South Island

Paparoa Track

By South Island, Walking Tours etc, West Coast

If you seek big country, new wilderness frontiers and untamed trails this is for you.

By Edward Cochrane

Doing a guided trip is not always top of your mind when thinking about a holiday in your own country. But most people won’t bat an eye to spend a day or more when on an overseas trip to  have a tour guide. And why would you?
It’s a unique and often once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see amazing sights and gain a greater understanding of an area, its people, culture and history. It can intensify the enjoyment and memories of your holiday.
Why should it be different in New Zealand, especially when it comes to outdoor activities? No matter how experienced an outdoors person you are – at tramping or climbing – a guide can help you achieve more in a day than you would otherwise be able to do on your own. For less experienced people, a guide can provide a safe and more comfortable experience – and that’s important if you want to explore an unfamiliar environment or attempt something entirely new.
Paparoa Guided Walks aims to either introduce people to multi-day hikes, or improve their skill level and confidence, in a safe and responsible manner. Paparoa Guided Walks puts Kaitiakitanga (guardianship and protection) of our natural environment at the forefront of business operations.
We believe there is a deep kinship between humans and the natural world, and being able to educate clients on the fundamental principles of Kaitiakitanga while in a remote wilderness setting will have positive effects on the way in which clients see their current relationship with Papatūānuku (mother earth) both now and into the future.
Enrichment of our guests’ lives comes from the services we provide – from the form, rhythm, and renewing qualities of the beautiful and wild places in which we work. Simply being out in nature awakens a part of us that’s gone dormant from living around artificial lights, the noise of civilization, the demands of daily life, and a lack of wide open spaces. Our commitment is to run unforgettable hiking trips, and those are important words to us.
Our goal is that the experience that Paparoa Guided Walks creates will stick with clients for years to come, and every time you think back on it you feel a sense of fulfilment, inspiration, and accomplishment. And even more importantly, we hope the trip sparks a desire to keep getting out into nature, whether it is on more of our trips or on their own.
Going guided means you can experience the beauty of New Zealand’s landscapes with the support of our experienced guides. The comfort of backcountry huts and the luxury of having the details organised for you.
Our trip includes complimentary use of high quality gear, decreased pack weight, daily breakfasts, fresh lunches and dinner prepared for you each evening. Experienced guides will provide information about native flora and fauna and give a sense of security in what often can be quite variable weather conditions.
The Paparoa Range is a mountain range in the West Coast region of New Zealand’s/Aotearoa’s South Island of outstanding natural beauty. It is located along the coast between the Buller and Grey Rivers, with the Inangahua River to the east. Paparoa National Park was established in 1987 and encompasses some 430 km2
More than half the park is best described as mountainous, from the eastern edge of the syncline to the crest of the main range. On their eastern side, an assortment of hanging valleys, truncated spurs, towering bluffs and cirques overlook deep glaciated valleys running north and south.
Paparoa National Park is the overlapping point between subtropical and cool climate trees. Nikau palms, northern rata and cabbage trees give the lowland rainforest a lush, Pacific feeling. Further up, silver beech forest merges with sub alpine shrubs.
A rich diversity of alpine plants can be found along the tops of these mountainous ranges also, including tussocks and vegetable sheep, a type of cushion plant with an unusual shape to help to store water.
Higher still, daisies and gentians provide colour among the alpine tussocks. Some plants are unique to the area, suggesting that it was a botanic refuge during the ice ages
Native bird habitats within the park range from on or near the coastline to the peak of the Paparoa Ranges. Several common species such as tui, bellbird, kaka, kererū and kakariki migrate from winter habitat in the lower forests to summer habitat in the upland forests.
Rarer species in the national park include the roroa/great spotted kiwi, the largest of the kiwi species. It commonly lives in the northern South Island and can often be heard calling around the three huts on the Paparoa Track.
Another rare bird sometimes found in the park in the whio/blue duck.
Paparoa National park is also home to powelliphanta, a species of native carnivorous snail.
The Paparoa Track is a living monument to the 29 men who tragically lost their lives in The Pike River Mine on the 19th of November, 2010.
The families vision was to create The Paparoa Track as a thank you to the people of the West Coast, wider New Zealand and the world for the incredible and generous support they received during this time.
If you seek big country, new wilderness frontiers and untamed trails going guided with Paparoa Guided Walks is the adventure for you.

