Kiwi Classic Hiking Tour of New Zealand
Endorphins aren’t free. Earn the views!See the itinerary
NZD$7899 AUD$7499 USD$5299 GBP£4199 CAD$7199 +tax
Our most active itinerary, the Kiwi Classic is a true-blue New Zealand hiking adventure. Way more than a typical New Zealand hiking tour, this action-packed trip gets you off the beaten track experiencing incredible multi-day hikes in remote National Parks, scaling impressive heights and soaking in breath-taking views typically reserved for only the most serious mountaineers, not just recreational hikers like us.
This trip is for adventurers, people who enjoy a challenge and know the rewards of pushing outside of their comfort zone just a little. You’ll hike, bike and kayak your way around the South Island, exploring places other visitors just don’t get to see. If you’re looking for a New Zealand hiking trip that’s going to test your fitness and challenge you physically, the Kiwi Classic is built for hiking and made for you, serious bragging rights included.
With fresh air in your lungs and adventure coursing through your veins, you’ll no doubt work up a healthy appetite during the hiking tour. Our awesome Kiwi guides keep you well fuelled with fresh breakfasts, nourishing lunches and delicious dinners, as well as plenty of snacks along the trail hikes to keep you going. There’ll be a hot shower and a clean, comfortable bed to fall into at the end of the day so you’ll wake refreshed and ready for the next big adventure!
The Kiwi Classic packs a big punch. You’ll be amazed at just how much you’re able to see, do and achieve over 14 days. You’ll return home refreshed and full of energy, with a big smile on your face. You might well feel fitter than you were before the trip! The Kiwi Classic is worth every drop of sweat on every hiking trail – endorphins aren’t free. Earn the views!
“This was a once in a lifetime trip for me and I remain completely overwhelmed with what a gift it was. Andrew and Rachael clearly love NZ and shared their love and enthusiasm in millions of ways. They were also sensitive to the needs, moods, desires, and energies of each of us. They made it FUN, kept us safe, nurtured, informed, humored and delighted us with surprises! ”
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NZD$7899 AUD$7499 USD$5299 GBP£4199 CAD$7199
+ tax, per person (twin or double share)
Kiwi Classic Day-by-Day Itinerary
Overnight cruise Milford Sound
Boat in Milford Sound
Day 1 – Arrive and Overnight Cruise on World-Famous Milford Sound
Get set for your first taste of pure New Zealand mountain air. After making our introductions we’ll head for Fiordland, a National Park where huge granite cliffs rise sharply from the ocean and crashing waterfalls cascade through dense rainforest. We’ll hop aboard a traditionally-designed boat and cruise out on the stunning Milford Sound. You’ll sleep soundly on board tonight – a fitting way to begin your New Zealand adventure.
Journey into Fiordland National Park
We leave Queenstown behind and embark on a truly spectacular journey, following one of New Zealand’s most scenic roads into the heart of Fiordland National Park. Along the way we’ll take time to soak in the views, stopping for photo opportunities and short walks, before reaching Milford Sound, our destination for today.
Overnight boat in Milford Sound
Arriving into Milford Sound, Fiordland’s most famous attraction, you can’t help but be impressed by its towering peaks and thundering falls. We’ll explore Milford by boat this afternoon, boarding a purpose-built vessel for the night. Once you’ve settled into your cosy cabin, we’ll spend the rest of the day exploring Milford, cruising the length of the fiord out to the wild Tasman Sea. This evening you’ll get to know your fellow travellers over drinks and a delicious meal.
Fiordland National Park
Hike Routeburn Track
Day 2 – Cruise Back and Hike Routeburn Track to Key Summit
We don’t want to give too much away, but it’s safe to say that waking up in Milford Sound is a unique experience. After breakfast we’ll sail back to dock, enjoying the waterfalls and alpine scenery en route. Once back on dry land we’ll discover more of Fiordland on foot, with a heart-pumping hike up to one of our favourite spots in this area – Key Summit on the Routeburn Track. Tonight, you’ll have time to explore the lakefront of Te Anau where we’ll spend the night.
