*Group 3 (the slower group) starts first to allow group 1 to finish quicker when we need to leave Taupo. See below of this page for more on groups.
**price includes your Bushman, hut fees, DOC fees. † Group should be fit individuals who are OK to hike after their flight.
*Please note, like many other Great Walks, the Tongariro Northern Circuit is becoming very booked up meaning we may need to stagger the leaving times. Group 2 may need to leave a day later depending on what dates you finalise. Be in quick, otherwise huts will become sold out.
Day 9 will consist of the whole group meeting up again to chat and catch up over the awesome hike they've just done. Bushman Tours has arranged the towns #1 restaurant* for the group to all meet at and should you wish, your Bushman from the tours can join too. Afterwards, a few lakeside bars are available for another opportunity to catch up with friends. On a warm night, Taupo is simply stunning to spend an evening in.
*We have picked The Brantry for a meal. These have been contacted and will have the area reserved once the group confirm the tour.
Day 10 // Travel South to Wellington
Leaving at a good time in the morning, we will head south through some pretty stunning areas of the North Island. There will be a few opportunities to grab coffee and stretch the legs in the small villages along the way. Arriving in Wellington in the afternoon after a four and half hour drive, you will get a chance to reach your accommodation and head out into the city. Make sure to get down to the waterfront via famous streets like Cuba Street and check out the glowing city lights and beautiful bay.
Day 11 // Exploring Wellington & the Ferry
The morning is yours! Our ferry will leave Wellington waterfront just after lunch giving you a good four to five hours of exploring*. In this time, you may wish to get some shopping, or complete the easy two hour walk up Mount Victoria for a view of the whole city, or head to the stunning botanical garden via Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's house! That afternoon, we'll jump on the Blue Bridge ferry which sails through the magnificent Queen Charlotte Sounds; quite possibly one of the best transits in the world. That night, we'll get our prebooked coach to Nelson where you will unwind and rest after a busy day.
*Depending on schedules here, it may be valuable for the group to spend an extra day in Wellington. There are plenty of day walks and opportunities to explore the city in detail including trips to Te Papa, or Weta Workshop. This would push the next section of the trip back.
Day 12 // The Heaphy & Nelson
What makes the Heaphy so exciting isn't just its epic views and surrounding wildlife, but the fact it ends on the other side of the island. This means while one group explores the beautiful sounds and coastlines of the Tasman, the other gets to walk deep into our Jurassic coastline. Of all the Great Walks, this ancient Maori trail offers the biggest variety. Ranging from lush forests, grasslands and mountain ranges to the roaring West Coast sea, Nikau Palms and limestone arches. The Kahurangi National Park is famous for the abundance of caves, bluffs, natural arches and contains the largest cave system in New Zealand. The great spotted Kiwi is found alongside Takahe and the nocturnal, carnivorous land snail! The river mouth seen on the last day lays at the junction of two pounamu (greenstone) trails, used by Maori pounamu hunters to access the jade rivers of Westland from Golden Bay.
*price includes your Bushman, hut fees and DOC fees. † With the assistance of Bushman Drew, this group will find their way to their accommodation in Westport on the final night and begin their West Coast experience the next day.
Day 13 // The Tasman
With the first group out on the track enjoying a decent climb up to Perry Saddle (2600ft), the other groups have a great opportunity to explore our sunshine coast. The Tasman offers chances to get out into the bay on kayaks, or, head into the surrounding townships like Nelson or Motueka. We also highly recommend the whole group head further north to the Abel Tasman National park where the remaining groups can head out onto easy day walks along the Abel Tasman walkway (a five day walk that can be split into single days thanks to the available water taxi service).
Able Tasman Kayaks are our personal favourite supplier for Kayaking tours. This is $195 per person and includes 8 hour kayaking & sightseeing, morning tea and lunch and bus return from Nelson. For something that allows more freedom, we can simply arrange water taxis throughout key locations on the Abel Tasman track. This allows you to see more, at your own pace.
