Active Adventures |  Manuka -  Milford Hiking Adventure

Christchurch to ChristchurchIt has a strong focus on New Zealand’s natural history. Our guides have plenty of time to interpret the flora and fauna and explain the geological and social history of the areas you’ll visit. You also have the choice of a selection of the best day hikes Fiordland National Park has to offer, along with an overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound, or hiking the famous Milford Track in its entirety.The ‘Manuka’ really is hiking New Zealand in style!

  • Highlights

    Choice of multi-day options...
    Active Great Walks Discovery (Routeburn, Milford, and Kepler Track day hikes, plus Milford Sound cruise and overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound)
    OR Milford Track Guided Walk

    Hike
    West Coast beaches and rainforests
    Mt Aspiring National Park
    Castle Hill
    Paparoa National Park
    Rocky Mountain
    Fox Glacier
    Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

    Plus...
    Explore Queenstown

  • What's Included

    All accommodations
    A range of hotels, lodges, chalets, inns and overnight boat cruises.The only tour company to overnight at the Milford Lodge in Milford Sound!

    All activities
    If you're passionate about hiking, this is your trip. And when you're not hiking, you'll be sampling fine NZ wine, or enjoying a different view, from a boat cruise or gondola.

    All guiding services
    Two experienced New Zealand guides per trip. Having two guides allows for much greater flexibility, meaning you're able to go at your own pace.

    All meals
    Breakfast, lunch and dinner on all days, except where indicated on the itinerary (usually 1 day per trip is a free day, allowing you to choose your own dining location).

    All transport
    Airport transfers on the first & last days.
    When you're not travelling under your own steam, there will be comfortable air-conditioned vans to stretch your legs.

  • Pricing

      • Start Date
      • Price
      • Availability
      • Start Date:26 Oct 20
      • Price:$7,999
      • Availability:Open
      • Enquire
      • Start Date:9 Nov 20
      • Price:$7,999
      • Availability:Open
      • Enquire
      • Start Date:23 Nov 20
      • Price:$7,999
      • Availability:Filling up
      • Enquire
      • Start Date:7 Dec 20
      • Price:$7,999
      • Availability:Filling up
      • Enquire
      • Start Date:21 Dec 20
      • Price:$7,999
      • Availability:Almost full
      • Enquire
      • Start Date:4 Jan 21
      • Price:$7,999
      • Availability:Open
      • Enquire
      • Start Date:18 Jan 21
      • Price:$7,999
      • Availability:Open
      • Enquire
      • Start Date:25 Jan 21
      • Price:$7,999
      • Availability:Open
      • Enquire
      • Start Date:15 Feb 21
      • Price:$7,999
      • Availability:Almost full
      • Enquire
      • Start Date:1 Mar 21
      • Price:$7,999
      • Availability:Filling up
      • Enquire
      • Start Date:15 Mar 21
      • Price:$7,999
      • Availability:Filling up
      • Enquire
      • Start Date:25 Oct 21
      • Price:$7,999
      • Availability:Open
      • Enquire
      • Start Date:8 Nov 21
      • Price:$7,999
      • Availability:Open
      • Enquire
      • Start Date:22 Nov 21
      • Price:$7,999
      • Availability:Open
      • Enquire
      • Start Date:6 Dec 21
      • Price:$7,999
      • Availability:Open
      • Enquire
      • Start Date:20 Dec 21
      • Price:$7,999
      • Availability:Open
      • Enquire
      • Start Date:3 Jan 22
      • Price:$7,999
      • Availability:Open
      • Enquire
      • Start Date:17 Jan 22
      • Price:$7,999
      • Availability:Open
      • Enquire
      • Start Date:24 Jan 22
      • Price:$7,999
      • Availability:Open
      • Enquire
      • Start Date:31 Jan 22
      • Price:$7,999
      • Availability:Open
      • Enquire
      • Start Date:14 Feb 22
      • Price:$7,999
      • Availability:Open
      • Enquire
      • Start Date:28 Feb 22
      • Price:$7,999
      • Availability:Open
      • Enquire
      • Start Date:14 Mar 22
      • Price:$7,999
      • Availability:Open
      • Enquire
    Please note: while prices are accurate at time of loading they are subject to change due to currency fluctuations and currency surcharges may apply. Please check price at time of booking
  • Itinerary

