This is the best trek to not feature in any NZ guide book. Packed full of highlights, this stunning tour includes mountain peaks, remote lake and valley systems and the splendour of Aoraki Mount Cook and Mount Aspiring from high vantage points. The trip begins with a drive to the highland region of Lake Tekapo with the first night on the trail spent at a private backcountry hut with superb alpine and lakeside vistas. Trek east along a ridgeline to around 2000m before transfering to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park where we spend a day hiking on the ridge overlooking the Hooker Glacier and directly across from the spectacular Mt Sefton with its rumbling avalanches of ice and rock. Visit secluded Lake Ohau and enjoy some shorter hikes before continuing to Wanaka to hike beside its picturesque lake nestled at the base of the Southern Alps. This amazing trek ends in sensational style with a breathtaking helicopter flight to nearby tarns from where we walk in the region overlooking stunning Lake Wanaka and towards the Mount Aspiring range. For spectacular Southern Alps scenery without the crowds, this is most definitley the perfect trip.
To determine the grade of a particular adventure we consider a number of factors. These include the condition of the terrain, the altitude, the number of pass crossings and the length of the trip.
While part of this itinerary does utilise formed tracks, some days the hikes involve untracked scree and tussock. The walking is ‘easy-gradual’ but without a formed track to follow. The sense of isolation and wilderness is a strong feature of this trip. For you to be able to really enjoy this trip we recommend that you are confident walking across uneven terrain and are able to walk comfortably for a few hours at a time (with breaks included).
We recommend 90 minutes of aerobic type exercise, (either cycling, jogging or power walking) three times a week for the three months leading up to your trip.
We will collect you from your accommodation around 8.00am before we drive south to Fairlie and inland to Lake Tekapo for lunch. We drive along Tekapo's lakeside to Mt Gerald station and then hike 3-4 hours into the Rex Simpson Hut, (a 12 bunk private hut on the station). To greet us are stunning vistas across the lake and into the rolling tussock landscape that surrounds the area. (Up to 3-4 hours walking).
As day turns to night we savour the sun setting behind mountain silhouettes and a star-studded sky - one of the clearest and darkest skies in the southern hemisphere and enjoy a hearty meal prepared by your guides.
The hut consists of three rooms, sleeping 12 participants and 2 guides in total. There are no showers and the toilet is a traditional longdrop loo with a view! The hut is fully equipped with pot belly stove, firewood, gas, and solar lighting. Sleeping bags, pillows and mattresses are at the hut; liners and pillow cases are provided each trip. It provides a comfortable and unique place to call home for the night.
Note: Please remember we will be staying in an alpine hut on this first evening, you will not need to take all your luggage with you and we suggest packing a small overnight bag with clothing suitable for staying in an alpine environment. If necessary we can provide small overnight packs and walking poles.
Important: The night before your tour is to depart your guide will call your pre tour accommodation to advise what time they will collect you the following morning. (Please make sure you have given us information as to where you are staying). If you are not around when your guide calls they will leave a message at reception – its really important that you check with reception if you have not heard from your guide directly. If for any reason you have not heard from your guide by the morning of the tour please call us in the NZ office on 0800 00 11 66 (from within NZ).
From the hut we climb onto a broad easy spur which gradually gains height showcasing breathtaking views back down the lake and across to the Southern Alps with the prominent east faces of Mt Cook and Tasman. For the strong trekker, the summit of Beuzenberg Peak at 2070m is a just reward. Back at the hut we pack up and return to our vehicle for the short drive back to Lake Tekapo and our motel accommodation. (Up to 6-8 hours walking).
Mt Cook beckons as we drive 90 mins to the heart of the National Park. From here a number of hikes are available dependant upon weather conditions and fitness levels from the previous day. Mt Sebastopol and the mountain tarns are a favourite as is the Hooker Valley with its profuse vegetation. (Up to 4-5 hours walking). Nearby Red Tarns with stunning views directly onto Mt Sefton involves the treadmill of the staircase that climbs quickly to this stunning view point. From here we get views directly up the Hooker valley and back down the Tasman Valley. Tonight’s accommodation is within the Mt Cook Village itself with outstanding views of the sun setting on the peaks.
In the morning we have a further walk in the area, usually dictated by what we achieved yesterday. For some the Hooker Valley hike will be a delight, while for others the nearby Sealy Tarns awaits. After a late lunch we drive south and onto Lake Ohau Lodge for the overnight before a short bush walk to explore the beech forest remnants in the area.
Leaving the Mackenzie basin we cross 'water-sheds' and drive through to Wanaka. Here we take a boat trip to land on a remote beach and enjoy the next 3 hours hiking on the trail with stunning views back to Wanaka and the surrounding mountains. In the late afternoon we drive the short distance back to our accommodation.
From an early start we drive to the helicopter base for today’s heli-hike. Across the Matukituki Valley at 1500m is a series of small mountain lakes with great reflections and views of Mt Aspiring. After a time to take in the spectacular views we hike through the tussocklands to other vantage points. Around us the vistas are amazing as we look into neighbouring valleys and the headwaters of Lake Wanaka. Returning to the welcoming tarns there may be time to swim and relax before rejoining our helicopter for the short flight back to base. On landing we drive to Queenstown and deliver you to your accommodation of choice.
This was so much better than I was expecting. Such an amazing trip that really did cover the Best of the Southern Alps. So many amazing memories. Thank you so much. Will be recommending this to everyone. Guides Ange and Peter are an asset to the company. Very professional.
Christine H, Australia, 06 Nov 2017
Couldn’t have hoped for a better trip with fantastic guides!
Vanessa W, Australia, 06 Nov 2017
I was extremely happy with the trip overall; great views, great accommodation, excellent trek leader = a very enjoyable trip
I. Wilkinson, WA. Australia
Thank you to my guides Ang & Pete for the most amazing trip. The scenery was spectacular and was exactly as promised - like going to Nepal without actually going to Nepal. I felt in very safe hands and had such a great time - definitely left the trek feeling recharged and reset for everyday life. Do yourself a favour and go on this trip - it is just magic. Two of the girls I trekked with on this trip have since booked Everest Base Camp with me for next year. Great friendships made.
C. Hannah, Australian Capital Territory, 11 Dec 2017
Itinerary seemed original exciting and impossible. NZ, every day. Avoid the crowds. Heli-hike Buchanan range. Hooker valley, temple view and beech forest. Really appreciate they were able to swap heli-hike day due to weather conditions. Amazing experienced guides. Tailored trip closely to needs. Able to use such professional knowledge on walks and planning and safety. Best experience i've every had on a hiking tour. Ange and Peter are a valuable asset to your company.
Clare Farron, England
A fantastic overview of the best the Southern Alps of NZ has to offer which makes me want to come back again and again.
Phil Ingram, Australia
Overall an amazing trip, each day raised the bar in terms of experiences and mountain scenery. I felt privileged to have a glimpse of mountain life in this incredible place.
Louise Southerden, Australia
Per Person, Twin Share