World Heritage Walking Tour - Is It For Me?

shona hore

By Shona Hore

7 minute read

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Have you seen heaps of stunning pictures of New Zealand?! Does the beauty of our country have you mentally packing your bags for an epic hiking holiday? If you’re short on time and you want to make the most of your trip, then deciding to take a guided tour is a great start. Hopefully, you have had a chance to browse our selection of incredible walking trips, and maybe you stumbled onto the World Heritage Walking Tour. Perhaps it looked like the tour for you? But, how do you really know?

Perhaps we can help you answer that.

With glow worms, helicopter flights, glaciers, wilderness lodges, stunning fiords, towering snow-capped mountains, aqua coloured glacial lakes and wildlife galore, we hit the hotspots in style on the World Heritage Walking Tour.

Why should I do this tour?

Ferns on the Routeburn Track

Playing around is irresistible when you're in the middle of paradise. The Routeburn is one of our favourites for this reason!

Many hiking tours in New Zealand focus less on comfort and unique experiences and more on the hiking, usually with camping as the accommodation option. We like to take a more comfortable approach, carefully mixing hiking and other activities with luxury accommodations.

When you add comfortable transport and knowledgeable kiwi guides to make your trip as smooth and inspiring as possible, all you have to do is focus on enjoying your time in New Zealand.

We have put together what we consider some of the best of what the South Island has to offer. From the off the beaten track to the most iconic sites in New Zealand, the World Heritage Walking Tour covers it all.

How much travel is involved on this tour?

On the World Heritage Walking Tour, we spend two or more nights at most places and have designed the itinerary so you can experience the best places that the South Island of New Zealand has to offer and to give you the time to truly experience the locations we visit.

We like to disperse the active days with travel days to allow the muscles to relax before we take you off on another adventure. As such, we mix in a delightful array of sightseeing as well as interesting commentary on local history, culture and the natural environment, and of course, local fare during these travel days New Zealand is famous for its fresh local food, wine and beer and no trip to New Zealand would be complete without sampling some of our local flavours.

What is the local food like?

Cafe lunch on your World Heritage tour

Delicious, colourful, 'Kiwi As' spreads of healthy food await you on the World Heritage Walking Tour.

Kiwis love their food, and are always excited to share! Fresh, diverse and delicious, food from New Zealand has British, Asian and Pacific Island influences along with the indigenous Maori cuisine. A truly cosmopolitan mix, this allows for creativity to flow – as evidenced by several New Zealand chefs making it onto the world stage. Throw in some internationally-acclaimed wines, beers and cheese to boot and you have a flavour palate to entice everyone.

The World Heritage Walking Tour is designed to offer up a sample of our local fare, so you can experience some of these epicurean delights for yourself. We primarily dine out at hand-picked local restaurants but have thrown in some kiwi flair with a home cooked ‘Sunday Roast’ and pavlova made by our kiwi guides. They are all passionate about sharing their personal take on these classic dishes, usually handed down through the generations!

Will this tour match my hiking style and how fit do I need to be?

Routeburn River, Otago, New Zealand

Fresh mountain air, crystal clear alpine rivers and lush landscapes - we've got only the best in store for your adventure.

If you are the sort of person who enjoys being in nature, taking it a bit easier on the trails so you can stop and enjoy the scenery, take more photos or want to mix and match your hikes with some adventurous activities, then this is the tour for you. It’s more than just a stroll through nature and offers up walks that will take you to some incredibly scenic parts of New Zealand.

All this hiking has been carefully curated to amalgamate with activities designed to maximise your New Zealand experience. A prime example is the Hollyford Experience which sees you helicoptered through iconic Milford Sound to an exclusive comfortable lodge. Follow this with a scenic jet boat ride and riverside hike teeming with waterfalls and then relax into a hot tub at the end of the day and you have a truly unique experience.

If this sounds too easy for you, don’t get us wrong; there are still some challenging aspects to this tour. While you may not be exerting your energy on steep climbs (although there are options for those of you who do wish to reach for the heights), stamina and balance are where you may be challenged. With some longer hikes like the Hollyford Valley walk (7 hours), it’s important to be prepared. Check out these five handy hints if you are keen to do this tour but think you need to brush up and do some hiking preparation for your time in New Zealand.

Want to up the ante? Pack your running shoes; there are some incredible trails and places to go running if you need more of an exercise hit.

How comfortable is the accommodation?

Sunrise at Martins Bay Lodge

Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, Martins Bay Lodge is a wonderfully cosy and dramatically beautiful place for a well-deserved night's sleep.

