South Island Hut Trek
- Guides Choice trip in New Zealand
- All around experience of New Zealand
- Embark on remarkable hikes every day
- Stay in remote backcountry huts
- Boat rides, float planes & kayaking
- Incredible diversity of landscapes
- Optional heli hike on a glacier
Kia Ora from New Zealand! On our 10-day Wildland Hut to hut Hiking Adventure, we will take you through three of New Zealand's most famous National Parks! From snow-capped mountains and dense beech forests of Mount Aspiring National Park to the lush rainforest of the rugged Westland and the open braided rivers of the Canterbury high country, this New Zealand scenery is truly awe-inspiring!
This tour combines fantastic day hikes with more adventurous self-supported backpacking days to provide us with a well-rounded perspective of the New Zealand backcountry. We'll stay in a mixture of comfortable lodges and more basic backcountry huts, to get really off the beaten track and away from the crowds.
We hike to glacial lakes littered with icebergs and enjoy a jet boat ride back down the river. Additionally, we get to experience natural hot springs nestled in the heart of the Southern Alps, while taking in the solitude under the stars of the Southern Hemisphere. The highlight of this trip is every day!
(This trip is operated by Wildland International, a partner company of Wildland Trekking with shared ownership, management teams, guides, and other resources.)
Trip Dates & Booking
You can also click here to request new dates or book through customer service.
Call us - we may be able to add them!
Welcome to New Zealand! Today we will pick you up at the airport and shuttle you to our first night's lodging. We will start our trip by meeting for our orientation briefing at 5pm at our hotel in Queenstown, New Zealand.
We will have our meet and greet to get to know everyone and our guides will facilitate our orientation meeting. This is your chance to ask any questions and prepare for the adventure ahead! We will then enjoy a delicious welcome dinner served up by one of talented local chefs Queenstown is known for. There will also be time for sightseeing, relaxing, or strolling around the shores of Lake Wakatipu before or after dinner.
- Driving Duration: 90 minutes
- Hiking Mileage: 4 miles (6.4 km)
- Elevation Gain: 1920 feet (585 m)
- Elevation Loss: 1920 feet (585 m)
On this New Zealand trek we begin with a taste of our first dose of the dramatic landscapes of central Otago, as we travel up and over the Crowne Mountain Range, through the Cardrona Saddle to the charming, lakeside town of Wanaka. We’ll begin our first hike of the trip and head up the Rocky Mountain Summit Trail, enjoying a steady climb and a beautiful reward with stunning 360-degree views of Mt. Aspiring, Roy’s Peak and beautiful Lake Wanaka. We will then head back to our hotel in Wanaka, have dinner and our guides will provide the plan for the next day.
- Driving Duration: 1 hour
- Hiking Mileage: 5.3 miles (8.5 km)
- Elevation Gain: 1800 feet (548 m)
- Elevation Loss: 1800 feet (548 m)
If you fancy the idea of staying in one of the most isolated mountain huts in New Zealand, today will be a highlight for you!
We start out the day after breakfast by traveling to the small village of Makarora, where we will board a small plane and fly to the secluded Siberia Valley, in the heart of the Southern Alps. Once we land in the valley, we have a short hike to our lodge for the night. We will drop our bags in the hut and set out on a hike to Lake Crucible, a cauldron-like glacier lake on top of a mountain. The views from this place are absolutely amazing! We will then head back to our hut and enjoy a candle lit dinner before heading off to sleep.
- Driving Duration: 1 hour
- Hiking Mileage: 4.1 miles (6.6 km)
- Elevation Gain: 460 feet (140 m)
- Elevation Loss: 1,050 feet (320 m)
After a delicious breakfast, we’ll head out for an early start as we spend the morning hiking to Kerin Forks. At the Wilkin River we will meet our jet boat for a thrilling ride back to Makarora. From there, we’ll check out the famous Blue Pools which are deep, crystal clear pools of pure glacial water gathered from the mountains. Stopping on our way to the town Haast, we’ll hop out for a nice hike at Fantail Falls to check out a beautiful 75 ft. waterfall, which drops into the perfectly clear, Haast River.
