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WORLD HERITAGE WALKING TOUR

The very best with all the bells and whistles.

Rediscover the joy of simple pleasures and the thrill of new experiences, without having to sacrifice the creature comforts you’ve grown to expect. Go walking in UNESCO World Heritage areas and on several of The Great Walks, at a relaxed pace of course, with guides who embody legendary Kiwi hospitality. They’ll help you reconnect with nature then pour you a generous glass of local wine afterward. Share stories on the trail with new friends and belly laughs around the table at the best restaurants before retiring to your private room with an ensuite so you can get your beauty sleep. The World Heritage is a perennial favourite full of genuine ‘only in New Zealand’ experiences taken up a few notches, such as choppering into a remote wilderness lodge that’s a far cry from roughing it. Adventure travel that’s a bit posh but will show the kids, and even the grandkids, you’ve definitely still got it.

World Heritage HIGHLIGHTS

A New Zealand walking tour with comfort in mind - our most luxurious experience yet

3 walking mou waho island otago

The Great Walks

Hike many of New Zealand’s most acclaimed Great Walks including the Milford Track, the Routeburn Track and the Hollyford Track.

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Hollyford Walking Track

hollyford waterfall3

Variety of Walks

Explore the lush rainforest on the rugged West Coast and the towering snow-capped peaks of Aoraki/Mt Cook.

Hooker Glacier Lake 1

Aoraki - Mt Cook

4Hiking Arthurs Pass

Arthur's Pass

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Okarito Trig

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Wilderness Lodge

Helicopter from Milford Sound to remote Martin’s Bay for a walk to a wild seal colony and return to your well-appointed wilderness lodge by jetboat.

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Kayak Okarito Lagoon

Paddle out on New Zealand’s largest coastal lagoon to spot some of our rarest birds.

roueburn track

Great Walks

Hike the UNESCO World Heritage National Park around New Zealand's highest peak. Take a boat to the terminal face of a glacier or opt for a guided heli hike to walk on the glacier.

TRIP EXPLORER

Day 1

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Christchurch
Hike Arthurs Pass

Includes

Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Hiking
Sightseeing

Accommodation

Punakaiki
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Day 1 – Arrive in Christchurch and Hike Arthur’s Pass National Park

After meeting everyone, we depart Christchurch for the Canterbury High Country. We'll get some sun on our faces during a hike in Arthur's Pass National Park before continuing on to the remote West Coast. We spend our first night together in Punakaiki, the home of the famous Pancake Rocks.

Hiking in Arthur’s Pass National Park

Fill your lungs with mountain air as we enter Arthur’s Pass National Park. The majestic Southern Alps are the backbone of the South Island, dividing it into East and West, two distinct regions with its own unique climate, landscape and life forms. This magical park is its gateway and this afternoon we will show you our favorite places hidden within the national park for a perfect gentle start to your New Zealand outdoor adventure. We will walk up the stunning Bealey Valley, through ancient beech forest and alpine wetlands, along the crystal clear mountain stream to the edge of the alpine zone with views up to Mt Rolleston and the permanent glaciers. 

West Coast

After exploring Arthur's Pass National Park, we continue our journey towards the remote West Coast, where we wind up at the seaside hamlet of Punakaiki for dinner on our first night together.

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Day 2

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Punakaiki
Hiking & Glowworm Caves

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Caving
Hiking

Accommodation

Punakaiki
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Day 2 – Explore the Nile River Glowworm Caves and Hike Paparoa National Park

Today we will spend the day exploring one of the most untouched parts of New Zealand. First, it's a short but stunning trip up the coast to Paparoa National Park, where we'll begin this otherworldly experience in the Nile River glowworm caves. This afternoon you have the option to check out the beach at Punakaiki, our home for the night, or hike the stunning Pororari River Track.

