Frequently Asked Questions
It's very important to us that you have all your questions answered about our trips. We’ve collected some of the questions we get asked most often and answered them below. You can also try searching your question in the search field below.
And if you still can’t find the answers you need, give us a call or send us an email and we’ll help you out!
Accommodation and Rooming
You will stay in a variety of accommodation all carefully selected to ensure that each place offers a new experience. We’ll take you from the lakeside in Queenstown, to a beach house on the West Coast within earshot of the sea, a lakefront high-country station (sheep farm) and spectacular lodgings in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. Each night we guarantee you a charming room, hot showers and a comfy pillow in stunning peaceful locations around New Zealand.
If you are looking for a high-end accommodation option then please take a look at our World Heritage Walking Tour, which stays in 4-star accommodation throughout. Otherwise you can find more details about the accommodation on each trip by clicking on one of the following links: Masterpiece, Kiwi Classic, Short South or the Sweet North.
Of course – we can suggest accommodation at all levels whether you want a post-trip treat in a luxury hotel, or a more standard option.
Food and Dietary
Delicious! A great deal of care goes into ensuring the high standard of food and wine on your trips is as varied as the scenery, and fuels your incredible experiences. Depending on the trip you choose, we'll take you to our favourite restaurants each night (on the World Heritage) or on our other trips, sometimes you'll stay in, and your guide will host a dinner party and cook for you. Either way, you will be looked after like royalty and, unlike some trips out there, you're our guest and you're never expected to do any food prep, cooking, or dishwashing.
On regular days, we start with a healthy breakfast with lots of choices and awesome coffee served at your accommodation before heading off for the day’s activity! Lunches are either in the best little cafes or restaurants en route or your guide will organise a wholesome packed lunch to last you all day on your activities. Dinners are in our favourite local places or your lodgings, using the best fresh local ingredients with a strong emphasis on introducing you to New Zealand specialties.
All of our trips have some ‘free days’ where we let you take some time to explore the local culture on your own. If you are on the World Heritage Walking Tour your 'free day' (in Queenstown) starts off with an included breakfast. The rest of the day is yours to explore – but there are plenty of tasty options for you in Queenstown. On all of our other trips though, you'll need to make your own arrangements on your ‘free days’ for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We'll always give you some local recommendations, but our guests tell us they enjoy the chance to make their own discoveries.
No worries at all – we can cater to all sorts of dietary requirements so just let us know your individual needs and we ensure you are well-fed. New Zealand caters well to vegetarians and vegans, so you will find plenty of options.
The hiking distances vary slightly from trip to trip, as they are each designed slightly differently to suit different tastes. Most of the people that join our trips have questions about how fit they need to be and the answer is that as long as you enjoy being out and about in the outdoors you will enjoy yourself – our trips are designed for active people but you don’t need to be an athlete! We have two guides with every trip, meaning that everyone can go at their own pace and there is always flexibility within the itinerary to do more or less depending on your mood that day. Check out these pages for more details about the hikes on each trip. World Heritage Walking Tour, Masterpiece, Kiwi Classic, Short South and Sweet North.
Everyone walks at the pace most comfortable for them and there is never any time pressure on our walks. In a small group tour, it's natural that there will be different fitness levels in the group, but with two trained guides on most hikes, this is never a problem. If you'd like to stretch out a little, or take your time, either way you'll only ever have to walk at a pace that is comfortable for you.
If you are generally active and enjoy physical hobbies like hiking, cycling, golf, tennis or dancing then you will have no problems with the walks and activities on the tour. If you’d like to do a little preparation for your tour we recommend regular short walks anywhere from one to four hours in the six weeks leading up to your trip. It helps to wear the shoes and carry the backpack you will bring to New Zealand; this will assist you with getting used to your equipment. Whatever you can fit into your lifestyle will help but don’t overdo it and certainly don’t worry about it. We’ve had people of all ages and abilities on our walking tours and everyone’s had a great time!
Transport and Transfers
On your trip you will generally travel in a late-model Mercedes Benz minibus. The size of the vehicle will depend on the exact size of the group, but you will have space to stretch out and enjoy each journey.
Please see below for the city or town where your trips will start and finish:
World Heritage Walking Tour – Start/Finish Christchurch
Masterpiece – Start/Finish Queenstown
Kiwi Classic – Start/Finish Queenstown
Short South – Start/Finish Queenstown to Christchurch
Sweet North – Start/Finish Auckland
Let us know if you have questions about your flights and we are happy to help with your accommodation before and after your trip.
You will receive all the information you need once you have booked your trip. We will pick you up from our joining hotel or the airport on the first morning of your trip at a prearranged time. After your trip, we'll drop you back at the airport, into town, or just about anywhere you need to go – even though you probably won’t want to leave!
