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New Zealand Walking Tour

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New Zealand Walking Tour

  • Location: New Zealand
  • Duration: 13 Days/12 Nights
  • Departing from: Blenheim, 6:30 p.m. Day 1
  • Tour finishes: Queenstown, morning of Day 13
  • Departures 2019: February 12
  • Price 2019: $7,050 USD per person in double occupancy, minimum group size of six. Single supplement: $600 USD*. Discount of $250 USD per person from the double occupancy price if you accept a shared room for two nights during the Routeburn Hike portion. * Single rooms are very rarely available during the two nights on the Routerburn track. The single supplement of $600 USD is based on a shared room and WC/shower during the two nights on the Routeburn. You can request a single room with ensuite WC/shower and if available it can be reserved for a supplement of a further $630 USD on top of the regular single supplement.
  • Departures 2018: February 13 SOLD OUT
  • Price 2018: SOLD OUT

This tour is designed to showcase the best of New Zealand’s spectacular South Island. We take you from the top of the Marlborough Sounds down the east coast to Christchurch, then inland via Lake Tekapo to Queenstown and “The Remarkables,” the aptly-named range of mountains that tower over the town. You will experience the west coast during the Milford Sound day, which combines a scenic flight in a small aircraft followed by a cruise up Milford Sound to iconic Mitre Peak. The last three days of walking are along the famous Routeburn Track which allows you to get into some of New Zealand’s stunning high alpine terrain while enjoying luxury accommodation at the end of the day. The itinerary is also designed to limit vehicle transfers to not more than 4 hours on any given day. We completed our inaugural New Zealand tour in February 2017 and it was "LEGENDARY"!,  as they say down here. : )

New Zealand Walking Tour itinerary

Day 1 -- Feb 12, 2019

Arrive independently in Blenheim, in the Marlborough wine country at the northeast corner of the island. Meet your guides at 06:30 p.m. for a welcome drink followed by dinner. There are many flights daily from Auckland and Christchurch to Blenheim. Overnight Blenheim. Hotel, airport transfer to the hotel, welcome drink and dinner included.

Day 2 -- Feb 13, 2019

Today you begin the Queen Charlotte walking track, a relatively easy but scenic walk amongst the bays and inlets of the Marlborough Sounds. The track is unique for its stunning coastal views, historical landmarks and wonderful variety of native bush and birdlife. The terrain is undulating with hills ranging from sea level to 400 metres. Most of the track is wide and all major streams have been bridged. We start at Motuara, a predator free island which is a sanctuary for many of New Zealand's indigenous birds. We begin our walk from Ship Cove, where Captain Cook rested and replenished during his three historic voyages to the South Pacific in the 1770s. Upon arrival at Furneaux Lodge you may enjoy a cold drink on the terrace, or borrow a sea kayak for a paddle along Endeavour inlet.
Walking Distance: 18 kms/11 mi. (about 4.5 to 5 hours of walking). Your bags are moved by water taxi. Overnight at Furneaux Lodge in luxury waterfront suites. Hotel, breakfast, lunch, and dinner included.

Day 3 -- Feb 14, 2019

Exit the Queen Charlotte track via water taxi back to the mainland. Time for a "Flat White" in Picton village before a 2 hour van transfer to Kaikoura for lunch at the historic pub. A 5 km walk along the coast allows us to stretch our legs before continuing along this super scenic stretch of coast which features the towering peaks of the Seaward Kaikoura range on one side and the shimmering blue waters of the Pacific on the other. We soon arrive at Ngaroma Beach House*, a simple but comfortable house located 20 meters from the shore. We are now on a private farm track, created by two neighbouring "run holders" to diversify their farm income. Enjoy a leisurely evening stroll down the beach before dinner, which is catered by our hosts and features home grown produce. We are joined by Heather and Bruce, the owners of the farm to get a little local lore about this isolated station and their life here.
Walking distance: 5 kms/3 mi. for Kaikoura walk, and as many as you like along the beach. Overnight at *Ngaroma Beach Hut , a farm cottage with separate rooms but shared WC and shower facilities. Overnight, breakfast, lunch, and dinner included.

