New Zealand Trails

5-14 day, all-inclusive, guided adventure tours

Intro Map Itinerary Reviews Dates Accommodation FAQs Summary

South Island New Zealand Tour - Pure South

A distillation of the very best.

We’ve cherry-picked the very best destinations, hikes and experiences, combining them into an unforgettable 8 day South Island adventure. Day walk amongst the Southern Alps on our legendary Great Walks. Soar over peaks and valleys on a scenic plane flight, Alaska-style, deep into the Kiwi backcountry. Explore Milford Sound, day walk in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park and swim with the smallest dolphins in the world. 

If you’re short on time or you’re just after the epic highlight reel, our Pure South itinerary is the perfect bite-sized morsel. It’s everything you’ve heard about and want to see during your time in New Zealand but weren’t sure how to piece together in such a short time.

With our wonderful Kiwi guides looking after all of the details of your holiday, you’ll quickly feel the stresses and strains of everyday life melt away. All you need to do is relax and enjoy the adventure. This is 8 days of the very best of the South Island and while you probably won’t want to go home at the end of it, you’ll be satisfied knowing that you made the absolute most of every moment! We think of it as a distillation of the very best!

Activity LevelThis trip is designed for people who want to experience New Zealand's incredible array of outdoor adventures and we can tailor the trip to suit you, however active you want to be. We always have easier or more challenging options available so that you can choose how much or how little activity you take on each day. On the Pure South trip you will walk between 3 to 5 hours each day on well-formed tracks. The average distance walked each day is 9km/5.6mi. You can find details of each activity and elevation maps for each hike on our Pure South Fitness Guide

Trip Style: Throughout the trip you’ll enjoy delicious home-cooked and restaurant meals to fuel you for the adventurous days of walking and activities, and sleep soundly at night in comfortable ensuite accommodation that we have chosen specifically for their fantastic locations.

8 Days

South
ISLAND

map
Biking Walking Wildlife Jetboating Dolphins
Starts

Queenstown

Finishes

Christchurch

Activity level activity
Accommodation

Very comfortable lodging

Price
NZD$8499 NZD$8499 AUD$6199 USD$4599.00 +tax GBP£4299 CAD$5999.00 +tax
ALL INCLUSIVE!

Check Dates Book now

Pure South Route Map

PS MAP

Pure South Day-by-Day Itinerary

Day

1

Kepler Track
Te Anau

Includes

Lunch
Dinner

Meals
Activities
Hiking
Accommodation

Te Anau

Hiking the Kepler Track on a rexlaxed and active adventure
Enjoy the views of Lake Wakatipu while hiking New Zealand South Island Hiking the Kepler track ono a New Zealand South Island tour

Day 1 – Welcome & Hike Kepler Track

We’ve chosen the best bits for this South Island tour and cleverly squeezed them into eight unforgettable days, packing as much joy as possible into your Pure South trip without rushing. And it all starts today!

After meeting your guides and fellow travellers in Queenstown, you’ll embark on your long-awaited New Zealand adventure.

Hike the Kepler Track

The Kepler Track is renowned for its vivid green moss, native beech forest, and stunning mountain ranges. We’ll walk the section from Rainbow Reach up to Moturau Hut. Following the Waiau River through beech forest and wetlands until we emerge out onto the spectacular viewpoint at the lakeside Moturau Hut. Cast your eyes out over beautiful Lake Manapouri, framed against a backdrop of Fiordland peaks. What a way to welcome you to New Zealand! Afterwards, we’ll head to our accommodation in Te Anau for a delicious home-cooked meal and the chance to rest up before tomorrow’s adventures.