Underworld Glowworm Caves

Upon arrival in Charleston, your guides will lead you on a walk through the rainforest to the Nile River caves. These natural cathedral-like formations were discovered relatively recently and the cave we'll explore today is one of only a few in the world you can easily walk through and experience in the same state as it was found. The large, dry upper levels are stunning, complete with spectacular stalactites and stalagmites covered with galaxies of glowworms that are unequaled anywhere! We'll get kitted up in wetsuits and walk a short distance to find small inflatable rafts we'll use to float through these amazing glowworm caves. It's a surreal, only in New Zealand experience you'll never forget.

The Magic of Paparoa National Park

Limestone and time are responsible for most of Paparoa National Park's most impressive landforms. Water ran over the relatively soft rock over many thousands of years to form an environment known as karst, which features deep river canyons, sculptured mountain ridges, and an extensive network of caves and sinkholes. Then add a thick cover of lush Gondwanaland rainforest to the dramatic natural sculptures.

Paparoa National Park Hiking

This afternoon's options include hiking a beautiful riverside trail in Paparoa National Park or some downtime at the beach, just a short stroll from tonight's accommodation.

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Day 3

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West Coast
Kayak Okarito Lagoon

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Kayaking

Accommodation

Okarito
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Day 3 – West Coast and Kayaking on Okarito Lagoon

We take an incredibly scenic journey down the West Coast to Okarito for a kayaking tour on New Zealand’s largest coastal lagoon with specialist local guides. Soak up the majestic beauty and for keen birdwatchers, this is home to the rare kotuku (white heron) as well as other coastal and forest wildlife. Optional hike for elevated views of the coastline. Overnight in Okarito.

Wild West Coast Scenic Drive

First time visitors to New Zealand are always amazed by how stunning the drives are and today you will see this for yourself. Sit back and enjoy the views - the snowy peaks and glaciers of the Southern Alps, virgin West Coast rainforest and the rugged Tasman Sea coastline – Wow!

Guided Kayaking on Okarito Lagoon

A quiet kayak is the best and most peaceful way to enjoy this spectacular coastal wetland. Okarito Lagoon is well known for its outstanding birdlife (over 70 species of birds have been recorded here). The lagoon is a common feeding ground for kotuku (white heron) and royal spoonbill, both of which breed in the nearby Waitangiroto Nature Reserve. We will glide quietly around this beautiful waterway and have the best chance of observing the birdlife in their natural habitat without disturbing them. All of this with the mighty Southern Alps as our backdrop!

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Day 4

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West Coast
Glaciers & Southern Alps

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Hiking

Accommodation

Wanaka
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Day 4 – Glacier Country & Mt Aspiring National Park

Your camera will get a workout trying to do justice to the perfect reflections of Lake Matheson and the views of Fox Glacier's terminal face on our morning hike. We then continue down the West Coast into gorgeous Mount Aspiring National Park. Overnight in the relaxed lakeside village of Wanaka. 

Fox Glacier

At 13 kilometers in length, Fox Glacier is the largest and most accessible of the West Coast glaciers and the terminal valley is impressive in its own right, a real testament to the sheer force of nature. The valleys and lakes around the Fox township are all remnants of the ice age and provide some excellent hiking trails, all under the imposing shadow of New Zealand’s highest peaks. We’ll hike to the Fox Glacier terminal face and also the Lake Matheson track, for the famous reflections of Mt Cook! You also have the option for a heli hike, for those who want to set foot on the ice. 

The Haast Pass, Mount Aspiring National Park and the Wanaka Lakes

As we continue the scenery is impressive all the way, once over the Haast Pass the views change dramatically as we head into the mountains and bid farewell to the coastline. We follow the Haast River into Mount Aspiring National Park and the Wanaka Lakes district; this pass was used by Maori on Pounamu (jade) and food gathering expeditions as one of the earliest routes linking the West Coast and Central Otago.

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Day 5

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Wanaka
Mou Waho Island

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Cruise
Wildlife Walk

Accommodation

Queenstown
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Day 5 – Lake Wanaka Boat Cruise and Hike in Mou Waho Island Wildlife Reserve

This morning, we'll cruise across Lake Wanaka to a tiny island wildlife sanctuary. Our favourite ecologist and long-time Wanaka guide will lead us on a hike of Mou Waho Island, one of the most magical spots on the South Island. In the afternoon, we have a scenic journey over the Crown Range to Queenstown, a world-class resort town known as the "Adventure Capital of the World," where we'll stay for the next three nights.