Day 4 -- Feb 15, 2019

Start the Kaikoura farm – track walk, a private walking track set up by two neighbouring farming families that extends across their farms. The “trail” starts along the beach and passes beneath cliffs embedded with 8,000-year-old tree stumps and fossils. You may see seals or dolphins playing in the surf but chances are you will be too busy beachcombing as the sand reveals lots of natural treasures!  You have a picnic lunch at the Circle Shelter nestled amongst coastal bush before climbing up some high terraces for immense views up and down the uninhabitated coast. The trail then turns inland and weaves its way through covenanted land that is returning to native bush and forest. Fan Tails and Bell Birds provide a natural soundtrack as we head for the Medina homestead where we spend the night. We will be joined by farm owners Sally and David who share many colourful stories about their fifty plus years living a unique lifestyle on this land.  Walking Distance: 13 kms/8 mi. Overnight Medina. Overnight, breakfast, lunch, and dinner included.

Day 5 -- Feb 16, 2019

Our day starts with a long but gradual climb up a ridge line through native forest and pine plantations. We emerge above the bush line and are rewarded with a spectacular view over rolling hills to the jagged peaks of the Seaward Kaikoura range. Lunch is enjoyed at a hut perched high above the valley, and in some cases, above the soft, fluffy sea mist that burns away during the morning. A gradual descent brings us back to the Ngaroma beach hut where we rest and enjoy a glass of homemade lemonade before hopping into the van for a scenic two hour transfer to Christchurch. We will be staying just outside of Christchurch at a historic 1800's hotel that features gorgeous sea views. Dinner in the hotel's Gastro pub. Overnight near Christchurch. Walking Distance: 11 kms/7 mi. Overnight, breakfast, lunch and dinner included. 

Day 6 -- Feb 17, 2019

This morning we walk Christchurch's spectacular crater rim walkway. True to its name, it follows the rim of the ancient and now extinct volcanic crater which gave birth to Banks Peninsula, and area of 1,150 square kilometres. We cheat with a quick van transfer that takes us 400 meters above sea level to the start of the path which remains high, with alternating views of Christchurch city to the north and Whakaraupo bay and Banks peninsula to the south. Fantastic panoramas abound as we walk through open country to eventually descend the historic bridle path which in pioneer days connected Christchurch settlement with Lyttleton harbour. Some free time in Lyttleton before lunch. This afternoon we have walk through Christchurch's famous botanical gardens and then into town to the "Restart" shopping precinct which was built from imaginatively used shipping containers immediately after the 2011 earthquake devastated the city centre. Return to our seaveiw oasis before dinner. Overnight near Christchurch. Walking Distance: 18 kms/11 mi in the morning. 4 kms/2.5mi in the afternoon. Hotel, breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 7 -- Feb 18, 2019

The wild bluffs of Godley Head host us for our morning walk. The scenic path skirts high above the sea and leads us to the incongruous site of bunkers and gun emplacements that were hastily built in 1940 at the outbreak of WWII. The track eventually leads down to Taylor's Mistake, the locals’ favourite beach. You can't come all this way and not have a swim in the warm waters of the South Pacific! We then transfer south to the "Mackenzie country", a unique environment of harsh winters, hot summers, and mountainous terrain which produces the finest Merino wool in the world. We take you straight to the Grampians Station, an historic high country sheep station which has my favourite view in New Zealand from their front porch. We are greeted by Eve Hope, one of the owners of the station and she joins us for an hour and a half walk amongst the hills above the homestead. You are rewarded with incredible views of Mount Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain, and the snow capped peaks of its adjacent rivals. We descend down to the house to enjoy the sunset view, followed by dinner in the old homestead with Eve who will give you insights into the challenges of running a 50,000 acre Merino sheep station. After dinner it is time to look to the heaves because The Grampians is located in the heart of  the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. This 4300sq km area is the southern hemisphere’s sole dark sky reserve and one of only eight in the world. Light pollution is strictly controlled to provide a unique and unforgettable stargazing experience. A 20 minute transfer takes us to Burkes pass, where we spend the night. You have private rooms but shared WC and bathroom. Walking distance: 8 kms in the morning and 6 kms in the afternoon. (Drive time 3.5 hours). Overnight, breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

