Hiking New Zealand: New Zealand Uncut: 13 days
Up to 4-5 hours of physical activity per day
At times carrying a backpack of 4-5kgs (8-10 lbs)
Tracks generally in good condition
Altitude gains of up to 600m (2000ft) on harder days
No hiking experience necessary
*The full (optional) Tongariro Alpine Crossing on day 4 takes 6-8 hours and has an altitude gain of 750m
Guides & Safety
An excellent guide can make the difference between a trip of a lifetime and just an ordinary trip. That is why we work hard to make sure we hire the best guides. Our handpicked professionals come from a range of backgrounds. Each has extensive outdoor and hiking experience and a passion for New Zealand’s wild and beautiful backcountry. Our guides will ensure that your time with us is truly inspiring, a huge amount of fun and safe. All guides are trained in Mountain Safety First Aid. Please be gentle with your guide - good guides are hard to find!
What to take
New Zealand’s weather is changeable and we can experience extremely cold weather at any time of year, especially in the mountains. Our huts/camps vary in altitude from sea level to over 1000 metres. It is necessary to have warm clothing. Jeans are not suitable for hiking.
Hiking New Zealand highly recommend Macpac clothing and equipment.
• hiking boots or shoes
• day pack
• waterproof raincoat (gore-tex or similar)
• warm fleece/wool jersey (not cotton)
• shorts for hiking (or lightweight hiking trousers)
• polypro/thermals – top & bottom
• long sleeve shirt (for sun protection)
• pairs of socks
• warm hat
• sun hat, sunscreen and sunglasses
• drink bottle (1 litre)
• spare shoes or sandals
• insect repellent
• dry bag for clothes/valuables
• casual clothing for travel and evenings
• gloves/mittens (not required Dec to Mar)
Optional items: (but highly recommended)
walking poles, camera, rain trousers.
first aid kit, drinking water, safety equipment and maps.
We allow space for 120 litres per person (one large pack plus one day pack). For the flight between Wellington and Picton the weight of your baggage must not exceed 20kgs. You may be required to forward excess luggage if you exceed this. Any gear you do not need while hiking can be locked in the vehicle. Hiking New Zealand accepts no responsibility for security of your luggage. We highly recommend travel insurance.
We can offer quality hiking equipment for use on your tour at no additional charge. We are able to supply fleece jacket, thermal top and bottom, raincoat and walking poles. Requests for equipment must be made at least 5 days before the departure date.
You will travel in a 10 or 12 seat minibus towing a trailer with food, equipment and your luggage. All vehicles carry a library box with a range of natural history reference books. The average driving time per day is around 2-3 hours and there will be a range of roads - sealed and unsealed. The guide will often stop the vehicle for you to take photos.
Almost all of the meals are included on this tour, but when staying in the cities we let you do your own thing and try some of the excellent local restaurants (see “Additional Costs” section). Breakfast is usually (but not always) continental-style in the lodges and hotels. There are plenty of opportunities to graze the local cafes if you would prefer to explore in the morning. The lunches we prepare ourselves are often ‘on the run’ in picnic areas or on trails. Our guides usually set out lunch food for you and you simply help yourself. We provide healthy and wholesome food and include a lot of fresh produce. It is part of our philosophy to get everyone involved so there is a pretty good chance you may find yourself wielding a sharp knife or pushing the tea trolley around at lunchtime. Our customised trailers have a fold down table and cooking area that is perfect for preparing picnics at all those secret places we will take you. Included dinners are frequently in lodge restaurants (either set menu or a la carte), or in a restaurant in the town but occasionally somewhere out of the ordinary!
The New Zealand Uncut tour uses a range of hotels and quality lodges chosen for their good standards and wonderful locations. All rooms have ensuite bathrooms. Some lodges have units with two bedrooms per unit. Rooms are twin share or doubles. If you are travelling on your own you will be given a twin share room with a fellow traveller of the same gender. Single supplements are available on this tour.
The New Zealand Uncut tour has been created for those that appreciate a high standard of accommodation after a good day of hiking.
Does it matter if I am travelling alone?
Most of the people on our tours are travelling alone. The tours are strong on group activities and participation which effortlessly results in everyone getting to each other pretty well and pretty quickly - some becoming lifelong friends after travelling on our trips.
Can I do just the North or South Island component?
Yes. The price for the North Island only is NZ$2895 and the South Island only is NZ$4695
I am travelling and have a lot of stuff that I will not need on the tour, what should I do with it?
You can store it at your accommodation if you plan on returning to the area. Or, you can travel with it on tour. We allow a maximum space of 120 litres per person (1 large suitcase plus a daypack).
