Private guided hiking experiences at the Top of the South Island of New Zealand’s superb coastal and mountain landscape. We arrange and guide private trips on all three tracks
The Nelson region contains two of New Zealand’s Nine Great Walks, The Abel Tasman Track and the Heaphy Track. Only 30 minutes by helicopter, 90 minutes by car from Nelson are the Marlborough Sounds, and the Queen Charlotte Walkway.
The Abel Tasman Track
The Abel Tasman National Park is the smallest jewel in the crown of New Zealand’s national park network (22,500 hectares) yet it reflects a unique identity among the much larger, more mountainous parks. It encompasses kilometres of idyllic golden sand beaches washed by the tidal flows of Tasman Bay, linked by an easy 44 kilometre walking track of exceptional standard, alternating with hidden coves, estuaries and spectacular granite outcrops. Offshore lie numerous islands punctuating the broad sweep of Tasman Bay, providing sanctuary for sea birds, seals and penguins.
Looking down toward the sea from the track while walking, you will see the brilliant blue-green of the water and golden sand set against luxuriant forest and tree fern, with a feeling of being on an island paradise. Looking inland however, the park presents a different profile, with dense forested hills rising steeply to 800 – 1100 metres, drained by rugged watersheds which fall to the coast through deep gorges and impassable waterfalls. The park has an interesting history, with Maori settlement, Dutch and French explorers, before being settled by English settlers in the 1850’s.
The Heaphy Track
Kahurangi National Park is the second largest National park in New Zealand. It is Kahurangi’s heart of wilderness, centred on the Tasman mountains, that symbolises the special character of this National Park. Some 570km of incredible tramping tracks span 452,000ha (1 Million acres) from Golden Bay in the north, south to Murchison and Tapawera, and to the West Coast of the South Island. Kahurangi is the home of the largest remaining population of Great Spotted Kiwi. Within this north-west corner of the South Island lie some of our oldest rocks, most spectacular marble and karst land forms and the most intact remnants of the peneplain landscapes that featured in New Zealand around 60 million years ago.
The Heaphy Track traverses from Golden Bay in the east to Karamea in the west, over craggy ranges, alpine meadows, valleys of tropical native palms, and ruggedly beautiful coastline. A plane or helicopter provides with you a bird’s eye view of this incredible landscape which includes remote sites filmed for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies.
The Queen Charlotte Walkway
The Marlborough Sounds are an unspoilt paradise for those who love the sea, tranquillity, the natural world, freedom walking or outdoor adventure. The broad pathway of the Queen Charlotte Track lures walkers of all ages and experience along the ridge lines of the Sounds, through virgin native forests and down to blue-green coves fringed with ferns. Venture out on a cruise, charter a boat, paddle in these peaceful waterways, observe rare birds, dolphins, seals and penguins, catch a fish for dinner and relax at a hidden hideaway.
The Marlborough Sounds encompass twenty percent of New Zealand’s total coastline. This intricate maze of waterways is made up of three Sounds, the Queen Charlotte Sound, the Kenepuru Sound and the Pelorus Sound. Within the area is pristine native forest – ranging from towering 800 year old rimu trees, to lush punga tree ferns and beautiful native orchids leading down to picturesque shorelines. The myriad of bays, coves and inlets are perfect for exploring by sea kayak.
The Queen Charlotte Sound is the most well known of the three Sounds, and is dominated by bush-clad shorelines, deep bays and coves. The Kenepuru Sound is the smallest of the three Sounds. The Pelorus Sound has expansive waterways, with some exposed areas; it is made up of beautiful sea kayaking areas (such as Tennyson Inlet and Nydia Bay), while much of the rest of the Pelorus Sound is predominantly farmland and forestry.
Stretching between the Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sound is the Queen Charlotte Track which runs almost the entire length of Queen Charlotte Sound. The track stretches from Ship Cove to Anakiwa – 71 kilometres (approximately 45 miles) of spectacular walking track with stunning views and contrasting landscapes, passing through historic sites, secluded bays and lush coastal bush. Although the Queen Charlotte Track can be walked from either end, the recommended start is at Ship Cove.