12 Days South Island New Zealand

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.87 (217 reviews)

12 Days

14 People Max

Activity Level 4

Trip Start: Christchurch

Trip End: Christchurch

Trip Overview

  • LevelModerate
  • Duration12 days
  • RegionSouth Island, NZ
  • ArriveChristchurch
  • DepartChristchurch
  • Price US$3,999 + tax
  • Season November to April

Trip Introduction

There’s no place like the South Island of New Zealand. This is the place where we learned our craft, discovered our love for hiking and the outdoors, and where you’ll experience the best day hikes and activities in the world.

The diversity of New Zealand’s South Island can’t be overstated – one day we’re hiking through a sub-tropical rainforest, and then we’re standing in an alpine wonderland looking at a pristine glacial lake.

We have crafted this trip to combine classic must-do hikes, as well as a handful of incredible lesser-known guide favorites – giving you a real insider Kiwi hiking experience. You’ll sleep in fine local accommodation, enjoy fantastic meals, and share mind-blowing landscapes with experienced and passionate guides.

THIS is New Zealand, and this is the ultimate hiking trip!

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Trip Highlights

Trip Itinerary

Dive into the intricacies of our meticulously crafted 12-day itinerary, a tapestry woven with the finest threads of New Zealand’s South Island. Each day promises a new chapter, a fresh adventure, and a revelation of landscapes that will etch themselves into your memory.

Let’s explore the daily odyssey, where every sunrise brings forth a canvas of wonders waiting to be uncovered.

This is not just a journey; it’s an immersive experience into the heart of one of the world’s most spectacular regions.

Arrive. Explore Christchurch

Our trip begins in Christchurch where we’ll meet you at our joining hotel. After a briefing with our guide, we'll head out for an afternoon exploration of Christchurch city and it surrounds.

Christchurch is a city on the move - after the devastating earthquake in 2011, the rebuild of the city has produced a modern vibrant centre with exciting eateries, galleries and squares. A great start to your New Zealand experience, and a chance to shake off the jet-lag!

We'll have time to relax before meeting again for dinner in the evening.

Camelot Hotel, Christchurch
Lunch, Dinner

Hike Arthurs Pass, West Coast

This morning we’ll drive straight into the Southern Alps. The Arthurs Pass region is the main divide and access to the South Islands West Coast. It’s home to some BIG mountains and classic beech forests. We’ll stop en route to Arthurs Pass to hike through the incredible boulder structures of Castle Hill. These boulders, known as tor formations, are the result of erosion wearing away the softer limestone layers, leaving behind the harder rocks. Some of these boulders are massive in size and a sight to behold!

Later we’ll continue through to the west coast, where we’ll head North along the coast to Punakaiki. Before heading to our accommodation, we'll hike down to Truman Beach. We'll walk through unspoiled sub-tropical rainforest to a a secluded and stunning beach surrounded by massive cliffs.

We'll settle into our accommodation and meet later for dinner at a local pub.

Paparoa Park Hotel, Punakaiki
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hiking: 7 kilometers (4.5 miles), 3 hours, elevation +/- 130 meters (425 feet)

Hike Punakaiki Rainforest

This morning we'll kick things off with a hike through a spectacular river gorge - the Pororari river. We'll follow the river upstream while passing between dramatic limestone cliffs and through sub-tropical forest. You'll feel as though you've stepped back in time a couple of million years as this rainforest is ancient, pristine and untouched. This is truly a special place!

After making our way back, we'll make a short stop at Punakaiki's Pancake rocks - a limestone landscape of pancake-shaped rock formations overlooking the Tasman Sea.

Later, we'll head south along the West Coast road to Franz Josef Glacier, our home for the evening.

Rainforest Retreat, Franz Josef
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Sea Kayak Okarito Lagoon

This morning we’ll take a short journey over to Okarito, a little-known beach community on the coast. We’ll take to the water in sea kayaks and glide along a picturesque lagoon, set against a stunning backdrop of snow-capped peaks. Okarito is home to the only native white heron colony in New Zealand, as well as a host of other interesting birds.