Day 14 // Group 2 on The Heaphy
No matter what Group 2 & 3 decide to do, it's time for the second group to start the Heaphy today. Group 1 would have had a good climb before lunchtime while heading down into the first valley by the time Group 2 head off. This group will likely be lead by Chief Bushman Ollie while the remaining has the chance to own the day for themselves in the Tasman or Nelson region.
Day 15 // Final Group on The Heaphy
Like the Tongariro, The Heaphy is a four day walk, meaning by now all the groups will be out on the track somewhere. The first group would have made their second descent and found themselves down by the coastline at sea level. They would have no doubt experienced an abundance of wildlife while having evenings under the milky-way high up on The Heaphy's peaks (2500ft). With everyone out on the tracks, Bushman Tours would have already arrange a van to take any extra luggage you didn't want to carry to the end of the hike, at Kohaihai.
Day 16 // First Group onto the Coast
The first group to finish The Heaphy now make their way back to their West Coast accommodation (likely in Westport). You and your Bushman Drew will have a chance to rest those legs and enjoy the local breweries and beaches of Westport. This is a quiet, distant town where locals are passionate about their wildlife and pristine Forrest. If applicable, the 9 of you will collect all the luggage and relax while waiting for the other 16 to finish.
Day 17 // West Coast Experience (optional)
Bushman Drew grew up in these parts. He frequently explores hidden tracks, huts and beaches to keep his snow dog fit and healthy. Today, Group 1 heads out in a private shuttle to explore some surrounding beaches and walkways of Cape Foulwind. Enjoy a coffee or tea on beaches frequently visited by sea life like the fur seal. Group 2, alongside Chief Bushman Ollie will reach their West Coast accommodation too that night. Read more about these experiences below. Or, if you wish to have the day for yourself to explore or relax, then there are few better places.
*This covers both separate activities, the Bushman and the transport that will be booked specifically for the group. Individuals will bring their own food but a recommendation will be sent prior.
Day 18 // Charming Creek & West Coast (optional)
Continuing the theme of exploration, Group 1 will split from Bushman Drew and be dropped off at the popular Charming Creek walkway. This historical walkway, once owned by the mining industry, has been left for nature to take back. It's a gentle wonder around deep, native bush. Meanwhile, Group 2 get to experience the secret beaches and meet Bushman Drew for the first time (likely support by his Bushdog). That night, the final group would have finished the Heaphy; probably ready for a drink and a good, hearty meal!
Day 19 // Travel to Christchurch
Another breathtaking drive south-east will lead us through mountain passes and dropping down into Canterbury via the impressive Waimakariri River. Over 4.5 hours, we'll make our way to the South Island's most stunning city and home of the Bushman Tours HQ. Plagued by memories of darker times, this city is called the garden city for a reason. Opportunities to start again after devastating earthquakes has given birth to internationally recognised architecture and even better bars and restaurants. The locals are strong and almost like family; after all, we've been through a lot. This afternoon, we'll spend some time just taking the city in. You'll have the night to yourself, or, you can book Chief Bushman Ollie's time* for a trip around some of the more popular night spots. The city is still quiet and depending on the day of the week, you'll have a chance for romantic or relaxing walks alongside the river Avon.
*$8 per person. Includes a guide and recommendations. No itinerary, just wandering through the city together to recommended places good for evening sights.
Day 20 / Godley Head and the City
Two more of our Bushwomen get to meet you today for a wonderful trip up Godley Head and throughout our city. Bushwoman Jill has extensive experience in this region and is the embodiment of what it is to be a Cantabrian, alongside Abi, you'll get to really understand why we love calling Christchurch home. The groups will split into two on this day with one heading up Godley Head in the AM and the other experiencing the city in detail - visiting locations that show our shaky past, and others that show our wonderful coastline. Godley Head offers a chance for spectacular views and time to see our WW2 history.
Depending on your preferences, there is scope here to add the Wild Foods experience on to the evening. This would be $95 per person which covers food, Bushman Ian and a venue, plus transport back to your accommodation.
*This covers your Bushman, transport, Godley Head and a tour of the city.