- Driving Duration: 1 hour
- Hiking Mileage: 12 miles (19.3 km)
- Elevation Gain: 1,380 feet (420 m)
- Elevation Loss: 130 feet (40 m)
Our hike today is challenging, heading alongside the Copland river up a valley with gradual elevation gain, that is absolutely worth the work! We will be carrying backpacks with sleeping bags, some camp clothes and a share of the group food. We stay in another spectacular backcountry hut, where we can relax and soothe our muscles in the amazing natural hot springs that give the place its name “Welcome flats”. We will soak our bones under the amazing Southern Hemisphere sky, while our amazing guides cook us dinner in the hut. This is usually a highlight of our trip! Our guides will provide the plan for the next day.
- Driving Duration: minimal
- Hiking Mileage: 8.6 miles (13.8 km)
- Elevation Gain: 1410 feet (430 m)
- Elevation Loss: 1410 feet (430 m)
This morning after a hearty breakfast, we will continue up the Copland track from the Welcome Flat Hut to Douglas Rock for more incredible alpine views. We will see multiple hanging glaciers and the views are Amazing! Of course, if you do not want to hike today, you are most welcome to grab a good book and have another soak in the hot springs until the group returns. Our guides will whip up another gourmet backcountry meal and provide the plan for the next day until you head off to sleep.
- Driving Duration: 45 minutes
- Hiking Mileage: 12 miles (19.3 km)
- Elevation Gain: 130 feet (40 m)
- Elevation Loss: 1380 feet (420 m)
After breakfast, we will have another early start and will be back on the trail, refreshed and revitalized after a wonderful couple of nights away from the buzz of reality! We will enjoy the quiet and fresh morning air as we hike back to the trail head. We will have a rest as we board our transportation for the scenic journey up the coast to the charming township of Franz Josef, for where we will stay for the next couple of nights in the heart of glacier country. We will check into our accommodation, have some free time to rest until meeting up for a delicious and rewarding dinner. Our guides will provide the plan for the next day.
- Driving Duration: 1 hour
- Hiking Mileage: 3 miles (4.8 km)
- Elevation Gain: 394 feet (120 m)
- Elevation Loss: 394 feet (120 m)
- Sea Kayaking Duration: 2-4 hours
This morning after a hearty breakfast, we’ll have a short journey to a tiny, little-known beach community called Okarito. Upon arrival in Okarito, we will meet our Sea kayak guides for a thorough briefing before heading out on the water in a picturesque lagoon, which is home to a White Heron colony as well as many other bird species. We will kayak for a couple hours during the morning before having lunch around mid-day. In the afternoon we will hit the trails and hike through lush, coastal forest to a beautiful look out and 3 mile lagoon, where you can dip your feet in the lovely Tasman sea.
- Driving Duration: 1 hour
- Hiking Mileage: 5 miles (8 km)
- Elevation Gain: 3610 feet (1100 m)
- Elevation Loss: 3610 feet (1100 m)
Today we have 2 options. This morning after breakfast, we can either choose option A or option B:
- Option A. consists of spending the day near Franz Josef Glacier hiking up through the native forest to Alex Knob where we’ll witness the beauty of ice and the glaciers. When we are ready, we will descend back down for our delicious lunch and then hike to the Tatare tunnels.
- Option B. consists of getting up close and personal with an optional Heli-hike of the Franz Josef Glacier (helicopter company has a max weight of 250 pounds per passenger). This is the less strenuous option of the two also. Our glacier guides are specialists and will lead us through ice formations, crevasses, serrac’s and glacial tunnels. (No Previous Experience is Required.) The constant movement of the glacier means every day is different. Our guides will cut steps in the ice and provide an amazing, up close and personal tour of the Franz Josef glacier. NOTE: Optional Heli-hike adds US $350 + tax. The heli-hike is extremely popular, so if you want to attend Option B, then we need advance reservations with the helicopter operators and guiding company. At the time of booking, or up until one month before your trip, we can reserve a space for you. NOTE: If the Heli-hike is cancelled due to inclement weather, you will be refunded the US $350 + tax.