    DAY 1 - ARRIVE, HIKE CASTLE HILL

    Most people leave the Northern Hemisphere on a Saturday evening, arriving into Auckland early Monday morning. You’ll lose a day crossing the dateline – but you get it back on the way home! It’s a short flight from Auckland to Christchurch in the South Island where we’ll meet you. We’ll then head west to Kuru Tawhiti Conservation Area in the heart of the Southern Alps. We’ll take a gentle one-hour walk among the imposing limestone tors of Castle Hill, which were once a meeting place for moa hunters of the Ngai Tahu tribe. The Dalai Lama visited this area and described it as a ‘spiritual centre of the universe’. This afternoon, we’ll continue on to the West Coast and the seaside village of Punakaiki, where you’ll have the rest of the afternoon to relax or walk along the beach. Depending on where you’re coming from, you’ll probably find jetlag is no big deal – for instance, it’s a 12 to 13 hour direct overnight flight from Los Angeles to Auckland, and there’s only a 3 hour time difference between New Zealand and US Pacific time. If you’re coming from further afield, you’ll appreciate the gentle start to your New Zealand adventure.West Coast lodgings, Punakaiki (Lunch, Dinner)Hiking Distance: 1 kilometre (0.6 mile), 0.5-1 hourElevation Gain: 20 metres (65 feet)Elevation Loss: 20 metres (65 feet)

     

    DAY 2 - RAINFOREST AND BEACH HIKES IN PUNAKAIKI

    We’ll spend most of today hiking the Inland Pack Track through temperate rainforest and limestone canyons in the footsteps of the gold miners who established this trail over a century ago. We’ll also follow the Truman Track to a rocky cove and check out the famous Pancake Rocks and blowholes – aptly named limestone formations that have been sculpted through relentless pounding by the Tasman Sea. The Punakaiki coastline is a magnet to marine wildlife, including little blue penguins and Hector’s dolphin (the world’s smallest) that can sometimes be seen close to shore.West Coast lodgings, Punakaiki (All meals)Hiking Distance: 6 kilometres (4 miles), 2-3 hoursElevation Gain: 130 metres (425 feet)Elevation Loss: 130 metres (425 feet)

     

    DAY 3 - HIKE POINT ELIZABETH, VISIT HOKITIKA AND HIKE OKARITO WALKWAY

    We’ll travel down the coast to hike the Point Elizabeth track through native coastal forest and flax. The fibres of the flax plant are a traditional resource for Maori, used for weaving a variety of baskets, mats and clothing. Then it’s on to Hokitika where we’ll stretch our legs and check out local art galleries and pounamu-carving workshops (pounamu is Maori for jade). We’ll continue south and stop off in Okarito, a little-known beach community on the coast, for a relaxing hike through lush coastal forest or along the black sand beach. We’ll then carry on down the windswept coast to Franz Josef. Nestled in the rainforest-clad foothills of the Southern Alps, Franz Josef is the heart of New Zealand glacier country. After dark, we can head out to look for the eerie lights of Arachnocampa luminosa – the native glowworm – and listen for some of New Zealand’s nocturnal birdlife such as the distinctive hoot of the morepork owl.Rainforest Retreat, Franz Josef (All meals)Hiking Distance: 4.2 kilometres (2.6 miles), 1-2 hoursElevation Gain: 120 metres (394 feet)Elevation Loss: 120 metres (394 feet)

     