Lake Wanaka Cruise & Island Wildlife Walk

Close to the centre of Lake Wanaka is Mou Waho Island Nature Reserve, which is only accessible by a 35-minute boat ride. We are walking with our long time local guide and eco warrior! He will lead us on the well-formed track on our gentle climb through native bush to near the top of Tyrwhitt Peak. Just before the top we see Arethusa Pool, a small lake on the island with islands in it – very intriguing! From the top we have a sweeping 360-degree view of Lake Wanaka, the surrounding mountains and valleys, and below Arethusa Pool. On a hot day you may not be able to resist a dip in the cool crystal clear waters.

The Cardrona Valley and Queenstown

Our afternoon drive takes us through the Cardrona Valley, over the scenic Crown Range into the Wakatipu basin. You have probably seen pictures of this area and the Range is by far the most scenic way into Queenstown!

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Day 6

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Glenorchy
Routeburn Track

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch

Activities

Hiking

Accommodation

Queenstown
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Day 6 – Hike the famed Routeburn Track

This morning we travel to the top of the lake along the shores of stunning Lake Wakatipu, recently voted one of the best drives in the world, for a full day on the famed Routeburn Track. Options depending on how far you'd like to hike. Overnight in Queenstown. 

Hiking on the famous Routeburn Track

Today will be one of the hiking highlights of the trip! The famous Routeburn Track. Our day starts from Queenstown with a beautiful journey along the shores of Lake Wakatipu to the ‘Head of the Lake’, the most dramatic scenery you’ll ever see! We reckon if you’re coming all the way to New Zealand and not heading to the head of Lake Wakatipu and Glenorchy then you’re missing out!

Once on the trail your guides will lead you through the beech forest (lots of Lord of the Rings filming locations around here), alongside the crystal clear river onto Routeburn Flats and for those looking to stretch their legs a bit more, Routeburn Falls.

As with all our hikes, there is a lot of flexibility. If you want to push yourself a little or just enjoy a comfortable hike on the flat trail, it is all here. Either way, the scenery is magnificent and your guides are there to take care of you all the way.

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Day 7

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Queenstown
Free day to explore

Includes

Breakfast

Activities

Free Day

Accommodation

Queenstown
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Day 7 – Explore Queenstown

What to do with an entire day free in one of the most beautiful resort towns in the world? You're spoilt for choice with heaps of options on land, water and even in the air. Your guides will point you in the right direction -- relaxing also permitted, of course! Overnight in Queenstown. 

Queenstown offers something for everyone, from adrenalin activities to much more gentle pursuits and in so many ways it encapsulates much of what New Zealand is about. Famed for its international winter ski profile, Queenstown is also a brilliant spring, summer and fall destination. Today is yours to make the most of Queenstown’s scenic beauty, easy walks, and endless opportunities to relax. You might like to try fishing, golfing, gold panning, wine tasting, or boating. One thing is certain, you won’t run out of things to do and we’ll be on hand to make sure you have all the information and support to make the most of your day.

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Day 8

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Fiordland NP
Milford Sound

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Sightseeing

Accommodation

Milford Sound
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Day 8 – Fiordland National Park & Milford Sound

We’ll have a relaxed start to the day before making our way to Fiordland National Park on another of the world’s most scenic drives. We'll make plenty of stops for photos and short walks along the way, as well as lunch on the lakeside in Te Anau, before a grand entrance into Milford Sound. Overnight in Milford Sound.

Lake Wakatipu & Te Anau BBQ lunch

After a relaxed start to the day we’re off to begin three fabulous days exploring one of the most pristine corners of World Heritage New Zealand – Fiordland National Park. Our day starts with a drive, famous for its stunning scenery, down to the Southern end of Lake Wakatipu and on to Te Anau for a lakeside lunch. Nestled on the shores of the South Island’s largest lake and with the expanses of Fiordland stretching as far as we can see, our lakeview lunch spot is just perfect.

