Mar 02, 2020 – Mar 15, 2020 US$6199 + tax Great Check Availability
Mar 16, 2020 – Mar 29, 2020 US$6199 + 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 Chateau on the Park 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 Monday.
Departure: Flying out on the last day of the trip, we recommend departing from Christchurch after 4pm on Sunday. If you’re considering alternative flight times please check with us. International flights from Auckland airport (AKL) usually leave early evening, so if you’re heading back to North America, you’ll get home some time on Sunday, even though you left on Sunday evening! Flights back to Europe, of course, take a little longer.

Accommodation:

The ‘Manuka’ is a wilderness hiking trip. While it’s not designed to be a scenic tour of the South Island’s luxury hotels, it features more creature comforts than some of our other trips and you’ll certainly feel like you’re hiking in style! You’ll stay in some wonderful places in the remote locations we take you.

Fitness:

The ‘Manuka’ is an active hiking trip, and has options to suit a wide range of fitness levels and outdoor experience. If you keep reasonably active and like to give things a go, you’re likely to enjoy the trip much more. Typically, hikes on the ‘Manuka’ trip range between three and six hours to complete, with longer hikes on the Milford Track Guided Walk. If you think you’d prefer a more relaxed pace, we recommend checking out our ‘Kiwi’ trip. Please get in touch with us if you’d like to chat about the various options.

Reviews

  • Manuka

    “Fabulous! Thank you for a wonderful adventure!”
    Alice Feller – California, United StatesMay 2018
  • Manuka

    “An absolutely wonderful adventure and the people who made it exceptional where our two guides, Claire and Holly.
    Both were very organized, fun and professional!”
    Jeanne Keith-Ferris – British Columbia, CanadaMay 2018
  • Manuka trip March 2018

    “Wonderful trip, guides were great organisers and great company. They put huge effort into making it interesting and fun.”
    Brian Reilly – , United KingdomMay 2018
  • Great Trip!

    “Loved the trip. Lots of fun, education, and challenge. Great leadership by Holly and Claire”
    Don Ferris – British Columbia, CanadaApril 2018
  • Adventure of a Lifetime! Bucket list✅

    “Claire & Holly’s Most Excellent Adventure! I felt privileged to be on their Manuka Tour. The guides can either make or break a trip, so I was thrilled to experience the best! I’m so impressed with their knowledge, fun spirit, culinary skills, and especially, their attention to details! I couldn’t believe how they catered to each individual’s needs or preferences! Of course, the scenery and hikes were amazing everywhere we explored! How can you go wrong with New Zealand landscape?! Top notch all the way!”
    Kathy Viola – California, United StatesApril 2018
  • A Fabulous Taste of the Beauty of New Zealand’s South

    “This was a great taster of New Zealand’s South Island with lots of great physical activity balanced with opportunities to rest, enjoy the scenery and learn about New Zealand’s fascinating culture and heritage. Our guides Dani and Liana were knowledgeable, cheerful and personable throughout. They prepared excellent nutritious meals and kept us fully informed about the agenda at all times. They did an excellent job of balancing the very different expectations and fitness levels of the individuals in the group and helped create an environment where we could all enjoy ourselves convivially despite our varying needs.
    Accommodation was excellent and travel comfortable and easy.
    All in all the trip provided us with a great introduction to what needs to be done to appreciate the magnificent natural beauty of New Zealand “close up and personal”. We will be back for more.”
    Jan Orman – New South Wales, AustraliaMarch 2018
  • Alan's Manuka Feb. 2018

    “Excellent trip, expectations fully met and delivered upon, outstanding staff.”
    Alan Valentine – Texas, United StatesMarch 2018
  • Wonderful 5-Day Adventure

    “Overall, the Manuka trip with Koru and Holly was great. There's so much to do in Fiordland that it really made sense for us to dip into as much of it as possible in 5 days. And Koru and Holly were unfailingly professional, informative and engaging as guides. Being in a good group also really worked for us. When the scenery is so spectacular, you want to share it and 14 worked really well.”
    Mary Maybin – UK, United KingdomFebruary 2018
  • If I Knew Then What I Know Now.....I’d Do It All Again!

    “There are many hikes one can take just about anywhere in the world however no place has hikes or tramps or treks like New Zealand. Active Adventures put together a great run of easy-moderate day trips that were varied in terrain and they included a lot more of New Zealand than what required a daypack. The Doubtful Sound experience was not a hike at all yet it was definitely a highlight of this trip. Stunning. Beautiful (insert all possible descriptors of natural beauty here). Another aspect of this trip that was not anticipated was the two Active Tour Guides who led the way; Claire and Holly. And they WERE active, all the time, sunrise to sunset,....making sure everyone had what they needed and more. Warning!! - if you do this trip you will want more. New Zealand is addictive. Be prepared!”
    Fred Plant – New Brunswick, CanadaFebruary 2018
  • Wonderful Manuka Trip With Active Adventures, New Zealand

    “Hi, I'm back home in the USA after my Manuka adventure with Active Adventures, New Zealand. I would like to compliment everyone in your company that I came in contact with....from my initial contact with Fiona to my pre-trip emails with Lynette everything was handled with complete professionalism. This was my first adventure with your company but I'm pretty sure that it will not be my last.
    Everything during the trip went forward in a very efficient manner. I was amazed at the energy level and efficiency of our guides Amanda and Holly. The amount of work that they were able to accomplish during the course of a day, their energy levels and very positive attitudes made the trip enjoyable for all of us clients. Also, their knowledge of their country and their willingness to share made the trip even more enjoyable for me.
    Again, thank you to all and especially to Amanda and Holly....I really enjoyed my first visit to New Zealand.”
    Jerry Jobski – Arizona, United StatesApril 2017
  • Manuka with Claire and Jess