    DAY 4 - HIKE TO FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER

    With some 140 glaciers making their way down from the Southern Alps, this area is fittingly known as glacier country. Few sights equal the spectacle of this giant frozen river (Franz Josef Glacier) imperceptibly grinding its way down through temperate rainforest to just 250 metres (820 feet) above sea level. We’ll take a morning walk to the historic Tartare Tunnels, and then continue on to Franz Josef Glacier where we’ll walk to an incredible view of the terminal face. Optional Heli-hike (extra fee applies)A less strenuous, but outrageously scenic alternative to today’s hike is to heli-hike on Franz Josef Glacier itself. After being fitted with crampons, ice axes and so on, you’ll board a turbine helicopter and fly towards the highest peaks of the Southern Alps, landing on the glacier at 1300 metres (4265 feet) above sea level. Led by specialist glacier guides, you’ll hike through the grand ice formations of the glacier, checking out its crevasses, seracs and tunnels – no previous experience is required! The constant movement of the glacier means every day is different, so your guides will cut steps in the ice to make the most of the conditions. At the end of your hike on the ice, you’ll take another helicopter ride out of the mountains and back to civilisation.The heli-hike is extremely popular, so we offer advance reservations with the helicopter operators and guiding company. At the time of booking, or up until one month before your trip, we can reserve a space for you, or you can leave your decision until the start of your trip and your guides will get you a spot if it’s available.From Franz Josef, we’ll travel down the coast through lush rainforest and inland to Makarora, a small village bordering Mt Aspiring National Park, with incredible views of the snow-capped mountains.Makarora Lodgings, Makarora (All meals) Tatare Tunnels Hiking Distance: 3.5 kilometres (2.2 miles), 1-2 hoursElevation Gain: 120 metres (395 feet)Elevation Loss: 120 metres (395 feet)Franz Josef Glacier Terminal Face Hiking Distance: 4.8 kilometres (3 miles), 2-3 hoursElevation Gain: 20 metres (65 feet)Elevation Loss: 20 metres (65 feet)ORHeli-Hike on Franz Josef Glacier: 3 hour excursion

     

    DAY 5 - HIKE ROCKY MOUNTAIN, EXPLORE WANAKA

    This morning we’ll hike the Rocky Mountain track, a spectacular circuit through an area carved out by ice-age glaciers, with stands of native forest and shrub land. We’ll enjoy lunch after our hike in Wanaka, then it’s a short but dramatic drive over the Cardrona Saddle to Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, our base for the next couple of nights. You’ll have time to explore and plan your free day tomorrow before dinner. You’ll sleep sweetly at this lakefront hotel located in the heart of Queenstown.Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (Breakfast, Lunch)Hiking Distance: 7 kilometres (4.5 miles), 2-3 hoursElevation Gain: 375 metres (1,230 feet)Elevation Loss: 375 metres (1,230 feet)ORAlternative Loop Hiking Distance: 2.5 kilometres (1.5 miles), 1 hour

     

    DAY 6 - FREE DAY IN QUEENSTOWN

    Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand (if not the world!) and all the comforts of civilisation are packed into this tiny resort town: restaurants galore, stylish lounge bars, day spas, and boutiques. You’ll also find incredible optional activities here including horse trekking, fishing, winery tours, an historic steamship, bungy jumping, jet boating and skydiving as well as some great hiking opportunities. Or you can just soak up the atmosphere at one of many local cafés. Your guides will happily share their favourite haunts and point you in the right direction for your free day today. This afternoon, there’s a pre-departure briefing for the Milford Track Guided Walk if you’ve chosen that option.Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (No meals included)

     

    DAYS 7 TO 11 - OPTION A, ACTIVE GREAT WALKS DISCOVERY (TAKAHE)

