Find Your Happy Place

Elegant South

Hollyford Track

She’s elegant and alluring – welcome to the South

The South Island of New Zealand is nature’s Disneyland – well, Disneyland without all the people that is. It’s bright, it’s vibrant, it makes your heart swell with the sheer joy of it – and while Disneyland touts itself as the happiest place on earth, I’ve visited both and the South Island is right up there for exhilarating experiences…but with a lot less people, queues and howling children.

We at New Zealand Walking Tours consider that we have perfected the art of sharing New Zealand’s most unique wilderness experiences through world-class itineraries. On our trips you’ll know that you’re on an adventure that you’ll remember for the rest of your life, but you won’t necessarily have to test your lung capacity along the way. We’re all about letting you set the pace; the walks can be leisurely, not a race against daylight – which gives you the time to immerse yourself in our wilderness playground. We have used our expertise to put together tours that showcase the eye-watering beauty that is there to be explored. More than that, we love to add the exhilaration that comes with adventure –and whilst we draw the line at adrenalin, we ensure that you leave feeling as though you have been a part of a totally exclusive expedition of discovery.

Take the Hollyford experience, for example. This is a two day out-of-this-world journey that takes place on days eight and nine of the Elegant South trip. The Hollyford Track is a much-revered tramp (Kiwi speak for walking trail), located deep in the Fiordland National Park. Fiordland is one of the southern hemisphere’s great wilderness regions; the park itself spans 1.2 million hectares, and within this expanse is an excess of exquisite scenery. Just picture dramatic mountain vistas, mile upon mile of untouched coastline, 14 fiords teeming with marine life (picture frolicking dolphins, leaping through the mist), and you will have set the scene. It is also often heralded as the ‘walking capital of the world’, crammed to the brim with options, there are more scenic tracks than you could shake a stick at. So, with all of this natural beauty bursting forth it’s little surprise to find that Fiordland has been awarded World Heritage status for stunning natural features, beauty, and as an added bonus, its role in demonstrating the earths evolutionary history.

Tucked away on the Northern edge of this adventure wonderland is the Hollyford Track; lesser known than the Milford and Routeburn tracks, but in the eyes of most, equally as impressive. Unusually amongst the iconic walks, this one is mostly flat – another big bonus of this particular area is that unlike some of the other walks, the Hollyford star burns bright all year round, the fact that there are no alpine sections mean that being cut off by snow is not an issue, so it is accessible through all seasons.

While most of the tours that take this route walk from the Hollyford Road end and finish at Martins Bay, we at NZ Walking Tours have opted to design this experience through a fresh lens; With the goal of awakening every single one of your senses, our exploration of this area starts with a helicopter ride north from Milford Sound, whirring along the rugged coastline, where you will be truly taken aback by the wild seascapes. Arriving at the deserted piece of paradise that is Martins Bay at the far end of the Hollyford Track, it’s hard not to be wowed by the magical vistas. Mountainous and isolated, your Kiwi guides will be able to talk you through everything from the fascinating history of the ancient Maori and Pakeha settlements to the geological wonder of the high granite peaks and rivers that flow into the Hollyford River and out to sea. Two hours walking amongst the pristine beauty will melt the hardest heart, and it becomes really, really clear why New Zealand is referred to affectionately as ‘Godzone’ (and of course why it is now the backdrop to so many blockbuster movies). With those senses that have not yet been tended to in mind, a night at Martins Bay Lodge will thoroughly tick that box with a gourmet meal, complemented with a wee drop of perfectly selected wine.

With morning dawns a new adventure, as the pièce de résistance awaits in the form of a jet boat ride across Lake McKerrow (which is technically a fiord if you wanted to be picky) to the start point for a three and a half hour hike. Now anyone with concerns about jet boating can rest easy; adrenalin junky I am not (bungy jumping has to rank as the worst experience of my life), but the jet boat is just enough to set pulses racing. So feel confident that this is a super cool way to glide through the water, and an amazing way to see the beautiful scenery. Once on dry land the trail will take you through spectacular beech and podocarp forest, and across one of the longest swing bridges in New Zealand. You will be able to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ at the untouched flora, the pristine surrounds, and the sights, that even on a murky day are simply magical. Although this walk is not unmanageable, it’s still a good challenge for some, and the prospect of seeing more of the National Park from the comfort of our transport at the end of the trail is usually met with some joy! Winding through the Hollyford Valley, and Southland, the relaxing drive is a great opportunity to chill out, before arriving back in Queenstown.

Of course Queenstown is quite simply the perfect way to round off a trip like this. There’s no denying that this place is bursting with its own unique blend of Kiwi hospitality; from its small town friendliness to its ability to meet big city expectations, guests love to leave with a taste of this still fresh in their memory banks.

Walking the Hollyford Track
Joe Sutheran
20:52 30 Oct 17
I had a great time in New Zealand with my parents, travelling with New Zealand Walking Tours. I know my parents were so happy they found this company, the activity level was spot on for them, and accommodations, food etc was never less than outstanding. I didn't have much to do with the company pre-trip, but I know my parents were extremely impressed with the communications, and preparation advice from the team behind the scenes. What I can say is that when it came to the trip itself, the guides were just a joy to be around, extremely enthusiastic, interested in their guests, and very knowledgeable. Being a bit younger than much of the group, I was a little apprehensive that I might not enjoy it, but I don't know what I was worried about! Spending time getting to know the others on the trip, as well as the guides, was a delight - but what meant the most to me was spending time with my parents without the burden of the 'real world' on any of us, just enjoying the moment and each other's company. Thank you New Zealand Walking Tours for showing us the best of your stunningly beautiful country, and giving all three of us happy memories we'll never forget.read more
Roxanne Theriault
05:27 02 Nov 17
Amazing company, everything is top notch and they take care of you from start to finish! Always friendly, helpful, personable and professional - what kiwi hospitality is so famous for! You won't regret going on a walking tour with these folks and you'll definitely be planning your next trip, once you're back home! Highly recommend!read more
Paul McDonald
21:13 30 Oct 17
I wanted to find a guiding company based in in New Zealand, with local guides. When I found out that New Zealand Walking Tours is part of the Active Adventures family, I was super confident to go ahead and arrange my trip. Exploring the Abel Tasman National Park by day and Awaroa Lodge by night was a massive highlight! I'll be back for sure.read more
Will Appelman
21:07 30 Oct 17
My wife and I are avid hikers, and New Zealand Walking Tours gave us the chance to explore a wide variety of New Zealand’s hiking trails – including amazing sections of the 9 Great Walks, and be rewarded with accommodations that are a step ahead of the competition, delicious locally sourced food and a tipple of New Zealand's finest local wine! But on our free day in Queenstown we met loads of local ‘Kiwis’ who hadn’t even heard of some of the trails we hiked along the way – it actually made us feel like the locals! In the same time it would have taken us to hike the Milford Track from start to finish (like we planned) we hiked an amazing section of the famous track, while also taking a boat cruise on Milford Sound and getting flown by helicopter from Milford Sound to the most incredible and isolated luxury lodge in the Hollyford. We then jet boated out across a lake before a beautiful walk back to civilisation on the Hollyford Track. Before our trip, Fiona worked out exactly the perfect trip to suit what we were looking for, and Lynette was an amazing help getting us ready to depart - making sure we packed everything we need, and not so much of what we didn't need. Highly recommended!read more
Miriam Houliston
05:19 02 Nov 17
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