The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure
Discover Milford Sound, Stewart Island and day walk on four of New Zealand’s Great Walks
The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure Route Map
Highlights of the The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure
2: Routeburn Track
3: Stewart Island and the Rakiura Track
4: Helicopter to Mt Luxmore. Walk on the Kepler Track
5: Milford Track and Cruise Milford Sound
The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure Day-by-Day Itinerary
Day walk on the Routeburn Track
Day 1 - Day walk on the Routeburn Track
This morning you will meet your local guide and fellow travellers in Queenstown before heading to Glenorchy at the head of Lake Wakatipu. This is one of the most scenic drives in New Zealand and you’ll be greeted by mountain peaks and endless impressive vistas before we reach the first of our Great Walks, the Routeburn Track.
Your guide will fill you in on the local history and special flora and fauna of the area as you walk through beautiful native beech forest alongside a crystal clear glacial river. Our destination today is the expansive open meadow at Routeburn Flats, where you’ll enjoy a picnic lunch alongside the Routeburn River.
If you are keen on a longer walk, we have you covered. Our trips are flexible and cater to everyone’s needs and abilities. You’ll have the choice to either carry on up to the picturesque Routeburn Falls for magnificent views over the valley and surrounding mountains or soak up more of the views at Routeburn Flats before returning to the trailhead.
Refreshed from today’s wilderness experience we’ll head back to Queenstown to enjoy a delicious dinner at one of our favourite local restaurants.
Tonight we stay at Queenstown Ramada Central*
Day walk on the Rakiura Track
Day 2 – Scenic flight to Stewart Island and day walk on the Rakiura Track
Today we’re venturing further off the beaten track to Stewart Island and Rakiura National Park. Tucked off the southern coast of the South Island, Stewart Island is the smallest of our main islands. A haven for brown kiwi birds, who outnumber the 400 humans on the island, and part of New Zealand’s Dark Sky Reserve, Stewart Island is a paradise of untouched rugged peaks and rainforest.
This morning we’ll take a scenic flight, or ferry if you'd prefer, across Foveaux Strait and touch down in Oban, the main settlement of Stewart Island. We’ll spend the afternoon exploring our second Great Walk, the Rakiura Track. We’ll walk from Lee Bay to Māori Beach, which in the early 1900s was a bustling settlement. Today the rainforest hides most of what remains of the early village but remnants of the boiler and steam engine used by the old sawmill can still be found, along with clumps of montbretia and bluebells - legacies from the sawmiller's cottages.
Tonight we’ll return to Oban where we’ll enjoy a delicious dinner at the local tavern, the best place in New Zealand to try our famous blue cod. Stewart Island is known as Rakiura which means ‘the land of glowing skies’ and tonight you’ll be able to experience some of the best stargazing straight from the balcony at your accommodation.
Tonight we stay at Bay Motel Rakiura*
Helicopter to Mt Luxmore
Day walk on the Kepler Track
Day 3 - Helicopter ride and day walk on Kepler Track
This morning we’ll return to the mainland and head for Fiordland National Park and our third Great Walk, the Kepler Track.
We’ll be met at the helipad by our local Fiordland guide before taking a spectacular flight over the hidden lakes and beech forest of Mt Luxmore and touching down in the alpine area of Luxmore Hut. Panoramic views of the Te Anau basin and the mountains of Fiordland will greet us and our local nature guide will teach you about the unique flora, fauna and history of this remote area.
This afternoon we’ll walk through beautiful beach forest and alongside towering limestone rock formations as we descend down to Brod Bay, the pick-up point for our cruise back to Te Anau, our resting place tonight.
If helicopters aren't really your thing, that's no worries at all, your New Zealand Trails guide will be able to take you on a day walk through the forest floor instead.
Tonight we stay at Distinction Te Anau*
Milford Sound Cruise
Day walk on the Milford Track
Day 4 - Day walk on the Milford Track and cruise Milford Sound
Today we’ll journey through some of the most spectacular and dramatic views in the country. We leave Te Anau and head through to Milford Sound, the Eighth Wonder of the World. There are many highlights along the drive including the glacier-carved Eglinton Valley, the Divide and Homer Tunnel, keep an eye out for the cheeky Kea, NZ’s alpine parrot.
When we arrive in Milford Sound we’ll board a small boat that will take us across the fiord to the world-famous Milford Track, your fourth Great Walk of the trip. We’ll walk through this unique World Heritage area underneath a canopy of towering emerald-green ferns to the tumbling falls of Giant’s Gate. Be sure to take a moment to take in the birdsong that echoes through the forest.
