New Zealand Cycling and Hiking Adventures

Best of Southern Alps Trek

Best of Southern Alps Trek

Trip Highlights

  • Overnight in a private hut with views of the Mackenzie Basin
  • Ascend a 1944m peak via a spectacular ridgeline walk as views of the Southern Alps unfold
  • Explore the history and landforms of Aoraki Mt Cook with its connections to Sir Edmund Hillary
  • Lunch beside a remote mountain lake far from fellow travellers and surrounded by numerous peaks and ranges
  • Access a beautiful lakeside track by lunch and spend the afternoon hiking with panoramic views of Lake Wanaka and surrounding peaks
  • Experience an exciting helicopter flight to a remote ridgeline with stunning views of lakes and Mt Aspiring

Trip Summary

Trekker on Buchanan peak with Mount Aspiring behind, walking above Matukituki valley, near Lake Wanaka&#160;-&#160;<i>Photo:&#160;Colin Monteath</i>

This is the best trek to not feature in any New Zealand guide book. Packed full of highlights, this stunning tour includes the ascent of two 2000m peaks, exploring a remote lake and valley system as well as admiring the splendour of Aoraki Mount Cook and Mount Aspiring from high on remote ridges - thanks to a spectacular helicopter transfer. Your trip begins with a drive to the highland lake of Lake Tekapo, the starting point of this outstanding trek. The first night on the trail is spent at Rex Simpson Hut where you'll enjoy the superb alpine and lakeside vista. The next day you'll trek east along a ridgeline to the summit of your first 2000m peak. At Aoraki Mount Cook we spend a day walking in the National Park, hiking high on the ridge overlooking the Hooker Glacier and directly across from the spectacular Mt Sefton with its rumbling avalanches of ice and rock. Accommodation in the secluded Lake Ohau Lodge accesses shorter hikes before we move onto Wanaka where we take a cruise and hike on the picturesque lake that sits at the base of the Southern Alps. This amazing trek ends in sensational style as you enjoy a breathtaking helicopter ride to nearby tarns from where your ridge top day walk begins along to your second 2000m summit overlooking the stunning Matukituki Valley, Lake Wanaka, and Mount Aspiring. If you want spectacular Southern Alps scenery without the crowds, you've found your trip.

Trip Grading

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.


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). We collect you from your accommodation site 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). 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.

Meals:  L,D

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).

Meals:  B,L,D

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 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.

Meals:  B,L,D

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.

Meals:  B,L,D

Leaving the Mackenzie basin we cross 'water-sheds' and drive through to Wanaka. After lunch, 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.

Meals:  B,L,D

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 head up through the tussocklands to the ridgeline and then make our way across to the summit of the Buchanan peaks at 2004m. Around us the views are amazing as we look into neighbouring valleys and the headwaters of Lake Wanaka. Slowly returning to our welcoming tarns we have time to swim and relax and enjoy a late snack before its time to rejoin our helicopter for the short flight back to base and a drive across to Queenstown and your accommodation of choice.

Meals:  B,L

What's Included

  • 5 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 5 dinners
  • 4 nights hotel/motel ensuite accommodation on a twin share basis
  • 1 night in a private mountain hut (shared facilities)
  • Professional qualified driver/guide
  • Private vehicle transport
  • Heli hike on day 6 of tour (weather dependent)
  • Water and snacks while trekking
  • Packs and poles (on request if required) - please let our staff know in advance
  • Access and concession fees paid to the Department of Conservation
  • New Zealand Goods and Services Tax (GST)

What's Not Included

  • International or domestic flights and taxes
  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • All beverages, other than breakfast
  • Water bottle
  • Optional activities not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Personal expenses (eg. phone calls, internet, laundry, shopping etc)
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa (if required)
  • Tips

Upcoming Travel Dates



Duration:6 Days
Starting Point:Christchurch
Grade:Moderate  Click for more information
Trip Code:SAT
Prices From:NZD$2595
Public Holiday Supplement:NZD$50 
Single Supplement 2016/17:NZD$635 
Single Supplement 2017/18:NZD$650 

"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 SoutherdenAustralia

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Since 1992, Adventure South NZ has operated an exciting range of guided cycling, hiking and multi-activity holidays right across New Zealand – and the world - to suit all levels of fitness. We are part of the World Expeditions Travel Group.

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