Trails of New Zealand

  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • What's Included
  • Reviews
  • Dates
  • Exodus

An active adventure exploring the Land of the Long White Cloud

From the waterfront city of Auckland to the spectacular Southern Alps, New Zealand is blessed with an array of natural wonders that are best experienced and appreciated by foot and by boat. This active trip maximises the time spent in the outdoors. Whether it's sailing through waterways, hiking between volcanic peaks or jetboating through Mount Aspiring National Park, New Zealand is a country that always exceeds expectations. Make the most of this striking country with this jam-packed itinerary that includes many of the highlights en route.

* Auckland and Christchurch * One-day Tongariro Crossing (optional) and other exciting walks * Lake Taupo and Rotorua * Abel Tasman National Park * Fox Glacier and Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park * Queenstown and Milford Sound
* 17 nights in comfortable hotels and lodges, most with en suite facilities, 1 night cruise boat with shared faciilities * Group normally 6 to 14 plus local leader. Min age 18 yrs * Travel by private buses

All breakfasts, 1 lunch and 2 dinners are included. Breakfasts will be either supplied by the accommodation or by the guides for you. We will always be able to purchase lunches on the run but can also facilitate creating sandwiches at your accommodation and have these stored in our on-board fridge. Morning tea / coffee stops are available at your own cost. 

  • New Zealand
  • Oceania
  • Lindis Pass
  • Adventure Holidays in Oceania
  • Australasia
  • Australia
  • Tekapo
  • Haast
  • Te Anau
  • Rotorua
  • Christchurch
  • Wanaka
  • Auckland
  • Mt Cook
  • Queenstown
Tour Types
  • Adventure
  • Walking
  • Active
  • Natural Wonders
  • Scenic
  • Sailing
  • Winter
  • Cultural
  • Singles
Day 1-2

Flights usually depart London in the afternoon. **

Day 3

The day is free to relax and recover from the jet lag. Auckland is a beautiful city and worthy of some time to explore. The nearby Viaduct restaurants are an ideal means of overcoming the last of the jet lag and the day just slowly passes by. If you are feeling lucky visit the Sky City Casino tower for one of those lunches you just don't forget. Those not flying with the group should meet at the start point at the Auckland City Hotel at 6pm for a full briefing with your leader. *Auckland City Hotel or similar*

Day 4

Auckland is the City of Sails, so what better way to start your holiday than to take a cruise across the Gulf to the beautiful Rangitoto Island; which at only 600 years old, is the youngest volcano in New Zealand. The island has undergone a significant restoration programme and is entirely pest-free which encourages the native flora and fauna to thrive. We will walk through lava fields and forests to the summit of the island which stands 259m above sea level and has some stunning panoramic views of Auckland and the Hauraki Gulf. Walk Profile- Rangitoto Island: Distance- 8.5 km/5 miles, total ascent 249m and descent 245m, approx. 2-3 hours. *Auckland City Hotel or similar*

Day 5

Leaving the city behind us we head south to Rotorua (approx. 3.5 hours drive) and our accommodation. On arrival we stretch our legs with a hike around the redwood forest followed by an optional afternoon at leisure in town or a hike at Blue Lake. The evening highlight is the Marae (ceremonial ground) visit. Our Maori hosts welcome us in their traditional manner before entertaining us with a concert and hangi (traditional meal). Walk Profile- Blue Lakes Circuit: Distance- 6 km/3.7 miles, total ascent 125m and descent 117m, approx. 1.5 hours. *Jet Park Rotorua or similar*

Day 6

We explore one of New Zealand's most colourful thermal areas with boiling mud pools, hot streams and silica terraces. The natural wonders that first attracted the Maori in the 14th century, and later the European's, still draw large numbers of tourists every year. Rotorua is a unique natural wonder and a must see destination. Leaving Rotorua we drive south (approx. 3 hours) to Tongariro National Park. On the way we visit the steaming Wai-O-Tapu geothermal valley and impressive Huka Falls. Walk Profile- Wai-O-Tapu: Distance- 8.5 km/5 miles, total ascent 109m and descent 152m, approx. up to 3 hours. *Skotel Alpine Resort or similar*