Day 21 // Head South to Queenstown
Continuing onto the last leg of your trip, Queenstown, we will arrange an early morning charter from the city for you to enjoy the days views. This journey is recognised around the world as one of the best for scenery. Although long (six to seven hours), you'll often have your eyes pealed on the surroundings. After leaving Canterbury, you'll head into Tekapo and get a sneak peek of Mount Cook and the famous Lake Pukaki (one of the bluest lakes in the world). Further south, the land will open up into epic flatlands before hitting the higher peaks of Otago. Reaching Queenstown that evening, you'll get a chance just to soak it all in...and trust us, you'll need it! Take the night to grab a world-famous Ferg Burger*, or simply go and sit on the waterfront overlooking the moonlit Remarkables.
*Local knowledge is everything, especially in the world's number one adventure town. This time of year is busy, with many restaurants and eateries filling up. Ferg Burger often has lines of up to 100 people, but we know a way around that. Make sure to ask Chief Bushman Ollie on ways to avoid the queues.
Day 22 // Enjoy Queenstown
No doubt you'll wake up in the morning, open the curtains and see a vibrant, bussling town full of trendy people, unbelievable moutain views and shops...loads of shops! So, this day should be yours. Grab a good pair of walking shoes, your sunnies and go and check out the township (this can be done in a day). For those looking to invest, the world is your oyster here with activities ranging from bungee, skydiving, jet boating, golf, gold mining, brewery tours and so much more. At the very least, get up the gondolier to check out Queenstown from above.
Day 23 // Meet our final Bushmen (day hike)
On this final day, Bushman Keith and his daughter, Bushman Alice will meet two groups for another chance to experience our epic land face to face. You'll get the choice of Lake Alta, an advanced level hike right behind the Remarkables, or a Mount Crichton, a local favourite loop along some of the most beautiful tracks in Queenstown. Day packs will do here with some light snacks and will offer an opportunity to ask Keith & Alice about the region and their experiences here. The day will come to a close late afternoon, offering a last bit of shopping in some of the coolest shops in New Zealand, or one last beer & wine before your flight tomorrow.
An optional extra, and a nice way to round off the trip would be another booked venue where we can all say our goodbyes and Chief Bushman Ollie can bring the tour to a close.
Starting from $288 per person*
*This includes transport and your Bushmen's time plus fees.
Day 24 // Fly out
What a trip, right? Simply flying out will bring even more for you to see though. Pilots from Air New Zealand, Qantas and more have noted Queenstown take off as one of the most stunning in the world. The flight out of the mountains and west provides a complete surrounding of our southern alpine region. If you're flight heads to Auckland first (connecting flight), you'll get to see this from south to north and get a birds eye view of the exact route you've just done over the last 20 days. Flights from Queenstown range in price but will be relatively similar to Christchurch.
Remember, booking a later flight allows you to have another day in Queenstown. If everyone has the same flight, we can arrange a shuttle to the airport (which isn't far out of town). If you leave later, remember that you will land back in Australia the following day; this means plenty of jet lag!
We've researched and collated a few experience with our Bushmen and Women that will add even more adventure to your trip. Bushman Tours is all about providing a local experience with local knowledge. We want you to leave feeling like you've connected with the regions and its people. Any of these Experiences can be added onto your trip without worry.
Trapping in Ruahini (day trip) // $189pp*
Trap lines are an essential tool in managing critical threats to our native wildlife. In this region, they are set by a volunteer organisation called Ruahine Whio Protection Trust who sole purpose is to protect the whio duck. Bushman Emma regularly supports and helps the trust with resetting and reviewing traps laid for stoats and possum throughout the bush. Now, you can help too by joining her on a trapping expedition into the Ruahine Ranges. A five to six hour loop (which can be done at a gentle pace), this is a great chance to directly support conservation in New Zealand while enjoy a unique, barely touched ecosystem.
Bushman Emma has one goal on this Experience; provide you with enough knowledge and awareness on the regions conservation you'll leave with a direct, personal connection to it. The Ruahine Recovery Site is one of the most successful in the country thanks to the support of volunteers. By joining this trip, your group, charity and funds will go directly to supporting the trust. Find out more about the whio here.
What is the whio?
