The folks at Active Adventures – a New Zealand-based guided hiking tour company have come up with a 5-day tour that includes the Milford Track, the Kepler Track and the Routeburn Track, three of New Zealand’s Great Walks.
Phil Boorman, Director at Active explains;
Over the years, the Milford Track has always been a staple of NZ hiking tourism. It’s a fantastic hike with stunning views and great facilities. However, what most people don’t realize is that it’s one of several incredible multi-day hikes. For a long time, the Milford Track has ridden a wave of popularity, so it’s always fairly busy, although to be fair it is managed well. What we try to do at Active is offer alternative choices for people that may want a quieter, or a more varied experience. That’s how the Active Great Walks Discovery was born! And the icing on the cake is we’ve managed to squeeze in an overnight cruse as well…
Day 1 — Hike Ben Lomond, Queenstown
For the first day of your trip we’ll meet you in Queenstown and ride up the gondola to the top of a tree-covered rocky crag, known as Bob’s Peak, to start our alpine hike. We pass through open alpine tussock-land to the Ben Lomond saddle and will be rewarded with panoramic views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by the often snow-covered Southern Alps. For those keen to press on to the top, Ben Lomond’s summit reveals views of Mt Earnslaw and Mt Aspiring, two of New Zealand’s highest peaks, and even a glimpse of Aoraki Mt Cook on a clear day. Once back at lake level, we’ll give our legs a break and travel to Lake Te Anau, on the fringe of Fiordland National Park.
Accommodation: Matai Lodge, Te Anau (Lunch, Dinner)
Day 2 – Hike Routeburn Track, Fiordland National Park
This morning, we set off for our largest and perhaps most spectacular national park, Fiordland. We’ll hike part of the Routeburn Track, the first of the Great Walks you’ll experience. We hike through beech forest, sub-alpine shrublands and picturesque alpine tarns, before reaching Key Summit. Here you’ll be standing at the head of three different valleys (the Hollyford, Eglinton and Greenstone), with stunning views over the Great Divide, which separates west and east flowing rivers. We’ll take a short drive through the Homer Tunnel and emerge at the top of a spectacular glacier-carved valley for a memorable descent to the shore of Milford Sound (actually it’s a fiord!) Rudyard Kipling rated Milford as the eighth natural wonder of the world and it is truly breath-taking, with steep granite walls plunging over a thousand metres to the Tasman Sea and waterfalls cascading into deep inky water. Tonight we’ll stay in a wonderful remote location, enjoying the simple things in life.
Accommodation: Milford Lodge Chalets, Milford Sound (All meals)
Day 3 – Milford Sound, hike Milford Track
It’s worth getting up early to take a photo of Mitre Peak – quite possibly the most photographed mountain in New Zealand – and your challenge is to find a unique angle! After breakfast, we’ll take a short boat ride across Milford Sound to hike from Sandfly Point to the Giant Gates waterfall, a spectacular section of the famed Milford Track. The forest here is lush and rich with mosses and ferns as we follow the Arthur River past Lake Ada. By hiking from the Milford Sound trailhead, we’ll enjoy the track to ourselves, which is a luxury others seldom get. Once we return to the Milford wharf, we’ll board a boat for a two hour nature cruise to the head of this spectacular fiord. We’ll then leave Milford Sound behind to hike some lesser-known tracks in eastern Fiordland before returning to Te Anau.
Accommodation: Matai Lodge, Te Anau (All meals)
Day 4 – Hike Kepler Track and overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound
Three Great Walks in three days … unheard of! Today, it’s the Kepler Track and we’ll begin by following the lakeshore through native beech and podocarp forest. Interestingly, the Kepler Track differs from the Routeburn and Milford in that it didn’t actually evolve from a necessary Maori greenstone trail, but was custom-built for hiking. After lunch, we’ll travel over Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove where we’ll board the Fiordland Navigator for our overnight cruise of Doubtful Sound. Far larger than its northern neighbour Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound is an even more remote wilderness area. You’ll have the opportunity to take a kayak out on the water or hop aboard the tender craft for a guided exploration of the fiord, and in the right season you may catch a glimpse of the rare Fiordland crested penguin. Tonight you’ll sleep in a quad share room aboard the Fiordland Navigator, though there is the option to upgrade to a private ensuite room, if you’d prefer.
Accommodation: Fiordland Navigator ship, Doubtful Sound (All meals)
Day 5 – Cruise Doubtful Sound and return to Queenstown
Waking up on a boat in misty, mysterious Doubtful Sound is something you have to experience to believe. This morning we’ll cruise back to Deep Cove and you may be lucky enough to spot bottlenose dolphins that inhabit this area before making our way back to Queenstown where you’ll finish your trip. We’ll leave you refreshed and invigorated from the good food, exercise, rest, and great times you’ll have had with us in New Zealand! For a great way to see the North Island too, where you’ll see Maori culture, pristine beaches and geothermal areas, combine this trip with the 11-day or 5-day ‘Kauri’.