Eglington Valley, Homer Tunnel & Milford Sound

After lunch we’re off into the the most famous of all our national parks and we’ll feel the spirit of the early explorers as we follow the trails they blazed through forests and across mountain passes. Travelling into Milford Sound from early afternoon means we enjoy our stops in peace and quiet, we’re not in a rush to get anywhere and there’s so much to see. The Eglington Valley, our first glimpse of the Hollyford, the Divide and the Homer Tunnel are just some of the highlights on this journey you’ll never forget.

We'll arrive into Milford and the sanctuary of our lodge with plenty of time for a walk to the foreshore and the opportunity for your own memorable photos of the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’, Milford Sound.

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Day 9

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Milford Sound
Hiking & Martins Bay

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Hiking
Heli flight
Jetboat

Accommodation

Martins Bay Lodge
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Day 9 – The Milford Track, Milford Sound by Helicopter and Jetboating in Martins Bay

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Day 10

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Fiordland NP
Hollyford Track

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Hiking
Jet Boat

Accommodation

Te Anau
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Day 10 – Fiordland Backcountry, Jetboat Ride and Walk the Hollyford Track

Start with another exhilarating jetboat ride, this time up the Hollyford River and across Lake McKerrow. Just when you thought your Fiordland experience couldn't possibly get better, we've got this full-day guided walk on the Hollyford Track. Arrive in Te Anau for dinner with lake views and overnight.

Jetboat Lake McKerrow & up the Hollyford River

Regarded by many as New Zealand’s most beautiful wilderness valley, this is the perfect setting for our final incredible walking experience. Our adventure today starts with a jetboat across Lake McKerrow before your guides lead you on your day's hiking through the World Heritage beauty of the Hollyford Track.

Hiking on the Hollyford Track

Stepping into the Hollyford Valley is literally like entering a lost world, it feels like a prehistoric wilderness untouched for thousands of years! The Hollyford Track is the only major track in Fiordland that is consistently at a low altitude, undulating gently through native forests, beside picturesque lakes and roaring waterfalls as we shadow the swift, clear waters of the Hollyford River. Naturally spectacular, this valley has an unparalleled diversity of vegetation and wildlife from 1,000-year-old giant rimu trees to ancient beech forest, hundreds of intricate ferns, crimson southern rata and the emerald mosses and velvet lichens of the under-story.

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Day 11

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Mackenzie Country
Gibbston Valley

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Wine Tasting
Stargazing

Accommodation

Mt Cook Village
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Day 11 – Arrowtown, High Country Lakes, Aoraki/Mount Cook & Stargazing tour

Today we'll make our way to Arrowtown in time for lunch, and an explore around this picturesque historic gold mining town. Then we continue on our breathtaking journey into the heart of the Southern Alps among the glacier-fed, high country lakes. Tonight enjoy a stargazing tour in the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve and planetarium visit. Overnight at the Hermitage, Mount Cook.

Queenstown Winery Lunch

This morning we will take it easy after our wilderness adventures of the last few days to enjoy a sleep in or stroll along the lakefront before we depart for Arrowtown. We'll arrive for lunch and have time to explore this quaint historic gold mining town. Stop in the museum, wander the boutiques or have a look at the remains of the Chinese goldminers' settlement.  

Mount Cook National Park

After lunch, we're heading for the Mount Cook region, a beautiful area of highland turquoise lakes surrounded by vast fields of golden tussock, gazed upon by the spectacular Southern Alps. With a settlement population of less than 100 people and building restrictions enforced, Aoraki Mt Cook offers a tranquility seldom found, its uninterrupted natural views will stop you in your tracks – is there anybody out there?

