New Zealand's Te Araroa: The South Island

Fiordland to Queen Charlotte Sound

Overview

New Zealand’s long-distance hiking trail, the Te Araroa (Maori for “long pathway”), is one of the great walks of the world, connecting the North Island and South Island by way of spectacular parks and reserves as well as charming Kiwi villages and towns. On this journey, we’ve selected the most scenic Te Araroa trails on the South Island, starting in the rugged shores of Fiordland National Park, where the Te Araroa meets the Southern Ocean, and making our way north to the lush coastal forests of Queen Charlotte Sound. The Te Araroa largely follows the spine of the Southern Alps on the South Island, and our hikes bring us along skyline ridges to alpine lakes and through native forests, farmlands, and tussock country, with our days on the trail rewarded at every turn by the natural showcase of New Zealand’s famously diverse landscapes. We’ll stay in comfortable lodges and hotels en route, savor the country’s world-class wine and fresh local cuisine every step of the way, meet fellow “trampers” on this epic trail, and enjoy the warm welcome of Kiwi culture.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-3
Queenstown / Fiordland National Park

We meet in Queenstown and begin our explorations of the Te Araroa trail with a hike on the coastal Foveaux Walkway, right along the edge of the Southern Ocean. Later, we explore the tide pools before climbing up Howell’s Hill to Mores Scenic Reserve, where the views are phenomenal, extending out to Stewart Island, the third largest island in New Zealand, and the vast expanse of the Southern Ocean.

The Lodges Invercargill
Invercargill, New Zealand
Day 1 (1 night)
The Cliffs Seaside Lodge
Papatotara, New Zealand
Days 2 to 3 (2 nights)
Days 4-5
Mavora Lakes Conservation Park / Arrowtown

We hike the mountains, lakes, forests, and tussock grasslands of Mavora Lakes Conservation Park, with its Middle Earth scenery, then visit the historic gold-mining village of Arrowtown and taste some of the famous local pinot noir at a winery.

Millbrook Resort
Queenstown, New Zealand
Days 4 to 5 (2 nights)
Days 6-8
Lake Wanaka / Mototapu Valley

Beginning at Glendhu Bay, we follow the shore of Lake Wanaka and savor sweeping views of the lake at the foot of Mt. Aspiring and the valley. The hike brings us right in the center of Wanaka town, where small shops and cafes line the streets. More hikes bring us above treeline in the Mototapu Valley, the perfect place for vistas across the snow-capped Southern Alps. Returning to Queenstown, we fly to Christchurch and overnight at a historic mineral spring resort surrounded by pristine primary native beech forest and high mountains in the Lewis Pass National Reserve.

Edgewater Hotel
Wanaka, New Zealand
Days 6 to 7 (2 nights)
Maruia Hot Springs Thermal Resort
Maruia Springs, New Zealand
Day 8 (1 night)
Days 9-11
Nelson Lakes National Park / Queen Charlotte Track

We head to Nelson Lakes National Park, named for the 16 lovely alpine lakes cradled high in this beautiful stretch of the rugged Southern Alps. We’ll hike along Lake Rotoiti, where dense beech forest towers over a carpet of mosses and ferns, keeping an eye out for the native forest birds such as the fantail, tomtit, and bush robin. Heading to the beautiful Queen Charlotte Track, one of New Zealand’s finest walking tracks, we’ll hike skyline ridges with incredible views across Marlborough Sounds’ secluded bays, islands, coves, and sheltered waterways.

Alpine Lodge
Saint Arnaud, New Zealand
Day 9 (1 night)
The Portage Hotel
Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand
Day 10 (1 night)
Furneaux Lodge
Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand
Days 11 to 12 (2 nights)
Days 12-14
Te Araroa / Queen Charlotte Track

A shoreline trail brings us through a native forest brimming with birdlife (we should hear wonderful birdsong along the trail). From Ship Cove, we’ll pass through beech forest and across high ridges as we make our way to a lookout point with views of both inner and outer Queen Charlotte Sound. Our last night is at a hotel in the heartland of New Zealand's Marlborough wine region. Depart on Day 14 via Blenheim.

Furneaux Lodge
Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand
Days 11 to 12 (2 nights)
Scenic Hotel Marlborough
Blenheim, New Zealand
Day 13 (1 night)

Highlights

Highlights

Hike breathtaking trails that showcase the best scenery on New Zealand’s South Island
Explore the lush native forests of Queen Charlotte Sound
Revel in the the ethereal “Middle Earth” landscapes of Mavora Lakes
Soak in hot springs, visit historic gold-mining camps
Enjoy Kiwi hospitality and delightful local cuisine

Details

Length: 14 days
Cost From: $8995  
Arrive: Queenstown, New Zealand
Depart: Blenheim, New Zealand
Lodging: 13 nights hotels and lodges
Meals: All meals included except 1 dinner as indicated in the Detailed Itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Wildlife and Natural History, Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level:

Moderate to strenuous hiking, 3-8 hours a day, some sections on wet or rough trails