I have dietary requirements, is that a problem?
Not at all. We often have a variety of dietary requirements and as long as you let us know at the time of booking we should be able to cater for this.
What is the weather going to be like?
New Zealand experiences very changeable weather - especially in the remote mountainous regions where we spend most of our time. Some days we can be broiling in 30 degrees and then the next day we could be freezing in a cool southerly from the sub Antarctic. It is best to be prepared for the worst conditions we are likely to expect - see the 'What To Take' section. We may get some rain on the trip so a good waterproof raincoat is important.
Will I be fit enough?
Our tours are graded B, C or D. Read the section 'Hiking and Fitness' and choose a trip to suit you. If you are concerned about your fitness get out there and do day hikes in the weeks prior to your tour departure.
Who is in my group?
A small group (maximum 11 people), with a range of ages, nationalities and work backgrounds. We have hosted guests from 17 to 72. On average, half are women and half are men. Everyone shares an enthusiasm for outdoor adventure and an appreciation of nature.
How far in advance do I need to book?
The sooner the better for tours departing in the peak season (November to April). We get many advance bookings so it is important to book early to avoid disappointment. Availability for our trips is updated regularly on our departure dates page.
What type of gear should I buy?
If you intend to do a lot of hiking then it is worth buying quality equipment - good leather hiking boots and hiking clothing. If you think you might not do any more hiking after the tour then you could buy cheaper alternatives - just remember that it won't last as long nor do the job as well.
What if I can't keep up with the rest of the group?
We hike together as a group, stopping often for snacks and a good lunch. Some activities are optional if you feel like having some time out.
Can I charge my camera/phone/laptop, etc. while on tour?
Yes. Most places we stay have electricity so you will be able to recharge batteries. If you have a vehicle adapter, bring it along as there may be an opportunity to charge items while we are driving.
Can I do laundry on tour?
Yes, most places we stay have laundry facilities. We recommend bringing items that are quick drying and plenty of spare pairs of socks and underwear.
What can we do in Queenstown?
Queenstown is a beautiful town tucked under the mountains and beside the crystal clear Lake Wakatipu. There are a huge number of adventure activities on offer here. You might like to take a thrilling jet boat ride, face your fears on the highest bungy in New Zealand, or paddle peacefully down a river on an inflatable ‘funyak’.
Many of New Zealand’s famous Great Walks start within reach of Queenstown. The dramatic Hollyford Track in the heart of Fiordland National Park is a wonderful guided walk option. The unforgettable Milford Sound is a half-day drive from Queenstown. Steep cliffs and dense rainforest border this spectacular fiord that can be explored by boat. Whatever your preference, we can help you with any post-trip activities that you might like to add on to your New Zealand adventure.
Auckland – Rotorua - 1-2km/2 hours hiking
Meet your North Island guide and the rest of the group in the Heritage Hotel foyer at 7am before driving south through the classic patchwork green farming country alongside the Waikato River. Arriving at the Waitomo Caves area descend into the vaulted galleries of the Ruakuri Cave with its limestone formations and crystals. Be captivated by the thousands of tiny glowworms that cling to the cave ceiling and mimic a starlit night sky. Later we emerge into the sunshine and wander on a loop trail through an outstanding limestone canyon. We arrive in the volcanically active area of Rotorua late afternoon. Rotorua is also the centre of Maori cultural tourism in New Zealand and tonight we enjoy an evening meal and cultural performance. Distinction Hotel, Rotorua (Lunch, Dinner)
Rotorua – Lake Taupo - 8km/5 hours hiking
Hike alongside the beautifully clear Lake Tarawera, enjoying the shade that towering tree ferns and ignimbrite cliffs offer. Plop into the water to cool off at any one of the tiny pumice beaches as you wait for the others to catch up. There are astonishing views all along this trail, giving glimpses of how expansive this massive wilderness of forest, lakes and volcanoes really is. In the afternoon we explore some of the amazing thermal areas located a little south of Rotorua. Wander along boardwalks that connect pools of bubbling mud, mineral-tainted hot pools and plumes of rising steam as you wonder at this unique area. Grab a cuppa before we drive toward the lakeside town of Taupo. At Huka Falls feel the power as the huge Waikato River gets pinched through a narrow rock corridor. Our accommodation is in Taupo. Relax with a drink and enjoy the views. Beechtree Suites, Taupo (Note: January 26th departure is accommodated at Millenium Hotel, Lake Taupo) (All meals)
