How fit do you need to be for the Short South trip?
Most people that join our trips have questions about how fit they need to be, so here you'll find descriptions of the hikes and activities involved on the 8-day Short South tour. Our trips are designed for people who want to experience New Zealand's incredible array of outdoor adventures and we can tailor it suit you however active you want to be. As long as you enjoy hiking and the outdoors you will enjoy this trip, but you certainly don't need to be a fitness expert.
Day 1: Overnight Cruise on Milford Sound
After meeting your guides and fellow travellers in Queenstown, we’ll get straight into it by heading for Milford Sound on arguably the most spectacular road in the country or anywhere – the scenery is mind blowing. This afternoon we’ll enjoy several blissful short walks on our journey, then have a chance to meet the local wildlife of Fiordland National Park while we explore the sound by boat.
Day 2 – Hike the Routeburn Track
After your first incredible night on board a boat in Milford Sound, we'll lace up our hiking boots ready to hike a stunning portion of the famous Routeburn Track. People hiking the entire 3-day route usually finish the Routeburn Track here so you may meet others coming down the hill, but we're going up through the forest, past beautiful waterfalls and into the alpine region for the amazing views from Key Summit. We'll stop for a bit at the top before heading back down to the Divide. We'll be out for about 3 hours in total on this hike.
Day 3 – Biking near Queenstown
Today we'll pick up bikes in the quaint gold mining town of Arrowtown and ride along a purpose-built cycle trail next to the Kawarau River towards the world’s first commercial bungy bridge, which is as busy as ever today as it has been since the 80s! We'll continue to ride past homesteads, meadows, mountains and vineyards in the Gibbston Valley and you can take it at your own pace racing along if you like, or just cruising - you decide. Later in the day we'll head over to Wanaka and towards the West Coast.
Day 4 – Fly, Hike and Jetboat Siberia Wilderness
Today we are heading out on an adventure you will remember forever into a remote backcountry spot with out of this world scenery. The day begins with a scenic flight into the Siberia Valley to a stunning lunch spot before we start our wild country hike. We'll be walking on a clearly marked trail through open tussock land and ancient rainforest over undulating terrain. The walk is around 7kms long (4.3 miles) and will take up to 3 hours - we'll take our time to enjoy the scenery arriving at the rendezvous point in time to be picked up by our trusty jet boat driver for an exhilarating end to a wonderful day.
Day 5 – Hike or Bike Wanaka
There are a few options this morning depending on your mood - you are welcome to explore the lakeside trails on your own that are easy to find from the doorstep of your accommodation, or we can organise bikes for you to head out on a self-guided trail. If you want to take on a more serious hike, your guide will take you on the 7km (4.3 mile) climb up past Diamond Lake to the Rocky Mountain lookout, a hike of around 3 hours to a beautiful viewpoint overlooking Lake Wanaka with views of the dramatic peak of Mount Aspiring.
Day 6 – Hike Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park
There are a few hiking options today, the main one being the Hooker Valley hike that leads you on a well-marked trail up to the Hooker Glacier Lake complete with floating icebergs and incredible mountain views, including the imposing peak of Mount Cook. The trail is easy underfoot with three swing bridge crossings taking you over glacier fed rivers and boulders. It's a good 3-4 hour walk with not too much of a climb, stopping for photos and snacks along the way.
Day 7 – Cycle the Alps to Ocean trail around Lake Pukaki
The Alps to Ocean trail is a purpose built cycle trail that winds its way from Mount Cook to the Oamaru on the coast. It's a new and well maintained trail perfect for cruising along and enjoying yourself whatever your biking experience.
You’ll start your ride along a quiet country road with very little traffic, following the eastern shore of Lake Pukaki, passing the Tekapo power station along the way. Take in the incredible views across Lake Pukaki towards the Southern Alps. The next section of trail takes you off-road, continuing along the Lake Pukaki shoreline with Mount Cook providing a spectacular back-drop. You’ll pass over the Pukaki dam and make your way across the Pukaki flats, an expansive area of dry grasslands, part of the familiar Mackenzie country landscape. Your ride ends in Twizel where your vehicle awaits to transport you to Akaroa for your last day of adventures.
Day 8 – Akaroa dolphin swim
The final day of your trip is no less adventurous than the others, finishing with an incredible dolphin swimming experience. The Hectors (New Zealand) dolphins are the rarest and smallest ocean going dolphins, so this is a truly unique-to-this-area experience. The swim is suitable for all levels of fitness as long as you can swim and have a sense for adventure. If you prefer not to swim you can opt to view the action from the boat - and there's plenty of other wildlife to see too.
This guide is intended to provide you with a summary of the activities and hikes on this tour, for the full description please refer back to the day-to-day itinerary.