Day 7

From the many walking options that exist, you are free to take your choice as we explore this volcanic landform. Two half-day walks to beautiful waterfalls and bush lands (unguided) or the amazing optional 8 hour Tongariro Alpine Crossing are on offer. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing has been called one of the greatest one-day walks in New Zealand and provided the weather is kind the rugged volcanic desert, craters and glacial valleys combined with the incredible views make this a day to remember. The crossing should not be under estimated and there are a number of steep sections where the loose surface can make it tough going, so come well-prepared. The crossing can take 7-8 hours depending on walking ability.  Walk Profile- Tongariro Crossing: Distance- 19.4 km/12 miles, total ascent 765m and descent 1125m, approx. 7-8 hours. If you do not wish to do the optional Tongariro Crossing, below are two of the most popular and scenic walk options accessible by foot from the accommodation that you may wish to consider. Your leader will also be able to advise locally with further details/options: Walk Profile (unguided)- Silica Rapids: Distance- 7 km loop/4.3 miles, total ascent 190m and descent 190m, approx. 2.5 hours. Walk Profile (unguided)- Taranaki Falls: Distance- 6 km loop/3.7 miles, total ascent 115m and descent 115m, approx. 2.5 hours. *Skotel Alpine Resort or similar*

Day 8

Relax following yesterday's efforts as we drive (approx. 5 hours) south to Wellington. Continue across the Rangitikei and Manawatu Plains and down the Kapiti Coast to Wellington. Across from our hotel is Te Papa, the NZ National Museum which we can explore in the afternoon along with the beautiful Botanic Gardens and cable car and enjoy the exciting nightlife of New Zealand's capital city. *The Bay Plaza Hotel or similar*

Day 9

After an early breakfast we board the ferry and leave the North Island behind as we cross the Cook Strait, passing the Marlborough Sounds with 1500kms of beautiful coastline. From Picton we have a 90 min drive to Nelson where we can take time out to explore the city and a chance to stretch the legs with a short walk to the gographical centre of New Zealand. After this visit we drive to Motueka (approx. 60 min) on the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park, with its idyllic golden sand beaches and forests. Walk Profile- Geographical centre of New Zealand: Distance- 1.6 km/1 mile, total ascent 86m and descent 90m, approx. 1 hour. *Avalon Manor Motel or similar*

Day 10

Out of Marahau, this morning coastal walk takes us through the beautiful beaches and ancient forests as the track weaves through the park, providing a kaleidoscope of impressions. The path is well maintained and the walk will take approx 3-4 hours. We meet our sailing boat at the Anchorage Bay, providing the return to Marahau and some time to relax dining out at the small town of Motueka. Walk Profile- Marahau to Anchorage: Distance- 12.7 km/8 miles, total ascent 217m and descent 214m, approx. 3-4 hours. *Avalon Manor Motel or similar*

Day 11

Our departure from the Abel Tasman National Park is followed by a scenic drive down the mighty Buller River. After a short stop at Cape Foulwind to see the local seal colony, we then stop at Punakaiki, home of the famous Pancake Rocks, to watch the setting sun (total driving time approx. 5 hours). If the tide is up the ground can physically shake and water spurts from the blow-holes and fissures that dot the coastline. Walk Profile- Cape Foulwind: Distance- 3.5 km/2 miles, total ascent 76m and descent 98m, approx. 1 hour and 15 minutes. *Punakaiki Resort or similar*

Day 12

Passing through areas of lush forests, we continue south down the beautiful west coast. We drive onto the small village of Okarito nestled on the lagoon, home of the rare Kotuku (white heron). On offer here is optional kayaking where we float in on the incoming tide and explore the bush-clad waterways seeking out the abundant bird life the lagoon is famous for. Those looking to stretch their legs can hike to the nearby Trig station (approx. 1.5 hours) for the spectacular views over the Southern Alps. Later we continue the short drive through to Fox township. Walk Profile- Okarito Trig Walk: Distance- 4.2 km/2.6 miles, total ascent 171m and descent 170m, approx. 1.5- 2 hours. *The Westhaven or similar*

