Masterpiece – Activity Level Guide
How fit do you need to be for the Masterpiece trip?
Below you'll find a summary of the hikes and activities included on the Masterpiece trip. Most of the people that join our small group guided tours have questions about how fit they need to be and the answer is that as long as you like to get outside and stretch your legs once in a while, you'll enjoy every bit of this trip. There's certainly nothing here that requires you to be an expert in the outdoors, but if you are you won't be bored either.
With our small groups of no more than 14 people and two New Zealand guides, we offer you plenty of options and flexibility every day. To make sure everybody gets what they want, we always have easier or more challenging options available so that you can choose how much or little activity you enjoy each day.
Day 1: Your choice to cycle or walk the Arrow River Trail
As part of your introduction to New Zealand, we’ll travel to the historic Arrowtown, a quaint old gold-mining settlement just a short drive from Queenstown. Today you’ll have the choice of either biking or walking the Arrow River Trail. We'll ride or walk along a trail next to the Kawarau River towards the world’s first commercial bungy bridge, which is still in operation today, so you can watch a few people jump! If you are biking today your ride will be 12.8km to the Kawarau Suspension Bridge (8mi), if you are walking it's a stunning 5km (3.1mi) walk to the Southern Discoveries bridge where your guide will meet you.
Day 2: Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park hiking options
Today you'll have options to scale your activity level up or down to suit your preference so you can explore Aoraki/Mt Cook at a pace that's right for you. Whichever hikes you choose to tackle you'll be rewarded with incredible scenery in this UNESCO World Heritage area under the watchful gaze of Aoraki/Mt Cook – New Zealand's highest peak.
This morning we'll hike the Tasman Glacier View and Blue Lakes Track, and Governors Bush Track. On the Tasman Glacier View and Blue Lakes Track you'll be treated to spectacular views of the Tasman Glacier, New Zealand's longest glacier, as well as Aoraki/Mt Cook itself. From your vantage point above Tasman Lake you'll have excellent views of the glacier's terminal face and giant icebergs floating across the lake.
On the Governors Bush Track you'll enjoy a gentle walk through New Zealand's lush native forest and experience another side of Aorkai/Mt Cook National Park. As you make your way round this well-maintained loop track you'll learn all about our native bush from your expert New Zealand guides.
This afternoon you'll have the choice to explore either the Sealy Tarns Track or make your way up to Kea Point and the Hooker Valley Lookout for spectacular views of Hooker Lake and Aoraki/Mt Cook's towering peak.
The most physically challenging option of the day is the hike up to Sealy Tarns. Providing spectacular panoramic views of the National Park's many snow-capped peaks and Sefton Glacier, the Sealy Tarns are reached via a steady and steep climb on a well-built track (think: Stairmaster). The views are worth every drop of sweat, even by South Island standards.
For those seeking a more relaxed option, we'll hike to Kea Point and the Hooker Valley Lookout. On this well-formed track, you'll enjoy a steady climb on a gentle gradient as you make your way to the Hooker Valley lookout. From here you'll be able to take in Aoraki/Mt Cook and the Hooker Valley in all their glory.
Day 3: Hike Mount John, explore Mackenzie Country & Christchurch
This morning we’ll make the steady climb up Mount John though forest and tussock to the observatory at the top. As we walk, we’ll look out over 360-degree views across the impressive Mackenzie Basin flats and surrounding mountains and lakes.
Day 4: Explore Christchurch & Kaikoura Peninsula
After a relaxed breakfast, the morning is yours to explore the city of Christchurch and its many delights. Christchurch is undergoing an urban regeneration project but still retains a garden-like quality with much to see and do. Alternatively, take it up a notch and join your guides on the Bridle Path walk. Offering amazing scenery over Christchurch and Lyttleton Harbour, this trail retraces the footsteps of the forefathers of this city. This afternoon we’ll travel north a short distance to the seaside settlement of Kaikoura on the East Coast, where we’ll stay the night.
Day 5: Dolphin Swim and Lochmara Lodge
After an action packed morning swimming with dolphins you will make your way North to Picton, here you will catch a water taxi across to Lochmara Lodge - here you can relax and unwind with a book in a hammock, get the body moving by heading off on a scenic walk nearby or learn all about New Zealand wildlife at one the many interaction activities on offer here.
Day 6: Kayak Queen Charlotte Sound and Marlborough Vineyard
Hit the water nice and early this morning! This is your opportunity to explore the Queen Charlotte Sounds by kayak and the opportunity to say "Kia Ora" to the wildlife that abound in this beautiful region!
Day 7 – Explore Nelson
Today is yours to enjoy as you wish. Nelson, “the sunniest place in NZ”, with plenty to keep you entertained within walking distance. Most of our guests are happy to spend a relaxed day exploring Nelson, browsing the shops and galleries, strolling along the beach or reading a book. Or if you’d prefer something a little more active, we can help you book a tour to explore Abel Tasman National Park on foot or by kayak.
Day 8: Coastal Walkway to Tauranga Bay Seal Colony
Today we will head to the "wild West Coast" of New Zealand. Known for its thundering seas and cliff top coast line, today's walk will deliver. A stunning coastal walk looking out over the Tasman Sea and finishing with the Tauranga Bay Seal Colony - if you're lucky you might see seal pups frolicking in the rock pools below!
Day 9: Hike Paparoa National Park
Towering limestone cliffs, lush rainforest, the crashing ocean... you've entered what feels like Jurassic Park! We have a stunning hike today in the Paparoa National Park - an easy underfoot loop track that takes around 2 hours and then a short hike to see the famous Pancake Rocks.
Day 10: Kayak Lake Mapourika and Hike to Franz Josef Glacier lookout
We'll be up first thing this morning for a paddle out onto the calm waters of Lake Mapourika to spot some of the birdlife. The paddling is flat. The incredible alpine scenery though is anything but! You will have a full briefing on what to expect and will be with our expert kayak guide who will guide you as you paddle these still waters.
Day 11: Wanaka Hiking options
You can choose from a selection of hikes today or you can opt to stay back and explore the alpine village of Wanaka. If you're looking to fill those lungs with fresh mountain air again, we have some rewarding short hikes lined up for you. There's a short circular walk to visit the pretty Diamond Lake, which will have you out for around 45 minutes, or you can take on a 3-hour return hike like a pro for a fantastic viewpoint offering incredible views of Lake Wanaka and the surrounding mountains.
Day 12: Hike the Kepler Track
This afternoon you’ll have a chance to head out on a stunning hike on another of our Great Walks, the Kepler Track.
Day 13: Explore Milford Sound and Hike the Routeburn Track (Key Summit)
This morning we will explore Milford Sound by boat, taking in the grand scenery. After disembarking our boat, we’ll head off to discover a gem on one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. Climbing steadily up through the dense beech forest, this walk on the world-famous Routeburn Track is well worth the effort. The view from the top is one of Fiordland’s most iconic scenes - across the snow-capped Mount Christina, Mount Tutoko and the rest of the Darran Mountains – tranquil mountain tarns, jagged peaks, vertical granite cliffs and glacial blue rivers rushing to the Tasman Sea, which is clearly visible down the Hollyford Valley. The total walk time today is around half a day (3 hours) with a lunch stop to remember en route.
Day 14 – Mt Crichton Loop Track & Finish in Queenstown
Today we’ll hike the picturesque Mt Crichton Track. This trail meanders through beech forest and alongside the crystal clear blue Twelve Mile Creek before reaching the old gold mining hut of Sam Summers.
For the full itinerary including all the other things involved on this trip, please read the full day by day itinerary. At the end of your trip, you'll leave for home refreshed, relaxed and rejuvenated.