This afternoon we’ll take a nature cruise on Milford Sound. We’ll check out Bowen Falls, Sinbad Gully and the dramatic Mitre Peak as we make our way towards the Tasman Sea. This is your chance to learn more about the unique Fiordland environment from your Milford Sound guide on board while enjoying the sights and sounds of waterfalls tumbling down around you.
Tonight we stay at Distinction Te Anau*
Day walk on the Kepler Track
Finish the trip in Queenstown
Day 5 - Day walk on the Kepler Track & finish in Queenstown
On the final morning of the trip, you’ll have the choice to stretch your legs on the Rainbow Reach to Control gates section of the Kepler Track or have a relaxed start to the morning exploring the lakeside town of Te Anau, home to the South Island’s largest lake.
Our last journey together is a scenic trip through tussock country and small farming towns, before tracing the shoreline of the Lake Wakatipu back to Queenstown. Once there, it’s time to say goodbye to your guide and other travellers as we drop you at the airport or your accommodation.
If you’re joining us to explore the North Island on our Sweet North trip, we’ll ensure a smooth transition for you. If not, we hope to see you again soon!
*For logistical reasons, we may make small changes to our itineraries or accommodation from time to time.
Photos of the The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure
NZ fur seals in Milford Sound.
Kepler Track heli-hike.
Giants Gate waterfall.
Cruise Milford Sound.
Kea in Fiordland.
Monkey Creek, Fiordland.
The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure Accommodation
Radfords On The Lake
Ramada Queenstown Central
Bay Motel Stewart Island
Frequently asked questions
It's very important to us that you have all your questions answered about our New Zealand Great Walk Adventure. 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!
Which National Parks and Great Walks does the The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure visit?
The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure visits three of New Zealand's National Parks - Mt Aspiring, Fiordland and Rakiura. You will day walk on four Great Walks and also visit Ulva Island and Milford Sound.
-Ulva Island (Stewart Island)
How fit do I need to be for The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure?
The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure is suitable for everyone who enjoys the outdoors. If you are generally active and enjoy activities such as hiking, biking, golf, tennis or dancing then you will have no problem with the hikes on the trip. On each of our hikes we offer lots of flexibility, so whether you would prefer to take it easy and take in the views or really stretch your legs, the choice is yours. You will walk between 3 to 5 hours each day on well-formed tracks. The average distance walked each day is 8km/4.3mi. Click here to go to a handy page with a summary of the distances and approximate times for every walk on The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure.
What is the accommodation like on The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure?
The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure includes our most comfortable accommodation, conveniently situated within a stone’s throw of some of the most spectacular locations New Zealand has to offer. You will have a spacious room with an ensuite every night of this trip. Find out more about the accommodation on The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure.
Why do you run The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure in two directions?
We often run two trips departing on the same date, with no more than 14 guests on any one trip. To ensure we can give you exclusive access to New Zealand’s best walks and accommodations, we run one trip Westbound and the other Southbound. The published itinerary is the Westbound trip, but it doesn’t matter which direction you go as both trips start and finish in Queenstown and the itineraries are the same, just in a different direction.
What time does The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure start and finish?
Pick up information
Please check with us if your departure is the Westbound or Southbound itinerary.
Westbound: 7.30am at our joining hotel – Ramada Queenstown
Southbound: 9.30am from the lobby of our joining hotel – Ramada Queenstown
OR 10.00am from Queenstown Airport
Drop off information
Westbound: 4.00pm Queenstown Airport
OR 3.30pm Queenstown Accommodation
Southbound: 4.30pm Queenstown Accommodation
OR 6.00pm Queenstown Airport
When booking your flights, please make sure you:
Arrive in Queenstown the day before your trip departs if you are booked on a Westbound departure, or on Day 1 no later than 9.00am International or 9.30am Domestic if on a Southbound departure.
Depart from Queenstown on the final day no earlier than 4.00pm International or 5.00pm Domestic if booked on a Westbound departure, or no earlier than 7.00pm International or 8.00pm Domestic if on a Southbound departure.
**If your travel plans fall outside of these times, please check with us before you book.
What are the bathroom facilities like on The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure?
You will have a spacious room with an ensuite every night on this tour. On travel days, your guide will regularly stop at bathroom facilities in between destinations, and on the walking trails there are basic toilets available at regular intervals.
Is there electricity at all of the places we stay on The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure?
