My Favorite Backroads Trip of All – New Zealand
Our guests often ask Backroads Trip Leaders, “What’s your favorite trip?” While I jokingly say we don’t offer tours in ugly places, I do have an answer: hands-down my favorite trip to lead is our New Zealand Walking & Hiking Tour.
So what do I love so much about taking guests on this trip? In a few words, big nature and diversity. New Zealand is known worldwide as a quintessential destination for exploring among exquisite nature. The variety, drama and accessibility of its landscapes are unmatched. New Zealand is exotically distant and wild, culturally charming, and surprisingly familiar and foreign at the same time. The flora and fauna are largely endemic and uniquely evolved. Many international travelers find the lifestyle of the kiwis (as the people here are known) so appealing that they consider moving here. New Zealand gets under travelers’ skin.
As an enthusiastic advocate for New Zealand, I love the opportunities that our Walking & Hiking tour offers guests to experience the diversity of New Zealand’s South Island. During our nine-day journey, we make big transitions from one landscape or ecosystem to another. We explore each of these regions on foot and move between these exciting destinations by van. As one of my fellow co-leaders coined, “It’s a classic kiwi road trip!”
Over the course of the trip, we hike near the Main Divide (similar to the Continental Divide in North America) in Arthur’s Pass National Park and in the alpine landscape above the Waimakariri River Valley.
We transition to the truly wild west coast and glacier country to visit Franz Josef Glacier and experience a land in constant and visible change. We spend two nights along one of the most remote sections of the coast at Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge, set in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Te Wahipounamu. Here, we explore some of New Zealand’s most pristine temperate rain forest, rocky headlands and stunning coastline. It’s a prehistoric jungle out there!
Leaving the coast and rain forest behind, we transition back over the Main Divide to a completely different landscape in the Lakes District. We hike in one of the most quintessential mountainous areas in the Matukituki Valley in Mount Aspiring National Park and trek above Lake Wanaka at Rocky Mountain.
Our last full day takes us into the Central Otago wine region, where we walk and sample local wines before heading to Queenstown, they country’s adventure capital, for a luxurious final night along beautiful Lake Wakatipu.
This trip is a true journey–and it’s undoubtedly wild out here! Over my years of leading in New Zealand, we’ve certainly had some adventures. Things don’t always go to plan and the weather doesn’t always cooperate. We’re often far from sizable towns, out of cell service and with slow internet connections. So when guests ask what to bring, I say come with good rain gear, bug repellent, sturdy shoes and a few dry pairs of socks. But, most importantly, bring an open mind ready to enjoy whatever the wild nature of New Zealand graces us with.
Download a Detailed Itinerary of our New Zealand Walking & Hiking Trip Here