The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure - Fitness Guide
How fit do you need to be for The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure?
Most of the people that join our small group guided tours have questions about how fit they need to be. As long as you enjoy being active in the outdoors, you will enjoy yourself on this trip. The New Zealand Great Walk Adventure is designed for active people that enjoy a touch of luxury so if you are comfortable walking with a small pack for the day, with regular breaks, then you'll happily tackle the Great Walks on this tour.
Below is a summary of the hikes included in our 5-day New Zealand Great Walk Adventure, including walking times, distances and elevations.
Day 1: Routeburn Track hiking
Today we will get the tour off to a great start with a hike on the first of our four Great Walks, the Routeburn Track. We will wind our way through the beech forest of Mt Aspiring National Park, climbing gradually uphill until reaching Routeburn Flats. Here we break out of the forest and the valley opens up to reveal impressive mountain vistas, making it the perfect spot for lunch. Those who feel like an extra challenge can continue on to Routeburn Falls, where you will be rewarded for your effort with stunning views back down over the valley. Whether you choose to soak in the views at the Flats or stretch your legs up to the Falls, you can’t go wrong!
Day 2: Hike the Rakiura Track and explore Ulva Island
Stewart Island is one of New Zealand’s hidden gems, and today we have the whole day to explore it! After a scenic flight across Fouveaux Strait, we will head for the Rakiura Track, New Zealand’s most remote Great Walk. The track is a pleasant 4.5km (2.8mi) walk following the coast, undulating gently as we make our way through regenerating native forest before descending to Maori Beach. This beautiful golden-sanded bay was once home to a bustling settlement, and relics of the old sawmill and school can still be found. Retracing our steps we will return to Lee Bay, keeping an eye out for Stewart Island tokoeka (kiwi) along the way. The lack of predators on the island means these kiwi often venture out during the daytime on Stewart Island, however, if you want the best chance of spotting these nocturnal creatures we recommend you join the Kiwi Spotting tour tonight after dinner!
A short water taxi ride will deliver us to Ulva Island, one of the few pest-free open sanctuaries in New Zealand. Ulva Island is a safe haven for threatened native species and is home to healthy populations of many endangered birds rarely seen on the mainland. We will spend a couple of hours here listening to the calls of the kaka, saddleback and mohua, and stepping back in time to explore an environment largely untouched by humans. There are lots of walking options here. Wander the full 4km (2.5mi) loop to Boulder Beach or take a short stroll around the Post Office Bay circuit with your guide, learning about the special birds that call this place home.
Day 3: Heli-hike on the Kepler Track
This morning we will be treated to not one, but two scenic flights. After returning to the mainland from Stewart Island we will take to the skies again for a scenic helicopter flight across Lake Te Anau, New Zealand’s second-largest lake. Perched high in the alpine tussock fields overlooking Te Anau and the mountains of Fiordland National Park, Luxmore Hut is the starting point of today’s hike on our third Great Walk, the Kepler Track. A 4km (2.5mi) walk to the summit of Mt Luxmore will reward those who choose to take on the climb with panoramic views of the Te Anau basin and surrounding mountains. We will then make our way back to Luxmore Hut and begin the 8km (5mi) descent to Brod Bay. The walk traverses the alpine tussocks on a boardwalk track, before descending on switchbacks through the Fiordland beech forest and along the shores of Lake Te Anau. Our water taxi will be waiting for us at Brod Bay to whisk us back across the lake to Te Anau for a well-earned meal and a comfortable night’s rest.
Day 4: Hike the Milford Track and cruise Milford Sound
After a cruise on Milford Sound this morning, we will be ready to tackle our fourth and final Great Walk of the trip, the Milford Track. The trail from Sandfly Point to Giant Gate Falls is a flat section of the track which passes through lush native forest with towering mountains in every direction. Our return hike to the falls is a mostly flat 10km (6mi) walk and is a great sample of the 'finest walk in the world'.
Day 5: Hike the Kepler Track
On our final morning, you will have the choice of checking out another beautiful section of the Kepler Track or taking it easy and treating yourself to a sleep-in or a wander around the township of Te Anau. If you are keen for one last walk in the beautiful Fiordland bush, we will start at Rainbow Reach and follow the Waiau River as we meander through the forest to a viewing platform over the Balloon Loop wetland. Over 200 plant species live in this unique wetland and provide a habitat for many native birds and fish.