Milford Sound Boat Cruise
If you’re an early riser, enjoy a coffee on the deck at dawn and absorb the beauty of Milford Sound in all its pristine tranquillity. As we cruise back to shore, we’re often joined by a pod of lively dolphins playing in the wake of the ship – it’s an awesome way to start the day as you watch them coming right up to the boat and catching the waves!
Hike Routeburn Track to Key Summit
Climbing steadily up through dense beech forest, this hike on the world-famous Routeburn Track is well worth the effort. The view from the top is one of Fiordland’s most iconic landscapes –across to the snow-capped Mount Christina, Mount Tutoko and the imposing Darran Mountains. A natural tapestry of alpine tarns, jagged peaks, granite cliff faces and glacial blue rivers flowing towards the Tasman Sea and clearly visible down the Hollyford Valley.
Arrive Te Anau
After a dose of fresh Fiordland air, we’ll drive through to Te Anau (your guides will help with the pronunciation of that one!) where we’ll rest up for the night. It’s a lovely spot for a relaxed stroll or run along the shoreline of the South Island’s largest lake.
Dark Sky Reserve
Day 3 – Bike near Queenstown
Today we’ll leave the Fiordland forests behind as we head for high country lakes of Central Otago. You’ll explore the Queenstown area by bike, before a hearty picnic lunch in Cromwell. Our journey will take us on to the Mackenzie high country where we’ll spend the next few nights. An internationally recognised Dark Sky Reserve, the absence of light pollution in this area provides a rare opportunity to gaze up at an outstanding night sky and its myriad of wonders.
Biking near Queenstown
Queenstown is an internationally acclaimed, adrenaline-fuelled destination. The fresh mountain air exudes excitement, with locals and visitors alike feeding off the buzz. You’ll see people out running, riding their bikes, climbing mountains and then parachuting off them! Living in one of nature’s playgrounds certainly has its advantages, one of them being the fantastic purpose-built bike trails that weave their way around the Wakatipu Basin. We’ll get fitted out with bikes and gear in Arrowtown, an old gold mining town with a rich Chinese mining history, before heading out on the trail. We’ll follow the Kawarau River out towards the Gibbston Valley vineyards and the world’s first commercial bungy bridge.
High Country farm near Mount Cook
After an elegant dismount from our bikes, we’ll carry on to Cromwell for a well-deserved lunch, before journeying on to the Mackenzie Basin, an area of rugged natural beauty. Tonight, you’ll be staying on a working high-country station. ‘Station’ is Kiwi for ranch and ‘high-country’ means its pretty tough farming country, but incredibly scenic. We’ll be staying in the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve, which means all you need to do is wander outside and look up for some world-class stargazing this evening.
Day 4 – Your Choice in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park
Some of New Zealand’s most spectacular alpine hikes are in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. With views normally reserved for serious mountaineers, our hikes today take us into the heart of the National Park and provide jaw-dropping vistas for our efforts. Home to not only its namesake, our highest and most sacred peak, Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park boasts a further 19 peaks topping more than 3,000 metres. Your options today include a choice of hikes, exploring the village at your leisure or splurging on a heli-hike or glacier boat tour.
Day 4 continued
Whichever option you decide on, you won’t be disappointed. After a full day of activities, we’ll meet up and return to our accommodation for a delicious home-cooked meal and a chance to trade stories from the day.