    Day 7 (continued) — Overnight cruise in Doubtful SoundVariety is the spice of life and that’s exactly what this option is all about - hike three of New Zealand’s Great Walks and take an overnight cruise, all in five days - it’s unheard of! We kick things off with a relaxed breakfast, and a drive to the lakeside town of Manapouri, where our journey into Doubtful Sound begins. We’ll board a boat for the cruise across Lake Manapouri, before a drive over Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove where we’ll board the Fiordland Navigator for our overnight cruise. Doubtful Sound is a large and remote wilderness area, where you’ll have the opportunity to take a kayak out on the water or hop aboard the tender craft for a guided exploration of the fiord, and in the right season you may catch a glimpse of the rare Fiordland crested penguin. Tonight, you’ll sleep in a quad share room aboard the Fiordland Navigator, though there is the option to upgrade to a private ensuite room, if you prefer.Fiordland Navigator, Doubtful Sound (All meals)Day 8 - Cruise in Doubtful Sound, hike Routeburn TrackAfter our cruise ends we’ll hike part of the Routeburn Track, the first of the Great Walks you’ll experience. We hike through beech forest, sub-alpine shrub land and picturesque alpine tarns, before reaching Key Summit. Here you’ll be standing at the head of three different valleys (the Hollyford, Eglinton and Greenstone), with stunning views over the Great Divide, which separates west and east flowing rivers. We’ll take a short drive through the Homer Tunnel and emerge at the top of a spectacular glacier-carved valley for a memorable descent to the shore of Milford Sound (actually it’s a fiord!) Rudyard Kipling rated Milford the eighth natural wonder of the world and it’s truly breath-taking, with steep granite walls plunging over a thousand metres to the Tasman Sea and waterfalls cascading into deep inky water.Milford Lodge Chalets, Milford Sound (All meals)Hiking Distance: 3.4 kilometres (2 miles), 3-4 hoursElevation Gain: 380 metres (1,246 feet)Elevation Loss: 380 metres (1,246 feet)Day 9 - Hike Milford Track, cruise Milford SoundIt’s worth getting up early to take a photo of Mitre Peak, quite possibly the most photographed mountain in New Zealand, but your challenge is to find a unique angle! After breakfast, we’ll take a short boat ride across Milford Sound to hike from Sandfly Point to the Giant Gates waterfall, a spectacular section of the famed Milford Track. The forest here is lush and rich with mosses and ferns as we follow the Arthur River past Lake Ada. By hiking from the Milford Sound trailhead, we’ll enjoy the track to ourselves, which is a luxury others seldom get. Once we return to the Milford wharf, we’ll board a boat for a two hour nature cruise to the head of this spectacular fiord. We’ll then leave Milford Sound behind to hike some lesser-known tracks in eastern Fiordland before returning to Te Anau.Te Anau Lodgings, Te Anau (All meals)Hiking Distance: 10 kilometres (6 miles), 3-4 hoursElevation Gain: 300 metres (985 feet)Elevation Loss: 300 metres (985 feet)Day 10 - Takahe Bird Park, hike Kepler TrackThis morning we’re heading for a Department of Conservation birdlife park in Te Anau. The centre takes care of injured or ageing birds which would struggle to survive in the wild - it’s a great opportunity to see some of our rarest birds up close, so don’t forget your camera! Afterwards we’ll tick off our third Great Walk in three days - the Kepler Track. Interestingly, the Kepler Track differs from the Routeburn and Milford Tracks in that it didn’t actually evolve from a necessary Maori greenstone trail, but was custom-built for hiking. The section we’ll hike today passes over the control gates at the outlet of Lake Te Anau and meanders through ancient beech and podocarp forest.Matai Lodge, Te Anau (All meals)Hiking Distance: 9.5 kilometres (6 miles), 2-3 hoursElevation Gain: 50 metres (165 feet)Elevation Loss: 50 metres (165 feet)Day 11 - Gondola ride, hike Ben LomondToday we’ll drive back along the shores of Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown, and take a ride on the gondola to the top of a tree-covered rocky crag, known as Bob’s Peak, to start our alpine hike. We pass through open alpine tussock-land to the Ben Lomond saddle and will be rewarded with panoramic views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by the often snow-covered Southern Alps. For those keen to press on to the top, Ben Lomond’s summit reveals views of Mt Earnslaw and Mt Aspiring, two of New Zealand’s highest peaks, and even a glimpse of Aoraki/Mt Cook on a clear day. Tonight we’ll dine out in Queenstown at one of the many excellent restaurants.Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (All meals)Ben Lomond Hiking Distance (Full): 13 kilometres (8 miles), 6-7 hoursElevation Gain: 1,450 metres (4,755 feet)Elevation Loss: 1,450 metres (4,755 feet)ORBen Lomond Hiking Distance (From the gondola): 8 kilometres (5 miles), 4-5 hoursElevation Gain: 978 metres (3,208 feet)Elevation Loss: 978 metres (3,208 feet)