    “I loved this trip because it was conducted in a small group which made it easy to become acquainted. Not enough can be said for how Claire and Jess made this trip what it was. They were professional, informative, friendly and just great fun. We got lucky with the weather in that we had two days of light rain with most of the rest of the days near perfectly warm and sunny. The trip was well paced and the locations we visited were simply beautiful. The lodging and food was excellent. This was simply a great trip with a great group of people. The trip ended way too soon for me.”
    Jim Chambers – Massachusetts, United StatesApril 2017
  • Great Companionship

    “Our guides were the best and we had a wonderful group of people traveling with us that made the trip so enjoyable.”
    Jane Harding – Massachusetts, United StatesApril 2017
  • Every view a winner!

    “It was truly a dream come true. From the incredible views to the tireless efforts of our guides, Claire and Jess, an incomparable experience. There were so many experiences packed into two weeks, I'd already forgotten some until I began to review my photos. I am fortunate to have been able to experience the Manuka trip.”
    Beverly Beran – Texas, United StatesMarch 2017
  • Manuka trip Dec 12 2016

    “Although summer came a month late, which meant that our trip was more wet than sunny, we lucked out with the company (our fellow travelers) and especially with Greg and Jess, our very thoughtful guides. I have only high praise and no complaint.”
    Peter Chang – New Mexico, United StatesJanuary 2017
  • We got a great taste of the South Island of New Zealand

    “This trip was a continuation of our first visit to New Zealand that started a week earlier in the North Island. The South Island welcomed us with the earthquake on the first night. Thankfully it did not interrupt our trip that turned out to be a wonderful experience. We could not wish for a more relaxing vacation. It's nice to have locals to show you around and tell you the myths and stories of the land.”
    Warren Hunt – Texas, United StatesDecember 2016
  • Lovely holiday

    “New Zealand is the place to visit. People like our guide, Nick, were so helpful and flexible and "no problem" about everything. Things were so flexible on this Active Adventure trip. When we wanted to do something special, it happened. We were able to have a 5 day trip that covered hiking, cruises, sightseeing. Nick answered questions and came up with all sorts of things to do, including bringing his Frisbees. He gave us information about what to do and places to go after the Active Adventures trip.”
    Becky Engel – Georgia, United StatesNovember 2016
  • Our guides made our trip so enjoyable!

    “Kate and Clara were professional, prepared, and fun as well as being great chefs and hosts. The hikes were varied, interesting and beautiful. The wine tasting and whitebait stops were true New Zealand. Thanks for a great trip.”
    Deane Collinson – Ontario, CanadaFebruary 2016
  • Awesome guides!

    “Kate and Clara were wonderful - informative, fun, intuitive of the group's needs, great cooks, kind, helpful and anticipated our needs! We loved them”
    Judy Collinson – Ontario, CanadaFebruary 2016
  • Manuka November 2015

    “This was my first time travelling with a hiking group trip. I was a little concerned prior to the trip - would I be able to keep up, will the group members be compatible, will the guides be responsive and care. Happy to say all of my concerns were for naught. Even though I was slowest member of the group, everyone was wonderful. The group members were great and the guides were very supportive. Needless to say, I will do this again. Active adventures were great to work with.”
    Liz Rogers – Oregon, United StatesDecember 2015
  • “Great trip! The landscapes are exceptional and varied. Milford Sound and Milford Track were absolute highlights. Thanks so much for letting us travel with you!”
    Joyce Barbour – Ontario, CanadaDecember 2015
  • A Truly Great Experience

    “I enjoyed my trip with Active Adventures/New Zealand. The guides were suburb,and the accommodations were very good,often excellent.The food served was quite good also.Nick and Elysse prepared some delicious meals.
    Both of the guides seemed genuinely concerned about our well-being.
    Nick was an excellent driver and explained things well as we went along.
    The hikes were quite enjoyable and you were given choices to do as much or as little as you chose.
    I would highly recommend Active Adventures to other hikers. ”
    Phoebe Rollins – South Carolina, United StatesDecember 2015
  • Bucket list trip

    “The trip was truly an adventure. Loved the landscape, especially the West coastal area. Our Guides (GT & Alex) were great & really know their home land. This trip was a great way to see New Zealand in a short time frame.”
    Robert Mann – Ohio, United StatesMarch 2015
  • An awesome trip in an awesome country!

    “This was definitely a trip of a lifetime - one that was on my bucket list for a while! The tracks that we hiked were all great, from the rainforest to Mt. Cook. Our guides, GT and Alex, were great and worked really hard to ensure that our trip was seamless. If you are looking for a way to experience New Zealand by hiking and sightseeing, this is the way to go - a very professional outfitter that takes care of all the details! It was worth the wait!”
    Norma Watterman – Ohio, United StatesMarch 2015
  • Manuka December 15-28, 2014

    “This was a really enjoyable trip that provided exposure to a broad range of habitats and some of the iconic scenery of the South Island. We were really lucky with the weather -- only a couple of days of rain and even then not heavy -- and traveling at the holidays was fun, even if it made things a bit more crowded in some places. I would tweak a few details but liked the itinerary overall. ”
    Rob Franklin – California, United StatesJanuary 2015

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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