Day 4 Optional Add-ons
Below are some of the optional add-ons you can also enjoy:
Glacier heli hiking
Take a helicopter up to land high on the Tasman, New Zealand’s longest glacier. In the company of an experienced guide, you’ll don crampons to explore the striking ice caves of this frozen wonderland.USD$390+TAX
Glacier lake boat tour
Hop aboard a Zodiac boat and set off across the iceberg-filled lake for an up-close encounter with the Tasman Glacier’s terminal face.USD$110+TAX
Day 5 – Sightseeing & Explore Kaikoura Peninsula
Today’s journey takes us from mountain to ocean, leaving the wide-open spaces of the Mackenzie Country for the green fertile plains of Canterbury. We’ll take our time along the way, stopping in some of our favourite spots to stretch our legs and capture the glorious views. Our destination is Kaikoura, a seaside settlement on the East Coast where we’ll spend tonight.
The scenery shifts dramatically today, and we’ll encounter more evidence of civilization along the way. Once we reach Christchurch, the South Island’s largest city, we’ll head up the coast a short way to Kaikoura. It’s a striking area set on the edge of a deep continental shelf where towering cliffs meet an ocean floor that plunges even further in the other direction. The nutrient rich water and startling topography has created a unique mecca for an abundance of marine life. Whales, dolphins, fur seals and more are thriving in these coastal waters.
Swim with dolphins
Day 6 – Swim with Dolphins, Marlborough Wine Tasting
Today’s an unforgettable day and a dream come true for wildlife lovers. You’ll be up bright and early to swim with Dusky dolphins, a rare breed known for their aerobatics. We’ll see how many different varieties of fish, seals and even whales we can spot in this outstanding marine reserve, where unusually deep waters make a unique habitat close to shore. We’ll then enjoy a vineyard lunch and wine tasting in Renwick, before we carry on north to Nelson, where we spend the next couple of nights.
Dolphin Swimming Kaikoura
The early start is well worth it today for the best chance at meeting some of the local wildlife that calls this area home. We’ll don very flattering(!) wetsuits to swim with a pod of dolphins in their natural environment. Of course, this is all dependent on whether the dolphins cooperate, but they usually do! The tour is an educational experience designed not to interfere with the natural behaviour, routines or habitat of the dolphins. There are strict regulations in place to protect and respect the dolphins, and to keep you safe in the water. Our boats are well-equipped with swimming/snorkelling platforms. Small Dusky dolphins are typically found in pods of around 400 and are well-known for their aerobatic feats and interactive behaviour. Whether you opt to get in the water, or watch from the boat, it’s a joyful experience for all. Many of our guests have told us this is one of the highlights of their New Zealand adventure.
After a thrilling morning, we’ll travel to Nelson, the sunniest spot in New Zealand. With a geography that spans everything from golden beaches and crystal-clear water, to lush forests and rugged mountains, it’s the perfect place to spend a couple of days. This afternoon we’ll enjoy lunch and a wine tasting, while the evening is free to explore Nelson’s culinary delights on your own.
Free Day to Explore
Day 7 – Explore Nelson
Today is yours to spend as you wish, and conveniently we’ll be staying just a short walk into town. Your guides can point you in the right direction if you’d like to go for a hike or bike ride. Nelson is a colourful wee town with a lively arts scene and fantastic beaches, so we recommend you enjoy a relaxing day and indulge in the fine seafood, local wine and craft beer. Or if you’d like to keep your heart rate up, the adrenaline activities on offer are plentiful – canyoning, jet boating, skydiving or quad biking, to mention just a few. One of the most popular options is a sea kayaking tour in nearby Abel Tasman National Park.
Multi-Day Hiking or Sea Kayaking
Day 8 – Backpacking Nelson Lakes National Park OR Sea Kayaking Abel Tasman
The choice is yours here - either challenge yourself to complete a backpacking circuit in stunning Nelson Lakes National Park or head off on a sea kayaking adventure in the exquisite Abel Tasman National Park.
Oh, choices, choices...
Kiwis look forward to the weekend with gusto, we’re a nation of outdoor enthusiasts who never miss an opportunity to get out in our own backyard. We wake up on a Saturday morning and ponder where the day will take us. Over our obligatory flat white, we weigh up the options – will we be on foot, bike, water or snow? There are so many options and, in some places, it’s even possible to go surfing and skiing on the same day. Most of us have a garage full of ‘toys’ including various bikes, boats, kayaks, skis and of course a few pairs of well-worn hiking boots on standby ready for the next adventure. The hardest part is narrowing down the options!
