Experience New Zealand’s breathtaking wilderness on this breathtaking tour. Travel through mountain beech forests and alpine gardens before sailing across Milford Sound en route.
No matter your level of experience or abilities, this trip offers some of the best hiking and walking in New Zealand. From conquering the magnificent Southern Alps to sea kayaking golden beaches and traversing glacier-carved landscapes – you won’t want to miss this trip.
1. The Kepler Track
Explore New Zealand’s incredible natural beauty on a multi-day hiking adventure through epic mountain views and picturesque lakes with MoaTrek. Witness crystalline fjords, lush mountains, aquamarine lakes fed by massive glaciers, as well as beautiful forests filled with Maori legends from local guides.
Kepler Track offers high-standard accommodations including huts and campsites that make up the Great Walks season (late October to late April), making it a popular route. Huts feature running water, solar lighting, and tables and seating, but you must bring your own cooking gear; two tent camping areas on the track require backcountry permits to access.
Starting at the Kepler Track control gates in Manapouri, this walk passes by Moturau Hut near Lake Moturau before meandering through a gorge and lowland beech and podocarp forest to Rainbow Beach where stoat traps serve as a sign of locals’ disapproval for this furry ferret-like predator that threatens New Zealand’s native bird population.
2. The Routeburn Track
Routeburn Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, is a highly popular hike among both Kiwis and foreign visitors. Although shorter than its counterparts, its scenic views still impress visitors from far and wide.
From Routeburn Shelter to Lake Mackenzie Hut, you’ll travel through beech forests and mossy cliffs before coming upon alpine tarns surrounded by mountains – Harris Lake being an unforgettable spectacle carved out by an rushing river and dwarfed by mountain peaks all around it.
The trail offers an exceptional diversity of native bush and flora, including temperate rainforests and alpine herb fields. Tussock grasses and ferns turn vibrant green during the summer season before turning golden in wintertime; you may even catch sight of native birdlife such as New Zealand’s only alpine parrot; the cheeky Kea.
3. The Abel Tasman
Abel Tasman National Park is a picturesque national park renowned for its towering cliffs, golden sandy beaches and amazing walking tracks. Recognised by New Zealand as one of its official ‘Great Walks,’ Abel Tasman Coast Track provides an unforgettable journey through paradise.
Though you could easily walk this stunning trail in one day, multi-day adventures are the ideal experience. Stay overnight at beachfront lodges, camp sites or DOC huts like Bark Bay, Awaroa or Whariwharangi; many DOC huts and campsites can also be booked online ahead of time during summer months.
Abel Tasman’s breathtaking coastline boasts numerous picturesque inlets and coves that invite exploration. Hiking through tidal pools will let you uncover Abel Tasman’s many lagoons; alternatively, relax at Coquille Bay beach which features native bush with Punga Ferns for some solitude.
Paddleboarding, kayaking and fly fishing are also options in Abel Tasman River Gorge. Paddling a traditional Polynesian sailboat (waka) allows visitors to visit more waterfalls while scenic flights provide aerial views of this stunning park.
4. Milford Sound
If you’re searching for an easy way to experience Milford Sound, this full-day small group tour from Te Anau to Milford and back is an ideal solution. This trip features driving to Milford, cruising, hiking up Key Summit and returning. Each trip accommodates 12 people at most and costs less than most larger group excursions.
If you don’t have time to dedicate an entire day, take advantage of this half-day hiking and cruise tour – it will still offer a fantastic introduction to Milford Sound’s breathtaking landscapes, including an ascent up Sandfly Point!
Milford Sound is best visited during spring. There will be fewer crowds and stunning snow-capped mountains; plus you’ll get to admire some truly magnificent waterfalls as melting snow and rain cause existing ones to expand while new ones arise from seemingly nowhere!
Milford Lodge is currently the only accommodation available, though camping is permitted within Fiordland National Park and the UNESCO World Heritage Area, so camping could save money while giving you access to everything this region has to offer.
5. The West Coast
The West Coast lures beachgoers and hikers with its sandy shores, crystal waters, and rolling mountains. Mt Aspiring National Park reveals unmatched natural beauty including mountain lakes, glaciers, river valleys and numerous hiking tracks – providing plenty of outdoor adventure!
West Coast New Zealand stands out as an oasis of lush rainforest and native birds, which makes for a wonderful tour experience. Enjoy easy bush tracks amidst prehistoric Kauri trees and giant tree ferns; look out for elusive, nighttime Kiwi birds! This place will remain unforgettable.
Historic Hokitika, famous for its greenstone (pounamu), serves as the gateway to New Zealand’s wild natural wilderness. Enjoy strolling dramatic beaches, selecting serene lakes and taking in river and mountain views along with great cafes and museums. Take an exhilarating helicopter flight over Franz Josef/Waiau Glacier, admire its jaw-dropping scenery from above before descending its ice wall; walk ice towers; squeeze through narrow crevasses or slide through icy caves (if feeling adventurous). Views are truly Goonie-worthy!