hiking routeburn otago new zealand

Luxury Hiking in New Zealand

August 2014 | By New Zealand Trails

7 minute read

Get hold of your free New Zealand Trails brochure here

The combination of opulent travel and exploring New Zealand’s great outdoors on foot makes for an unforgettable Kiwi holiday. Start your day with a hike through virgin rainforest alongside stunning fiord scenery before winding down over a gourmet meal in a luxurious wilderness lodge. Our tours are a truly intimate and authentic outdoor experience – do they sound enticing yet?

The isolation of many of New Zealand’s most extraordinary natural landscapes means that only experts in the know are able to offer luxury travel in such pristine places – and that’s where New Zealand Trails come in. We’ve been showcasing New Zealand’s great outdoors for many years, and we believe there’s nothing better than combining luxury with magnificent vistas. Below, you’ll find out how our original New Zealand hiking tour effortlessly combines these two very special elements.

Mt Cook, Hooker Valley Track

Enjoy scenery and fresh mountain air that is second to none...

The Hermitage, Aoraki / Mt Cook

...and then admire your handiwork from the famous Hermitage's dining room.

Combining luxury and landscapes

Picture yourself flying over the jagged peaks and emerald rainforests of Milford Sound in a helicopter before landing in a gloriously isolated valley in Fiordland National Park. Lunch is fresh and delicious and the afternoon is spent exploring the stunning surroundings on foot. Venturing to the Martins Bay seal colony, observing cheeky fur seals up close in their unspoiled natural habitat is a unique privilege. Sometimes we also spot the endangered Fiordland Crested Penguin – a very rare and memorable wildlife encounter. They’re a species that is endemic to New Zealand and are identified by a distinctive yellow crest that runs above their eye.

New Zealand is where many adventure activities were first invented, including jet boating! We finish the day with a thrilling jet boat ride to the beautiful Martins Bay Lodge, located deep in the wilderness and accessible only by helicopter. Private rooms, hot showers and gourmet food and wine make this a beautifully indulgent evening. Experiences like these are part of every day on the World Heritage tour; we are experts in combining elements of comfort with the natural beauty for which our country is so renowned.

Special places, special people

Luxury travel comes in all shapes and sizes, but we believe magnificent accommodation and dining is made all the more special when you’ve just spent the day on one of New Zealand's best walks. Our day on the Milford Track, New Zealand’s most famous walking track, promises to take your breath away. Waking up to a beautiful mountain view from your chalet in Milford Sound is a brilliant way to start any day. There’s a delicious breakfast to be enjoyed before boarding a boat cruise across the inky blue waters of the sound to the start of our walk. We hike through verdant rainforest to the foot of Giant’s Gate Falls, a tumultuous waterfall that plunges energetically into a jewel-coloured pool.

Giant Gate Falls, Milford Track

Witness natural wonders like Giant Gate Falls up close and in person...

Another of our wonderful days on tour takes us into an area aptly named Paradise, marking the beginning of a fun and active day hiking the well-known Routeburn Track, another of New Zealand's Great Walks. The Tolkien-esque beech forests, rushing rivers and alpine views add further magic to the splendour of Routeburn Falls, all combining for a memorable walking experience. Our time in Queenstown is complemented with fine food and wine at one of the resort’s world-class restaurants. After filling up on delicious cuisine, you’ll stay in plush accommodation that’s only a hop and a skip from the town centre and picturesque Lake Wakatipu. 

Helicopter tour of Fiordland, New Zealand

...and thread all these wonderful sights together with a magnificent helicopter tour.

It’s not only the places we visit that make our tours so special, but it’s also the people as well. Our small groups are made up of no more than 14 guests, and our guides are true experts in their field. New Zealand’s outdoor environment comes alive when you have the pleasure of being in the hands of a passionate New Zealand Trails guide, who is with you every step of the way, helping you along the trails and offering their support wherever you need it. Sharing such magical and otherworldly places with like-minded companions is a blessing in itself – the yarns and stories told over the dinner table during the evenings mean that by the end of each tour, it is common for guests to forge new friendships. It can be tough to say goodbye to those you’ve just spent an incredible 13 days with!

Wine tasting in Central Otago

A break from gorgeous walks in style - sampling delicious local wines.

Luxurious dining – Kiwi-style

Known for culinary innovation and deliciously fresh produce, experiencing New Zealand’s amazing food and wine is a real treat for many guests on tour. Fine cuts of fresh local meat and seafood are always favourites – dishes like venison, lamb or salmon taste exquisite after a day exploring the trails – and our wines are world-class. Whether you’re a fan of red, rose or white, we’re guaranteed to have the local tipple for you!

All but two of your meals are expertly prepared by experienced chefs; you won’t have to do any cooking. The reason you have two meals cooked by your guides is so that you can experience a true Kiwi breakfast and a proper New Zealand style roast. Both of these meals are cooked at Okarito Beach House, a lesser known gem that sits on the West Coast.