Peak Hill Walkway

By Canterbury, South Island

Peak Hill walkway has spectacular views

By Yvonne van Eerden

With only had five in our tramping group we headed off from Christchurch at 9.00am to Lake Coleridge where we were going to walk to Peak Hill.

We drove through Lake Coleridge village which is very, very small indeed where there is a power station built in 1914. We checked the power station out on the way home.

We continued on a shingle road for about three kilometres where we could see Peak Hill very clearly.  The weather was very calm, with very little wind.

The views even at the start of the walk were very beautiful.

We organized ourselves and started walking around the paddock by the fence as the farmer does not want anyone to disturb the stock (there was no stock today).  After about 10 minutes we started our climb of Peak Hill.

As we went higher we could see Lake Coleridge, it was very blue and the mountains around were spectacular as well.  You had to stop to catch your breath and to take in the view.  We took lots of photos and took the time to look all around us.

We later stopped for morning tea so that we could all catch up together and then soak in the views once again.  Bill and Denise are very quick at going up and we just plodded along and knew we would eventually get to the top, but I must say several times we thought we were at the top but yet again we had another climb.

Once we were at the top we had our lunch and had views of 360 degrees.  The feeling was wonderful, it was such a great walk and we had made it.

Of course the trip down was very quick but we still took time to look around.  Well worth a day trip out for the family, where you can do as much or as little as you want.

Fact file

From Christchurch the driving distance to the start of the Peak Hill Walkway is about 120km.   Driving time about  one hour 40 minutes.

The walkway is sited adjoining Peak Hill Station,  9kms along Algidus Road in the Lake Coleridge area.

From Algidus Road there is a sign and a marked easement over private land, which will take you to the summit along an unformed route.

The walk should take about three hours return, and is suitable for family groups. Peak Hill is a prominent hill on the shores of Lake Coleridge.

At its peak, 1240m, it offers a stunning overview of the lake and surrounding area on a fine day.

The walk to Peak Hill is extremely exposed to the weather and walkers should be well equipped.

Queen Charlotte Track

By Marlborough Walks, South Island, Walking Tours etc

Queen Charlotte Track . . . Here we come!

By Juliet Gibbons

We’re all going on a summer holiday
No more working for a week or two.
Fun and laughter on our summer holiday,
No more worries for me or you,
For a week or two.

We’re going where the sun shines brightly
We’re going where the sea is blue.
We’ve all seen it on the movies,
Now let’s see if it’s true.

