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Milford Track & Southern Encounter

11 nights, Queenstown to Christchurch

Milford Track & Southern Encounter

The Milford Track is regarded as one of the finest hikes in the world and on this 12 day tour you’ll discover for yourself the spectacular scenery and remoteness that make it so popular. Your 5 day guided walk includes all meals and premium lodge accommodation, perfect for relaxing after tackling the likes of MacKinnon Pass. You’ll also visit Mt Cook National Park and a high country sheep station for contrasting South Island scenery and a total southern experience.

Tour map

Included in this New Zealand self drive holiday

Dart River Wilderness Safari, Glenorchy, near Queenstown
Visitors and shoppers enjoying the mall in Queenstown, New Zealand
Dolphins jumping in Akaroa Harbour near Christchurch
Exploring the icebergs on the Tasman Glacier lake
Tour map
 

Day 1 - Welcome to Queenstown, transfer to accommodation and rest of day at leisure

Private Transfer Queenstown Airport to your Hotel

Welcome to Queenstown. You will be met from your flight and transferred to your Queenstown hotel.

Your tour documentation pack and support

Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support

Once you touch down in New Zealand your detailed tour pack will be hand delivered by one of our trusted representatives. The pack contains everything you need for the duration of your stay. It will include a comprehensive, printed and bound version of your itinerary as well as clear driving instructions and maps for each leg of your journey. It also contains all the reservation details for your accommodation and activities - along with relevant brochures and information. While in New Zealand we offer 24 hour support - details on how to contact us at any time will be well documented.

Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 1-2 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 2 - Explore Mt Aspiring National Park on the spectacular Dart River Wilderness Jetboat trip

Dart River Wilderness Jet

Dart River Wilderness Jet
Dart River Wilderness Jet
Dart River Wilderness Jet
Dart River Wilderness Jet

An hour and a half of thrilling high-speed wilderness jet boating skimming across the clear waters of the Dart River into the Te Waipounamu World Heritage Area. Hear about flora, fauna and history on a 30-minute rolling forest walk with your friendly guide. On a backroad tour of Paradise immerse yourself in scenes and backdrops from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. Learn about the Pounamu (Greenstone) that made the Dart River a key trading route for early Māori. Tales of early settlers who carved rich farms from the rugged landscape.

Milford Track Guided Walk Briefing

Milford Track Guided Walk Briefing
Milford Track Guided Walk Briefing
Milford Track Guided Walk Briefing
Milford Track Guided Walk Briefing

A briefing is held at 5pm on the afternoon prior to your walk commencing. Here you can ask any last minute questions and ensure you have everything you need for your next 5 days.

Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

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Day 3 - Travel from Queenstown to Te Anau, then begin the Milford Track

Driving distance and time: 0 kms / 0 miles : 0.0 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Milford Track 5 Day/4 Night Guided Walk

Milford Track 5 Day/4 Night Guided Walk
Milford Track 5 Day/4 Night Guided Walk
Milford Track 5 Day/4 Night Guided Walk
Milford Track 5 Day/4 Night Guided Walk

Traversing the heart of New Zealand's wild fiord country, the Milford Track has long been described as "the finest walk in the world". Since Quintin Mackinnon pioneered the route in 1888, everyone from hardened trekkers to novices sporting their first pair of boots has taken up the challenge of the Milford Track.

The Fiordland National Park is the cornerstone of the Te Wahipounamu Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area. Enjoy close encounters with the native birdlife: the Robin; Kea; Weka; Fantail; Parakeet; Bellbird; even Kiwi have been spotted! Walkers on the track to Milford Sound encounter Fiordland at its most spectacular: deep lakes; silent fiords; luxuriant forest and sheer canyons carved out of imposing granite define this landscape. On fine days there is a postcard shot around every corner, but only when it rains and torrents of water cascade down the mountainsides have you truly experienced the magic of the Milford Track.

The Milford Track Guided Walk is a 5 day / 4 nights Queenstown to Queenstown all-inclusive guided walk through the heart of Fiordland National Park to Milford Sound.  The package includes all transport, accommodation, meals, snacks, backpacks and rain jackets. Accommodation is in luxury lodges and you will be led by expert Ultimate Hikes guides.

