New Zealand: Off the Beaten Path

Remote Parks and Rare Wildlife of the South Island

Trip Level

The trip is Level 3, with moderate day hikes, and is a journey for experienced hikers. In general, you can set your own pace and there is no need to keep up with the fastest walkers. However, it is important that the group completes each hike within a given time frame. The trails vary from well-maintained tracks to more challenging, unmodified trails. Some trails can be muddy and slippery and require a certain level of coordination and hiking ability. New Zealand is mountainous and trails include ascents and descents ranging from 500-1,200 feet so we recommend you make a special effort to be in good physical condition. Daily walking and/or regular hiking are excellent preparatory exercises. You should wear sturdy, well-broken-in hiking boots for maximum comfort on the trail. On the more difficult days, there will be easier options and on some days there will be longer and shorter options to suit the group. 

This adventure really is off the beaten path! We stay in local accommodations that are clean, comfortable, and well located (often with great views!), and guest rooms include private bathrooms. We’ve kept the group size small (maximum 12 trip members) due to availability of accommodations. We’ve also kept the travel distances between locations short, never more than three hours of driving in a day. Road travel is mostly good, though some of the roads are gravel and can be a bit dusty. Most meals are made with fresh, local flavors that New Zealand is famous for. We’ll be close to the source of much of the food we eat, with a variety of cuisine from picnic lunches on the trail to exceptional restaurants like Olivers. And, of course, we will no doubt experience every conceivable type of weather on this trip, so it's best to be prepared.


The weather in New Zealand is notorious for changing throughout the day. Average temperatures in New Zealand’s spring (September to November) typically range from the low to mid-60s. Crisp, sunny days can briskly change to cool temperatures and spring showers. Summer temperatures (December to February) are generally warm and pleasant with averages in the high 60s and low 70s and minimal rain, though it can get much colder in certain places and in the evenings. In autumn (March to May), long sunny days linger with temperatures still averaging in the mid-60s to low 70s, and you’ll hardly notice that summer has officially ended.  Although it is rare, we have even experienced snowfall in the mountains in mid-summer. The pressure systems travel west to east, so the Southern Alps have a noticeable “wet” and “dry” side. The west side gets the greatest amount of rain. Cold and snow are permanent fixtures on the highest peaks. On the east side, temperatures are a bit warmer. Since the weather in New Zealand is often variable, we may occasionally have to wait for it to change in order to participate in our planned activities or possibly change our activities altogether. When packing, be prepared for a wide range of weather scenarios.

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.