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Days: 6 days
(Overnight hikes, some uneven terrain, you need to be reasonably fit and enthusiastic )
Start/Finish: Christchurch 10am, outside the Canterbury Museum, Rolleston Avenue
Our mid-morning departure allows time to discover some city cafes and see one of the parks in the ‘Garden City’, or a bit of a sleep in if you flew in late the previous evening. Our drive south 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. We arrive at Aoraki/Mount Cook in the late afternoon where we can relax and enjoy breath-taking views of New Zealand's highest mountain (3,724 metres). Includes lunch and dinner.
Today we hike up to Sealy 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 impressive alpine landscape. Those not wanting to climb to Sealy Tarns or Mueller Ridge 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. Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Before leaving the Mount Cook area we travel up the Tasman Valley towards the longest glacier in New Zealand, the Tasman Glacier. 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. We will be able to see all of this as we take a short walk through the glacial moraine to the shores of the terminal lake. We drive to secluded Lake Ohau, stopping to have lunch and a swim if the sun is shining. This is also where we ditch the van and head into the hills for an overnight adventure. It normally takes a couple of hours to hike up through beech forest beside the mountain stream of Freehold Creek, to a quiet campsite just below the tree line. Pitch a tent and take a seat around the campfire as you listen to the creeks waters rush past. Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Leaving most of our gear at the campsite, we ascend above the treeline this morning into a brilliant alpine basin, home to a variety of native alpine plants including the Mt. Cook Lily (Ranunculus lyalli), the world’s largest buttercup. If you’re feeling energetic, join the guide for a dash up to the ridgeline above the basin and onto the Ohau range (1915 metres), where you get a superb vista of the surrounding Southern Alps, Aoraki/Mt Cook and the Mackenzie Basin. In the afternoon we wander back down the valley and hike straight to our accommodation for the night – Ohau Lodge or hop in the van and drive the final 3kms. Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.
After savouring the buffet breakfast and morning coffee we head to Wanaka. The drive follows the Mackenzie Country south before climbing over the tussock lands of the Lindis Pass into the southern lakes district. We will enjoy a picnic lunch on the shores of Lake Wanaka before skirting around the lake to Aspiring National Park. We hike up the Matukituki Valley beneath some fine peaks enjoying the views from the trail as it meanders up the river flats. Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We return back down the valley, 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. Keep an eye out for cheeky kea (alpine parrot).
We will have a picnic lunch before we begin the remarkable drive over the Crown Range. From the summit there are breath-taking views across the Wakatipu Valley and lakes. The Wakatipu Basin is home to world-renowned wineries. To celebrate the conclusion of our trip we will stop at one of the wineries for a wine tasting where we can toast our success and begin retelling the trip stories! Includes breakfast and lunch.
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.
Watch the video of our Kiwi-Style Hiking packing list.
Optional items: (but highly recommended)
Gaiters, binoculars, earplugs, walking poles, camera.
Therm-a-rest sleeping mat, tents, cooking equipment, plates/cutlery, first aid kit, safety equipment and maps.
We allow space for 120 litres per person (one large pack plus one day pack). 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 custom-built trailer. We highly recommend travel insurance.
*Ultimate New Zealand only - for the flight between Wellington and Nelson, the checked luggage allowance is 23kgs per person, with a carry-on luggage allowance of 7 kg.
We have high quality hiking equipment which you can hire for our Kiwi-Style Hiking trips. Please arrange hire gear when you book. Requests for hire equipment must be made at least 5 days before the departure date.
The average driving time per day varies, some days you are in the wilderness and won't see the vehicle for 2 or 3 days! On other days you might be in the vehicle for 2-3 hrs or occasionally more. The driving time is a chance to rest and enjoy the fantastic scenery which is forever changing. You will travel in a 12 seat minibus towing a custom-built trailer with camp equipment and your luggage. They are also equipped with a range of natural history reference books. There will be a range of roads - sealed and unsealed. The guide will often stop the vehicle if there is a great photo opportunity or primo ice cream shop!
As well as being the time to rest, refuel and recharge, meal times are also a great time to get to know your fellow travellers better, sit back and enjoy the amazing surroundings and enjoy some great food! Everybody participates in the preparation and cooking of meals on the "wild nights." There is always a lot of hiking food - chocolate, nuts, raisins, biscuits. When you go on an overnight hike the group will carry a portable stove.