Later, we’ll hike to the Okarito Trig – a steep trail up through virgin forest to an absolutely classic view point. As well as the highest peaks in the Southern Alps, you’ll be afforded views all the way up and down the west coast, as well as the Okarito lagoon.

Rainforest Retreat, Franz Josef
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

West Coast Lakes and Coastal Hiking

This morning we’ll continue down the west coast, and follow the spine of the the Southern Alps.

Our first hike for the day is around the stunning ''mirror'' lake - Lake Matheson. Shrouded in dense native forest, this stunning trail circumnavigates the lake with beautiful mountain reflections!

Later, we'll continue down the West Coast and hike through coastal forest to Munro Beach - a pristine beach famed for penguins. Keep your eyes peeled!

After our hike, we'll continue South through Haast Pass to Makarora, in the heart of the Mt Aspiring area. One of the most pristine areas of New Zealand.

Makarora Lodging
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hike Blue Valley

We'll make an early start this morning and head straight seep into the beech forest of the Blue Valley. We'll begin with a gentle walk to a swingbridge overlooking the crystal clear and beautiful blue pools of the Blue River. This is a popular site for tourists (for good reason) but we'll leave the masses behind and heads into a beech forest world of our own! The trail takes us into a pristine river valley with lush moss-covered beech forest leading to an alpine basin framed by snow-capped peaks and idyllic meadows.

We'll have lunch here in the wilderness before making our way down the valley and continuing our journey to Queenstown.

Autoline, Queenstown
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Free Day in Queenstown

Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand (if not the world!) and all the comforts of civilisation are packed into this tiny resort town: restaurants galore, sidewalk cafés, stylish lounge bars, day spas and boutiques.

You’ll also find incredible optional activities here including horse trekking, a gondola, kayaking, fishing, winery tours, hang gliding, mountain biking, bungy jumping, jet boating and skydiving, as well as some great hiking opportunities. Or you can just soak up the atmosphere or lounge about reading a book.

Your guides will happily share their favourite haunts and point you in the right direction for your free day today.

Autoline, Queenstown

Day 7 - Milford Sound Flight and Cruise Option

On this day there is an option to take a scenic flight and cruise in Milford Sound.

You'll take off from Queenstown, and fly above the rugged backcountry of Central Otago, before heading westward to where the glacial-fed rivers empty into Lake Wakatipu. Witness what the power of nature has created over the years, as you journey over two remarkable National Parks; Mt Aspiring and the world heritage listed Fiordland National Park.

Upon landing at Milford Sound Airport you’ll be welcomed with a view of Mitre Peak, standing tall at the head of the fiord. Surrounded by some of the most magnificent scenery in the world, you’ll board the Mitre Peak Cruises vessel and begin a voyage cruising the length of the 16km fiord out to the Tasman Sea. You’ll complete the journey with a scenic flight over the Southern Alps back to Queenstown.

Autoline, Queenstown

Explore Glenorchy. Hike Glacier burn

We'll follow the shores of lake Wakatipu for short distance and arrive in Glenorchy - a picturesque village nestled at the Northern end of the lake.

After a relaxed coffee stop in town, we'll head across the dart river and on to the Kinloch where we'll begin our hike.

We'll kick off with a steep hike through native beech forest before arriving in the magnificent Glacier Basin. We'll follow the creek further up where we’ll be treated to views of the Humboldt Mountains and the Glenorchy area, a great spot for a lunch and a rest to soak it all in!

We'll head down and make our way back to Queenstown.