Day 1 - Queenstown to Glade House

Depart Queenstown to Te Anau by coach. Lunch in Te Anau. After lunch a coach will take you to Te Anau Downs where you board the launch taking you to the head of Lake Te Anau, the beginning of the Milford Track. It's a short easy walk to Glade House, 1.6km. Settle in and enjoy the environment. (Includes lunch and dinner)

Accommodation: Milford Track Lodges

Accommodation type: Motels - economy

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation: Milford Track Lodges
Accommodation: Milford Track Lodges
Accommodation: Milford Track Lodges
Accommodation: Milford Track Lodges

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Day 4 - Cross the Clinton River, then walk up the valley

Day 2 - Glade House to Pompolona

Day 2 - Glade House to Pompolona
Day 2 - Glade House to Pompolona
Day 2 - Glade House to Pompolona
Day 2 - Glade House to Pompolona

After crossing the emerald green Clinton River you walk up the valley to the Hirere Falls lunch shelter. The beech forest gets more luxuriant the farther you go, until it releases you on to the Prairie. From this meadow you can capture the true nature of the ice carved Clinton Canyon. It is a short climb to Pompolona Lodge from here. (Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner).  Total walking today is 16km (10 miles) 5-7 hours.

Accommodation: Milford Track Lodges

Accommodation type: Motels - economy

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Milford Track Lodges
Accommodation: Milford Track Lodges
Accommodation: Milford Track Lodges
Accommodation: Milford Track Lodges

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Day 5 - Today you tackle the Mackinnon Pass

Day 3 - Pompolona to Quintin via Mackinnon Pass

Day 3 - Pompolona to Quintin via Mackinnon Pass
Day 3 - Pompolona to Quintin via Mackinnon Pass
Day 3 - Pompolona to Quintin via Mackinnon Pass
Day 3 - Pompolona to Quintin via Mackinnon Pass

This is the most demanding day, especially in inclement weather. The track leads to Lake Mintaro at the head of the Clinton Valley, before climbing the Mackinnon Pass in a series of zigzags. Take your time. At the top you will be rewarded with spectacular views and lunch in Pass Hut. After the rocky decent into the Arthur Valley you will welcome a hot cup of tea at Quintin Lodge, this should be enough to refresh you for the 90 minute round trip to the Sutherland Falls, the world's fifth highest waterfall. (Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner). Today you will walk 15km (9 miles) taking 6-8 hours.

Accommodation: Milford Track Lodges

Accommodation type: Motels - economy

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Milford Track Lodges
Accommodation: Milford Track Lodges
Accommodation: Milford Track Lodges
Accommodation: Milford Track Lodges

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Day 6 - Final day on the Milford Track, walk to your waiting boat for a cruise to Milford Sound

Day 4 - Quintin to Mitre Peak Lodge via Sandfly Point

Day 4 - Quintin to Mitre Peak Lodge via Sandfly Point
Day 4 - Quintin to Mitre Peak Lodge via Sandfly Point
Day 4 - Quintin to Mitre Peak Lodge via Sandfly Point
Day 4 - Quintin to Mitre Peak Lodge via Sandfly Point

Your final day on the track. You walk down the Arthur Valley to Boatshed; on past Mackay Falls and Bell Rock, which was turned out of the river during a particularly violent flood and on to the lunch spot at Giant's Gate waterfall. The final stretch of track follows tranquil Lake Ada to Sandfly Point. From here it is a short launch trip to the renowned Mitre Peak Lodge, the only accommodation at Milford Sound offering superb views of Mitre Peak, often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world. Here you will enjoy a celebratory dinner while relaxing with the knowledge that the hard part is now behind you while the magnificence of Milford Sound is right in front of you. (Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner). Today enjoy 21km (13 miles) 6-8 hours of walking.

Accommodation: Milford Track Lodges

Accommodation type: Motels - economy

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Milford Track Lodges
Accommodation: Milford Track Lodges
Accommodation: Milford Track Lodges
Accommodation: Milford Track Lodges

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Day 7 - Enjoy a rest day with a cruise on Milford Sound, then travel back to Queenstown

Driving distance and time: 0 kms / 0 miles : 0.0 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Day 5 - Mitre Peak Lodge to Te Anau and Queenstown

Day 5 - Mitre Peak Lodge to Te Anau and Queenstown
Day 5 - Mitre Peak Lodge to Te Anau and Queenstown
Day 5 - Mitre Peak Lodge to Te Anau and Queenstown
Day 5 - Mitre Peak Lodge to Te Anau and Queenstown

Wake to views of Milford Sound and after breakfast board one of the famous Red Boats for a cruise on Milford Sound. Watch for the dolphins and fur seals and pray for rain. (No-one believes us, but the waterfalls are absolutely incredible!) Following the cruise you start your spectacular journey through the heart of Fiordland National Park to the Homer Tunnel and on to Te Anau and Queenstown arriving at approximately 4.00pm.
 

Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel
Accommodation: The Dairy Private Hotel

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Day 8 - Collect your rental car and then head to Mt. Cook National Park

Driving distance and time: 256 kms / 159 miles : 2.9 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Collect your rental car

Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car

Our rental car range includes the latest vehicles from the top suppliers. Insurance is included with a small excess or deductible. All airport fees, additional driver fees and unlimited kilometres are also included. To help you navigate your way around New Zealand all rentals also come with GPS. Our range included small compact cars to mid-size saloons to large 4WD and people movers.

GPS navigation system

Use the latest GPS technology as you tour New Zealand. Your portable GPS features a simple touch screen interface with automatic route calculation and turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions including street name announcement. The automotive-grade GPS unit is easy to use and has multiple language options.

Queenstown to Mt. Cook National Park

Queenstown to Mt. Cook National Park
Queenstown to Mt. Cook National Park
Queenstown to Mt. Cook National Park
Queenstown to Mt. Cook National Park

Today your drive from Queenstown to Mount Cook is a scenic one, so be sure to leave plenty of leeway for sightseeing. You'll go through the Kawarau Gorge and over the historic Kawarau Bridge - a popular bungy jumping location. Choose to participate in this daredevil sport or watch others instead. Continue on to the Gibbston Valley stopping at one of its many vineyards for tastings. Leaving the gorge you'll arrive in Cromwell, well known for its many fruit orchards. If you're a foodie at heart, we recommend taking a side trip to Bannockburn for a complete food and wine experience at one its many award-winning wineries and restaurants.

Cromwell itself sits at the head of the Kawarau Gorge and the old historic town is well worth the visit. Completely submerged when the Clyde Dam was built and Lake Dunstan established in 1992, the remnants of the old Cromwell town provides a unique snapshot into this areas history. Head over through the Lindis Pass, one of New Zealand’s highest roads, with the summit reaching 971 metres. It's tussock covered hills are a barren but beautiful sight as you descend into the Mackenzie Basin. You'll go through the towns of Omarama and Twizel - the last stops before you arrive at Lake Pukaki and take the Mount. Cook Highway to arrive in the small village.

Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 9 - This morning take the Glacier Explorers tour, explore the parks trails this afternoon

Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook
Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook
Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook
Glacier Explorers Mt. Cook

Experience 500 year old icebergs up-close on the Mt Cook terminal lake. The Glacier Explorers tour is the only one of its kind in New Zealand - and one of only three in the world! Very few glaciers terminate into lakes and even fewer of them are accessible. See towering ice cliffs and floating icebergs from the safety of a specially designed boat.  These boats provide a safe way to view unseen and inaccessible areas of New Zealand's largest glacier - The Tasman.

Short walks in and around Mt. Cook Village

Short walks in and around Mt. Cook Village
Short walks in and around Mt. Cook Village
Short walks in and around Mt. Cook Village
Short walks in and around Mt. Cook Village

There are many short scenic walks beginning in and around the Mt. Cook Village, suitable for all ages and abilities. Located within the Mount Cook Village is the Department of Conservation information centre, where updates on the track conditions and suitability is available as well as information on the history of the area and its wildlife.

Below is a snapshot of some of the walks available:

 - Bowen Bush Walk  - 10 minute return

 - Glencoe Walk - 10 minute return

 - Red Tarns Track - Two hour return

 - Kea Point Walk - Two hour return

 - Hooker Lake - Four hour return

Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium
Accommodation: Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki Wing Premium

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Day 10 - A scenic drive across Mackenzie country to Akaroa

Driving distance and time: 383 kms / 238 miles : 4.7 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Mt. Cook National Park to Akaroa

Mt. Cook National Park to Akaroa
Mt. Cook National Park to Akaroa
Mt. Cook National Park to Akaroa
Mt. Cook National Park to Akaroa