Day 13

After breakfast we stroll around the reflective Lake Matheson, a photographer's dream. As we head out of town, we take a drive up the valley and hike to a viewpoint of the spectacular Fox Glacier.  We then continue south along bush-clad roads and past the dramatic coastline with its wild windswept beaches to the settlement of Haast. Turning inland we climb over Haast Pass, the southernmost crossing of the Southern Alps that forms the boundary between Westland and Otago. From here the tussock lands of the eastern slopes merge with the beech forests. We travel through to Wanaka, home for the next two nights. Walk Profile- Lake Matheson Loop: Distance- 2.6 km/1.6 miles, total ascent 42m and descent 42m, approx. 1.5 hours. Walk Profile- Fox Glacier Valley Walkway: Distance- 2.6 km/1.6 miles, total ascent 68m and descent 69m, approx. 1 hour. *Ramada Resort Wanaka or similar*

Day 14

In the morning we head into the Mount Aspiring National Park and experience an exciting jetboat ride along the braided rivers leading into the park. Jetboating was invented in NZ as a means to negotiate the shallow braided rivers which we use to access a track leading to a hike into the cirque surrounded by huge mountain walls. Back at our coach we eat our picnic lunch before driving onto our 3 hour hike at the beautiful Diamond Lake that provides stunning views of the river delta and the landscape. Walk Profile- Matukituki Valley (walk during Jet boat): Distance- 2.2 km/1.3 miles, total ascent 29m and descent 29m, approx. up to 1 hour. Walk Profile- Diamond Lake & Rocky Mountain Circuit: Distance- Up to 7.1 km/4.4 miles, total ascent 437m and descent 432m, approx. 2-3 hours. *Ramada Resort Wanaka or similar *

Day 15

From Wanaka we depart early heading for Te Anau and then into the Eglington Valley, enjoying a series of short walks in the spectacular Milford region and then into Milford Sound itself where we join our floating accommodation for the night. The newly refurbished boat has private two bed cabins with shared facilities amidst dolphins and mighty peaks towering above the fjord. Walk Profile- various short walk options on Milford Road of up to 1 hour/2 kms duration depending on group fitness, weather and time permitting. *Real Journeys- Wanderer boat*

Day 16

After an early morning breakfast we cruise the inner sound again searching for dolphins and seals before disembarking and retracing our tracks to The Divide and the start of the Routeburn Track. Here we take a 3-hour walk (approx. 6.8km) to Key Summit for some spectacular views. After this hike we drive via Te Anau (approx. 4 hours) onto Queenstown, where we stay for the next two nights. Walk Profile- Routeburn Track: Distance- 6.8 km/4.2 miles, total ascent 430m and descent 413m, approx. 3 hours. *Blue Peaks Lodge or similar*

Day 17

A free day to enjoy the scenic delights of this world famous destination! There are numerous activities on offer which your leader can advise about locally. Or, you may just prefer to simply spend the day shopping or relaxing! *Blue Peaks Lodge or similar*

Day 18

Travel through the barren Kawarau Gorge where large amounts of gold were dredged at the turn of the century. Drive over Lindis Pass to the tussock-covered plains of the Mackenzie basin and into the Mt Cook National Park (total approx. 4 hours). Beneath NZ's highest peak we walk into the Hooker Valley with its crashing glaciers and glacial lakes. By early evening we reach our accommodation and watch the spectacular view from the warmth of the restaurant. Walk Profile- Hooker Valley: Distance- 10.5 km/6.5 miles, total ascent 209m and descent 218m, approx. 3 hours. *Aoraki/Mt Cook Alpine Lodge or similar*

Day 19

After breakfast we have the option to hike (approx. 2 hours) to the nearby Red Tarns on Mt Sebastapol or an optional visit to the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre and the local Department of Conservation Centre. By late morning we depart for nearby Lake Tekapo and visit the observatory on the summit of Mt John, a short hike down to the township. From here we drive (approx. 3.5 hours) across the mosaic of the Canterbury Plains out to Christchurch and the end of our drive. Walk Profile- Red Tarns- optional: Distance- 5.1 km/3.1 miles, total ascent 538m and descent 535m, approx. 2 hours. *Pavilions Hotel or similar*

