hollyford track on a world heritage walking tour

World Heritage Walking Tour – The Fiordland Experience

Our three-day Fiordland Experience is the pinnacle of your World Heritage Walking Tour. It’s an experience where you’ll escape time itself and completely immerse yourself in nature. Walk one of our Great Walks, cruise one of the world’s most stunning fiords, helicopter into the backcountry and spend a night of luxury in the wild. You will be among the privileged few who will get to experience this and we hope that you will walk away from it with a new appreciation for nature and this planet of ours. In a world where technology is all-consuming, this three-day ‘retreat’ transports you to a long-lost world, where there are no screens or wifi boxes in sight, encouraging you to be completely present and immersed in nature. Here’s what to expect on your Fiordland Experience.

Day 8 – Kepler Track & Te Anau

Today is the beginning of your journey into the heart of Fiordland National Park. This designated World Heritage site encompasses 1.2 million hectares and is one of our most well-known national parks. Your first taste of its beauty and vastness will be on our afternoon hike along the Kepler Track.

Beech forest, Kepler Track, The Fiordland Experience

The Kepler Track is a lush world of towering beech trees, native ferns, and brightly coloured mosses.

Hiking on the Kepler Track

You’ll tick off another one of New Zealand’s Great Walks as you stroll along the Waiau River on the Kepler Track. We’ll take the path from Rainbow Reach up to Moturau Hut, a 6 km (3.7 miles) return track through lush-green native beech forest. The high point is emerging out onto a spectacular viewpoint at the lakeside Moturau Hut. There, take a moment to enjoy views of the beautiful Lake Manapouri against its mountainous backdrop.

Waiau River footbridge along the Kepler Track

The bridge across the mighty Waiau River leads you straight into the thick rainforest of the Kepler Track.

Kepler Track forest

Fiordland's Great Walks are an easy stroll and beautifully maintained, leaving you to simply enjoy the pristine surroundings.

Tonight, we’ll enjoy dinner at our lakeside accommodation, Distinction Te Anau.

Day 9 –Milford Sound Cruise, Helicopter, Jetboat and hike in Martins Bay

Today is the day you’ll forevermore recall when you think back on your time in New Zealand. It is the day you first set eyes on the stunning Milford Sound, the day you take a helicopter and jetboat ride, and the day you experience what happens to the rainforest when it’s left alone to thrive.

Native forest along the Hollyford Track, New Zealand

The Fiordland Experience immerses you deeper into New Zealand's thriving rainforest than anywhere else can – take your time!

Morning - Milford Sound Cruise

It’s an early start to fit in all the incredible pursuits of the day. We’ll begin with an extraordinary drive through diverse landscapes as we journey into the heart of Fiordland National Park to board our nature cruise on Milford Sound. This is your chance to learn more about the unique Fiordland environment from your Milford Sound expert on board, while enjoying the sights and sounds of waterfalls tumbling down around you. The tour will last roughly two hours, taking you up close to Stirling Falls, past the sunbathing New Zealand fur seals and out to the mouth of the Tasman Sea.

Milford Sound nature cruise

Milford Sound famously puts on a show wherever you look, especially from the vantage point of a cruise!

New Zealand fur seals in Milford Sound

Your first glimpse of Fiordland's resident New Zealand fur seals may just be in Milford Sound – keep an eye out for them snoozing on rocks by the water's edge.

Mitre Peak, Milford Sound

There's time to marvel at the world-famous Mitre Peak before embarking on the most wonderful portion of your trip yet – the helicopter transfer into Fiordland's wilderness.

Afternoon – Milford Sound by Air & Fiordland Wildlife Walk

Helicopter into the Hollyford Valley

After feasting your eyes on views of the iconic fiord from the water, it’s time to see it from the sky! This afternoon, you’ll enjoy Fiordland from a different perspective as we take a helicopter flight over the rugged backcountry into Martins Bay. We’ll also meet our specialist Hollyford Guide here! Have your cameras at the ready as you take in panoramic views of the sheer granite walls rising sharply from the seabed and cascading waterfalls. It’s a sight that will linger in your mind’s eye for many years to come. From here, we’ll fly over the mighty Darran Mountain Range, along the coastline, across the Hollyford Valley and into stunning Martins Bay. The half hour flight will leave you grinning from ear to ear as you take in the world below.

Helicopter transfer from Milford Sound, Fiordland

Our departure from Milford Sound is in style – a scenic helicopter flight to Martins Bay in Fiordland is in order!

