New Zealand’s Great Walks in a Day
The ‘New Zealand’s Great Walks in a Day’ itinerary showcases most of the country’s best walks – all completed within one day!
Over 21 days you can explore the best of New Zealand with guided walks of our most iconic tracks including the Tongariro Crossing, Abel Tasman Coastal Track and Milford Track, to name just a few. This is the perfect itinerary for a bucket list tour on a timeframe that suits you.
All of our itineraries are provided as a base and we can tailor any combination of accommodation levels or trip variations to your preference.
Day 1 – Auckland
Arrive into Auckland International Airport (own arrangements prior to this). Collect your rental car and travel into the central city. Check into your Motel/Apartment accommodation in central Auckland. A visit to Auckland is not complete without a stroll around The Viaduct and a visit to the Sky Tower.
NB. Backpackers, B+B or hotel accommodations can be arranged instead – please advise if you would prefer this option.
Day 2 – Auckland to National Park (drive time four hours)
Drive from Auckland to National Park Village today (three hours) with stops at Hamilton, Te Awamutu and Waitomi possible along the way. Overnight in National Park this evening.
Day 3 - Tongariro Crossing, National Park
This one day guided walk of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is the easiest, most convenient and truly rewarding way to experience one of the world's top hikes with your own private guide. Walk at your own pace with just a day pack to worry about . . . learning about this fascinating area as you hike.
Your guide collects you from your Whakapapa or National Park accommodation for the short drive to the start of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This is a wonderful yet challenging 7-8 hour (19km) hike through a dramatic volcanic and alpine environment. The beauty of this tour is that you can choose to walk as much or as little of the track as you wish at a pace that suits you.
The track runs through the Mangatepopo Valley (900m) to the saddle between Tongariro and Ngauruhoe Mountains. Two steep climbs lead to Red Crater (1886m), then a scree slope drops down to the vivid Emerald Lakes. After passing the Green and Blue lakes the track then sidles around the northern slope of Mount Tongariro with great views of Lake Taupo, before the descent of switch-backs and steps to the end (600m). Your private transport awaits you at the end of the track and you return late afternoon to your Tongariro National Park or Whakapapa Village accommodation.
This day includes the following:
Door to door land transport from Whakapapa or National Park Village;
Packed lunch, snacks and drinks
Private guiding services
Raincoats, day packs, walking sticks available if required
Transport options also available on request from Taupo and Rotorua
Available daily from November to May (minimum of two persons)
Day 4 – National Park to Wellington (drive time four hours)
Drive from National Park to Wellington today with stops at Taihape (the gumboot capital), Palmerston North and the iconic Weta Workshop, nestled away in the Miramar suburb of greater Wellington. Overnight in Wellington this evening.
Day 5 – Wellington
A visit to New Zealand is not complete with a day spent in the country’s capital – take in the sights of the ‘coolest little capital in the world’ including the Te Papa Museum, iconic Cable Car trip, Carter Observatory and Wellington Zoo. Overnight again in Wellington this evening.
Day 6 – Wellington to Picton, Marlborough Sounds
Take the legendary interisland ferry journey this morning (three hours) from Wellington across Cook Strait to the pretty little seaside port of Picton, gateway to the South Island and heart of the Marlborough Sounds. Stay tonight in your accommodation in central Picton and enjoy a meal at one of the many eateries.
Day 7 – Queen Charlotte Track
This one day guided walk provides an excellent day excursion along a premier section of the Queen Charlotte Track. For those who would like to learn about the wildlife and history of the Marlborough Sounds as they walk with an expert guide, this is the perfect day trip (around 7.30am to 6pm).
Take a boat cruise from Picton to Ship Cove past salmon farms and sea birds on a beautiful voyage to Ship Cove, a historic and scenic reserve that Captain Cook visited several times in the 17th Century.
Enjoy a guided walk along the Queen Charlotte Track from Ship Cove to Endeavour Inlet (14km - five hours). As you would prefer a shorter section, we can always arrange a start from Resolution Bay instead of Ship Cove (although you will still have a brief stop at Ship Cove to discover more about this historic site) and then still walk around to Endeavour Inlet/Furneaux Lodge (10kms - three hours).
Many beautiful views are to be had across the Marlborough Sounds as you stroll through ancient forest. Your informative local guide will explain the European and Maori connections of this significant historical area as well as provide detailed information on flora and fauna.
The day includes the following:
Water transport to and from track
Lunch and freshly brewed tea/coffee
The services of a well-informed guide
Pick up from Picton accommodation
Available year round subject to a minimum of two persons.
Winter trips may vary in timings due to water taxi services.
Return to Picton and overnight again this evening.
Day 8 – Picton to Nelson (two hours)
Drive to Nelson today via the famous Marlborough wine region. There are numerous wineries to visit en route and a boutique chocolate factory as well for the sweet toothed traveller. Alternatively, take a morning visit to the internationally renowned Omaka Aviation Heritage Museum with its WWI and WWII aircraft expeditions including displays crafted by Weta Workshop. Overnight in Nelson city this evening.