Yes. While we will spend the days enjoying the simplicity and beauty of the wilderness, we will always return to civilisation at night so you can charge your phones and cameras up for tomorrow!
Will I have WiFi or internet access throughout the trip?
Our New Zealand Great Walk Adventure tour gives you access to some of New Zealand’s most spectacular wilderness areas, whilst still providing all the necessary creature comforts. Every accommodation on this trip has access to WiFi, so you can keep in touch with your friends and loved ones and show off all the incredible places you have visited.
What’s included in The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure?
- An experienced New Zealand Trails guide
- Local naturalist guides on the Milford Track, Kepler Track and Milford Sound cruise
- Flight or ferry to Stewart Island and water taxi transfer to Ulva Island
- Helicopter and jet boat transfers for the Kepler Track
- All meals
- Hikes, activities and guides as shown in the itinerary
- Accommodation as indicated in your final itinerary
What’s not included in The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure?
- Airfares to and from Queenstown
- Airport transfers
- Travel insurance
- Non-alcoholic or alcoholic beverages with lunch and dinner
- Optional Kiwi Spotting Tour on Stewart Island
What kind of people will be on The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure?
Our guests are like-minded people from New Zealand, Australia, and around the world. They come from a wide range of ages, 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, friends travelling together, and families.
Is The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure suitable for families?
Yes, absolutely. We have family friendly departures available, and our New Zealand Great Walk Adventure is suitable for all ages. This is the perfect trip for active families who enjoy their creature comforts. With our small group sizes, we are able to provide a lot of flexibility and can offer easier or more challenging options so that each member of your family can choose how much or little activity they enjoy each day. Get in touch with Jodi to discuss your next family holiday.
Can you organise a private trip of The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure for me and my family/friends?
We regularly organise private trips 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. You can read more about our private New Zealand trips here.
Tell me about your safety standards
Safety is always our top priority. We take great pride in our impeccable safety record and our safety management plans. Your guide is a highly experienced outdoors professional who is first aid qualified and fully equipped with a satellite phone, personal locator beacon and first aid kit. Our trips have direct access to our highly experienced operations team and other outside services 24 hours a day.
How old are the people on your tours?
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!
We can also run private departures for families where the itinerary and activity level can be tailored so that every member of the group can participate, regardless of age.
Check out our photo galleries for real people on our New Zealand tours.
How hard are the hikes and activities – how fit do I have to be?
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 – this trips is designed for active people, but you don’t need to be an athlete! We have two trained guides on most hikes, 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 The New Zealand Great Walks Adventure Fitness Page for details on the walks you'll do on this trip.
Do I have to pay extra if I'm travelling by myself?
There is no additional charge for solo travellers on our trips. If you are a solo traveller, as many of our guests are, we will team you up with another solo traveller of the same sex to share with for the duration of your trip. If you would like to guarantee your own room as a solo traveller, then there is the option to pay a solo supplement.
Do you need any outdoors experience for The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure?
You certainly don’t need any technical outdoors experience to enjoy your New Zealand Trails trip. If you enjoy being out and about in the outdoors and are a generally active person who enjoys hobbies like walking, cycling, golf, tennis or dancing then you will have no problems at all with the walks and activities on your trip.
What is the difference between the Westbound and Southbound itineraries?
We often run two trips departing on the same date, with no more than 14 guests on any one trip. To ensure we can give you exclusive access to New Zealand’s best walks and accommodations, we run one trip Westbound and the other Southbound. The itinerary on this webpage is the Westbound itinerary, but it doesn’t matter which direction you go as both trips start and finish in Queenstown and the itineraries are the same, just in a different direction e.g. day one of the Southbound trip is Stewart Island and day five is the Routeburn Track.
Explore Stewart Island, Milford Sound and day walk on four of the best of Fiordland's Great Walks. Combine this trip with the Sweet North for 10 days of the best of New Zealand.
We regularly organise private trips 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.
The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure – ready to book?
Ready to start your New Zealand adventure?
Your New Zealand 'Trip of a Lifetime' - with New Zealand's best walks, very comfortable accommodation, great food, iconic New Zealand activities in a friendly, small-group setting led by your local guide.
✓ Local Kiwi guide, small groups
✓ All inclusive
✓ All food, transportation and activities
✓ The very best accommodation
✓ Local naturalist guides
✓ Helicopter transfer
Want more information?
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If you’re still not sure, or just want to hear a friendly voice, contact Jodi!Email: firstname.lastname@example.org