Day 20

Above Christchurch is the summit walkway and in the morning we have a final hike enjoying the spectacular views into the Lyttleton harbour and across the Canterbury Plains. After the devastating earthquakes of 2010/11, the city is undergoing a major rebuild, unrivalled in the world. The afternoon is free to explore this city rebuild as well as the beautiful gardens and Hagley park. Walk Profile- Godley Head/Taylors Mistake: Distance- 6.1 km/3.8 miles, total ascent 111m and descent 263m, approx. 3 hours. *Pavilions Hotel or similar*

Day 21

For those on group flights, these depart in the afternoon and will arrive in the UK the following day. We have the day free in Christchurch to relax or enjoy some last minute shopping. Land Only arrangements will finish after check-out from the hotel. **

Day 22


* All breakfasts, 1 lunch and 2 dinners * All accommodation  * All transport and listed activities * Tour leader throughout * Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

A wonderful trip.

This trip covers a lot of ground, with a packed itinerary and with plenty of walking in beautiful scenery. The weather was very kind to us - we even saw Milford Sound with clear blue skies!

Rating: 5

Title is good.

It’s a very full an encompassing trip. It covers a great deal and involves a lot of hiking, which is really the only way to truly see and appreciate this spectacular country.

Rating: 5

An Unexpected Journey.

An excellent introduction to both islands. There is so much to see and do that the time we had just whizzed by. It is clear that this trip only just touches the surface but in saying that we had an unprecedented insight into the geography, geology, flora, fauna and cultural diversity, balancing the city explorations with the more exciting challenges provided by the spectacular scenery. To achieve this itinerary you have to withstand long travelling interspersed by the activities included. It would have been good to have extra days in certain areas to enhance the experience but you can only do so much in 19 days. However, in saying that, this trip cannot be faulted and certainly shows New Zealand at its best.

Rating: 5

Fabulous walking in New Zealand

A wonderful itinerary and excellent guides/leaders with infectious enthusiasm for this amazing country!

Rating: 5


This trip is one of the best we have experienced with Exodus. The varied walking, landscape and experiences on the trip make it an amazing adventure. Beware though there are many long distances to cover (we did over 3500 Km in the 19 days), but Ian and Sonya made it very interesting with their local knowledge and frequent rest stops at interesting places. The highlight of the walking was of course the Tongariro Alpine Crossing which on the day we did it was truly spectacular with the Emerald lake just like the Guide books. The Abel Tasman Coastal walk again like the guide book pictures. The Diamond Lake and Rocky Mountain walk was tough but well worth it for the views. Other experiences met all our expectations – Sailing on Tasman sea, Jet boat on River Motukituki where at times we were in 5 inches of water, Helicopter to Fox Glacier (paid locally) and overnight on Milford Sound in Fiordland. Christchurch was sad to see but it is good to that they are beginning to get the city rebuilt. It is important to note that a few walks and experiences can be affected by weather. Although it was summer we dodged Storm Fehi – Tongariro was closed the day after we walked it, Windy Wellington was stormy Wellington, roads near Fox Glacier were closed due to landslides and they had had no electricity for 3 days before we arrived. However we managed all the planned itinerary except walking to Fox Glacier due to landslide. All in all an AWESOME trip

Rating: 5

The best of New Zealand

What an amazing trip! I cannot recommend it highly enough - it showcasts everything that New Zealand has to offer, and despite travelling for 3 weeks it is not enough. We wanted to stay longer, explore further, be stunned by the mindblowing views. From the rolling hills on the North Island to the majestic mountains and fields in Middle Earth and Milford Sounds on the South Island - it is impossible to choose a favourite spot, and certainly calls for another trip in the near future. I loved, loved, loved it, the country, the people and how happy it made me.