That choice is yours to make for the next few days - we’ll split up in Nelson for our multi-day adventures with the hikers heading to Nelson Lakes National Park and the kayakers to Abel Tasman National Park. The hike will take us through wilderness backcountry and is best suited to those who are comfortable walking on rugged terrain. You’ll be carrying an overnight pack and some gear, while your guides will carry the rest of the supplies needed. The sea kayaking is a gentler option, although not without its challenges if that’s what you’re after. You certainly don’t need to be a technical expert to enjoy either choice, but feel free to chat with us if you’re unsure about which option would suit you best.
Need help choosing? Check out our fitness guide here to compare choices.
or Sea Kayaking
Day 9 – Multi-Day Hiking or Sea Kayaking Continued
Today we continue with your choice of either backpacking the Angelus Circuit in Nelson Lakes National Park, or sea kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park.
Finish Multi-day Choices
West Coast Beach
Day 10 – Finish Hiking or Kayaking Options, Regroup and Head to the West Coast
Today is the final day of your Angelus Circuit Hike or Abel Tasman Sea Kayaking adventure. Having spent the last couple of days apart, we’ll then reconnect with the rest of the group and travel together across to Punakaiki on the West Coast and then on to Buller Bay where we’ll spend the night. In true Kiwi tradition we’ll catch up over a drink or two and enjoy a national favourite – ‘fish and chips’!
Paparoa National Park
Day 11 – Hike Paparoa National Park & Explore Hokitika
This morning we’ll hike the secluded Pororari River Walk deep into the rainforest. With its lush greenery and limestone cliffs, it’s like stepping into Jurassic Park! We’ll spend a little time at the aptly named Pancake Rocks, watching as the ocean’s powerful surge courses through holes in the rock. We’ll then head south to explore the quirky town of Hokitika. We’ll spend the next two nights in the small beach settlement of Okarito, a chance to relax far from the regular tourist routes.
Hike Paparoa National Park
Today’s hike is unique, set amongst dense temperate rainforest with a backdrop of towering limestone cliffs, we’ll follow the Pororari River as it winds its way through the lush undergrowth. Your guides will tell you about the fascinating flora and fauna along the way and maybe even offer you some ‘bush tucker’ to taste if you’re game! We’ll pop out at the ocean and spend some time checking out the Pancake Rocks before heading south to Hokitika.
After our hike this morning we’ll visit the quirky town of Hokitika, known for its Pounamu (greenstone/jade) carvers and jewellery. A short onward drive away from civilisation and down a quiet lane, we’ll arrive at the tiny but charming beachside settlement of Okarito. Home to less than 30 locals, this is a place of uncomplicated tranquillity and incredible sunsets. It’s a little off the beaten path, but always a huge hit with our visitors and somewhere we can’t resist returning to.
Kayak Okarito Lagoon
Day 12 – Kayak Okarito Lagoon and Hike Okarito Trig
This morning, paddle out on Okarito Lagoon to quietly observe the abundant birdlife in its natural habitat. Enjoy the reflections of snow-capped peaks in the still waters as you explore hidden channels and catch glimpses of rare birds. This afternoon the choice is yours whether you’d like to relax with a book, stroll along the deserted beach, or hike up to the Okarito Trig for extraordinary views of the rugged coastline, mountains, rainforest and lagoon.
Kayak Okarito Lagoon
Set your watch to Okarito Time today and enjoy the laid-back simplicity of this lovely spot. We’ll start the day by hopping into sea kayaks to discover the Okarito Lagoon, just a short walk down the road from our accommodation. This tranquil body of water is home to over 70 different bird species, including the rare white heron (Kōtuku), royal spoonbills and pied stilts. Paddle the peaceful channels and soak up the outstanding views of the rainforest and the majestic Southern Alps in the distance.