This stunning creature is our native duck and only found here in New Zealand. Considered treasured birds (taonga) with strong cultural and spiritual connection with Māori. Known for their intense, blue feathers that bare a matt blue colour, these birds will see and hear you from miles off; so keep an eye out for their calls. If you see a whio near river and streams, this is a key indicator of healthy and resourceful waterways. Once widespread throughout New Zealand, they're now in decline with about 2,000-3,000 individuals left in New Zealand. Stoats are the greatest danger. Whio nest in the same areas where stoats commonly feed. Stoats can easily follow the scent trail of the female to her hiding place, or sniff out the nest through scent carried on the breeze blowing up and down the river. They attack females on the nest, steal eggs, and take young ducklings from the river’s edge. This is why trapping now plays a crucial role in their survival from volunteers like yourselves.
*This covers Bushman Emma's time, fees, transport and $50 will be donated to the trust per person.
Mitre Flats (day hike) // $169pp*
Keen to see more of our outdoors? Want to get as much hiking in as you can on this trip? Then why not do Mitre Flats with Bushman Emma after Tongariro? Should you wish to add this Experience onto your trip, we will arrange for you to head south after your time in Taupo towards Palmerston North (half way to Wellington). Here, you will head out on a loop track over the Mitre Flats with a chance to climb up Mitre Peak that afternoon.
Learn about this important, natural habitat from Bushman Emma's extensive knowledge and visit Mitre Flats Hut (Tararua) for lunch; a spot only locals tend to use. Avoid the "tourist rush" and get to experience a national park vital to our endangered animals. This well-defined route is perfect for all experiences and offers a chance for incredible, 360 degree views and a personal connection to our natural world up from the rigdelines above Mitre Flats.
Should you wish to add this Experience onto your itinerary, all groups would spend an evening in Taupo after the Tongariro, and head south early the following morning. Our group dinner and final meet up before heading to Wellington will now be shifted to Palmerston North. (Taupo tends to be more pricey than other locations, this can reduce costs).
If you choose to do Mitre Flats, there is a high chance you will be co-guided by the famous collie, Coda - Emma's very own Bushdog and sidekick. See more of them in action here.
West Coast // $159 pp*
After your big trip from Kahurangi National Park over the Coast, you’ll have some time to unwind and experience our Jurrassic coastline. Over consecutive days the groups get back to Westport, we have scheduled multiple activities to keep everyone busy.
Visit the “secret” beaches of Cape Foulwind, thanks to Bushman Drew’s local knowledge, fur seal colonies and enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea on the beach; unwinding after two big weeks of walking.
Learn about the battered hillsides and trees, wild-weather and natural world that has been carved from earthquakes over thousands of years. The evenings will be yours to visit local pubs and breweries, or simply wander about.
The first and second group will also get the chance to experience Charming Creek, a beautifully kept, old mining railway. This track, lasting anywhere from 4 to 6 hours allows visitors to step back in time 100 years and follow an abandoned railway throughout native bush, shear granite bluffs, waterfalls and pitch black caves. Another steady walk allows the group to stretch their legs and warm down after their hikes without carrying any heavy packs.
You will be dropped off in the morning to explore at your own leisure while other groups head out to Cape Foulwind (which you would have already done or be doing the next day).
*This covers both separate activities, the Bushman and the transport that will be booked specifically for the group. Individuals will bring their own food but a recommendation will be sent prior.
Kaikoura // $220 pp*
*This covers both your Bushman’s time, accommodation at the batch, food, and fishing for three hours. $100 pp without fishing added.
Thanks to Bushman Ian’s extensive knowledge of the area and even larger contact base, we’re able to arrange a Kaikoura experience that truly encompasses Kiwi living.
Choose to have the morning to yourself for breakfast down the quaint high street, or, meet Sabrina of Kaikoura Wildlife Rescue (see below) before meeting at the marina. Here, local fisherman and their boats will be ready to take you out, catch some dinner and pull up some cray fish from the night before. Those more keen on land based activities have a chance to walk around the Peninsula to visit seal and albatross colonies.
We will meet back at Oaro club batch; a basic building with bed and close to the sea. That evening, Bushman Ian will prepare wild food which includes description on how and where it’s caught plus accompanying drinks.