Tonight we stay at Matai Lodge*

Day

2

Cruise Milford Sound
Hike Routeburn Track

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Meals
Activities
BoatCruise Hiking
Accommodation

Te Anau

View from Key Summit makes this one of the best New Zealand walks South Island
Hike Key Summit on a New Zealand South Island guided tour Catch a sunrise in Milford Sound while hiking New Zealand South Island

Day 2 – Cruise Milford Sound & hike the Routeburn Track

It’s time to rise and shine for your first full day of activities. We’ll head straight to Milford Sound for a beautiful morning cruise. After our relaxing morning on the water, it’s time to take on the Routeburn Track to Key Summit before ending the day back at your accommodation in Te Anau.

Cruise Milford Sound

This morning, we’ll head to Milford Sound for our scenic boat trip. Enjoy the crisp, fresh air and feel your everyday anxieties slip away as the tranquillity of the fiord washes over you. Have your cameras ready as you snap reels of photos of cascading waterfalls, towering peaks and native wildlife in action. Eventually, we’ll cruise back to dock to discover Fiordland National Park on foot, with a hike on part of the Routeburn Track.

Hike the Routeburn Track to Key Summit

Once back on dry land, we’ll head deeper in Fiordland’s wilderness for a heart-pumping hike on the world famous Routeburn Track up to Key Summit. A well-formed track leads us through lush beech forest and past tall tree ferns, with velvety mosses blanketing the rich earth underfoot. Native birdsong provides a beautiful soundtrack to our walk and as we climb higher, views of the Darran Mountains and Hollyford Valley stretch out beneath us providing a fitting reward for our efforts. You’ll sleep soundly tonight in your lakefront accommodation in Te Anau.

Tonight we stay at Matai Lodge again*

Day

3

Bike or Walk Arrowtown
Explore Wanaka

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Meals
Activities
Accommodation

Wanaka

Bike ride in Gibbston Valley on a New Zealand South Island tour
Biking the Kawarau River on New Zealand South Island tours Biking and hiking New Zealand South Island

Day 3 – Bike or Walk Arrowtown & Explore Wanaka

Today we leave the rainforests of Fiordland behind and head for the high-country lakes of Central Otago. We’ll take to the trails - either by bike or on foot, it's your choice - to explore Queenstown’s stunning surrounds and the world-class wine-growing region of Gibbston Valley. We then head over the Crown Range to the pretty mountain resort town of Wanaka and gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park, where we’ll spend the night.

Bike or Walk Arrowtown to the Kawarau Bungy Bridge

Welcome to our backyard! Queenstown and the surrounding area is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, with many purpose-built tracks and trails ideal for hiking, biking or running. 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 Bridges Trail.

Explore Wanaka

A short but incredibly scenic drive over New Zealand’s highest sealed road at 1022m takes us into Wanaka, a favourite holiday spot for Kiwis. Nestled at the foot of snow-capped mountains, this lakefront town is Queenstown’s more relaxed cousin, although its equal in stunning scenery. It’s a great place to explore on your own for a bit – be sure to try out some of the local delicacies including meat pies, fantastic coffee, uniquely flavoured gelatos and craft beers.

Tonight we stay at Edgewater Resort*

Choice 1

Bike Arrowtown

We’ll get fitted out with bikes before taking to the trail on two wheels. We’ll follow the Kawarau River along a wide trail, riding past homesteads, meadows and mountains out towards the famous Gibbston Valley vineyards and the world’s first commercial bungy bridge.

Choice 2

Hike Arrowtown

If you prefer to walk rather than cycle, we have an equally exciting alternative. You can still experience the beautiful Arrowtown trail that the cyclists do except you can do it on foot! Your driver will pick you up from the stunning Southern Discoveries swing bridge and drive you to the Kawarau bungy bridge to regroup with the rest of the team.