They say that a change is as good as a holiday and if COVID-19 has taught us anything at all, it’s that change can remind us of what is important in life. Family, friends, good times, fun in the sun and laughter. And, of course, the importance of being kind.
The operators behind the Queen Charlotte Track in the Marlborough Sounds know something about most of these things, fun in the sun being one of them! Located in one of the sunniest regions in New Zealand, the great summer climate is one of the attractions they are keen to encourage New Zealanders to come and experience for themselves this coming summer.
There’s also history here too. The Queen Charlotte Track offers a spectacular 72km hike from the historic Meretoto/Ship Cove through to picturesque Anakiwa. Ship Cove is a place that features high on the list of most iconic historic places for New Zealanders to visit as it was here the first sustained contact between the New Zealand Maori and the European took place.
This came to national prominence earlier this year as New Zealand commemorated 250 years since the arrival of Captain James Cook in what became the precursor to European settlement in New Zealand.
Meretoto/Ship Cove was the epicentre of English navigator Captain James Cook’s explorations in the South Pacific – a snug cove in the outer Queen Charlotte Sound where he replenished water supplies, rested his men and repaired his ships on five different visits between 1770 and 1777. British sovereignty was first proclaimed by Cook over the South Island when the British flag was formally raised on the summit of Motuara Island, opposite Ship Cove, on 31st January 1770.
As well as its historical connections, the Queen Charlotte Track is a truly unique New Zealand walk due to its variety of landscapes as the well-defined track passes through lush coastal forest, meanders around tranquil bays and traverses skyline ridges affording unsurpassed views of the Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds.
The terrain is regarded as undulating with hills ranging from sea level to just over 400 metres and most of the track is wide and benched which makes for a pleasant stroll. The trail crosses a mixture of public and private land, a unique partnership between the Department of Conservation, QCTLC (Queen Charlotte Track Land Co-operative) and Marlborough District Council, and visitors are required to have purchased the appropriate pass if crossing the private land sections.
You will find real New Zealand here – where friendly locals welcome you to their door, your bags are transferred each day and the access is easy while you adventure. This is a walking track where you can create memories in your own style and at a budget that suits your wallet.
The track can be walked year-round thanks to that great Marlborough Sounds’ climate with the most popular season being from November to May. It is also a popular trail for mountain bikers with some sections open all year to enjoy. The majority of visitors access the track by boat from the port of Picton but day walks are available where the road meets the track such as at Anakiwa, Torea Bay and Te Mahia Saddle.
You can camp at Department of Conservation campsites, private campsites and farm stays, or opt for accommodation in backpackers, home stays, bed and breakfasts, retreats and lodges or hotels along the way all while taking advantage of the water transport services which allow your luggage to be transferred each day.
Cook for yourself or take the night off, if staying at or near accommodation with restaurants. Many of the smaller lodges offer catering options too.
For those with a little more time, or seeking something a little different, there are many other activities that can be enjoyed along the way. These include swimming, fishing, sailing, sea kayaking, bird and dolphin watching, diving and historic side trips. Glow-worm grottos add to the nightlife.
There are guided and unguided packaged walking options available too and both can have their packs carried for them from any of the access points along the track by arrangement with transport operators. The sheer pleasure of arriving or departing the track by sea adds to the experience and with its historic interest and many comfortable accommodation houses along the way serving good food and wine, it could easily be called the ‘gourmet’s trail’.
Come and experience the breathtaking ridge top panoramas of Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds and enjoy the company of friendly hosts and superb food and wine. For more information on how to book your ‘summer holiday’ see the official track website at

The Queen Charlotte Track – Why Walk When You Can Ride?

The Queen Charlotte Track is one of New Zealand’s best-loved walking trails, but it is also a popular destination for mountain bikers as one of New Zealand’s Great Rides on the Ngā Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trail.
It offers a unique combination of beautiful coastal scenery, native bush, stunning views and New Zealand history. The natural appeals are complimented by easy access, an outstanding choice of hosted accommodation, pack transfers and a wide variety of flexible options for day or multiday trips, including all-inclusive packages from local providers. It offers bikers an exhilarating and challenging experience over 72km and is able to be biked comfortably in three days.
The Queen Charlotte Track has long been regarded as one of the best single tracks in the country. The track is graded as advanced/grade 4 for mountain biking although some sections are easier than others and lend themselves to day rides for those not wanting to attempt the entire track. The demographic of those riding the track is also changing as biking grows in popularity amongst older age groups.
Most riders will find some sections of the track easier to walk and you will likely need to push your bike in certain parts. If you are fit and experienced at mountain biking, most of the track is very rideable, albeit steep and challenging in certain sections, especially when rain has rendered it slippery and muddy. Less experienced riders may prefer to avoid the ridge-top sections of the central part of the track by riding along Kenepuru Road between Kenepuru Saddle and Portage Bay, still enjoying wonderful Sounds views.
The Marlborough Sounds is an iconic New Zealand destination – an intricate land mass, making up one fifth of New Zealand’s coastline, of numerous bays and coves caused by the drowning of river valleys by rising oceans over the past 10,000 years.
It is through this awe-inspiring landscape bikers can test themselves against a trail which takes them from shoreline to skyline, through magnificent virgin native forest at the track’s start at Meretoto/Ship Cove as well as regenerating forest and farmland along the rest of its length. Mountain biking is one of the best ways to explore this stunning area and learn about its fascinating history.
Although challenging in parts, the Queen Charlotte Track experience is made all the easier with the thought of comfortable lodgings awaiting each evening from backpackers through to lodges and even hotels. And the best part is your pack is transferred for you between your night time stays, by one of the water transport operators, so all you have to do is ride.
Important Footnote: You can bike the whole track from Ship Cove to Anakiwa between 1 March and 30 November each year. From 1 December to the end of February, the track is open for mountain biking between Kenepuru Saddle and Anakiwa. As the track is a shared use track and popular with walkers, you will need to ride in control and be prepared for walkers around each corner. Riding in the same direction as most others, from Ship Cove to Anakiwa is advised. For more information visit