Your first stop today should be the visitor centre on the southern shores of Lake Pukaki. As well as a great presentation detailing the formation of the region over thousands of years you are also often rewarded with uninterrupted views of over 50 kilometres to the peak of Mt. Cook.
Lake Tekapo, the northern most of the large Southern Lakes also the reflective quality that Pukaki has making the waters a bright turquoise on certain days. This busy little township is home to some of the most photographed subjects in the country, the Church of the Good Shepherd and the Collie Dog statue. It's a great place to take a scenic flight, enjoy a guided horse trek, a boat trip on the pristine lake or just enjoy the magnificent views.
From here you descend from the high country through Burkes Pass and into rich farmland. Beautiful Valley guides you to the town of Geraldine before you cross the vast Canterbury Plains  towards Akaroa and the Banks Peninsula.
The Banks Peninsula offers a great contrast to the South Island's largest city. Just around a 1 1/2 hours drive from the city centre are rolling green hills, streams, golden sand beaches and small settlements that offer a unique insight into New Zealand's history and development.
Just on the other side of the Port Hills is Lyttelton, a busy port town that was crucial to the development of Christchurch and the Canterbury Plains. Following the road around the beautiful natural harbour the names, such as Magazine Bay, Battery Point, Corsair Point and Governers Bay, remind of the importance the navy placed on this harbour.
The Banks Peninsula itself is actually the remains of a long extinct volcano, the rim of which collapsed some time ago allowing the sea to flood into and create what is now the Akaroa Harbour. In 1840 French colonists settled in Akaroa in a bid to stake a claim for the South Island. Unbeknown the British had already declared sovereignty and a long drawn out dispute ensued with the British eventually being given government. However the French stayed and made this stunning part of the South Pacific their home and still to this day the town boasts French street names and every year a French Festival is held.
The Harbour itself is teeming with wildlife and a nature cruise is a must do activity. One of the world's smallest and rarest dolphins, hectors dolphin, are often seen and cruises also offer excursions with the chance to swim amongst them.

Accommodation: Beaufort House Akaroa

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Beaufort House Akaroa
Accommodation: Beaufort House Akaroa
Accommodation: Beaufort House Akaroa
Accommodation: Beaufort House Akaroa

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 5-10 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 11 - Explore the seaside town and enjoy a harbour nature cruise

Akaroa swimming with the dolphins cruise

Akaroa swimming with the dolphins cruise
Akaroa swimming with the dolphins cruise
Akaroa swimming with the dolphins cruise
Akaroa swimming with the dolphins cruise

Akaroa Harbour formed as a result of an extinct volcanic crater being flooded by the Pacific Ocean. It's a beautiful place with sheer cliffs and the picturesque township of Akaroa at its heart. New Zealand's only native dolphin, Hectors dolphin, makes this sheltered harbour its home and its here you can take a 2 ½ tour to see and if you wish actually swim with these incredible creatures. Following a ½ hour briefing you depart on a 2 hour cruise of which around 1 hour is spent in the water with the dolphins. Black Cat Cruises has been operating since 1985 and their success rate at sighting dolphins is over 98%. Swimming with dolphins is not always possible either due to sea conditions, the dolphins' willingness to stay and play and other environmental reasons such as not swimming when there are babies around. You still manage to swim though on over 80% of their tours.

Accommodation: Beaufort House Akaroa

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Beaufort House Akaroa
Accommodation: Beaufort House Akaroa
Accommodation: Beaufort House Akaroa
Accommodation: Beaufort House Akaroa

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Day 12 - A short drive to Christchurch and depart

Driving distance and time: 91 kms / 57 miles : 1.7 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Akaroa to Christchurch (via Lyttelton)

Akaroa to Christchurch (via Lyttelton)
Akaroa to Christchurch (via Lyttelton)
Akaroa to Christchurch (via Lyttelton)
Akaroa to Christchurch (via Lyttelton)

Head to Christchurch today crossing the hills with spectacular views of the harbour. We recommend taking the slightly longer but much more scenic route around Lyttelton Harbour.  Just turn at Gebbies Pass Road and follow the road as it passes by the bays named after the areas naval past such as Corsair and Governors Bay. Take the tunnel into the city.

Depart Christchurch today

Explore more of Christchurch before dropping your rental car at the airport depot and continuing your onward journey.

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