Day

4

Mt Aspiring National Park
Siberia Valley

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Meals
Activities
Plane Hiking Jetboating
Accommodation

Wanaka

Flying into New Zealand South Island Siberia Valley
Pure South 4. Group in Jetboat Siberia Valley

Day 4 – Scenic flight into Mount Aspiring National Park, Hike & Wilderness Jet boat

Get ready for a real Kiwi backcountry experience - this is the stuff legendary holiday tales are made of! We’ll begin the day with a scenic flight deep into the heart of Mt Aspiring National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. We land in an isolated valley where we’ll enjoy a picnic lunch with views that will knock your socks off. Sufficiently fortified, we’ll hike back down to the river where a jetboat will be waiting to whisk you back to civilisation and your comfortable bed in Wanaka.

Scenic Flight into Mount Aspiring National Park

Today's adventure begins on one of Southern Alps Air’s Cessna bush planes, taking in expansive views of the 355,000ha Mount Aspiring National Park. Look out across winding rivers, virgin beech forest, glaciated valleys, alpine lakes, glaciers and the towering Southern Alps, before landing on the remote Siberia Valley air strip. Once on the ground, we'll head up the valley to a backcountry hut with outrageous views of the surrounding peaks. 

Hike Siberia Valley

After a tasty picnic lunch on the deck of the hut, we'll begin our walk along a well-marked track through the thick forest linking the Siberia Valley to the Wilkin Valley wilderness below. Be on the lookout for native birds along the way and the many photo opportunities as you immerse yourself in nature. The track was originally used by Mount Albert Station to take stock into the valley for grazing. The track is 6.8km in length, the first half of which climbs gently 200m in elevation from the airstrip, before heading downhill for the second half of the walk - a total drop in elevation of 470m.

Wilderness Jet Boat Trip

Jet boats were invented in 1954 in New Zealand by Sir William Hamilton for the shallow waters of our braided rivers. Jet boating originally started on the Wilkin River in 1968 transporting venison out of the mountains before hiking and commercial work became more commonplace. On reaching the Wilkin River at Kerin Forks, jet boats will be waiting to take us for a thrilling 30-minute ride down the Wilkin and Makarora Rivers back to the Makarora Village. Get a whole different perspective on this dramatic valley as you watch the landscape rush by and feel the wind in your hair.

Tonight we stay at Edgewater Resort again*

Day

5

Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park
Hike Aspiring National Park

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Meals
Activities
Hiking
Accommodation

Mt Cook Village

New Zealand South tours in Wanaka
Rocky Mountain on New Zealand South Island hiking tours Aoraki Mt Cook on your New Zealand South Island itinerary

Day 5 – Hike Wanaka & Aoraki/Mount Cook

If you’re feeling energetic this morning, we’ll start the day off with a heart pumping hike up to Rocky Mountain. If you’d prefer a more relaxed start, there’s plenty to do in the town itself, from great coffee and boutique gift shops to a gentle amble along the beach and obligatory photo in front of Wanaka’s ‘giant hand’ sculpture. This afternoon it’s a change of scenery as we make our way to the Mackenzie Country, an area of jaw-dropping beauty, wide-open skies, glacial lakes and distant towering peaks. We’ll spend the next two nights staying at the foot of New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki/Mount Cook.

Hike Diamond Lake and Rocky Mountain Track

We’ll kick the day off with a hike to Diamond Lake to appreciate the sweeping views out over the Southern Alps and Lake Wanaka, before carrying on up the Rocky Mountain trail. It’s a steady climb and one that will no doubt get your heart pumping, but with each passing step, the scenery just gets better and better, making it all worth it at the top.

Tonight we stay in the Aoraki/Mt Cook region*

 

Day

6

Aoraki/Mt Cook
Your choice

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Meals
Activities
Accommodation

Mt Cook Village

View of Aoraki Mt Cook on a New Zealand South Island tour
Couple at Hooker Valley Track on New Zealand South Island hiking tours Couple at Sealy Tarns on New Zealand South Island hiking tours

Day 6 – Your Choice in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

Home to not only its namesake, known as “the Cloud Piercer” to Māori looming at 3,724 metres (over 12,000 feet), Aoraki Mount Cook National Park boasts a further 19 peaks topping more than 3,000 metres. These are the mountains where Edmund Hillary honed his skills before becoming the first to successfully summit Mount Everest with Tenzing Norgay in 1953. This imposing land of rock and ice is a hiker’s paradise, and you have several experiences to choose from today. Get up close to the icebergs on a glacier boat tour, or even splurge on a heli-hike if you’d like. Check out the many hiking tracks and trails, or simply explore the village at your leisure. Whatever you decide, it’s an incredible place to spend the day.