Autoline, Queenstown
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hike Mt Crichton Gold Miners Loop. Journey Over Lindis Pass

This morning there’s an option to hike on the Mount Crichton Loop Trail – a local secret classic through gorgeous beech forest. Part of this loop walk passes Sam Summers' Hut - providing a fascinating glimpse of life as a gold prospector. This area was mined off and on between the 1860s and the 1930s. In the early days of the gold rush, water was used as a tool to blast gravel off the cliffs. The gold-bearing gravel was then washed through a tail race tunnel. The tunnel we'll see on this walk is spectacular - 24 metres long, a metre wide and 10 metres high.

Later we'll drive North over the iconic Lindis Pass and on to Lake Ohau where we'll havr the late afternoon to kick back, relax and take in the incredible Southern Alps views over Lake Ohau.

Ohau Lodge
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hike Temple Valley

An old school and lesser known guide's favourite trail awaits today. We'll follow the shores of lake Ohau north for a short distance before turning into the entrance of the Temple Valley.

We'll follow the temple river up a valley shrouded in untouched beech forest. We'll gradually make our way out of the forest and into the most impressive and magnificent alpine amphitheater - a sight to behold!

We'll take lunch here before making our way down the valley, dip our feet in the cool river, and head back to Ohau Lodge for a well-deserved drink and dinner.

Ohau Lodge
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hike Aoraki Mt Cook National Park

A short drive north this morning brings us to New Zealand's most dramatic national park and highest mountains - Aoraki National Park. This home to our highest peak - Aoraki - the mountain where Sir Edmund Hillary trained to climb Mt Everest in 1953.

We'll hike into the heart of the national Park, and these mountains, up to Hooker Lake, at the face of Hooker Glacier. The icebergs on the lake are impressive, along with the mountains rising straight above us - turn 360 degrees and you'll be surrounded by otherworldly peaks. we'll follow the thunderous Hooker river back down before driving a short distance north to the quaint canerbury town of Fairlie.

We'll celebrate our final evening with dinner at a fine local restaurant.

Musterers lodge, Fairlie
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Today is the last day of your Conqueror Adventures exploration of New Zealand’s BEST day hikes and excursions. Our aim is to create incredible moments that count with like-minded people, and build lifelong friendships through physical activity and shared experiences in some of the world's most beautiful places.

We'll head drive to Christchurch and have you back in time for outbound flights, or if you're staying in Christchurch, we'll drop you off at your accommodation. Speak with us if you're in need of extra accommodation.


The Details

What's Included

  • All meals as per itinerary
  • All transport and shuttles
  • Guiding and hosting
  • All park entrance fees
  • All accommodation
  • Luggage transfers

What's Not Included

  • International and domestic flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal hiking gear
  • Luggage
  • Personal snacks
  • Alcoholic beverages


We understand the importance of a good nights rest. We have carefully chosen only locally owned lodgings that understand the importance of a place to unwind and share the experience with your fellow travelers. While you won’t be glamming it up at the Ritz (that’s not our style), you’ll enjoy a comfortable accommodation with amazing local hosts.


Arriving in Christchurch is simple. International flights into New Zealand arrive into Auckland, where you can easily add a domestic flight to Christchurch. Because this tour begins in the morning, we recommend you arrive by 9am at the latest on day 1, or the night before. The tour ends in Christchurch on day 12. There are numerous flights leaving throughout the day, and returning to Auckland or directly to your international port of residence. Talk to us about flight arrangements – we’re here to help!

Departure Dates

Looking for the perfect trip? See our trip dates below. If you can’t find the perfect travel date, get in touch with our team today and we may be able to customize a trip date for you.



Photo Gallery

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Frequently Asked Questions


Visas are currently not required for Australian, US, Canadian or UK/EU passport holders wishing to visit New Zealand. If you are outside these regions, please check with your embassy. You can also check the Visa HQ website for up todate information.

New Zealand’s border opens to international travelers from May 2022.


Water from the tap is safe to drink in New Zealand. Because of the nature of our day hikes on this trip, you’ll be able to fill your water bottle(s) for the day from the tap at our accommodation, as well as other places in the area where tap water is available. The other good thing is – New Zealand’s tap water tastes great!