Rating: 5

Trails of New Zealand

A perfectly balanced blend of touristy sightseeing activities, incredibly beautiful, varied walks and exciting, unforgettable experiences. We were blessed with fantastic weather, too!

Rating: 5

Trails of New Zealand

We had promised ourselves this trip for some time and had high expectations. We were looking for a good mix of activities to see and experience the country. Trails of New Zealand went way beyond our expectations. We thoroughly enjoyed the amazing places, the range of walks in different landscapes, the fun of jet-boating, sailing and cruising, and luging, and the unique birds and wildlife.

Rating: 5

Trails of New Zealand

This was a wonderful walking holiday. We were fortunately blessed with extremely good weather, so the views were unforgettable.

Rating: 5

Highlights of New Zealand

An excellent and varied itinerary through stunning scenery. Much travelling thoughtfully balanced by good walks. A good mix of group activities and free time.

Rating: 5


You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.

Dates Price Single Availability
21-Oct-2019 for 21 Nights Flight inclusive adult Flight Included Visit Website
23-Oct-2019 for 18 Nights Land only Visit Website
12-Dec-2019 for 21 Nights Flight inclusive adult Flight Included Visit Website
14-Dec-2019 for 18 Nights Land only Visit Website
02-Jan-2020 for 21 Nights Flight inclusive adult Flight Included Visit Website
04-Jan-2020 for 18 Nights Land only Visit Website
23-Jan-2020 for 21 Nights Flight inclusive adult Flight Included Visit Website
25-Jan-2020 for 18 Nights Land only Visit Website
05-Mar-2020 for 21 Nights Flight inclusive adult Flight Included Visit Website
07-Mar-2020 for 18 Nights Land only Visit Website

Touring with Exodus

Exodus is an award-winning company built on adventures. It started life on 4 February 1974 when two friends got together to provide an overland truck to travel to the Minaret of Jam, deep in the heart of the Hindu Kush, the most inaccessible of the world’s great monuments. They continue to discover countries, cultures, environments, cities, mountain ranges, deserts, coasts and jungles - exploring this amazing planet we all live on.

At Exodus, they know what makes you tick when it comes to holidays. It’s a desire shared by so many others. A yearning to visit new places and come home with a real sense of what they’re all about. This means delving into local traditions, cultures, cuisine, lifestyles – anything that contributes to its unique identity. At the same time, they always remember that they are only guests. So they ensure they travel courteously and respectfully, in smaller groups to minimise their impact, to ensure that every Exodus holiday is a beneficial experience for everyone involved. This is a philosophy they take around the world, helping you reach some incredible destinations on 500 itineraries across 90 countries – choose from walking, cycling, culture, wildlife and even polar adventures in guided groups or self-guided, tailor-made for you or a ready-made itinerary in Peru or India, Costa Rica or Italy – the choices are endless. They also strive to provide as much flexibility and choice as possible, making it simple for you to experience a very different holiday.

All staff at Exodus have a passion for travel and adventure with their combined experiences spanning 171 different countries and in their former lives, some team members have been professional archaeologists, wildlife guides, overland drivers, mountain leaders, diving and ski specialists and mountain bike gurus – all guaranteed to give you the very best adventure possible. Extensive planning, research, fact-finding and training are just some of the ways this expertise comes through in your adventure.

Exodus recognises their obligation to operate their tours in a responsible and sustainable fashion to address the environmental, economic and social impact tourism can have. They are committed to the well-being of the communities that host you and the natural environment that you are there to experience. Key points in their philosophy include small groups which have less impact on local communities and environments, putting money directly into the communities visited by using locally owned and run accommodation and eating locally produced food, ensuring local staff and operators receive a fair rate for their services, encouraging their own staff to take an active interest in responsible and sustainable tourism and train them accordingly, endeavour to ensure that their practices help in the environmental conservation of the areas visited and provide their clients with advice and guidelines on how to respect the social, cultural and religious beliefs of local communities.


tour details

This tour is operated by Exodus

21 nights from pp; per Night
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Group Size:6 - 14
Meals:18 breakfasts, 1 lunches, 2 dinners.
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