Whichever option you decide on, you won’t be disappointed. After a full day of activities, we’ll meet up and return to our accommodation for a tasty meal and a chance to trade stories from the day as well as gaze up at the impressive night sky in this internationally recognised Dark Sky Reserve.

Tonight we stay in the Aoraki/Mt Cook region again*

Choice 1

Hike to Sealy Tarns

This route is one seriously rewarding leg workout. Known fondly as the ‘stairmaster’ or the ‘stairway to heaven’, you’ll pull yourself up exactly 1,882 steps to Sealy Tarns where the views out over the Mueller and Hooker Lakes are out of this world. It’s the most challenging option today and involves a steep but steady climb on a well-formed track. The views are worth every drop of sweat.

Choice 2

Walk the Hooker Valley Track

This is one of the South Island’s most popular glacier country trails. Looking down from swing bridges over rushing rivers, you’ll walk a track that leads to an alpine lake complete with icebergs. For those with an interest in New Zealand flora, the Hooker Valley is one of the best places to see Mount Cook lilies in season.

Choice 3

Free time around Mount Cook Village

Today is a great opportunity to explore on your own. Visit the museum and planetarium at the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre. Take some short walks around the area or just soak in the views with a coffee and good book.

Day 6 Optional Add-ons

Below are some of the optional add-ons you can also enjoy:


Glacier heli-hiking

Take a helicopter up to land high on the Tasman, New Zealand’s longest glacier. In the company of an experienced guide, you’ll don crampons to explore the dramatic ice caves of this frozen wonderland.

USD$390+TAX

Glacier lake boat tour

Hop aboard a Zodiac boat and set off across the iceberg-filled lake for an up-close encounter with the Tasman Glacier’s terminal face.

USD$110+TAX
Day

7

Aoraki/Mt Cook
Hike Mt John

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Meals
Activities
Sightseeing Walking
Accommodation

Akaroa

lake tekapo new zealand from mount john observatory web
Lupins on New Zealand South Island tours Aoraki Mt Cook on a New Zealand South Island tour

Day 7 – Hike near Lake Tekapo & Explore Akaroa

We’ll start today with a hike through the picturesque Mackenzie Country, we'll climb through forest and tussock until we reach a spectacular view of the surreal turquoise waters of Lake Pukaki. We’ll then make our way to the charming town of Akaroa, a historic French settlement nestled in a quiet harbour, where we’ll spend our final night.

Hike Mt John 

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. After our hike, we’ll check out the famous and much-photographed Church of the Good Shepherd, as well as Tekapo’s statue to the working dog, commissioned in 1968 by local farmers to pay tribute to the role these intelligent canines played in working the land.

Explore Akaroa

Akaroa sits on a quiet harbour surrounded by the remnants of an old volcano and is rich in both Maori and French history. It’s the perfect place to spend our last night of the trip together. We’ll arrive into Akaroa by late afternoon and you’ll have time to explore the township’s colonial architecture and its thriving arts and crafts scene, as well as meet a few of the locals.

