South Island Hiking Adventure

On this huge circle through the South Island, hike some of New Zealand's most beautiful trails. Begin your journey in the Southern Lakes region, where you'll walk two of New Zealand's Great Walks: the rugged Routeburn Track and the picturesque Milford Track. Then take a break in Wanaka and Queenstown to unwind.

Go New Zealand Go New Zealand 1 month ago
South Island Hiking Adventure

Day 1: Spend the day in Queenstown

Step right into a tiny slice of alpine heaven. The picture-perfect Remarkables mountain ranges serve as a background to Queenstown, which is located on the banks of Lake Wakatipu. Experience skydiving, bungy jumping, or rafting in this town that lives up to its title as the world's adventure capital. With world-class cuisine, health spas, wine tours, and a vibrant nightlife scene, there's plenty of opportunities for relaxation.

Queenstown
Queenstown
Queenstown, New Zealand

Day 2 - 4: Walk the Routeburn Track

The trek starts at Routeburn Shelter, which is located in Glenorchy and is 68 kilometers from Queenstown. The 32-kilometer Routeburn trail connects Mount Aspiring National Park with Fiordland National Park, and is filled with high mountain peaks, enormous valleys, waterfalls, and jewel-like lakes. The vistas on this climb are truly amazing, with the highest point being 1,255 meters above sea level. Along the journey, Department of Conservation huts provide minimal lodging, and guided excursions are provided for those who prefer to walk with a guide. For further information about the Routeburn Track, go to the Routeburn Track page. If you're going on a solo walk, check out our Safety in the Outdoors page to be sure you've got everything you need.

Routeburn Track Trailhead (Routeburn Shelter)
Routeburn Track Trailhead (Routeburn Shelter)
Routeburn Track Trailhead (Routeburn Shelter) Routeburn Track, Mt Aspiring National Park, New Zealand

Day 5: Explore Te Anau

Give your tired legs a well-deserved rest after three days of walking and spend the day relaxing at Te Anau. Te Anau is known as the 'gateway to the fiords' since it is the nearest town to Milford Sound. Make time for a meal at one of the local restaurants, where you'll be enticed by fresh seafood, venison, and other regional specialties. Glowworm caves, a local museum, and a wildlife park are among the other attractions in the area. Before heading on the Milford Track tomorrow, take a cruise on Lake Manapouri or Lake Te Anau, or take a spectacular flight over Dusky Sound or Milford Sound.

Te Anau
Te Anau
Te Anau, New Zealand

Day 6 - 9: Walk the Milford Track

The Milford Track is perhaps New Zealand's most well-known hike. The 53-kilometer route starts at the mouth of Lake Te Anau and includes suspension bridges, boardwalks, and a mountain pass. You'll pass by beautiful lakes, imposing mountains, vast valleys, and the misty breath of New Zealand's largest waterfall. If you're traveling alone, make sure to reserve a DOC hut ahead of time because space is limited during peak season. Separate accommodations are available on guided tours, but they must be arranged in advance. Take a transport or drive from Te Anau to Te Anau Downs, where you'll board a pre-booked boat to Glade Wharf and the track's start. The trek concludes in Milford Sound settlement, from whence you can take a pre-arranged shuttle back to Te Anau Downs or Te Anau.

Milford Track
Milford Track
Milford Track, Southland, New Zealand

Day 10 - 11: Te Anau to Wanaka

Take a breather and get some rest before heading to Wanaka. Wanaka is a terrific spot to rest and unwind, with hundreds of exciting activities to choose from. Take a gorgeous lake excursion, a 4WD safari, a wine tour, or simply stroll about and soak up the atmosphere of this alpine town. Wildwire offers an exhilarating hike up twin waterfalls. Puzzling World is the place to go if you want to be surprised at every step. This is a brain-teaser of an attraction, with optical illusions, a wonderful 3D maze, unusual architecture, and the interesting Psychic challenge.

Wanaka
Wanaka
Wanaka, New Zealand

Day 12 - 13: Wanaka to Queenstown

Travel to Queenstown from Wanaka, stopping in Arrowtown along the way. This delightful little community has a long history of gold mining and is especially lovely in the fall. Take advantage of your final day in Queenstown. The Queenstown Hill Time Walk, which takes around 3 hours round trip, is a terrific morning activity. It ascends through pine forest to the top of Te Tapu-Nui (mountain of deep sanctity), with spectacular views along the route. Try riding part of the Queenstown Trail, which connects Queenstown, Arrowtown, and the Gibbston Valley, if you're in the mood for some cycling. In the afternoon, visit one of Queenstown's must-see sights or simply relax and unwind.

Lake Wakatipu
Lake Wakatipu
Lake Wakatipu, Otago, New Zealand

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