New Zealand's Te Araroa: The South Island

Spectacular Hikes and Vistas from Fiordland National Park to Queen Charlotte Sound with Jon Imhoof


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. For our new WT Expedition, 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
Fiordland National Park

We meet in Queenstown head down to Fiordland to explore the wild terrain. We’ll hike 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. We set out on the southernmost section of the Te Araroa trail with a hike on the Foveaux Walkway along the coast, right along the edge 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 4-7
Southern Alps / Queenstown / Wanaka

We’ll hike the mountains, lakes, forests, and tussock grasslands of Mavora Lakes Conservation Park, with its Middle Earth scenery. Visit the historic gold-mining village of Arrowtown, taste some of the famous local pinot noir at a winery, and head out for Te Araroa hikes above treeline in the Mototapu Valley, the perfect place for vistas across the snow-capped Southern Alps.

Millbrook Resort
Queenstown, New Zealand
Days 4 to 5 (2 nights)
Edgewater Hotel
Wanaka, New Zealand
Days 6 to 7 (2 nights)
Days 8-10
Nelson Lakes National Park

After a quick flight to Christchurch, we explore 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.

Maruia Hot Springs Thermal Resort
Maruia Springs, New Zealand
Day 8 (1 night)
Alpine Lodge
Saint Arnaud, New Zealand
Day 9 (1 night)
The Portage Hotel
Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand
Day 10 (1 night)
Days 11-14
Queen Charlotte Track / Marlborough Wine Country / Blenheim

We head to the beautiful Queen Charlotte Track, one of New Zealand’s finest walking tracks. Here we’ll hike skyline ridges with incredible views across Marlborough Sounds’ secluded bays, islands, coves, and sheltered waterways. This area is a fine introduction to the richness of New Zealand’s lush native forest. Our lodge, built at the turn of the century, is accessible only by boat. Depart via Blenheim on Day 14.

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



Hike breathtaking trails that showcase the best scenery on New Zealand's South Island
Walk the marine reserves of Fiordland National Park
Enjoy the ethereal "Middle Earth" landscapes of Mavora Lakes
Soak in hot springs, visit historic gold-mining camps
Explore the lush native forests of Queen Charlotte Sound
Sample the famed wines of Marlborough Sounds
Enjoy Kiwi hospitality and delightful local cuisine


Length: 14 days
Cost From: $8295  
Arrive: Queenstown, New Zealand
Depart: Blenheim, New Zealand
Lodging: 13 nights hotels and lodges
Meals: All meals included except 2 dinners as indicated in the Detailed Itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Wildlife & Natural History, Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level:

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