Day 8 -- Feb 19, 2019

We say goodbye to the Mackenzie country as we head south for a super-scenic drive through the mountainous Lindis pass to Queenstown. This afternoon you will experience an exhilarating jet-boat ride through the canyons of the Shotover River. Freetime this afternoon to walk along the shore of Lake Wakatipu to take in the views onto "The Remarkables", the aptly named mountain range that lines the east shore of the lake. Queenstown is not only famous for it scenery and adventure sports, but also for the excellent wines that come from the “Central Otago” winegrowing region. Before dinner we can visit an ingenious wine bar where you can sample some of the highest rated Pinots on the planet. Tonight is a free night diner. There is much to choose from, including Michelin starred chef Josh Emmet's "Rata" restaurant. Drive time: 3.5 – 4 hours. Overnight in Queenstown. Hotel, breakfast, and lunch included. Dinner not included.

Day 9-- Feb 20, 2019

Today is chock-o-block with stunning scenery. This morning we take a high-wing propeller aircraft flight from Queenstown over the the magnificent mountains, waterfalls, lakes and fiords of Fiordland National Park. We land at the head of Milford Sound to board a launch to cruise the full length of the fjord to the base of Mitre peak, whose 5,551 foot spire plunges straight into the sea. Return to Queenstown by scenic flight over the world-famous Milford Track and Sutherland Falls. The excursion lasts 4 hours so we’ll be back in Queenstown in time for lunch followed by some free time, so you can choose to chill out by the lake, enjoy a spa treatment, or a parachute jump, or a bungee jump, or white-water rafting! Your guide will happily accompany you on a serene walk that skirts the turquoise waters of Lake Wakatipu and features the craggy peaks of the Remarkables range. Tonight is another “free night” dinner in Queenstown. Overnight Queenstown. Hotel, breakfast and lunch included. Dinner not included.

Day 10 -- Feb 21, 2019

Early departure from Queenstown to access the start of the Routeburn Track, one of New Zealand's GREAT WALKS.  The Track passes through two national parks, Fiordland and Mount Aspiring, and is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Area. You will be walking amongst mountainous peaks; sheer rock faces; alpine basins; pristine lakes; cascading waterfalls; luxuriant forest; and aquamarine rivers. The track is equipped with several huts and shelters and you will be staying both nights in luxury lodges where you can enjoy a hot shower, clean towels, crisp linen and a three course meal, not to mention a cold beer at the end of the day. We will be joining other like minded hikers on this route, and we will have an additional four guides to look after us on the trail. Today's hike starts with a climb up a wide path to Key Summit for a huge vista. Here you can sit among the alpine flora and gaze down upon three valleys from which water flows to three different coasts. You then descend to the Lake Howden hut for a hot drink and picnic lunch before gradually climbing through a lush silver beech forest to the base of Earland Falls. You will look over the Hollyford Valley to the ice-capped Darran Mountains before descending to the lodge at Lake Mackenzie Morning bus transfer: 3 hours  Walking Distance 15 km/9 mi. Overnight Lake Mackenzie. Hotel and all meals included.

Day 11 -- Feb 22, 2019

A chorus of native birds greets you this morning. After a hearty continental and/or cooked breakfast you set out for one of the most scenic alpine walks in the world. You leave the ancient forest draped in moss and lichen and enter the world of daisies, buttercups, gentians and edelweiss as you gain altitude. At the top of the passs revel in a full vista of the Darran Mountains across the Hollyford Valley, which slices through Fiordland to the distant Tasman Sea at Martin's Bay. On a clear day you can see the white froth from the rollers breaking on the coast. Lunch is had at Harris Saddle hut where flush toilets are available, (this is sophisticated hiking!) in addition to the awesome panorama. A gradual descent takes you into the upper basins of the Routeburn Valley with towering mountains above you. Tonight is spent at the beautifully located Routeburn Falls Lodge. Chances are you will get a visit from a Kia, the world's only Alpine Parrot, and surely the cheekiest too. Walking Distance: 15 km/9 mi. Overnight Routburn Falls. Hotel and all meals included.

