Hiker's Journey to New Zealand

From North to South Island on the Best Trails of the Te Araroa


The 1,900-mile-long Te Araroa (Maori for “Long Pathway”) traverses the entire length of New Zealand from the very top of NZ’s North Island to the very bottom of the South Island at Bluff. It takes “through-hikers” about three months to fully hike this great route. For our dream journey on the Te Araroa, we’ve selected some of the most fascinating sections of this famous trail on both the South Island and the North Island. Our journey includes serene coastal walks on the lush Queen Charlotte Track with glorious views over the Marlborough Sounds, a hike on the panoramic “Stairway to Heaven” staircases of the Kapiti Coast, and a memorable day on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, the best one-day trek in New Zealand and regarded by some as one of the top ten single-day hikes in the world. In addition to our focus on hikes on the Te Araroa Trail, we’ll spend a morning swimming with dusky dolphins, take a jet-boat ride up the Whanganui River, and reward our efforts with superb cuisine and world-renowned wines. As we explore with our small group (maximum 12), we’ll be immersed in the friendly culture and wild natural diversity of one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-2
Christchurch / Kaikoura / Swim with Dolphins

From Christchurch, we take the scenic Coastal Pacific train to Kaikoura, where we’ll snorkel with playful dusky dolphins or just watch their leaps and backflips. We’ll also hike in the bush-clad hills along the Kaikoura Coast.

Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square
Christchurch, New Zealand
Day 1 (1 night)
Sudima Kaikoura
Kaikoura, New Zealand
Day 2 (1 night)
Days 3-6
Hike the Queen Charlotte Track / Marlborough Sounds

Hike along sheltered coves and across high ridges above the lush Marlborough Sounds, enjoying the richness of New Zealand’s native forests. Water taxis take us from our lodge to our trailheads, and one hike brings us through private farmlands to the beautiful coast at Anakiwa.

Furneaux Lodge
Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand
Days 3 to 4 (2 nights)
The Portage Hotel
Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand
Day 5 (1 night)
Picton Waterfront Apartments
Picton, New Zealand
Day 6 (1 night)
Days 7-9
Wellington / Te Araroa Trail / Whanganui River

We ferry to Wellington to walk the Tea Araroa Trail through the city, then hike the Te Araroa Trail’s spectacular “Stairway to Heaven,” a breathtaking path above the Kapiti Coast. Day 9 finds us in Whanganui National Park jet boating on the pristine Whanganui River to the Bridge to Nowhere, with an option to canoe back to our starting point.

Sofitel Wellington
Wellington, New Zealand
Day 7 (1 night)
Powderhorn Chateau
Ohakune, New Zealand
Days 8 to 9 (2 nights)
Days 10-12
Tongariro Alpine Crossing / Tongariro National Park

A challenging full-day hike known as the Tongariro Alpine Crossing brings us across a volcanic landscape of steaming vents, glacial valleys, vivid crater lakes, and ancient lava flows. Easier hikes are offered for those who don’t want to make the crossing, and the next day we’ll relax with a soak in the warm geothermal waters of Tukuheme Stream. Depart Day 12 via Taupo.

The Reef Resort
Taupo, New Zealand
Days 10 to 11 (2 nights)



Hike the epic volcanic landscape of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Hike spectacular hand-picked sections of the Te Araroa Trail
Experience the lush Queen Charlotte Track in Marlborough Sounds
Climb the Stairway to Heaven for high panoramas over the Kapiti Coast
Jetboat on the Whanganui River, with optional canoeing
Snorkel with dolphins on the Kaikoura Coast
Travel by scenic coastal train and water taxi, taste New Zealand’s best wines


Length: 12 days
Cost From: $8295  
Arrive: Christchurch, New Zealand
Depart: Taupo, New Zealand
Lodging: 11 nights hotels and lodges
Meals: All meals included except 2 dinners as indicated in the Detailed Itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Walking, Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level:

Strenuous hiking, 2-8 hours a day on hiking days, some steep ascents and descents, many sections that cross rough or rocky trails.