New Zealand's Te Araroa: The South Island

Fiordland to Queen Charlotte Sound

Trip Level

This trip is rated Level 4, Moderate to Strenuous and is for people who enjoy challenging hikes. Trails range from barely discernible routes through thick native bush to steep climbs of extended duration. You will gain an appreciation for the “through hikers” you’ll meet along the trails, who take on the full Te Araroa as a 4-month challenge (we’ll be sampling the most beautiful hikes along the way!). Although you carry only a daypack, there are some steep ascents and descents and many sections that cross rough or rocky trails. Many trails are not “groomed” because they follow the natural contours of the land. We will no doubt experience every conceivable type of weather on this trip, so it's best to be prepared with proper clothing and boots.

For your own enjoyment, we recommend you make a special effort to be in good physical condition for the trip. Daily walking and/or regular hiking (or using a stair-climbing machine at your gym) are excellent preparatory exercises, but you will still need to be sure-footed. You should wear lightweight, well-broken-in hiking boots for maximum comfort on the trail.

One of the highlights of this trip is the chance to enjoy the fresh local food and delightful wines New Zealand is famous for. We’ll be close to the local sources of much of the food we eat and experience a variety of dining experiences, most of which will also be memorable for the location and the company. Most lunches will be either a picnic or packed lunch on the trail. Please note that mountain bikers use these trails as well, and we may be sharing the trail with them.


The weather in New Zealand is notorious for changing throughout the day. Summer temperatures (December to February) on the South Island are generally warm and pleasant with averages in the high 60s and low 70s and minimal rain, though it can get much colder in certain places and in the evenings. Although it is rare, we have even experienced snowfall in the mountains in mid-summer. The pressure systems travel west to east, so the Southern Alps have a noticeable “wet” and “dry” side. The west side gets the greatest amount of rain. Cold and snow are permanent fixtures on the highest peaks. On the east side, temperatures are a bit warmer. Since the weather in New Zealand is often variable, we may occasionally have to wait for it to change in order to participate in our planned activities or possibly change our activities altogether. When packing, be prepared for a wide range of weather scenarios.

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.