My girlfriend and I are thinking about visiting New Zealand next summer for about 14 - 18 days. We started some basic planning and we think we want to stay around Queenstown or Wanaka. We both enjoy hiking and I would probably classify our skill level as slightly above average (we hike on a fairly regular basis in the southeastern Appalachian mountains). We were thinking about possibly taking a guided overnight (2 or 3 day) hiking trip in the Mount Aspiring area and several unguided day hikes. I have the following questions...
1) Would Queenstown or Wanaka be a better destination "hub"? I have been reading that Queenstown can be awfully crowded.
2) Are there day hikes available in the Mount Aspiring area? Or are most of the hikes multiday? Do guides usually take you to lesser known areas or common, easily found on your own areas?
3) We had also wanted to do some hiking in Fiordland. I am assuming that we could just drive up highway 94 and there should be several trailheads. Is this correct?
Any input or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
1/ Queenstown and Wanaka will both be fairly crowded in the summer but both would be good places to base yourself from. Also Te Anau might be another place. Also Glenorchy at the head of Lake Wakatipu is another good place.
2/ You will find plenty of good day hikes to do from all of these places. Not sure about guided trips. I guess a search on the Internet would find the guided trip operators. Make sure your guide has a consession to work on the DOC estate. It is illegal for guides to operate in National Parks or on the DOC estate without a consession.
3/ Cruising up the Milford Rd (94) and doing trips from there sounds like a great plan. Make sure you climb up to Homer Saddle from the eastern portal of the Homer Tunnel, fantastic views, also go to Lake Marion & Key Summit
If you want a good guide book for these areas I suggest Moirs Guide North for the Queenstown Wanaka area and Moirs Guide South for the Fiordland area. Very comprehensive guide with lots of trips that you won't find elsewhere.
I have tramped in Mt Aspiring pmcke is right Wanaka will be busy but there are alot of places to stay at.You can get a shuttle [Atomic shuttles ]they will take you to the Car park.Once there you can walk the Rob Roy Glacier track about 5-6 hours return trip,or keep walking past the track and walk onto the Mt Aspiring hut 2.5 hours and stay the night,next day keep walking for about 3 hours and you come to a junction turn left to go up the Liverpool track to the hut or turn right and go up the French Ridge hut track.
You can walk to either of these and back to Mt Aspiring hut in one day.The French Ridge track is very steep.You dont realy need a guide but if you wont one contact Mt Aspiring Guides.co.nz.The drive from Wanaka to the carpark is 30km of gravel rd and can be quite rough unless the grader has been down it.
I think Queenstown would a nightmare to find a place to stay but i have not stayed there so i could be wrong about that.When you arrive in Wanaka i would go to the DOC office and they will tell you all the info you need,i hope this helps you out
if you like to hike on Milford Track we already have 2 tickets for 13.-16- Dec. 09 including 2 transports for 382 NZD. This is the usual price you book online on doc.govt.nz.
Unfortunately we cannot go and woild like to find someone else going for us on this date.
Would you be interested in? Then let me know soon.
Wanaka Connexions (time2.co.nz) are a convenient service between Queenstown and Wanaka averaging $25 a trip and maybe 4-5 times a day be it via Crown range (shorter) or Cromwell. They can drop you off or pick you up at points along the way (negotiable) allowing you to plan daywalks around Crown range, Pisa range or Criffel range. eg have them drop you off at the top of Crown range road and take a walk over Mt Allen, Queensbury Hill and down to Touhy saddle appx 10-15k over high tussock country with terrific views. Then drop back down to same road at Cardrona hotel.
Maybe hire bikes in Wanaka and ride 10k out to DOC access point on Cardrona valley road (almost across from Spotts ck) and take a daywalk up Little Mt.Criffel.
Only 6k out of Wanaka you could ascend Roys Peak and do the skyline traverse (8-9 hours) and come at Spotts Ck to hitch or ride previously stashed bikes or catch the Wanaka Connexions bus back to Wanaka.
Catch a bus out of Queenstown and get off at Roaring Meg power station to walk to Touhy saddle on part of the Cromwell - Cardrona Pack track.
The choices are limitless. Brow Pk, Coronet Peak, Ben Lommond and the Remarkables all offer daywalks.
A good book exists on daywalks in the Central Otago region.
Moirs guide Nth though is the best choice for designing any walks in Mt.Aspiring NP.
Thanks for all the replies. Sorry for the late reply back (almost a year). After I originally posted this, our trip was postoned and the cancelled. Now, however, I am glad to say the trip is definatley back on. We will be in New Zealand from Nov. 10 - Nov. 21. I know the stay is short, but it is all the time we could get off from work. We are flying into Queenstown on Nov. 9.
Some things we would like to do are:
- Kayak Milford Sound
- Kayak Doubtful Sound
- Take this trip: http://www.ecowanaka.co.nz/aspiring_national_park.html
- Rob Roy Glacier Track (day hike)
- Take this trip: http://www.dartriver.co.nz/dartriver/FunYakSafari/
Based on this list, we would be staying in Queenstown, Te Anau, Wanaka, and possibly Glenorchy. I wanted to ask some questions though.
1) Kayaking in Milford & Doubtful Sound:
We are thinking about doing a full day guided tour on each sound. Are these going to be very similar? Would you recommend doing an overnight tour?
2) Eco Wanaka trip:
We would like to do at least 1 overnight guided hiking trip. I think the max my fiance would like to go for is 3 days 2 nights. However, we could go for longer if the evening accomdation provided showers, beds, etc. We are not fixed on this trip by any means, we just liked the description. It seems a little expensive though (this is probably due to the plane ride). Are the any other hikes you would recommend?
3) Other activities:
Are the any can't miss sights or activities that we are missing? Are there any good unguided day hikes (besides Rod Roy) that you recommend?
Thanks in advance for your help and advice.