Day 9 – Nelson
A free day to explore the sights of Nelson including a short walk to the Centre of New Zealand. Nelson has great shops and eateries including the iconic Boatshed Bar on Tahunanui Drive. Overnight in Nelson again this evening.
Day 10 – Abel Tasman Coastal Track
The Abel Tasman Coastal Track is a great option. Join your guide for a wonderful day trip into the national park with its golden sandy beaches, clear azure sea, regenerating native forest and magnificent views, all combined with a water taxi ride. The best of bush and beach in a day!
You would be collected from your accommodation in the morning and transferred to the pretty seaside township of Marahau, to catch a waiting water taxi to Anchorage/Torrent Bay.
Hike back along the track towards Marahau, discovering native regenerating forest, enjoying magnificent ocean views and spending time relaxing on one of the many beaches along the way (walk distance is 12.5km).
Maori and early European history abounds here and your guide is available to share the stories of this area and their knowledge of the native wildlife you see as you walk. Return to your accommodation at the end of the day.
This day includes the following:
Land transport to/from your accommodation in the Nelson region
Packed lunch including freshly brewed coffee/tea
All water taxi transportation
The services of a well-informed guide
Available every day - year round subject to a minimum of two persons.
Return to Nelson and overnight this evening.
Day 11 – Nelson to Punakaiki (three hours and 45 minutes)
Travel south to St Arnaud, a picturesque town that sits on the edge of Lake Rotoiti. Head towards the West Coast and then Westport via the Buller Gorge. Travelling south from Westport you begin your West Coast journey through the Paparoa National Park and the iconic Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki.
Overnight at Punakaiki.
Day 12 – Punakaiki to Franz Josef Glacier (three hours)
From Punakaiki, head south along the rugged West Coast as Franz Josef Glacier. Option heli hike on the glacier this afternoon. Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier both offer awe inspiring hiking and sightseeing experiences.
Day 13 – Franz Josef Glacier to Wanaka (3 hours and 30 minutes)
From Franz Josef, travel further south and then inland via Haast Pass, the divide between the West Coast and Otago regions, and part of majestic Mt Aspiring National Park. Your journey today ends in picturesque Wanaka.
Overnight in Wanaka.
Day 14 – Wanaka to Queenstown (1 hour)
To reach Queenstown, either opt for the magnificent scenic drive over the Crown Range that weaves through stony mountain tussock lands. Or follow the gentle contours of vineyards and fruit orchards through Cromwell, and the heart of Central Otago. Your journey ends in the internationally renowned destination of Queenstown.
Overnight in Queenstown.
Day 15 – Queenstown
Free day to explore Queenstown. Overnight in Queenstown.
Day 16 – Queenstown
Free day to explore Queenstown. Optional Lord of the Rings 4WD Tour or a more leisurely cruise on the TSS Earnslaw on Lake Wakatipu. Overnight in Queenstown.
Day 17 – Queenstown to Te Anau (2 hours and 15 minutes)
Drive to Te Anau. Enjoy a visit to the famous glow worm caves this evening.
Your trip to the Te Anau Glowworm Caves begins with a cruise to the western shores of Lake Te Anau on a purpose-built scenic cruise vessels.
Deep inside the caves, beyond the roar of the water, you will be taken by small boat into a silent hidden grotto inhabited by thousands of glowworms, unique to New Zealand. In the subterranean darkness, they produce a glittering display that is nothing short of extraordinary.
Overnight in Te Anau.
Day 18 – Routeburn Track
Enjoy a guided day walk from Te Anau to Key Summit on the renowned Routeburn Track, a New Zealand Great Walk. Ascending through lush forest and into a unique alpine herb field offering panoramic views of mountains, alpine lakes and bush clad valleys far below. This walk offers an incredible day out in the heart of New Zealand South Island main mountain divide.
Overnight at the beautiful Milford Village at the edge of Milford Sound this evening.
Day 19 – Milford Track
Enjoy a guided walk on the Milford Track today to complete your amazing New Zealand’s Great Walks in a Day journey!
The day begins with a short boat ride across Milford Sound’s iconic Deep Water Basin to Sandfly Point, adeptly named as you will see! This is the end point of the Milford Track, but the start of your Milford hike. From there you begin your guided walk, meandering alongside the cascading Arthur River then Lake Ada, on a well formed track. Your destination and half way point is Giants Gate waterfall. This spectacular waterfall is best viewed and photographed from the large swing bridge spanning the river. There is much to see, from the ancient trees towering above, to the vibrant green ferns and mosses below.
Overnight at Milford Sound.
Day 20 – Milford Sound to Queenstown
Return to Queenstown by bus today and overnight.
Day 21 – Depart Queenstown