     

    DAY 12 - HIKE SAM SUMMERS TRACK, VISIT LOCAL WINERY

    After breakfast, we head out round Lake Wakatipu to the Mt Crichton Scenic Reserve, where we’ll hike the Sam Summers Track. This area was mined for gold until the 1930s and there are still many relics to be seen along the way. After hiking, we’ll continue on to a local winery. This region’s dry and sunny climate is ideal for grape growing and is becoming well known for producing world-class pinot noir and other quality wines. We’ll enjoy a glass or two and then head to Lake Ohau Lodge. Here we’re staying beside a beautiful alpine lake, with stunning views stretching across to Aoraki/Mt Cook and the Southern Alps - an ideal spot to soak in the hot tub!Lake Ohau Lodge, Lake Ohau (All meals)Hiking Distance: 7.4 kilometres (4.6 miles), 3-4 hoursElevation Gain: 355 metres (1,165 feet)Elevation Loss: 355 metres (1,165 feet)

     

    DAY 7, 8, 9, 10 AND 11 - MULTI-DAY OPTIONS

     

    DAYS 7 TO 11 - OPTION B, MILFORD TRACK GUIDED WALK (EXTRA FEE APPLIES)

    Day 7 (continued) - Boat ride and hike Milford TrackThe 5-day/4-night Milford Track is one of the first-established and best-known walking tracks in the country. It takes in glacial peaks, a mountain pass, New Zealand’s highest waterfall and the dense rainforest of Fiordland. You’ll have four days of exercise, good food and great scenery as you walk 53 kilometres (33 miles) from Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound. Because you’re doing the guided walk, you’ll just be carrying a few essentials and a packed lunch each day, so your pack won’t be much heavier than what you’d bring on a regular day hike. Everything else is provided, including excellent meals at the lodges and on the trail, hot showers, bedding, specialist Milford Track guides, and even hairdryers in the rooms! For the first three nights, you’ll stay in comfortable mountain lodges, in four and six-bed bunk rooms with shared bathroom facilities. If you prefer your own bedroom and bathroom, contact us for the latest private room rates. On the fourth night, you’ll stay at Mitre Peak Lodge, a hotel exclusively for Milford Track Guided Walk hikers. From Queenstown, we’ll head to Lake Te Anau, stopping for lunch along the way. We take a boat to the head of the lake to the start of the Milford Track. It’s a short, easy walk to Glade House, where we stay our first night.Glade House, Milford Track (All meals)Hiking Distance: 1.6 kilometres (1 mile), 0.5-1 hourElevation Gain: 5 metres (16 feet)Day 8 - Hike in beech forestWe start the day by crossing Clinton River and hiking through lush beech forest to Hirere Falls, where we’ll have lunch. After crossing the prairie, the track gets a little steeper as we climb up to Pompolona Lodge. Today’s highlights include spectacular flora and stunning views up the ice-carved Clinton Canyon toward McKinnon Pass.Pompolona Lodge, Milford Track (All meals)Hiking Distance: 16 kilometres (10 miles), 5-7 hoursElevation Gain: 200 metres (665 feet)Day 9 - Hike McKinnon PassToday is the most spectacular day of the Milford Track! We climb a series of switchbacks to cross McKinnon Pass and from the top, the views of Arthur Valley and the surrounding peaks are just magnificent. We’ll lunch at Pass Hut, then head down to Quintin Lodge. After some refreshments, a 90-minute round trip hike will lead us to Sutherland Falls, the fifth highest waterfall in the world.Quintin Lodge, Milford Track (All meals)Hiking Distance: 16 kilometres (9 miles), 6-8 hoursElevation Gain: 700 metres (2,295 feet)Elevation Loss: 860 metres (2,820 feet)Day 10 - Hike to Milford SoundThis is your last day on the Milford Track. It’s 21 kilometres (13 miles) of varied terrain, slightly downhill, with no significant climbs. The small waterfalls to be found alongside the track make for a delightful hike today. At the trailhead at Sandfly Point, you’ll be picked up for a short cruise across Milford Sound to the marina, and arrive at Mitre Peak Lodge for a night. We’ll be staying at the only hotel in the area (Milford Track hikers have exclusive use of it), and with the memories of the last few days you’ll almost regret being back near civilisation!Mitre Peak Lodge, Milford Sound (All meals)Hiking Distance: 20 kilometres (13 miles), 6-8 hoursElevation Gain: 220 metres (720 feet)Elevation Loss: 220 metres (720 feet)Day 11 - Cruise Milford SoundThis morning, we’ll enjoy a cruise to explore the full length of Milford Sound and the ship’s captain will nose the boat right up to some magnificent waterfalls that plunge into the fiord. Keep your eyes open for native New Zealand fur seals relaxing on the rocks and the chance to spot dolphins swimming alongside us. An option when you return to Milford Sound village is to take a stunning scenic helicopter flight, which will have you back in Queenstown for a free afternoon to enjoy (scenic helicopter flight option approx. US$650 per person).  The rest will take the scenic journey back to Queenstown via Te Anau and this evening we’ll meet up with those who chose the Active Great Walks Discovery to catch up on our Fiordland experiences over dinner.Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (All meals)