- Driving Duration: 3 hours
- Hiking Mileage: 1.2 miles (1.9 km)
- Elevation Gain: 330 feet (100 m)
- Elevation Loss: 330 feet (100 m)
On our last day together, we will board our transportation and make our way to Christchurch traveling over the wondrous Southern Alps via Arthurs Pass. This is a drive full of dramatic scenery which will take us from the lush forests of the west coast, the high scree and tussock mountains of Arthurs Pass and finally, into the open farming plains of Canterbury. En route, we’ll stop to hike to the Devil's Punchbowl waterfalls, a beautiful hike to stretch our legs and get some last minute pictures of the surrounding New Zealand beauty. If we’re lucky we may also see the ‘Kea’ here, New Zealand’s native alpine mountain parrot! We’ll arrive into Christchurch to say our final goodbyes in time for flights after 5pm. Thanks for choosing Wildland Trekking!
Add-on Rooms: If you'd like to extend your stay, we are happy to book extra room nights at some destinations (not available at all destinations) before and/or after your trip at our preferred hotel for an additional 30% service fee.
Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however occasionally trips are subject to itinerary changes based on a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to: extreme weather, political or bureacratic obstacles, earthquakes, fires, flooding and more.
- A detailed trip packet that takes the guesswork out of your travel, training, packing, and preparing for the trip
- Access to our Adventure Consultant team 7 days a week
- Transportation for the duration of the tour starting on Day 1 and ending on the day you depart
- Hotel, lodge and hut accommodations for the duration of the tour. See Lodging Details.
- Gear including multi-day backpack, sleeping bag, trekking poles and more
- All meals from dinner on Day 1 through lunch on the last day
- Professional, certified Wildland New Zealand hiking guides
- Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone
- You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and kids to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Wildland Trekking hiking trip after your first one!
- Flight to/from New Zealand
- Trip insurance that includes medical coverage and at least $100,000 in evacuation and repatriation coverage (required)
- All expenses due to unavoidable events e.g. flight cancellation, personal illness, strikes, etc. (we recommend trip insurance coverage for these variables)
- Clothes, raingear, and footwear (Oboz hiking shoes and boots recommended)
- Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
- Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
- Gratuity for guide(s) - tipping is not routinely expected in New Zealand but is always appreciated. Many of our clients do choose to tip their guides at the end of an awesome trip, and in this instance US$100 per person per guide is the local industry standard. USD or local currency is acceptable.
All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.
For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.
We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.
We provide all group gear which includes the following:
- Deuter or Osprey backpacks
- Sierra Designs, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
- Sierra Designs, Kelty, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware sleeping bags
- Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
- Leki or Black Diamond trekking poles
- Cooking stoves and cookware
- Bear spray cannisters and food-hanging gear
- Company-issued first-aid kit
- Satellite phone
We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are two 1-liter water bottles per person and basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent (where and when applicable), lip balm, and toiletries are also important. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.
Please refer to the trip packet for a recommended clothing list (we email you a detailed trip packet when you inquire and when you register). All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots, rain gear, and non-cotton and cotton clothing layers. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.
NOTE: See the Packing Lists page for more detailed information on what clothes and gear to bring on your hiking tour. The trip packet you receive when you contact us will have the most accurate clothing and gear list for the tour you're interested in.
Ready to hike? In the Dates section of this trip page, the green dates are bookable online by simply clicking on the date, and blue dates must be booked through our customer service team for a variety of possible reasons. To email our customer service team, you can click here to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you're ready to register we'll email you a link to a registration profile. You'll have 72 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit ($500).
Feel free to call us for more info - we're here 7 days a week!
You'll meet your hiking guide and group in Queenstown, New Zealand on Day 1 for an orientation meeting at 5:00 PM. Your guide will be in contact approximately 45 days before your trip to coordinate the rendezvous.