New Zealand has a largely temperate climate. While North has subtropical weather during summer, and inland alpine areas of the South Island can be as cold as -10 C in winter, most of the country lies close to the coast, which means mild temperatures, moderate rainfall, and abundant sunshine. But it’s always very changeable! You never quite know what the weather will throw at you in New Zealand.

When it comes to temperatures, the South Island can reach 23 °C (73F) from late November and December, 30 °C (86F) through January and February and 20 °C (68) from mid March to mid April.


Yes. Laundry is available in Wanaka, towards the end of the trip. Most people find that they don’t really have a need to do any laundry until this location. We will send you a detailed packing list, which will detail what clothes you’ll expect to need throughout the trip.


Our maximum group size for this trip is 11 people.


Altitude isn’t really a factor on our South Island adventure. Even though we do plenty of hikes where we gain significant elevation, we don’t venture into altitudes that have an effect on us.


This is an moderate hiking trip which is suitable for those who have some experience with hiking and a good general physical condition. Most of the hikes are on established trails, but there is also some steep terrain through rooted forest trails and high alpine areas that have scree and small boulders.  Average walking times: approx. 5 hours each day.

IMPORTANT! There are some long inclines so if you are at all unsteady on your feet we highly recommend you also bring a retractable walking pole(s). Comfortable walking/hiking shoes are essential, along with a small day-pack and water bottle.


Wifi is available in our Methven and Wanaka lodges. Wifi is also available in Mt Cook and in Lake Ohau lodges, but it can be very slow! 5G reception is generally available in built up areas and in some of the areas where we explore, but equally, there are significant portions of some of the regions we visit that have no coverage!


No. Because all our hikes on this trip are day hikes, you’ll only be carrying the stuff you’ll be needing for that day – in a day pack. Talk to us if you need recommendations on day packs.


The rooming on the trip is based on twin and double share. Because of limited space in lodges along the way, there are no options for single supplements.


No! Many other travel companies put this on single travelers, but we think this is unfair.


When you book your flights, you should fly into either Auckland International or Christchurch International Airports. If you’re flying into Auckland, you’ll need to attach a short domestic flight down to Christchurch, and ensure that you arrive into Christchurch by 9.30am at the latest on Day 1 of the trip. Your departing flight needs to leave from Christchurch, to Auckland.

If you are joing the South Island adventure straight after our North Island trip, you’ll need to get a flight from Rotorua to Christchurch. Talk with us for more information about arrival and departure details for this trip!

Interactive Trip Map

Hear What Our Adventurers Have to Say

I loved this trip! The guides and the pre-trip service made the experience even more memorable. I’m already on getting on the next adventure with them. Excellent all around!!

Tom Kelly

South Island
November 2023

If you crave activity and adventure, views you have to earn and a little education along the way – book now! You won’t regret it. All the guesswork taken care of. No need to stress over how you’ll get around, where you should stay, etc. I truly had the time of my life on this trip. Comfortable accommodations, spectacular food, an incredible guide, and fellow conquerors. I look forward to future adventures with this incredible organization!

Kylie Hooper

South Island
March 2023

This is totally the best trip, place and people I’ve ever traveled with. Amazing food, places to stay, comfortable transport and the scenery! Oh my gosh the scenery! And the activities we did! It was unbelievable.

Illinca Stefanescu

Bucharest, Romania.
South Island
September 2023

Meet Our Guides

At The Conqueror Adventures, our journey is led by the passionate and experienced individuals who have an unwavering love for the great outdoors. These are the adventurers who guide you through rugged landscapes, lead you to hidden gems, and share their profound knowledge of the destinations we explore.

In this section, we invite you to meet our guides, the heartbeat of our hiking tours. These individuals are more than just experts; they are passionate storytellers, nature enthusiasts, and cultural interpreters. They bring the landscapes to life, adding a layer of depth to your adventure that can’t be found in guidebooks.