Hike Okarito Trig
After lunch you can take yourself down to the beach for some peace and quiet, walk the sands, make driftwood sculptures, or if you’re feeling more energetic, your guide will take you up to the Okarito Trig. This hike offers expansive views of the mountains, sea and lagoon. We’ll spend a second night here in Okarito and if we’re lucky we’ll watch one of its famous sunsets, perhaps over a beach bonfire.
Hike Franz Josef Glacier
Day 13 – Hike near Franz Josef Glacier & Lake Matheson
Today you’ll experience mountains, beaches and glaciers all in one phenomenal day. Our hike today takes us near to Franz Josef Glacier for impressive views of the terminal face emerging from the rainforest. We’ll capture the reflection of Mount Cook in the shimmering waters of Lake Matheson, before we make our way back to the wide-open spaces of Central Otago this afternoon. We’ll spend our last night together in Wanaka, a relaxed lakeside resort and firm favourite with the locals.
Franz Josef Glacier
The West Coast Road is a journey voted by Lonely Planet readers as one of the best coastal drives in the world. Rivers, rainforests and tumbling glaciers meet isolated beaches and crashing waves, it’s easy to see why people are drawn to this barren but beautiful place. We’ll travel this morning to the small township at the foot of Franz Josef Glacier. Descending 12km from the Southern Alps into lush rainforest just 300m above sea level, Franz Josef Glacier is one of our most accessible glaciers. We’ll take a relaxed hike to learn about the geology of the area, as well as enjoy views of the terminal face.
West Coast Beaches
We’ll finish our journey down the coast with a couple of stops along the way taking in the rugged beaches and powerful waves. Quite often we get the whole beach to ourselves and occasionally we catch a glimpse of Hector’s dolphins playing in the surf. After getting our fill of fresh sea air, we’ll travel back over the Southern Alps via the Haast Pass to Wanaka, where we’ll spend the last night of the trip.
Hike Aspiring National Park
Finish in Queenstown
Day 14 – Hike in Wanaka & Finish in Queenstown
This morning we’ll end on a high note with a hike to Diamond Lake and steady climb up Rocky Mountain. Once we break through the treeline, we’ll be rewarded with incredible views over Lake Wanaka. There’ll be time to enjoy a final flat white or pick up any last-minute souvenirs in Wanaka, before we head back to Queenstown where our New Zealand adventure concludes, and we say our farewells.
Hike Diamond Lake and Rocky Mountain Track
On our final morning of the trip, we’ll stretch our legs with a hike to Diamond Lake and appreciate the sweeping views out over the Southern Alps and Lake Wanaka. We’ll then carry on up to Rocky Mountain for scenic vistas that just keep getting better with every step. It’s the perfect hike to end your trip on a high note. If you’d rather have a more relaxed morning, there’s plenty to enjoy in the town itself, from great coffee and boutique gift shops to a gentle stroll along the lakefront and obligatory photo in front of Wanaka’s ‘giant hand’ sculpture.
Finish in Queenstown
After lunch, we’ll travel over the short but dramatic Crown Range road and back into Queenstown where we’ll drop you at the airport or your accommodation. After your epic exploration of the South Island, you’ll leave knowing you’ve experienced the very best of New Zealand. Now that you’re practically a local, be sure to come back and show your friends around or join us up on the North Island for another amazing adventure!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
It's very important to us that you have all your questions answered about our Kiwi Classic trip. We’ve collected some of the questions we get asked most often and answered them below. Or visit our general FAQ page here for more answers!
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!
FAQs specific to this trip...
Click here to go to a handy page with a summary of the distances and approximate times for every walk and activity on our Kiwi Classic!
Our most physically challenging trip has all the more reason to demand an excellent place to stay each night – you’ll need to have plenty of comfortable space to reflect back on your day and prepare for your next adventures. You’ll stay in a range of places and enjoy a different experience in each. Click here to find out more about the accommodation on this trip.