Walking the Talk
Queen Charlotte Track Inc. has championed the virtues of the Queen Charlotte Track since 1993 and COVID-19 is a challenge the organisation is ready to meet and overcome.
Chairman Rob Burn is set to ‘walk the talk’ of supporting local when he and his wife Carolyn retrace the steps she last walked 25 years ago, completing most of the Queen Charlotte Track this winter.
“I have promised Carolyn a walk on the Queen Charlotte Track the first chance we get, seeing our own backyard, especially with our Autumn weather still good,” he says.
“Most of our operator members have not had an easy time over the last few months and without international flights our tourism businesses will likely just be welcoming our fellow Kiwis who we hope will explore our local offerings to get us through this coming Winter and Summer,” he says.
Rob and his wider committee are motivated to ensure New Zealanders are aware of the wonderful experience the Queen Charlotte Track offers.
“Our other ray of sunshine could be the ‘Trans-Tasman Bubble’ concept being worked on now. We all know our Aussie cousins and expat Kiwis love to walk, cycle, eat and drink and that is what the Queen Charlotte Track can offer in abundance,” he says.
So fellow New Zealanders, there has never been a better time to follow in Rob’s footsteps, to support local New Zealand walking trails like the Queen Charlotte Track and venture out into your big backyard.

What are you waiting for New Zealand?

Alexandra to Clyde River Walk

By South Island

By G Thompson

The Alexandra to Clyde River Walk or more properly ‘The Millennium Track’ celebrates Otago’s 150th Anniversary.
The River Walk, as locals call it, meanders 11.8km alongside the true right bank of the Clutha River between the Alexandra Bridge and the Clyde Bridge in Central Otago.
Every winding turn in the track opens up new vistas.  It makes for a most charming walk and is suitable for all levels of fitness.
There is always something new to see as the seasons change through the year, each one distinct and beautiful in its own way.
In summer Alexandra gets some of the country’s hottest weather.  The River Walk offers the only sheltered and shady track in the area so it is pretty special for those wilting yet wanting exercise.
Poplars and Willows line both sides of the track with frequent peeps of the Clutha River and quiet eddies to cool off in.
The shade is much appreciated by walkers, mountain bikers, runners and dogs alike. Well away from roads and the noise of traffic, the track is a serene and tranquil place to recharge batteries.
Autumn is especially lovely with the soaring Poplars turning to glowing golden spires and the Willows to a rich buttery yellow in the sunshine.
You can walk along the track on a carpet of crunchy leaves with others falling like bridal confetti. It just lifts your spirits. Visitors often come to take photos.
When all the leaves have fallen and the trees stand bare for winter more sun gets through to the track and you can see more of the river with its aquatic inhabitants.
Ducks, Coots, Shags, Herons and the occasional Swan above and Trout, Eels and perch below in the deep blue-green water.
Sometimes the track gets covered in snow and this is magic for locals competing to be the first to leave footprints!
Spring is the time of new growth and as the fresh green leaves dress the trees, the fragrant catkins on the willow release their sweet perfume.  The pace of life picks up with birds busy building nests, bees buzzing in the canopy, fantails flitting around the track with hordes of Quail chattering in the undergrowth.
It is a delight to the senses.
There are features of interest along the way like a Kayak Slalom Course where local youngsters practise their skills, a Department of Conservation Historic site just a stone’s throw from the river comprising over a hundred hectares of dredge tailings and dredge ponds left over from the Central Otago Gold Rush days.
There are a few interpretation panels and lookouts on the track offering views of these too.
Bridges and board walks add a different perspective and a stony beach where the Fraser River meets the Clutha is popular with fishermen and family groups
There are lots of other great tracks around Alexandra but not many have the trees, water, abundant birdlife, fish, rabbits and historic remains that this one has.
The River Walk is our favourite track and we’re there most days. We never get tired of it.