Their stories, insights, and profound love for the destinations they explore are integral to the exceptional experiences we provide. Get to know the adventurers who will be your companions on the trail, leading you through extraordinary journeys filled with discovery, camaraderie, and the joy of exploration.

Phil Boorman

Phil Boorman

Founder, Guide & CEO

Phil Boorman

Founder and boss, Phil is at his best when he’s leading a group. He has spent his entire working life, leading and designing adventures in almost every continent in the world. It’s just in his blood and he’ll never give it up. You’ll still find Phil leading trips in Italy, Nepal, and New Zealand which is his home. Phil loves whitewater kayaking, backcountry skiing and mountain biking in his free time.

“I’ve done a tonne of guided trips in my time, and traveling with Phil was by far, THE best and most fulfilling experience I’ve had – he was genuine, attentive and clearly loves what he does.”

Ed Stone, USA – June 2016

Dylan Arthur

Dylan Arthur

New Zealand

Dylan Arthur

Dylan is an enthusiastic young hiking addict who takes a particular interest in the North Island. His side hustle is landscape, outdoor and travel photography. To say he’s handy with a lens or two is an understatement.

Check out his considerable talent here – https://www.dylanarthur.com/

“Dylan was a wealth of information on the flora and fauna. More than that, he was our can-do leader, inspiring us at every step of the trail and every day on our trip!”

Katharine Chiu, USA – November 2022

Mike Dawson

Mike Dawson

New Zealand

Mike Dawson

Mike is 2 time former Olympian and world renowned adventurer, having embarked on expeditions to the far reaches of the globe, including Angola, Pakistan and recently a ski expedition to the South Pole. New Zealand is his first love though, and he’s right at home guiding in the South Island where he first developed his love of the outdoors. There’s nothing he can’t handle!

Brad Taylor

Brad Taylor

New Zealand

Brad Taylor

Brad is a hiking veteran with over 21 years experience in the New Zealand’s outdoors. Originally trained as a whitewater rafting guide, Brad made the switch to trail adventures early and has never looked back. He’s quick with an interesting story about our native New Zealand flora and fauna and loves his 80’s pop culture and vintage Star Wars memorabilia.

Hamish Tills

Hamish Tills

New Zealand

Hamish Tills

Hamish comes from the same breed that almost all our guides come from. Originally a river guide and expedition kayaker, Hamish has been a guide and adventurer his whole working life and knows our wilderness areas like the back of his hand. He has SO many stories of great adventures he’s led and been a team member of. You’re in THE best hands with Hamish!

Why Travel With The Conqueror Adventures

When it comes to embarking on extraordinary journeys, you have a choice. So why choose The Conqueror Adventures? Our unwavering commitment to redefining adventure travel sets us apart. We don’t just offer hiking tours; we offer experiences that challenge limits, ignite curiosity, and foster meaningful connections.

Our meticulously crafted adventures are designed to leave a profound and lasting impact, pushing you to step boldly into the uncharted. Discover why adventurers around the world choose to explore with us, and join our global community of explorers, wanderers, and adventure enthusiasts. Your extraordinary journey starts here.


Transport, permits, transfers, awesome places to stay, and everything in between. We’ve covered all the details, so you can simply enjoy.


Meals, experienced guides, cool locally owned accommodation, transport… Once you arrive, there’s no need to dip into your pocket.

Hosts with the Most

Our guiding teams are THE best around. Every Conqueror trip is lead by an experienced guide and leader combo.

The Conqueror Spirit

Step boldly, share your goals and make every mile and moment count. Our trips and destinations are awesome, but it’s our like-minded community who make it unforgettable.

Rest Easy

Locally owned, stylish and comfortable. We’ve carefully chosen accommodations that ensure you get a comfortable nights sleep, great meals and creature comforts.

Pre Trip Care

Getting on the plane isn’t the beginning of your journey with us. From the moment you book, we’ll make sure you’re well prepared for your trip of a lifetime and ready to step boldly.


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