Luxury Adventures are conducting a series of interviews with some of our key suppliers looking at the different aspects of their lives and how these influence the experiences they offer. Ngāi Tahu Tourism New Zealand are located in Queenstown and offer numerous adventures, from guided walks to snowshoeing and more.
Typically our guests spend 3-5 days in the Central Otago region, what do you recommend as a must do walking/hiking experience when visiting the greater Southern Lakes area? The Famous Routeburn Track is a must do, the name says it all – it’s famous! The Routeburn is a particularly beautiful track and is often on top of many people’s bucket lists as it’s one of the ten Great Walks of New Zealand. Our Famous Routeburn Track guided day walk is ideal for those who want to fit in a lot of activities while in the Central Otago region. We make it super easy with transport, packs and jackets all provided and make sure you get to see some real highlights of the track without having to stay overnight or spend multiple days hiking.
What level of fitness will our guests need when embarking on a full day walk into the mountains? While we aim to find a pace that suits the group, in order to make the most of the experience we would recommend that guests have an average level of fitness and ideally walk fairly regularly. Our Routeburn Day walk is between 13 and 18 kilometers return depending on the ability of the group so guests need to be prepared to walk for around 3 – 5 hours.
Personally I think the Routeburn Track is a stunning walk and easily accessed from central Queenstown. Its already world renowned but for those that haven’t tried the Routeburn tell me what makes it so special from your perspective? The Routeburn is such a unique track with a huge variation in scenery. It passes through two national parks and in the space of a day walk you get to experience everything from lush forest to majestic mountain peaks, waterfalls, rivers, birdlife and of course all the amazing cultural and history that belongs to the trail.
Seasonally speaking, can our customers still walk with you during the winter months and how does the experience differ during this time? Our Famous Routeburn Track walk operates all year round and is just as good during the winter as it is in summer. It will be colder in the winter but as long as guests are dressed appropriately this doesn’t deter from the experience. We provide waterproof rain jackets for our guests to use if they don’t have one.
What pieces of clothing would you recommend people wear on these adventures, can you break it down for our customers? It’s important that guests wear sensible footwear, ideally closed-toed trail shoes or hiking boots (no sandals or flip flops). Sunglasses are essential all year round (even in winter), as are hats (sun hat in summer, warm hat in winter), sunscreen, and a waterproof jacket. Our weather can be changeable especially in the mountains so make sure you come prepared with plenty of warm layers including merino or polypropylene under-layers and mid-layers , jeans are never a good idea!
Anything else that we should carry or bring along? If guests have a small daypack this is useful to bring along as well as their own water bottle ( there are lots of places to refill it along the way), other than that their cameras and a smile is all they need.
Your sister company does guided tours of the Hollyford track which is a 3 day adventure. What are the pros of doing this over the Routeburn for guests who have the time to do it? The Hollyford 3 Day Experience is truly incredible and the ultimate mix of wilderness and comfort. If guests are able to fit this into their itinerary they will never forget their time in the Hollyford Valley. Across the three days our guests enjoy exploring the valley by foot, jet boat and finally by helicopter as they fly from Martins Bay to Milford Sound. At the end of each day they will relax in our comfortable private lodges where a hot shower, comfy bed and delicious three course meal awaits. Our experienced guide leads the group through this very remote valley, where they can learn all about the flora and fauna of the native forest as well as the geology of the area. Perhaps most inspiring is some of the Māori and pioneering history that belongs to the region, and our guides have a talent of bringing to life the legends of these times. So in short, the pros are experiencing a very remote and very different landscape to that of the Routeburn and the cons are the time – guests would need to allow four full days to complete the trip and attend the pre trip briefing.
Snowshoeing is another one of your offerings, for those that have never experienced it what can they expect? Sell it to me! Snowshoeing is great fun! Even if you’ve never tried it before it’s super easy to pick up and takes only minutes to master. This means we can focus on getting up into the snow pretty quickly and to places that typically only the most experienced skiers can access. Forget the hassles of hiring skis, the lengthy lift queues and lugging gear up and down the car park – we make it easy by proving all the gear you need for a day. Our Snowshoe Adventure half day trip is perfect for those who love to get away from the crowds and up into the majestic mountains for incredible alpine views. Our Snowplay trip is ideal for families and, while everyone gets a short walk in snowshoes, the main focus is on fun in the snow. Kids get to play with our special snow toys, build snowmen, experience snow caves and enjoy a snack in the snow. For the ultimate snowshoe adventure nothing beats a Heli snowshoe. Just minutes from Queenstown and yet incredibly remote, you’ll explore an untouched winter wonderland all of your own and get the added thrill of a scenic heli flight as well – an unbeatable day out!
Ngai Tahu Tourism has many other activities to do in the region, some of which have been included in our top New Zealand experiences for 2017. In your opinion which ones should you absolutely not miss! Once back from the Routeburn or one of our other guided walks why not try a Dart River Adventure? There are loads of different trips to choose from and one that even covers the best of both worlds with a jet boat ride and a guided walk (The Aspiring Wilderness Adventure).
Hannah Jackson is a luxury travel consultant for Luxury Adventures. Talk to us about planning your next visit to New Zealand, Australia or the South Pacific Islands.