International Dark Sky Reserve

Recently earmarked as one of only three of the world’s Gold Standard Dark Sky reserves – tonight we will experience the unforgettable Mt Cook night sky, the reason the southern-most observatory on earth is located here. Accompanied by an expert star watching guide you will get a learned insight into our universe and beyond. Through both telescope and specialized binoculars view the Milky Way Galaxy, the Southern Cross and Alpha-Centauri. You may also have the opportunity to see star clusters like the fascinating Jewel Box, faraway planets, our own Milky Way and distant worlds which test the limits of our imagination.

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Day 12

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Aoraki/Mount Cook
multiple choice

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

Activities

Choices

Accommodation

Mount Cook Village
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Day 12 – Glacier Boat Tour and options in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park

This national park is home to not only our highest and most sacred peak, Aoraki/Mount Cook, but an impressive 19 peaks topping more than 3,000 meters. After a glacier boat tour this morning, options include hiking, exploring the village or optional glacier heli tour.   

Glacier boat and Hiking in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

Your last full day on the trip will be one of your most memorable. Some of the best alpine hikes in New Zealand are here in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. These are the mountains where Edmund Hillary honed his mountaineering skills before he and Tenzing Norgay became the first pair to summit Mount Everest in 1953. Mt Cook, or Aoraki "the Cloud Piercer" as the Maori named it, stands proudly as our highest peak at 3724m (over 12,000 feet).

We start the day with a boat ride across the terminal lake to the ancient ice of the face of the Tasman Glacier. Then in the afternoon we have a couple of great options for you. A walk on the Hooker Valley track to the Hooker lake complete with icebergs and glimpses of Mount Cook towering above us. Or you can relax in Mount Cook village which has excellent cafes and things to do. Or, for an additional cost you can opt for a stunning helicopter ride to the Tasman Glacier for a guided walk on the ice and snow of New Zealand's largest glacier.

Day 12 Continued

Whichever option you choose, you won't be disappointed. After a full day of activities, we'll meet up and return to the Hermitage (our accommodation) for dinner and a chance to trade stories of the day. We're staying within one of the best Dark Sky Reserves in the world so tonight you can simply walk outside to enjoy some of the best stargazing anywhere. 

Overnight at the Hermitage, Mt Cook.

Choice 1

Walk the Hooker Valley Track

This is one of the South Island's most popular trails in glacier country. When you look down from the impressive swing bridges down to the rushing river below that leads you all the way to an alpine lake complete with icebergs, you'll understand why. For flower lovers, the Hooker Valley is one of the best places to see Mount Cook lilies in season.

Choice 2

Free time around Mt Cook Village

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

Day 12 Optional Add-ons

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

Glacier heli-hiking

Take a chopper and land high up on the Tasman Glacier – New Zealand’s longest – where you’ll don crampons and explore the dramatic ice caves and clear blue ice with a specialist guide.

USD390+TAX
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Day 13

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Mackenzie Country
Lake Tekapo

Includes

Breakfast
Lunch

Activities

Sightseeing

Accommodation

Finish the trip in Christchurch
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Day 13 – Tekapo and the Mackenzie Country, Depart Christchurch

We've saved some of the best scenery for our final day together. The unreal colours of Lakes Pukaki and Tekapo make the perfect backdrop for photos you’ll treasure for years to come. After 13 days of extraordinary adventure, bonding, and fun, we’ll say our goodbyes with drop-offs at Christchurch airport or your city accommodation.

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My New Zealand Trails 'World Heritage Walking Tour' – Part 1

Susan Patterson shares her candid and often witty experiences while on our 13-Day New Zealand 'World Heritage Walking Tour'.

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Lake Matheson

New Zealand Trails Newsletter February 2014

Greetings from New Zealand!It's mid summer here in New Zealand which is many people's favourite time of year - holidays, long twilights and warm weather.

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New Zealand Hiking for the Solo Traveler

When you join New Zealand Trails for one of our trips, you may be travelling solo, but you will never be alone.

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New Zealand Trails Newsletter January 2014

Happy New Year from New Zealand!

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Routeburn and Milford Track – the best one day hiking options

Sadly not everyone has the time to walk the full Milford or Routeburn tracks, however here are the best options for day hiking on the two most famous walking tracks...