Tongariro - 8km/2-4 hours hiking
We drive around Lake Taupo’s shores to New Zealand’s first national park – Tongariro. Take a leisurely morning walk through stunning forest around the slopes of Mt Pihanga and to the mystical Lake Rotopounamu (Lake of Greenstone). The next two nights are spent in a lodge on the edge of the park, providing a great opportunity for you to explore the area at your leisure. Join the guide this afternoon for a great walk to Taranaki Falls, cascading 20 metres over a 15,000 year-old lava flow. Enjoy dinner with the group in the comfort of the lodge. Skotel, Tongariro National Park (All meals)
Tongariro - 23km/6-8 hours hiking
Join the guide today for a full days walking on the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing, regarded as one of the best day walks in the world. The track is extremely well built and even a novice hiker will enjoy the gradual ascent up to the top of Mt Tongariro. Your guide will set a pace that lets you stop and admire the views of the Red Crater, Emerald Lakes and steaming vents that make this hike so iconic. It will all be worth it when you celebrate at dinner with a bottle of fine New Zealand wine. Those who prefer a more restful day can find plenty to do at the village: Soda Springs walk, Taranaki Falls walk, or simply drink coffee and view the great exhibits at the Park Visitor Centre. Enjoy your second night in this alpine village. Skotel, Tongariro National Park (All meals)
Tongariro - Wellington
Rest your legs this morning as we drive south through rolling hill country to the capital city of Wellington. The rest of the afternoon is yours, so take your time as you stroll along the fabulous waterfront and through the busy streets of this buzzing wee city. Absorb some of New Zealand’s history in the national museum - Te Papa, explore the waterfront or simply get lost admiring the heritage houses along one of the many improbably steep streets. Nowhere is very far in Wellington. You are spoilt for choice for places to dine this evening, so take your pick. Distinction Hotel, Wellington (Breakfast, Lunch)
Wellington - Abel Tasman National Park - 11.7km/4 hours hiking
Before boarding your plane grab a fast breakfast at one of the groovy airport cafes. Enjoy your scenic flight over Cook Straight as you hop from the North to the South Island. Your southern guide will meet you at the Nelson airport before your picturesque drive to Kaiteriteri. This seaside village is the gateway to the popular Abel Tasman National Park, and a trendy vacation spot for kiwis. Board a water taxi for a jaunt into the heart of the National Park. Step ashore at Anchorage and follow the famed Abel Tasman coastal track through native forests and along golden sand beaches. The lovely clear fresh waters of Cleopatra's Pool may tempt you to take a dip or for those more daring a slide down the naturally formed hydro-slide! After passing through Torrent Bay a well-formed trail leads us up and over a gentle ridge into Bark Bay where we will meet the water taxi for a return journey to Kaiteriteri. On our return to Nelson there is time to freshen up before strolling downtown for dinner, the town centre is well known for its vibrant and arty atmosphere. Rutherford Hotel, Nelson (Lunch, Dinner)
Nelson - Punakaiki - 6km/3 hours hiking
On the way to the West Coast we stop for a remarkable hike to marvel at natural flames which have been burning since the 1920's. We access this phenomena with a local guide over a privately owned working deer farm. Unlike the Eternal Flames of the Chimera in Turkey these flames are surrounded by lush tree ferns and beech forest. A cup of 'billy tea' and hot cakes prepared over the flames gives this experience a distinctly kiwi flavour. We continue our journey alongside the mighty Buller River as it cuts through the massive wilderness of the upper South Island, arriving on the coast at Westport. We take a short stroll at Cape Foulwind to view a colony of New Zealand fur seals playfully splashing around in the rock pools. We then head south to catch the sunset at Punakaiki and visit a local pub for dinner. Punakaiki Resort, Punakaiki (All meals)
Punakaiki - 11km/4 hours hiking
Hike the Inland Pack Track from Punakaiki to Pororari. This historic route was once used by prospectors and miners to avoid the immense coastal cliffs while travelling the West Coast. Pass through deep limestone canyons, towering rainforests and groves of Nikau Palms. You may not be able to resist a speedy swim in one of the many deep clear pools you pass on the way! After lunch hike along the Truman track to reach stunning waterfalls, sea cliffs and wild beaches. And of course no visit to Punakaiki is complete without a trip to the Pancake Rocks and blowholes. We walk at high tide when the blowholes are most impressive, blasting sprays of salt water skyward. Punakaiki Resort, Punakaiki (All meals)