At the Hermitage Hotel in Mount Cook village, located in the foothills of the Southern Alps, dinner is unforgettable. Here, we enjoy one of the most scenic and tasty buffets on offer in the South Island, with the towering peak of Aoraki/Mount Cook visible from every table in the restaurant. Enjoying fine food and wine while gazing up at New Zealand’s highest mountain is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The ultimate bucket list experiences

It’s not only the hiking in New Zealand that will be remembered fondly for years to come, it’s also the special bucket list experiences the World Heritage tour includes.

What are these bucket list experiences?

Charleston Caves

Many people have only spent time underground on public transport… here in New Zealand we’re talking about a different kind of commute!

We explore the subterranean wonderland that is the Nile River Glow Worm Caves. Let your eyes adjust then be amazed by the galaxies of twinkling glow worms down in the cave. Glow worms enchant and enthral, and combine with an array of unique stalagmites and stalactites for an underground journey that’s one to remember.

Lake Wanaka Cruise

There aren’t many lakes that have their own island… step forward Lake Wanaka and Mou Waho! After enjoying a cruise around the Lake, our guests set foot on Mou Waho where there is wildlife aplenty. The endemic weka is often spotted on the island, but be warned, they will approach you in search of snacks!

Free day in Queenstown – bungee jump, giant swing, boat cruise? Take your pick!

On the 7th day of your trip, you have a free day in Queenstown. It’s yours to choose whatever activity takes your fancy in the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’. Queenstown is the home of the world’s first commercial bungy jump high above the Kawarau River so it’s a wonderful excuse to give the sport a go!

If you’d rather sit as you fly through the air, maybe the Nevis swing (the largest in the Southern Hemisphere) would be more up your street. Alternatively, there’re plenty of boat cruises to be taken around the shores of Lake Wakatipu including aboard the TSS Earnslaw. This gloriously historic boat was launched in 1912 and still takes guests around the lake in true style!

Milford Sound to Martins Bay by helicopter

Keen to explore somewhere that many people will never see? You’ll ascend above Milford Sound, taking in all of its waterfalls and geology before heading deep into Fiordland. The scenery is colossal as you voyage to the untouched Martins Bay, a spot that usually takes hikers three days to get to!

Jet boat ride

We’ve already mentioned that it was here in New Zealand that the jet boat was dreamt up! In 1953, Sir William Hamilton constructed his first centrifugal pump driven by a bevel gear and installed it into a plywood boat with an engine. Just one year later, he began manufacturing jet boats.

They’re now ubiquitous throughout New Zealand and you’ll have the opportunity to be a passenger not once, but twice, on your World Heritage Trip. On your first trip on a jet boat, you might even catch a glimpse of a Fiordland Crested Penguin! Your second trip takes you up the Hollyford River and across Lake McKerrow, an area that’s arguably one of the most stunning wilderness valleys in New Zealand.

Stargazing tour at the International Dark Sky reserve

New Zealand’s only International Dark Sky reserve can be found in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. One of only 11 in the world, it’s the largest Dark Sky reserve at 4,367 square kilometres!

Trained guides help you understand the night sky through telescopes, binoculars and the naked eye. You might even see the spectacular Milky Way!

Glacier boat tour

Have you ever been within metres of an iceberg? After going on a glacial boat tour you will have been! This boat trip of an entirely different kind takes you to the ancient ice face of the Tasman Glacier… it’s truly a sight to behold!

Glacier heli-hike

The landscape of a glacier is everchanging – no two visits are the same. Different glacial features can be spotted whilst up on the Tasman glacier, such as tunnels and caves. Our guests travel up to the Tasman glacier by helicopter with the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park visible below. The Tasman glacier is quieter than the more commercial heli-hike operations over on the West Coast. We’ve written a handy guide to the glacier hikes of New Zealand here.

Tasman Glacier, Canterbury, New Zealand

It's easy to see why a glacier hike is often the highlight of peoples' tours!

Luxury hiking with New Zealand Trails

Exploring New Zealand’s magnificent wilderness areas with all the comforts of home is a truly indulgent holiday experience. With a World Heritage tour, there are no heavy packs, no tents and no dehydrated meals; no overcrowded huts or sleeping bags – every aspect of our tour has been carefully tailored to ensure the ultimate in comfort and enjoyment. Our late model Mercedes Benz mini-coach ensures relaxed transportation between destinations, allowing you to focus on the scenery unfolding outside your window. 

From bucket-list activities to delicious gourmet meals and quality accommodation – all set against the backdrop of New Zealand’s spectacular landscapes and iconic walking tracks – the World Heritage effortlessly combines luxury with unforgettable hiking experiences. Inspired? Find out more by ordering your copy of our free brochure.

Updated: 20/12/2018

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  • JoAnn , March 2019

    Heading your way in a few days.

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