Wild Foods Christchurch: Depending on your preference and availability, we could look to add a Wild Foods evening here in Christchurch. This would be without the batch as mentioned above, but would have similar foods sourced locally. $55 per person would cover food, Bushman Ian's time and location. We would likely head up to the new refurbished Scott's Hut - a beautiful building brought back from Antarctica during the first expeditions. Just check out the views at the top, image that at sunset...
Christchurch & Godley Head // $343 pp*
*This covers three Bushmen, Godley Head and tour of the city.
Your trip is now beginning to wind down (should you be flying out of Christchurch), and there is no better place to do that than in the Garden City. Here, you will meet two more of our Bushwoman, Jill and Abi.
Arriving late afternoon, you have the evening to yourself the day before. The following day, a private minibus will begin to pick up two groups of 12 and 13. Here, one group will head up to Godley Head, while the other embarks on a walking tour of the city to view our new internationally recognised architecture, as well as traces of our shaky past. A chance to grab some light meals and excellent
coffee will of course be on the agenda.
Godley Head is a 4 to 6 hour walk over our Banks Peninsula; a dead volcanic land mass, visible from space. Once up the top of the steady 500m climb, the group will have stunning views of the Peninsula, the coast, the city and a chance to explore our recently refurbished military buildings and defence site from WW2.
To round off the day and our amazing trip, Bushman Tours will organise a venue for us to recap on our adventures and enjoy one last drink - hopefully to celebrate the funds raised for Haka For Life.
The following morning, your bus will meet you at your accommodation to drop you off at the airport. If you decide to carry on south to Queenstown, we will leave all leave together from the accommodation to the bus stop.
To accommodate the large numbers and to ensure we can all get on the same tracks without breaking regulations, it's best the group split into three. You can decide who fits into which group, but everyone will get the exact same experience as each other.
9 PEOPLE // This should be the fittest and fastest set of hikers. Although you will be doing the same track as everyone else, there will be times when you need to be at the pick up earlier than usual. Your Bushman will be fit and active too making the pace challenging but enjoyable.
8 PEOPLE // This group should have a standard level of fitness and people who appreciate a good walk, but they're not in it to race. We'll be walking a good pace but have plenty of chance to stop and take it all in.
8 PEOPLE // This group should be of the older and less confident sorts. The chosen Bushmen & Women for this will have experience with people who need a little more guidance and support, thus making the trips far more enjoyable than trying to battle them alone or with people too fast.
Are you ready to secure your booking, activities and deposit? By following the below link, you can select what activities and requirements from this page you would like on the trip. There are enough questions and options on this for Bushman Tours to build individual itineraries and secure your quote. You will see a final cost on this checkout too which will give you an idea of expenses.
If you would like to calculate expenses and rough prices of your trip before putting your deposit down, you can download the spreadsheet below we have built for this tour. It details the total of each trip with an option for you to add extras.
Below is an example itinerary only. Once the activities and tours are finalised, we will compile another one similar to this. Each group member will get an itinerary package that details every day and what times they need to be where. At the back, it will also show an overview of the trip as shown below. This will be posted to you prior to leaving for the tour.
T&Cs: Bushman Tours will act as your booking agent for transport, experiences and hikes. You must arrange your own accommodation outside of the hikes and your flights plus extra food. If any guest is late for a hike or unwell, they will have to forfeit that trip. Trips are subject to weather and natural events. By leaving a deposit, Bushman Tours will aim to secure your huts and transport, but there is no guarantee by the supplier the price will remain as quoted. If huts become booked on Tongariro or Heaphy, the track is classed as sold out. We cannot book you on this date or track if this occurs. Guests are required to carry their own adequate hiking gear. You will have a Tour Leader with you from Taupo who will set the agenda and guidelines for the tour. Your deposit for the tour will be sent to after the quote is built. This secures transport and hut bookings. This is a non-refundable deposit. If you pay the full amount and decide to cancel at a later stage, you will lose your deposit and, depending on notice, a percentage of your booking. To read more on this and our full terms of service, visit here.