Punakaiki - Christchurch - 4km/2 hours hiking
This remarkable highway takes us from the lush green rainforests of the West Coast and over the glaciated Southern Alps to the parched soft yellow savannahs of Canterbury. This is one of the most cleverly engineered roads in New Zealand. From Arthur’s Pass hike (unguided) four kilometres down to the village on a well-formed walking track. The trail has superb mountain views, thundering waterfalls and a diverse range of alpine plants. We catch a glimpse of our colonial past as we pass Jacks Hut, a restored roadman’s cottage. East of the pass, stretch your legs again and stroll around the enchanting limestone outcrops of Kura Tawhiti (Castle Hill). This area was an important meeting place and food gathering area for early Maori people. Interestingly it was also bestowed a “spiritual centre of the universe” by the Dalai Lama when he visited in 2002. Today it is a haven for rock climbers who climb and boulder on the multitude of rock forms. Arrive in Christchurch in the mid afternoon, time to explore the inner district and see some of the innovative and exciting methods used to rebuild the heart of the city post the devastating 2011 earthquake. Hotel Ibis (Breakfast, Lunch)
Christchurch - Aoraki/Mount Cook - 2km/1 hour hiking
Our mid-morning departure allows time to discover some city cafes or see one of the parks in the ‘Garden City’. Our drive west takes us to Lake Tekapo, famous for its stunning turquoise waters and the quaint Church of the Good Shepherd, perched daintily by the lake. Hike up through wilding conifers and tussock grasslands to the summit of Mt John. Revel in the 360-degree views of the Patagonia-like landscape. The sweeping Mackenzie basin is a sparsely populated region in the rain shadow of the Southern Alps; tawny-brown drylands, braided riverbeds and startling glacial lakes extend to the horizon. Arrive at Aoraki/Mount Cook in the late afternoon. Relax and enjoy breathtaking views of New Zealand's highest mountain (3,724 metres). Aoraki / Mount Cook Alpine Lodge (Lunch, Dinner)
Mt Cook - 5-8km/4 hours hiking
Hike up to Sealey Tarns and enjoy the awesome views of Mt Sefton, Mueller Glacier and across the Hooker Valley to Aoraki/Mount Cook. If you’re feeling energetic, join the guide for a further climb from the tarns up to the crest of Mueller Ridge for even wider views of this magnificent alpine landscape. Those not wanting to climb to Sealey or Mueller can take the flatter option and walk up the Hooker Valley (unguided), enjoying close up views of the Mueller and Hooker Glaciers on the way. Aoraki / Mount Cook Alpine Lodge (All meals)
Mt Cook - Wanaka - 2km/1 hour hiking
Travel up the Tasman Valley towards the longest glacier in New Zealand, the Tasman Glacier. Take a short walk through the glacial moraine and board a custom-built boat for a unique spin around the terminal lake. Like most glaciers in the world the Tasman Glacier is retreating and the terminal lake increases in size every year. This dynamic environment is dotted with icebergs of all shapes and sizes from the collapsing terminal wall of the glacier. Our drive to Wanaka follows the Mackenzie country south before climbing over the tussock lands of the Lindis Pass into the southern lakes district. Wanaka is a lovely holiday town on the lake-side. Edgewater Resort, Wanaka (Breakfast, Lunch)
Wanaka - Queenstown - 10km/4 hours hiking
A beautiful drive alongside Lake Wanaka leads us to Aspiring National Park. We hike up the Matukituki Valley beneath some fine peaks before turning up the Rob Roy side stream and climbing abruptly to the bushline. This gorgeous trail through virgin beech forest emerges into a splendid alpine basin below the bulking mass of the Rob Roy Glacier. Watch water tumble off the glacier’s snout as you relax and enjoy lunch. Keep an eye out for cheeky kea (alpine parrot). You probably won’t need to look too hard as these curious birds normally call in when food is around (although it’s important to never offer them any titbits and upset their natural foraging behaviour)! After the hike grab a drink and unwind on the lawn of the famous old drover’s hotel at Cardrona, before we drive over the Crown Range and into the lively scene of Queenstown. Your tour finishes here, in the late afternoon. (Breakfast, Lunch)
Start 7.00 am, Heritage Hotel foyer, 35 Hobson Street, Central Auckland
Finish Queenstown, approx. 5pm
Nov 2016: 3
Dec 2016: 1
Jan 2017: 26
Feb 2017: 23
Mar 2017: 23
All activities outlined in the itinerary are included in the trip price.
Meals out: Three evening meals are not included (Wellington, Christchurch and Wanaka). The typical cost for a restaurant main course in New Zealand is about $28. Two breakfasts are not included (Wellington and Christchurch).
Single supplement: NZ$1695