Scenic flight, Milford Sound

You'll become familiar with the towering mountains of the region from above during this half-hour scenic flight.

Martins Bay Lodge from above

Along the way you'll spot tonight's accommodation from above. We'll have this incredible landscape all to ourselves for the next two days.

Martins Bay Seal Colony

We’ll touch down in the remote New Zealand backcountry, disembark the helicopter and take a short stroll up to our delightful lunch spot. A gourmet lunch awaits us in a luxury backcountry tent; then it’s time to check out Martins Bay on foot. Your specialist Hollyford guide will tell you of its significance in Maori and European history while highlighting the unique flora and fauna along the way. We’ll take a walk through an enchanting podocarp forest filled with incredible ancient giants such as the almighty rimu. Emerging out of the seemingly endless green rainforest onto a secluded beach, a jetboat will be waiting to whisk us away. If time allows, we’ll head to Martins Bay seal colony to get an up-close view of the New Zealand fur seal in an untouched and hidden environment. It’s the ultimate wildlife experience. Our jetboat will then take us to our wilderness accommodation for the night.

Podocarp forest, Hollyford Track, Fiordland

There are giants lurking in this magnificent podocarp forest. Your Hollyford specialist will introduce you to ancient rimu growing in these parts.

Martins Bay seal colony, Fiordland

These New Zealand fur seals have recovered from the brink of extinction, and are now thriving along New Zealand's coastline.

Tonight’s accommodation is a beautiful wilderness lodge located off the grid. We’ll be greeted by our amazing lodge hosts on arrival. After a hot shower, we’ll enjoy a cheese platter followed by a delicious homecooked meal. This evening we have the Martins Bay Lodge all to ourselves. You’ll have private bedrooms with single-sex shared bathrooms.

Martins Bay Lodge, Hollyford Track

Your accommodation for the night – the brilliant Martins Bay Lodge.

Dinner at Martins Bay Lodge, Hollyford Track

A reward for a day of exploring awaits you at this remote but fully-equipped lodge.

Day 10 – Fiordland National Park Jetboat & the Hollyford Track Jetboat Lake McKerrow & up the Hollyford River

Today we’re up early to seize the day! After a hot breakfast and lots of coffee, we’ll bid farewell to our hosts, board the jetboat and be whisked along Lake McKerrow and up the Hollyford River to the start point of our walk. We’ll set off along the Hollyford Track on our biggest walk of the trip. Regarded by many as New Zealand’s most beautiful wilderness valley, this is the perfect setting for another incredible walking experience. The Hollyford Track is the only major track in Fiordland that is consistently at a low altitude. This World Heritage valley has an unparalleled diversity of vegetation and wildlife from 1,000-year-old giant rimu trees to ancient beech forest, sprawling ferns and crimson southern rata. The hike is 18km (11 miles) and this very well maintained track undulates gently through the native forest. It’s not a race to get to the end, we want to take the time to appreciate our surroundings as we have the full day to complete the hike. After the hike, we’ll head back to Te Anau for hot showers, a three course meal and a full debrief of the adventures had over the past few days.

Giant rimu, Hollyford Track

The Hollyford Track's thriving rainforest is a sight to behold, but these photos can't do the enchanting sounds and fresh forest air any justice.

Hollyford Track guide

Your specialist Hollyford guide is here to help you uncover every secret of this incredible place.

Hollyford Track lush forest

This well-maintained track is the only sign of civilisation, as it meanders through Fiordland's rainforest.

Waterfall along Hollyford Track

Water is in abundance in this region! There are many hidden gems to keep an eye out for as you walk the Hollyford Track.

South Island robin on the Hollyford Track

Wildlife is also abundant here on the Hollyford Track! Both your Hollyford guide and New Zealand Trails Tour Director will familiarise you with our beautiful native birds and their calls.

Our World Heritage Walking Tour

The Fiordland Experience is a trip within a trip! It’s part of our 13-day World Heritage New Zealand Walking Tour, which takes our guests around the South Island of New Zealand in utmost comfort and style. You’ll dine out every night in our favourite restaurants, experience our native wildlife in their natural habitats, tick off several of New Zealand’s Great Walks and explore breathtakingly beautiful UNESCO World Heritage areas. Each day will leave you feeling thrilled and sated in equal measure.

For more information grab your free New Zealand Trails brochure here or get in touch now.