To make it easy we suggest you bring one mid-sized suitcase or soft travel bag plus your day pack (recommended size 25 litres) per person. We will provide you with a comprehensive packing list, the items of which should fit easily into this allowance.
We will provide you with a comprehensive packing list when you book your trip. You will need to bring comfortable travel clothes, suitable outdoor wear that you can layer up for cooler days, a well-worn in pair of hiking boots and your personal items.
New Zealand is very casual so you could wear the same shorts every day and no-one will bat an eyelid. Wear clothes that you find comfortable, that you can hike and be active in, that will wash and dry quickly on the move and that pack easily into your travel bag. You won’t need anything 'dressy' on your New Zealand Trails trip, just a couple of nice things to put on in the evenings if you fancy.
Your guides will be one of our hand-picked, experienced and passionate Kiwis with a wide array of life experiences. From spotting native wildlife to bringing the past alive with stories from the land, from adjusting gear on hikes to providing that little extra encouragement during the last mile, the connections you make with your guides will last a lot longer than the duration of this tour. You can meet some of them on our people page here.
There are two guides with you for the entire trip, except on very rare occasions when we have a very small group. We find this works perfectly with our small groups as two fabulous guides means we can give you lots of options and flexibility every day.
It’s completely up to you! If you would like to tip your guide then you are of course welcome, but it’s not compulsory.
Cost and Booking
Your trip includes your two Kiwi super-guides (they drive, guide, cook, lead, carry, encourage and are responsible for making sure you have the best time), comfortable transport, outstanding accommodation and most meals for the duration of your trip.
It’s easy! You can book online here or give us a call and we’ll talk you through it. You’ll need to pay a 20% deposit to secure your booking with the balance due 60 days before your departure date. You can pay your deposit by credit card or by bank transfer in US, Australian or Canadian dollars, British pounds or Euros.
To secure your spot on the tour we require a 20% deposit, with the balance payable 60 days before departure. You have the option of paying by credit card, either over the phone or through our secure online booking page. You can also make payment to a local bank account in your own currency. This can often be done from the comfort of home via internet banking.
*Your deposit is fully refundable up to 90 days prior to departure of your trip.*
Our cancellation policy is:
90 days or more before departure: your choice of either a full refund of your deposit, or transfer to a different departure date
89-60 days before departure: loss of deposit
59-31 days before departure: 50% of amount paid, or deposit (whichever is greater)
30 days or less before departure: 100%
After scheduled departure date: 100%
We strongly advise purchasing a comprehensive travel insurance policy when you book your trip to make sure you’re covered for anything unexpected. We can help you with insurance cover, just ask and we’ll provide you with the details and a quote for an excellent policy.
You can change your booking to another one of our departures, for no charge, as long as there is 90 days before the departure of the trip you are changing from and to. We will always try to accommodate any date changes like this but are sometimes limited by availability and operational requirements.
As our tours are in small groups, we are usually fully booked during the summer season so we advise booking as soon as possible in order to avoid disappointment. New Zealand is a small country with limited international air connections so flights and hotels can be booked out quickly in popular spots during high season. It's normal for guests to book on our tours 9-12 months in advance.
We regularly organise private tours for specialist groups, clubs, extended families and groups of friends wishing to travel together and would be more than happy to help you with your travel plans.
There is no forced single-supplement. If you are a solo traveler (as so many of our people are!) we will team you up with a member of the group of the same sex to share with for the duration of your trip. If you would like to guarantee your own room then there is the option to pay a single supplement. Please request a quote.
Hikes and Activities
Our fully supported tours are designed to make your New Zealand adventure as easy and safe as possible. Your guides will be at your service for the entire duration of the tour, during hikes and other outdoor activities, but also at any other time of the day to help in any way possible. A big part of the tour is the interpretation your guides will provide, giving you the opportunity to learn all about New Zealand's fascinating environment. Your guides are trained in first aid and we operate under an independently audited safety plan.
You’ll enjoy the best walking in New Zealand and explore several UNESCO World Heritage sites: Milford Track – Guided day hike from Sandfly Point (Milford Sound) to Giant’s Gate Falls. Routeburn Track – Guided day hiking from the Routeburn road-end to either Routeburn Falls or Routeburn Flats. Hollyford Track – Guided day hike from the Pyke River Confluence to the Hollyford road-end. Also, a guided afternoon hike from Martin’s Bay to Long Reef seal colony. Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park – Guided day walk on the Hooker Valley track. Arthur's Pass National Park – Short guided hike on the Upper Bealey Valley track. Mou Waho Island – Guided nature walk on this island eco-sanctuary in the middle of Lake Wanaka. Paparoa National Park – afternoon guided hike on the Pororari River track. You can check out each hike here.