Check out our Travel Resources page for information on flights, shuttles, lodging and more.
Your safety is our top priority. This trek is led by professional hiking guides along with additional support staff. All of our guides are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT's, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. We've developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and all tours carry a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-888-966-TREK (8735) for more information.
In the interest of your safety, it's important to refer to the Center for Disease Control website for up-to-date recommendations on immunizations before your trip.
Your tour will be led by trained, experienced professionals with solid guiding backgrounds, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.
Guides are required to take 8 hours off each 24-hour period to sleep, recuperate, take personal/down time...etc. In addition, as part of the 8 hours off they must sleep/rest or be in their tents/rooms uninterrupted for a minimum of 5 hours each night. We ask guests to respect these requirements and to not interrupt guides' off time and sleep time unless there is a true emergency.
The standard group size on this hiking tour is 12 guests and 2 guides. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 1-888-966-TREK (8735) and we'll answer all your questions.
Age restrictions are as follows:
- 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
- 5 and older to join private tours, with final approval and specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis
For your protection, the purchase of field evacuation, repatriation, and medical trip insurance with coverage of at least $100,000 is required in New Zealand. International travel is expensive, and the modest cost of trip insurance is a sound investment in an uncertain world.
If you wish to purchase trip insurance, we recommend IMG/iTravelinsured. They are one of the world’s leading providers of travel insurance.
For information on recommended IMG/iTravelinsured policies please click here.
For even greater information, or if you simply prefer communicating with a real, live person, feel free to contact our exclusive agent Michael Bennett. Michael will help you identify the best product for your needs, and there is no cost associated with his assistance. You may contact him at:
Email: WildLandTrekking@EasyToInsureME.comIf you already have insurance or wish to purchase from anyone other than IMG/iTravelinsured, we recommend careful consultation with the provider to ensure appropriate coverage. This is because many providers have a number of policy exclusions.
US by Phone: 877-305-9083
Direct/International by Phone: 702-448-3664
If you secure an insurance policy please bring a copy of it to provide to your guides at the orientation meeting.
New Zealand weather varies significantly by latitude, including big variations on the North Island versus South Island. This trip is entirely on the South Island, which is, during summer months (Dec-Feb) quite temperate but potentially chilly in the higher mountains. Because New Zealand is surrounded by ocean, its temperatures stay quite moderate, but inland areas (i.e. mountains) can see dramatic and sudden temperature and weather shifts. We will likely experience many micro climates, changing frequently (like 4 seasons in one day) and it is best to be prepared for anything!
Below are overall average highs, lows but precipitation is separated for two of the places you will visit during the summer months, you will notice there is a stark contrast in precipitation and this is to highlight how wet the West Coast can be. Bear in mind that New Zealand has a very complex climate and average temperatures don't realistically reflect the different weather you may encounter. You might encounter a high of 100° F or a low of 30°F. So, again, come fully prepared for all four seasons!
Crowne Plaza Queenstown
Crowne Plaza Queenstown helps guests to not only soak up the breathtaking scenery from the hotel but also to experience the heart of town and the beauty of Lake Wakatipu.
On the shores of Roys Bay on Lake Wanaka is this perfectly located, wonderful hotel with spacious, clean rooms and spectacular views of the lake.
This rustic, isolated hut deep in Mount Aspiring National Park is serviced with 20 bunk beds. Accommodations are communal. It has bathrooms but not showers.
Heartland World Heritage Hotel
Surrounded by towering mountains, pristine rivers, beaches and rainforest, this hotel is an idyllic spot for exploring the Haast region and Blue Pools.
Welcome Flat Hut
This amazing 31-bunk hut is located in a stunning mountain valley with hot springs close by. It has bathrooms, no showers and cozy, communal accommodations.
Rainforest Retreat is in the heart of Franz Josef Village on the West Coast of the South Island. With wonderful accommodations set in an idyllic rainforest setting, this lodge is amazing.