Pick up information
We can pick you up on the first day of your trip in Queenstown at:
- 8.30am from the lobby of our joining hotel – Heartland Hotel Queenstown
- 9.00am from the Queenstown International Airport
Drop off information
We can drop you off on the last day of your trip in Queenstown at:
- 3.30pm at Queenstown International Airport
- 4.00pm at your hotel in the city
When booking your flights, please make sure you:
Arrive on day one no later than 8:00am International 8:30am Domestic
Depart on the final day no earlier than 5:30pm International 4:30pm Domestic
**If your travel plans fall outside of these times please check with us before you book.
Kiwi Classic Photos
Click on an album to view that trip’s photo gallery. Click on photos to view them larger.
Kiwi Classic Reviews
A once in a lifetime trip.
Carol Graybeal Pennsylvania, USA
This was a once in a lifetime trip for me and I remain completely overwhelmed with what a gift it was. Andrew and Rachael clearly love NZ and shared their love and enthusiasm in millions of ways. They were also sensitive to the needs, moods, desires, and energies of each of us. They made it FUN, kept us safe, nurtured, informed, humored and delighted us with surprises!Photos of Carol's trip
I will recommend NZ Trails to others with pride.
Tim O'Shea Canada
Keep doing what you are doing...fabulous. Our driver Alex was such a ‘professional’. I don’t say this lightly as I am a commercial driver/instructor. There was never any shortage of delicious food. Our guides were very attentive to dietary needs and also went to lengths to ensure that every guest was comfortable with the NZ cuisine and new foods. Alex and Amanda were an outstanding pair of professionals who were first class ambassadors for NZ Trails and New Zealand. You earned my marks!Photos of Tim's trip
We are still reeling from the stunning views.
Shawn Aebi Washington, USA
Thanks so much for all of your help in preparing our family holiday tour. We all had a wonderful time and we are still reeling from the stunning views at Milford Sound, Lake Pukaki, Mt. Cook and the fun of Queenstown, Christchurch, and Nelson. Our guides Bruce and Kim were stellar - prepared, informed, helpful and of course, fun!Photos of Shawn's trip
This trip was my best holiday yet!
Jessica Poon Australia
This trip was my best holiday yet!! My super friendly and accommodating guides Shona and Dave were a huge reason for the trip being so amazing. It was great to hop on and off the vehicle and not need to drive nor wait for public transport. We made such good use of our time, and they always had recommendations for extra activities (like morning walks, where to watch the sunrise etc.) This was in addition to what was on the itinerary so I got to see and do heaps from dawn to dusk. Thanks so much!Photos of Jessica's trip
The guides are amazing!
Jay Naik New Jersey, USA
What made the trip extra special for me and what I am going to tell all my friends about is my experience with Josh and Ellie – your guides are AMAZING, unbelievable even, they exceeded all of my expectations. Very understanding, easy going, nice to talk with, learn from, and just an all around family feel. I would LOVE to go on more adventures with your company if I know I would be able to hang out with Josh and Ellie. Yes, New Zealand has amazing sights and great food, but without great company (especially when you are traveling solo like I was), the trip wouldn't have been as much fun… so I am extremely grateful (By the way I rarely give feedback so this is all because I had such an AMAZING time.)Photos of Jay's trip
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Kiwi Classic Tour
14 Day South Island Tour – Queenstown to Queenstown. All inclusive. For the 2 nights that we stay in our exclusive lakefront property at Ohau, we have access to a range of rooms, including some multi-share accommodation, and separate bathrooms for men and women. When aboard the Milford Wanderer on Milford Sound, you’ll have private cabins, and bathrooms are shared, with private showers & toilets, as is routine on boats and ships. If the price below is not in your home currency, get an indication of what it converts to by using our currency converter below. Or ask us for trip prices in your home currency.
NZD$7899 AUD$7499 USD$5299 GBP£4199 CAD$7199