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New Zealand Trails Newsletter December 2013

Kia Ora from New Zealand!

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Spring walking in New Zealand – three lasting memories

Our New Zealand walking tours are underway for the season and we have just finished our first trip, we were absolutely blessed by the weather; we had many wonderful experiences including...

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New Zealand Wildlife - Seen on Tour

New Zealand Trails proudly operates our World Heritage Walking Tour'  in the South West New Zealand World Heritage Area - a 13 day tour starting and finishing in Christchurch.

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What to bring on your New Zealand walking holiday

So you have booked your New Zealand walking holiday and are looking forward to the trip of a lifetime, great news!  Depending on when you travel, your next step may...

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Visit Mou Waho Island

Where is Mou Waho Island and why should you visit? One of only five islands in Lake Wanaka and perhaps one of the most unique lake islands anywhere in New Zealand.

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Glacier Hiking in New Zealand – Where is best?

Glacier hiking in New Zealand on your ‘must-do' travel list? Here’s the latest information to help you experience a glacier hike as part of your New Zealand trip.

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5 reasons a guided New Zealand hiking tour will be your dream trip

Are you dreaming about a New Zealand hiking holiday? Looking around at different options for your trip of a lifetime? Perhaps you have never been on a guided tour before and would...

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'Wild about New Zealand – the West Coast'

Wild about New Zealand, Gus Roxburgh's documentary on New Zealand's national parks, featured the South Island's wIld West Coast - one of our favourite areas of the country and somewhere...

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Okarito Lagoon Kayak and the West Coast

Highlights of day three of our small group New Zealand hiking tour - we are into the heart of Southwest New Zealand world heritage area and the 'wild' West Coast of...

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Wild about New Zealand – Mt Cook

The 'Wild about New Zealand' documentary series continues this week with Gus Roxburgh visiting our most mountainous and possibly best known national park, Aoraki/Mt Cook.

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Nile River Glowworm Caves & Punakaiki

Cross the Southern Alps and breathe the air on New Zealand's west coast, we're now in one of the areas we think will be a favourite with anyone who visits New...

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'Wild about New Zealand – Fiordland'

Andrew Wells - New Zealand Trails Note - The documentary is being uploaded to the TVNZ website for viewing on demand but this is not available outside of New Zealand.

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World Heritage New Zealand – See What All the Fuss is About

The South West New Zealand World Heritage Site takes up a massive ten percent of New Zealand’s total land area, that is a whopping 2.6 million hectares (6.4 million Acres)...

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Alps to ocean on the TranzAlpine

Punakaiki and Paparoa National Park Punakaiki is one of those places that just gets under your skin; I first visited as a guide in 1999 and it has always been...

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Castle Hill and Arthur's Pass hiking – Day one highlights

Our 13 day New Zealand Hiking Tour is packed full of highlights so in NZ Trails style, we'd like to slow things down and take some time to introduce you...

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Looking for a tour with the best hikes New Zealand has to offer?

Are you planning an active vacation to New Zealand? Looking for a fully guided walking tour with the best hikes New Zealand has to offer? Want to stay in some...

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wanaka mou wahu

Hiking in New Zealand for your bucket list

Like all Kiwis, we love our backyard and reckon you will too.  The New Zealand Southern Alps and surrounds offer an amazing natural environment that makes it so easy to...

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Hiking guys

Hiking Guys are back!

It's hard to stay away from doing what you love so after a 2 year hiatus I'm happy to announce that Hiking Guys are making a comeback to the New...

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World Heritage Walking Tour

13 Day Tour – Christchurch to Christchurch US$59995999 + tax, per person (twin or double share)

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We do have shorter trip options and solo travellers don’t pay more, unless you’d like an upgrade to a private room. PLEASE NOTE: This is a sample of our current itinerary. Keep in mind we are constantly fine-tuning and improving our trips based on feedback from our guests and guides, availability, etc. So your trip will be at least this good, but we reserve the right to make slight alterations without notice to make it even better!

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