Tonight we stay at Akaroa Village Inn*

Day

8

Akaroa
Dolphin Swimming

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch

Meals
Activities
DolphinSwimming
Accommodation

Today we finish the trip in Christchurch

Swim with dolphins in Akaroa on a New Zealand South Island guided tour.jpg
Visit the Hectors dolphins in your New Zealand South Island itinerary See the Hectors dolphins jumping on your New Zealand South Island tour

Day 8 – Akaroa Dolphin Swim & Finish in Christchurch

We’ve saved one last ‘only in New Zealand’ adventure for this morning – a chance to get up close to Hector’s dolphins, the smallest and rarest dolphins in the world. Whether you choose to swim with them or watch from the boat, this promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This afternoon we’ll say our farewells in Christchurch, sending you home refreshed and revitalised with incredible stories to tell your friends and family.

Akaroa Dolphin Swim

It’s our last morning together and the adventure isn’t quite over just yet. We’ll board a small well-equipped boat with a specialised guide to experience Akaroa Harbour the abundance of marine life that make their home there. After donning our wetsuits, we’ll take to the water to swim with native Hector’s dolphins, enjoying their playfully curious antics. Akaroa is the only place in the world where you can take a specific trip to swim with them and this adventure is strictly regulated to ensure it doesn’t interfere with the routine and habitat of these incredible creatures.

Finish in Christchurch

This afternoon we finish our adventure in the South Island’s biggest city, Christchurch. It’s only an hour or two from Akaroa to Christchurch so we’ll have you there in plenty of time for your departing flight, or we can drop you at your accommodation if you’d like to spend some time exploring this cosmopolitan and transitional city. The Pure South works perfectly with our Sweet North trip if you’re keen to explore the North Island as well.

*For logistical reasons, we may make small changes to our itineraries or accommodation from time to time.

Don’t take our word for it...

Cheri Polk PS18DEC
When I've been asked how our trip was, my answer is "I don't know how it could have been better. Everything was perfect. If you ever want to hike New Zealand, you have to go with New Zealand Trails." It truly was the trip of a lifetime.
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Cheri Polk (Pure South, December 2022)

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Elfie Neber 1001
I loved the whole trip. New Zealand is beautiful and I can't think of a better way to appreciate the beauty than by doing outdoor activities. I loved the special touches, like hot beverages at the top of the mountain or champagne to celebrate the halfway point.
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Elfie Neber (Pure South December 22)

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Pure South Accommodation

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Frequently asked questions

It's very important to us that you have all your questions answered about our Short South trip. 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!

How fit do I need to be for the Pure South?

What is the accommodation like on the Pure South?

What time does the Pure South trip start and finish?

What's not included on my Pure South tour?

What's included on my Pure South tour?

What hikes are included in the Pure South trip?

What activities are included on the Pure South trip?

Will I have WiFi or internet access throughout the trip?

Is there electricity at all of the places we stay on the Pure South trip?

Tell me about your safety standards

Biking isn't really my thing. Do you have other options?

What National Parks and Great Walks does the Pure South trip visit?

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Do I have to pay extra if I'm travelling by myself?

Do you need any outdoors experience for the Pure South trip?

How many people will be on my trip?

More frequently asked questions

Tour dates

Short on time? No worries. Discover the highlights of the South Island over 8 incredible days as you hike, bike, swim, cruise on and soar over iconic New Zealand sights. You’ll enjoy tasty home-cooked meals and local restaurant cuisine, resting your head at night in very comfortable and perfectly located accommodations.

If you have a little more time up your sleeve, experience the best of both North and South over 13 days by combining this trip with our Sweet North.

Find your ideal dates below using the date picker and keep an eye on availability as our small groups fill up fast.

2023

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Pure South – ready to book?

Ready to start your New Zealand adventure?

A distillation of the best hiking New Zealand and the South Island has to offer, as well as unique Kiwi experiences and action-packed adventures, our Pure South is a smorgasbord. All you need to do is relax and enjoy the adventure.

What’s included:

Local guides, small groups

All food (except where noted on itinerary), transportation and activities

All inclusive

All accommodation

NZD$8499 AUD$6199 USD$4599.00+tax GBP£4299 NZD$8499 CAD$5999.00+tax
per person (twin or double share)

pure south island tour of new zealand2

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