We have carefully selected our accommodation to offer up the best of the locations we stay at, such as staying on the beach in Punakaiki, with floor to ceiling windows offering up views out to where the sea and sky merge – and incredible sunsets to colour the sky.

Our accommodation is designed to make you feel like you are at a home away from home. With laid-back luxury comfort, your accommodation will have a deliciously cosy bed to sink into after a day of adventures and en-suite facilities to freshen up in before heading out for some local delicacies. Arguably the best part of the accommodation we have chosen is its location. From staying in local villages to lodges that make the most of the views, or perhaps a spot which is central to all the action, our accommodation truly makes the most of where we visit.

Check out three of our favourite overnight spots here.

What activities are included?

Mou Waho Island, Lake Wanaka

Mou Waho Island is a gorgeous wildlife reserve on Lake Wanaka - with plenty of precious New Zealand wildlife for you to meet!

In addition to some truly stunning hikes scattered throughout six of New Zealand's national parks, some of our other adventures will see you journey through the Te Wahipounamu UNESCO World Heritage Site, learn about our mining history and witness the spectacle of glow-worms in the Nile River caves, explore the unique wildlife and picturesque scenery on a tour of Mou Waho Island on Lake Wanaka, take in the birdlife of the largest unmodified wetland in New Zealand, experience everything celestial in an International Dark Sky Reserve and get your chill on with an informative boat ride in the glacier lake of our longest glacier.

On our hikes you can watch as the landscape changes; one day you could be walking in a sub-tropical rainforest with looming limestone cliffs, and another, traipsing alongside alpine flowers with snow-capped mountains jutting straight up all around. We explore forests, shorelines and alpine environments with ever-changing scenery to take your breath away.

Of course, you can’t have all this adventure without having a ‘day off’! So, neatly tucked in amongst all the activity we have added a free day in Queenstown. Here you can either take the day to relax and recuperate for the rest of the journey, or continue the adventure. Queenstown offers something for everyone and if you need more inspiration check out Queenstown | Adventure Capital of the World.

Tell me about the optional extras

Tasman Glacier hiking, Canterbury

Exploring the mighty Tasman Glacier in person - words don't do it justice, and neither do the photos, believe it or not!

For the more adventurous types, there is the option to do a glacier hike in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. This activity involves either a helicopter or ski-plane flight up to the Tasman Glacier – New Zealand’s longest glacier! Guided by some of New Zealand’s most experienced mountain guides, you are sure to be regaled with exciting stories old and new (and maybe some including Sir Edmund Hillary) while exploring this incredible shifting world of natural ice sculptures, crevasses and caves!

Get in touch if you'd like to find out more information about this exciting activity.

If you are keen to check out more of what New Zealand has to offer, adding the Sweet North tour to your itinerary is the best way to experience both islands over 18 days. The Sweet North offers up Maori Culture, vibrant city life, wine regions, islands and a volcanic wonderland to explore; the perfect addition to your World Heritage Walking tour.

Tell me more about the Hollyford Experience

Hollyford Track rainforest, Fiordland

There's magic in the Hollyford; it's a fairytale world that has to be seen to be believed.

A helicopter ride through Milford Sound offers the opportunity to really see the grandiosity of this natural environment. The true scale of the mountains around can only really be experienced from high up – and it really is incredible! The evening is spent lounging around a delightful lodge, partaking in some wine, exploring the area or for those inclined, it is a photographer's delight here.

In the morning the day starts with an exciting and scenic jet boat ride through to the start of the hike; it’s definitely the best way to wake up and get the blood flowing ready to hit the trails. The rest of the day is dedicated to a stunning forest walk, following the Hollyford River back to civilisation.

Dotted with majestic waterfalls and towering mountains peeking through the trees, the scenery is a wonderful distraction from the occasional hills that get the blood flowing. Finish the day in the beautiful lakeside village of Te Anau, soaking in a hot tub.

So if you are after a little touch of luxury, have left ‘roughing it’ in the past, and you enjoy hiking but without the strain of lugging heavy packs up big hills, then this just might be the tour for you.

Still unsure and want some guidance? Take a look at our trip galleries here for inspiration, or our Which Trip is Right For Me page to compare our trips side-by-side. Or, if you already know you want to secure your spot, you can choose your date by visiting our availability page.

Request your FREE NEW ZEALAND TRAILS Brochure here now for articles, stories and information on our 5 guided trip options.


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