We recommend travelling to New Zealand when the weather is at its best for making the most of the outdoors, so any time from the spring through to autumn. The spring is during the months of late October to November, the summer months are December/January/February and the autumn is March/April time.
About the group
We run small-group tours, so along with your two guides there will be up to a maximum of 14 in your group, but usually we run our trips with groups of around 10. We have found this number to be perfect for making sure we can ensure everyone has the best time.
You will meet like-minded people who have an appreciation for nature and the great outdoors, while still being able to enjoy the benefits of comfortable accommodation, great food and stimulating conversation on this journey. Our guests are usually people from a wide range of nationalities, backgrounds and experiences. On average, we have a 50/50 split between men and women, with several single travellers on each trip as well as couples and friends travelling together.
We get a pretty wide range of age groups on our tours, anywhere from people in their 30s to 70s. In any case, we reckon it’s more about attitude than age, which is why the social dynamics usually work so well. If you love the idea of getting out into the most incredible landscapes on the planet, with your feet on the ground rather than looking out of a coach window, and you enjoy your creature comforts -- we know you will love our trips!
No worries at all, we get plenty of people joining us who are also travelling solo. Our trips are a fun, stress-free way to explore a new country where you'll share lots of laughs with new friends and never have to eat alone. Most share a twin room with another solo traveller of the same sex, but if you're not comfortable with that you have the option of upgrading to guarantee your own room. There's no mandatory single supplement, and you might even end up with your own room by default if no other single is available to share.
General travel information
New Zealand is made up of two main islands and many smaller ones. The North Island has a mild climate with subtropical temperatures in the summer months and the temperature grows slightly cooler as you head to the South Island, where the alpine regions lie. Many places in New Zealand get over 2,000 hours of sunshine a year!
You do not need a visa to travel to New Zealand on a holiday of less than three months if you are an Australian, UK or US passport holder. You will also not need a visa if you are a citizen of a visa waiver country – see here. If you do not fall under these categories you will need to apply for your visa here.
Absolutely, we can help you with all of your travel arrangements. From flights, travel insurance and pre or post-trip accommodation. Please let us know if you'd like help with any of these.
Yes. We strongly recommend getting a comprehensive policy to ensure you are well covered for any unexpected occurrences on your trip. If you would like an insurance quote then please request one when you book your trip.
World Heritage Walking Tour – The joining hotel is the Chateau on the Park (by Hilton) in Christchurch. Your guides will meet you in the lobby at 9.30am. Drop offs are either 4pm at Christchurch International Airport or your in-town accommodation around 4.30pm.
Masterpiece – Your guides will meet you at 10am in the lobby of the Novotel Queenstown Lakeside. Drops off are 2.30pm at the Queenstown International Airport or around 3pm at your in-town accommodation.
Kiwi Classic – We pick you up in the lobby of the Novotel Queenstown Lakeside at 8.30am. We drop you off at 3.30pm at Queenstown International Airport or at your in-town accommodation around 4pm.
Short South – We pick you up in the lobby of the Novotel Queenstown Lakeside at 8.30am. We drop you off at 4pm at Queenstown International Airport or at your in-town accommodation around 4.30pm.
Sweet North – The joining hotel is the Adina Britomart Hotel in Auckland. Your guides will meet you in the lobby at 10am. Drop off is 6pm at Auckland International Airport and around 6.45pm at your in-town accommodation.
Let us know if you need assistance with arranging flights or with arranging your pre and post-trip accommodation. We have lots of great options.
You don’t need any special immunisations to visit New Zealand. We recommend you ensure you are up to date with all your usual immunisations and boosters and are fit to travel.
Yes. We can assist with booking flights from the US and Canada to New Zealand – please ask us for a quote. If you are travelling from the UK, Europe, Australia or anywhere else we can provide advice so please ask.
Yes! There are plenty of opportunities to do laundry on your trip – many of the places you stay have washing machines available for a small fee.
Yes – we are well connected in New Zealand! That said, we recommend you disconnect and make the most of your time away – you can reconnect when you get back home. You will have access to the internet at least every few days, whether free at your accommodation or for a small fee.
New Zealand's electricity supply runs at 230/240 volts and we use angled two or three pin plugs.
There are a number of activities you can choose to do in Queenstown and Nelson, which your guide will help you book once you arrive. From jet-boats and bungy jumps, to more sedate kayak or walking trips, or just take yourself for a wander, you will be spoiled for choice.
We recommend reading any guidebooks you can find in the library or book-store and the following novels:
The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton
The Bone People – Keri Hulme
The Colour – Rose Tremaine
The Whale Rider – Witi Ihimaera