This 3-day backpacking trip on the Hollyford Track follows a scenic trail through the Hollyford Valley in UNESCO-listed Fiordland National Park. Departing from either Queenstown or Te Anau, you’re treated to a Milford Sound scenic helicopter tour and a jet-boat ride. Enjoy 3-course gourmet dinners, hearty breakfasts and packed lunches, with private lodge accommodations for your small group of 16 maximum participants.
Day 1: Queenstown or Te Anau – Hollyford Track (L, D)
Travel by coach from Queenstown or Te Anau to the start of the track in the Hollyford Valley, passing through some of New Zealand’s most stunning scenery. Stepping into the Hollyford Valley is like entering a world that’s remained untouched for thousands of years. Naturally spectacular and ever-changing, the valley has an unparalleled diversity of vegetation and wildlife that makes for an incredible trekking experience.
Begin your 12-mile (19.5-km) guided hike along the Hollyford River, retracing the footsteps of the indigenous Maori people and the island’s early explorers. Enjoy interesting historical tales and interpretation of the forest and birdlife from your guide as you walk through native beech forest and alongside cascading waterfalls.
At the end of the first day’s walk, you’ll be welcomed at Pyke’s Lodge for your overnight stay. Take a hot shower and enjoy a delicious 3-course dinner. Nestled beneath the converging mountain ranges and among native forest at the union of the Hollyford and Pyke rivers, the lodge is a great place to take in the often-spectacular views of the sun setting and rising on Mt Madeline and the Darren Range.
Overnight: Pyke’s Lodge in Hollyford Valley
Day 2: Hollyford Track (B, L, D) After a hearty breakfast at Pyke’s Lodge, begin your day with a short walk to Lake Alabaster and learn about the history and geology of this stunning section of the Hollyford Valley. Cross Fiordland's longest swing bridge (optional), then enjoy a wilderness jet-boat ride down the Hollyford River and across Lake McKerrow to the historic site of Jamestown, the intended capital of New Zealand’s South Island in the late 19th century.
Walk through the ancient Podocarp forest with giant rimu, totara and kahikatea trees wrapped in massive rata vines before visiting the New Zealand fur seal colony at Long Reef on the west coast. Be on the lookout for rare Fiordland crested penguins that nest in the surrounding rocks and scrub.
After hiking approx. 9 miles (15 km) in total, arrive at Martin’s Bay Lodge, a new lodge located near the mouth of the Hollyford River. The sound of the surf on nearby Martins Bay Spit is a soothing evening soundtrack. Enjoy a delicious 3-course dinner and turn in for the night.
Overnight: Martin’s Bay Lodge in Hollyford Valley
Day 3: Hollyford Track – Queenstown or Te Anau (B, L)After another delicious breakfast, take another jet-boat ride, this time to Martins Bay Spit, a famous landmark that separates the Tasman Sea from Hollyford Valley. As you visit historical Maori sites, your guide will share Maori stories and highlight the plant and wildlife of this unique, diverse and remote area. You’ll also have time explore the isolated beach and sand dunes at your own pace.
After about 5 miles (8.5 km) of walking in total, return to Martins Bay Lodge for lunch, and then take to the skies on a scenic helicopter flight along the rugged west coast and into spectacular Milford Sound.
From Milford Sound, return to Queenstown or Te Anau by coach along scenic Milford Road.
At the end Day 1 and Day 2, you'll arrive at a warm and dry lodge, where you’ll enjoy a delicious 3-course dinner. Both lodges have been purpose-designed and built to provide a level of comfort and indulgence in the isolated and rugged Hollyford Valley.
The lodges are well appointed with dining and lounge areas, open fires, drying rooms, separate flush toilet and shower facilities with unlimited hot water. Soap, shampoo, conditioner, towels and hair dryers are provided.
Lodge bedrooms are twin-share (double occupancy) with linen, duvets and hot water bottles provided. Single travelers may be accommodated in a private room, at an extra cost.
The lodges are a great place to unwind and relax at the end of each day.
All meals are provided on the 3-day Hollyford Track Guided Walk. The lodge hosts take great pride in preparing superb cuisine and the meals are a highlight of the Hollyford Track experience.
Upon arrival at the lodges each evening, an antipasto platter including breads, biscuits/crackers, New Zealand cheese, cold meats and seafood is served. This is accompanied by a hot or cold beverage.
Main meals focus on local produce such as venison or Blue Cod Salmon and will be accompanied by seasonal fresh produce such oven-roasted vegetables, leafy greens and saffron-infused rice.
This is followed by a delicious dessert, prepared at the lodge from fresh, local produce.
The lodges are fully licensed and offer a selection of New Zealand beer and wine (at own expense).
Breakfasts are tasty, hearty and well balanced and consist of a selection of cereal and fruit, as well as full, cooked breakfasts of eggs, bacon and toast.
Lunches of sandwiches, biscuits/cookies , cake and fruit are enjoyed during your walking, in the outdoors amid the spectacular scenery. If weather does not allow, lunch is enjoyed indoors in comfortable lunch huts. Hot drinks will also be provided at the lunch stops, and snacks are provided throughout the day.
Individual dietary requirements are catered for – please advise if you have any special dietary requirements at the time of booking.
What to bring:
The items required for the duration of the walk will fit in a medium-sized backpack that you only need to carry for one day. It should weigh no more than 10 to 15 pounds (5 to 7 kg). You will be required to carry it on Day 1 of the walk for about six to eight hours over 12 miles (19.5 km). On Days 2 and 3, all you need to carry is a small day-pack (which will be provided), a jacket, water and camera. The rest of the gear will be transported between the lodges by jet boat.
Fiordland has very changeable and unpredictable weather and you need to be well prepared, as it can change dramatically very quickly. It is important to bring the following appropriate equipment and clothing:
Jacket - 100% waterproof and with a hood
Boots - hiking / tramping boots, preferably with ankle support and well 'worn in' / 'broken-in'
Socks - wool or thermal blend
Skin layer - wool or polypropylene thermal long sleeve and long leg
Mid layer - wool or micro fleece long sleeve
Outer layer - warm jumper or jacket (wool or fleece, preferably windproof)
Trousers/pants - quick-dry hiking / tramping trousers; - zip off hiking / tramping trousers allow you to also have a shorts option
Hat - wool or fleece for when cold; peaked or brimmed for when sunny
Gloves - wool or fleece
Foot wear - light shoes, sandals
Socks - light and comfortable
Skin layer - underwear
Mid layer - shirt or t-shirt
Outer layer - jersey, jumper or sweater
Trousers - lightweight or track pants
Night wear - whatever you like to sleep in
Water bottle - 500ml minimum
Camera - with spare film / memory card and charger / batteries
Sunscreen - 30+ SPF
Blister pack - ‘Second Skin’ or other blister protection
Toiletries - personal requirements (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant)
Money - credit card or cash for beer, wine and souvenirs
Swim wear - optional
You are advised to bring your own backpacks and 100% waterproof rain jackets, if you have them, as they are likely to be more comfortable and 'worn in' / 'broken in.’ However, if you do not have these items, they are available to borrow; you must pick them up the night before departure.
Walking in cotton, silk or denim garments is NOT recommended as those fabrics are unsuitable for Fiordland conditions; they do not breathe and can be cold and heavy.
Pack liners are provided. It is also recommended that you put all your gear in plastic bags for added water protection. Both lodges have drying rooms, so if your gear does get wet it should dry overnight if they are lightweight and fast drying.