     

    DAY 13 - HIKE AORAKI MT COOK NATIONAL PARK

    A short distance away is Mt Cook, named Aoraki or ‘cloud piercer’ by South Island Maori, the highest mountain in New Zealand. Directly opposite Aoraki/Mt Cook, we have a stunning day hike to the main ridge above Mueller Glacier. This area has a unique alpine environment and includes endemic flora such as the Mt Cook lily (Ranunculus lyallii), the world’s largest buttercup. Many of our clients have said this is the best hike they’ve ever done and it’s a fine way to finish off a great trip. It’s a bit of a hike, but you’ll remember the view of the glacier and the surrounding peaks forever! The weather conditions are very important in this area, as it’s a true alpine climate notorious for sudden weather shifts. If we aren’t able to do the Mueller Glacier hike, or you’d like to take it a little easier, there’s an impressive hike up to a glacial lake (complete with icebergs!) at the base of the Hooker Glacier. After hiking, we’ll relax at our lodge nestled right in the heart of Aoraki Mt Cook National Park.Mt Cook Lodgings, Aoraki/Mt Cook Village (All meals)Mueller Ridge Hiking Distance: 7.2 kilometres (4.4 miles), 5-6 hoursElevation Gain: 975 metres (3,200 feet)Elevation Loss: 975 metres (3,200 feet)ORHooker Valley Hiking Distance: 9 kilometres (5.6 miles), 3-4 hoursElevation Gain: 100 metres (328 feet)Elevation Loss: 100 metres (328 feet)

     

    DAY 14 - DEPART FOR HOME

    This is the last day of your ‘Manuka’ trip and we’ll leave you refreshed and invigorated from the good food, exercise, rest, and great times you’ll have had with us in New Zealand! For a great way to see the North Island too, where you’ll see Maori culture, pristine beaches and geothermal areas, combine this trip with our 11-day ‘Kauri’ (5-day ‘Kauri’ options available).(Breakfast, Lunch)

 

HLO Ref# 15311