Sample the finest walks in the upper South Island, including the best sections of the Queen Charlotte and Abel Tasman Tracks on this outstanding itinerary. This fully lodge based accommodated walk completes a circuit of the northern South Island, beginning with a scenic drive over the mountainous Lewis Pass before taking in the spectacular scenery of the Marlborough Sounds from the Queen Charlotte Track. You'll also nestle into the tranquillity of a remote eco lodge, weave your way through small bays and beautiful bushland along the Abel Tasman Walkway as well as retrace your steps along this magical trail from the decks of a yacht. The amazing scenery isn't finished yet as you divert inland from the coastal trails to Nelson Lakes to complete a circular track that provides wonderful views of craggy mountains and beech forests. Return to Christchurch via Hanmer Springs for a well deserved soak in its therapeutic hot pools.
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.
This itinerary utilises formed tracks on all of the walking undertaken. The trekking is as expected for a trip of this grade with no unexpected surprises in steepness. In general the hikes are of a half day duration which usually requires up to 3 hours walking. The tracks are well formed and often have information panels available for additional detail. For you to be able to really enjoy this trip we recommend that you are to walk comfortably for a few hours at a time (with breaks included).
We recommend 60 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).
This morning we collect you from your hotel then begin our scenic journey north towards Picton. Due to the earthquake in November 2016, Highway 1 is closed in the region around Kaikoura, so we will follow the alternative inland route via the Lewis Pass. The drive is picturesque as the road weaves up the Southern Alps and through the Nelson Lakes National Park. We pass the towns of Murchison and St Arnaud before entering the wine growing region of Blenheim, arriving at Picton in the evening. Today is a long day but the rewards of the following days make it worthwhile.
The nearby Queen Charlotte track is a spectacular ridge top walk above the Sound. We access this via return water taxi and a short climb to the track, from where we spend the rest of the day weaving down through native bush with glimpses into the many bays below. From Te Mahia saddle on the Queen Charlotte track we gradually descend on the walkway to Anakiwa for our return journey to Picton by water taxi. Overnight again at Picton.
Walking time: 4 > 6.5 hrs
Our next two day trek starts out of a secluded bay and involves firstly a scenic drive around the head of the sound and then a backcountry road, to arrive at the start of the track. The old logging trail was cut through the native bush and offers a beautiful benched trail that weaves through regenerating native and exotic forests, steadily rising to a saddle where we break for a picnic lunch. From here we gradually descend into the next Bay and overnight stay at our Lodge. The rest of the afternoon provides a great opportunity to relax on the couches on the porch or to explore the walking tracks and native bush.
Walking time: 3 > 4 hrs
After a hearty breakfast, we pack and depart our beautiful accommodation, and follow the trail that weaves through virgin bush and beachfront. The trail then steadily climbs to a low saddle, and eventually descending to the neighbouring bay and around the shoreline to our waiting coach. Time dependant, we can explore and swim before our mid afternoon departure out to Nelson and onto Motueka and our accommodation for the next two nights.
Walking time: 4 > 4.5 hrs
Today we drive down to the start of the Abel Tasman track and have a half day hike into Torrent Bay on the famous Abel Tasman walkway. The track is well formed and drops into several sheltered bays and beaches. At midday we have lunch overlooking Torrent Bay and then meet our return yacht for an exciting sail around the heads and back to our coach and then our accommodation.
Walking time: 3 > 4 hrs
Leaving Moteuka we have a short 1 hour drive inland into the Nelson Lake National Park and at St Arnaud we have a choice of a shorter 2 hr loop in the Lake Rotoiti Nature Recovery area or a 5 hr circuit to the upper slopes of Mt Roberts. This track climbs steeply to the bushline and the summit of the ridgeline with awesome views over the lake & St Arnaud range, before returning via a loop track back to the coach and our accommodation. The bush is stunning and Lake Rotoiti a magic location.
Walking options: 2 hrs or 5 hrs
Intensive pest eradication has meant native bird numbers are increasing in the Nelson Lakes National Park. Early risers this morning will have the chance to take a short bush walk and experience the morning songs of the forest or “dawn chorus.” We then drive via the spectacular Buller Gorge and Lewis Pass to Hanmer, where we detour to Jacks Pass and hike via the subalpine scrub and open grassland to the summit of Mt Isobel (1324 metres) for panoramic views of the Hanmer Basin and beyond. Late afternoon we return to Christchurch & deliver you to your local lodgings.
Walking time: 3 hrs
Per Person, Twin Share
"Unspoiled wilderness, it was like finding Shangri-La"