Day 12 -- Feb 23, 2019

A leisurely and easy hike leads us along the banks of an emerald green stream. We enjoy a break at some gorgeous rock pools.  The track continues to shadow the river as it roars through a magnificent gorge before plunging beneath the unyielding rocks at the Sump. From here it is a gentle walk through the beech forest to the Road End at Routeburn flats. A bus will pick us up and take us to the Glenorchy pub for a welcome refreshment before making our way back to Queenstown. We get back to town at about 4 pm. You will have a free afternoon in Queenstown before meeting up for our final dinner together to celebrate the end of a gorgeous tour. Walking Distance: 10 kms/6mi. Overnight Queenstown. Hotel and all meals included.

Day 13 -- Feb 24, 2019

After breakfast the tour officially ends. There are regular flights from Queenstown to Christchurch, Auckland, Wellington, Sydney and Melbourne. Breakfast included.

The Routeburn Track

The Routeburn Track

On the last three days we walk the Routeburn Track. It is one of New Zealand’s “Great Walks,” and as such the government has invested in upgrading the trail to make it safe and well maintained. This allows people without mountaineering and bush skills to experience the beauty of this high alpine area. The government maintains four huts along the route for backpackers, and has also given concessions for two luxury lodges to be built along the track. This means you don’t have to carry food and bedding for three days of hiking. It also means you get a comfortable bed, clean linen and towels, a hot shower, and a three course meal at the end of the day, even in this remote alpine setting.

Please note that there are rooms with ensuite WC and shower available. Those are the rooms that we book, but if you want to save a little money you can stay in a four person room with shower and WC facilities around the corner. The ensuite rooms sell out quickly, and are allotted on a first come, first served basis.

You have to carry with you your clothes for three days of hiking, and a picnic lunch which is provided to you each morning. Your daypack will thus be slightly heavier than what you are used to since you’ll have to carry a spare change of clothes and some flip flops or light shoes for post-hike relaxing and evening wear. The evening scene is very, very casual. During the Routeburn portion of the tour we will be joining other like minded hikers on this route, and we will have an additional four guides to look after us on the trail.

Activity Rating: 3 out of 5 = Moderate: Rolling terrain with the occasional short, steep ups and downs. Daily activity usually between two to two and a half hours in the morning and two to two and a half hours in the afternoon. Max distance in a day: 18 kms/11 miles.  

Trip Cost includes:  12 nights accommodation (7 nights in four-star hotels/resorts with ensuite bathrooms/showers, 2 nights on the Kaikoura farm track where you have your own rooms, but shared WC and shower facilities, 2 nights at historic Governor Bay hotel your own very comfortable rooms, but shared WC and shower facilities, and one night at Burke's pass in a five room, 4 bedroom stone house, and/or a historic  church that has been converted into a cottage, so you will have your own rooms, but shared WC and shower facilities ), 12 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 9 dinners; all van costs; pick up from Blenheim airport and transfer to the first hotel, all luggage transfers and transport as per itinerary including water taxis during the Queen Charlotte hike. Special events include a scenic flight over and amongst the Southern Alps in a small aircraft to Milford Sound, cruise on Milford Sound to Mitre peak, return flight to Queenstown from Milford, and Shotover Jet boating. A lead Customwalks guide will be present for the whole tour and wil accompany you on all walks while a second Customwalks guide will accompany the tour for the first five days of the tour. During the three day Routeburn hike four other guides will be present on the trail to look after you. The final transfer to Queenstown airport is not included.