"Wild nights" vs nights in civilisation –This trip is a combination of “wild nights”, which is the nights where you are truly in the wilderness, staying in backcountry huts or camping in locations that may be several hours walk from the nearest road or populated area, versus nights in civilisation where you may stay in lodges.
Huts - New Zealand has an excellent network of backcountry huts and you will stay in Mt Aspiring Hut. This is equipped with mattresses, running water and an outside toilet. Cooking is done on a portable stove. Huts are only accessible on foot and shared with other hikers. You also have the option of camping near the hut if that is your preference.
Camping - You will camp at Freehold Creek on the "wild night"
Lodges - You will stay in lodge type accommodation on some of the nights, the lodges are often conveniently located near the start or end of a hike and have multi-share and sometimes twin/double rooms.
Meals: Meals that are not included in the trip price are detailed above.
Optional activities: There are normally no additional activities on the Women's Southern Wilderness. All activities are included in the price that are outlined above.
An excellent guide can make the difference between a trip of a lifetime and just an ordinary trip. 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. The guides will ensure that your trip is truly inspiring, a huge amount of fun and safe. All guides are trained in Mountain Safety First Aid.
Can I do more than one kiwi-style hiking Tour?
Does everyone get involved with camp duties?
Everyone is fully involved with the running of the Women's Southern Wilderness, from collecting firewood, to setting up camp and cooking meals. You are expected to do your share of work. If you are not a great cook, dont worry - your guide and other people in the group will help you.
Does it matter if I am travelling alone?
Most of the people on our kiwi-style hiking trips are travelling alone. The kiwi-style hiking trips are strong on group activities and participation including playing outdoor games, going for swims, helping one another to cross rivers, exploring secret places, and overcoming obstacles and challenges. You are encouraged to participate in activities, but if its not your thing that is also OK. Time is allowed for people to be by themselves during the trip if they need it.
What do I do with my valuables (passport, airline tickets, money, etc.) while hiking?
Keep them with you in your hiking pack. You can pack all those things in plastic bags to keep them dry and keep them with you while hiking.
I have specific dietary requirements - is that a problem?
Vegetarians, gluten free and dairy free hikers join our trips regularly. Please let us know in advance as meals take more planning. Everyone takes a turn in meal preparations, if you have complex dietary requirements you may need to be involved more frequently. It is advisable to join the trip with some of your own food items if you are worried. Once you are on the trip the guide may ask you to join him/her when they go food shopping. Preparing meals for several different dietary requirements in the wilderness with limited facilities can be challenging but with your help we can make it work.
What is the weather going to be like?
New Zealand experiences very changeable weather - especially in the remote mountainous regions where you will spend most of your time. Some days you can be broiling in 30 degrees and then the next day you could be freezing in a cool southerly from the sub Antarctic. It is best to be prepared for the worst conditions you are likely to expect - see the 'What to Take' section. You may get some rain on the trip so a good waterproof raincoat is important.
Who is in my group?
A small group (maximum 11 people), with a range of ages, nationalities and work backgrounds. Seventy percent of people are between 20 and 40, though there are sometimes people 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.
What if I can't keep up with the rest of the group?
The group hikes together, 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 the kiwi-style hiking tour?
About two or three times per kiwi-style hiking trip you stay at places that 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 driving.
Can I do laundry on a kiwi-style hiking tour?
Yes, at least once, usually half way through the trip. It is recommended that you bring items that are quick drying and plenty of spare pairs of socks and underwear, since you will most likely have to line-dry clothing.
Payment: For bookings four or more months in advance of the departure a 25% deposit can be paid with the remainder due 65 days prior to your trip. More than 20 days prior to departure – 80% refund of full ticket price.
For bookings within four months of the departure, full payment is required.
20 to 10 days prior to departure – 50% refund of full ticket price.
Less than 10 days prior to departure – NO REFUND.
For bookings four or more months in advance of the departure a 25% deposit can be paid with the remainder due 65 days prior to your trip.
More than 20 days prior to departure – 80% refund of full ticket price.
We strongly recommend that you have comprehensive travel insurance. We ask you to fill out a disclaimer before you begin a Hiking Tour. You must follow the instructions of your guide at all times. World Nomads Travel Insurance provides online quotes.