The Routeburn Track

On the last three days we walk the Routeburn Track. It is one of New Zealand’s “Great Walks,” and as such the government has invested in upgrading the trail to make it safe and well maintained. This allows people without mountaineering and bush skills to experience the beauty of this high alpine area. The government maintains four huts along the route for backpackers, and has also given concessions for two luxury lodges to be built along the track. This means you don’t have to carry food and bedding for three days of hiking. It also means you get a comfortable bed, clean linen and towels, a hot shower, and a three course meal at the end of the day, even in this remote alpine setting.

Please note that there are rooms with ensuite WC and shower available. Those are the rooms that we book, but if you want to save a little money you can stay in a four person room with shower and WC facilities around the corner. The ensuite rooms sell out quickly, and are allotted on a first come, first served basis.

You have to carry with you your clothes for three days of hiking, and a picnic lunch which is provided to you each morning. Your daypack will thus be slightly heavier than what you are used to since you’ll have to carry a spare change of clothes and some flip flops or light shoes for post-hike relaxing and evening wear. The evening scene is very, very casual. During the Routeburn portion of the tour we will be joining other like minded hikers on this route, and we will have an additional four guides to look after us on the trail.


Booking: e-mail us at info@customwalks.com to receive a booking contract (or use the 'Contact Us' link at the top of this page), or click on the 'Book Now' button to the right.

Insurance: We highly recommend the purchase of Trip Insurance. We recommend “Travel Guard” to our North American clients, just click on the logo below. Australian, New Zealander, and British travelers, please consult your insurance brokers.

We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime!

travel Guard insurance

Getting There: the trip starts on February 12, 2019 with your independent arrival at our pre-booked hotel in Blenheim which is well connected by air with Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington. See this website for handy information on getting to New Zealand, with links to all airports and airlines.

Air: You can fly directly into the Woodbourne Airport, which is only 8 km from Blenheim. Air New Zealand has up to four flights a day from Auckland, eight flights from Wellington and three flights daily from Christchurch. See all flight schedules and shuttle booking at the airport’s website.

Getting Away at the End of the Trip: the trip ends after breakfast on Sunday February 24, 2019 in Queenstown. There are international flights between Queenstown and four Australian cities (Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast), operated by Air New Zealand, Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Australia. Domestic flights are operated by Air New Zealand and Jetstar, linking Queenstown with Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. There are several flights a day to all of these destinations, so consult the airport’s website or your favorite airline for current schedules.

If you book a trip with us you will receive detailed information about how to get to the start of your trip, or e-mail us with any specific travel questions.

4.67/5
RatingRatingRatingRatingRating  
4.67 out of 5
Ratings based on 2 Verified Reviews

Average ratings
5.0
Guides
4.5
Quality of itinerary
4.0
Food quality & variety
4.5
Value for money
5.0
Right amount of activity
5.0
Overall satisfaction

Reviews
4.8
by E. Farr from USA, Beltsville, MD
Posted Mar 22, 2017

My first time in New Zealand--great introduction to a beautiful place. The trip included varied landscapes and hiking experiences including the Queen Charlotte Track, Kaikoura Coast Track, and the Routeburn Track and well as walks in farmland and areas where the native vegetation is being restored. Accommodations, food and logistics were excellent. A good hiking experience.

4.5
by df from Beltsville
Posted Mar 21, 2017

This trip provided a great overview of the South Island of New Zealand from the north to the south. The lush sub tropical rain forest of the Queen Charolette Track, the mountainous Roteburn Track, the Kaikoura Coast Track and the Grampians Sheep farm were all marvelous examples of the varied habitats in New Zealand. The hikes were moderate and within the abilities of those that enjoy hiking. Food was excellent, guides were knowledgeable and personable providing insight into the New Zealand way.



My first time in New Zealand--great introduction to a beautiful place. The trip included varied landscapes and hiking experiences including the Queen Charlotte Track, Kaikoura Coast Track, and the Routeburn Track and well as walks in farmland and areas where the native vegetation is being restored. Accommodations, food and logistics were excellent. A good hiking experience.
by E. Farr from USA, Beltsville, MD

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