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The Hollyford Track is well formed and, being a valley walk, suitable for most ages (10+) and abilities. That said, the days are long, and Day One in particular can be quite tiring for some as you walk 19.5km in approximately 7 hours. Day one is the only day where you are required to carry your pack, but don’t worry, as ample food and comfortable bedding are all provided at our private lodges, you are relieved of the burden of carrying a weighty pack. If you have a reasonable level of fitness you will find it pleasantly challenging, and highly rewarding!
To prepare yourself, we recommend structuring a training programme (at least 6 weeks beforehand) to ensure your walk with us is comfortable and therefore enjoyable. Some helpful tips are:
The Hollyford Track guided wilderness experience operates summer only from late October through to late April and the flora and fauna in the valley can vary within that period. When you travel depends on your interests:
The New Zealand Fur Seal colony is always at Long Reef. Many of the big mature bulls leave in December. Mothers have their pups in January. The rare Fiordland Crested Penguins come to land to nest in the flax bushes at Long Reef between the months of July to December, they are generally visible in pairs and entertaining to observe. They do come back to land between February and March to moult, however, they are rarely seen then as they are not in pairs and are more timid, tending to hide. December often is the peak time for Southern Rātā being in flower and the traditional warmer months of January to March see many of the summer flowering plants in bloom including Rātā vine, Manuka and some of the orchid varieties. In April many of the flowering plants may still be in bloom and the weather is usually cooler with crisp clear days.
* Please note the flora and fauna of Fiordland is dependent on many factors outside our control therefore we can not make any guarantees on what may or may not been seen and when.
Fiordland has very changeable weather and you need to be well prepared when walking here as the weather can be unpredictable and change dramatically very quickly. It is important to be prepared for the worst conditions, even if they don’t occur, and carry the appropriate clothing at all times. Summer months average around 20°C but the evenings can be a little cooler, our lodges of course are warm and comfortable. Winter temperatures average around 10°C on the coast with the evenings much colder.
Fiordland is a rain forest and up to 9 metres of rain falls annually. That's right 30 feet of water can fall in the headwaters every year so this is one of the wettest places in the world. For Americans think Olympic Peninsula WA. An inch/25mm of rain for every day of the year so you need a good rain coat. If you don't have one we will loan you one of ours. Not glamorous but certainly effective.
Due to this we have drying rooms in both the lodges and you can expect the wet clothes from yesterday will be warm and dry come morning ready to wear again the next day.
Weather in this area can change very rapidly and it is not unusual to experience both summer and winter conditions and temperatures on the same day.
* Please note that due to the nature of Fiordland’s weather we can not make any forecast predictions
Day One: 19.5kms walking from the start of the track to Pyke Lodge with 5 - 6 hours of walking. You will also cover many kms travelling by our coach from Queenstown or Te Anau along beautiful lakes and glacial carved valleys to the start of the Hollyford Track.
Day Two: 15kms between PykeLodge and Martins Bay Lodge with 4 - 5 hours of walking. You will also cover approximately 25kms by jet boat down the Hollyford River and across Lake McKerrow.
Day Three: 8.5kms walking along Martins Bay Spit taking 3 - 4 hours. You will also take a spectacular helicopter flight along the coast and into the breath-taking Milford Sound before boarding our coach to return to Te Anau or Queenstown.
View track route and elevation
A comprehensive gear check list is provided upon booking but you can view our important info and gear check list guideline here.
Both Queenstown and Te Anau have a number of specialist outdoor stores that sell clothing and other gear required for walking in Fiordland. However, we recommend that you only use these as a back up if you have forgotten something as we cannot guarantee that they will have a full range of products or sizes when you are here.
A comprehensive gear check list is provided upon booking but you can view our important info gear check list guideline here.
You will need to make arrangements for your un-required luggage to be stored at your hotel/accommodation. To make this easier we advise that you stay at the same hotel/accommodation before and after your Hollyford Track walk.
You will need to make arrangements for your vehicle to be stored at your hotel/accommodation and generally they will do this while you are walking, if you are staying with them again upon your return. You will need to check this with your hotel/accommodation.
If staying in Queenstown you will be picked up on Day One from your hotel/accommodation from 6:30am or if staying in Te Anau you will need to meet at 8:30am. For this reason, we highly recommend all our guests to start their Hollyford journey in Te Anau, for a more relaxing start to the trip. On Day Three you will arrive back in Te Anau at approximately 4:00pm and Queenstown by approximately 7:00pm.
Both lodges have flush toilets and there are clean long drop style toilets at our lunch huts/stops. Gunn’s Camp museum has the last flushing toilet stop before reaching Pyke Lodge.
The lodges run on battery bank powered electricity, and we do conserve energy by turning off some electrical facilities overnight. However, lighting is available throughout the night and we still have 24hr power in the lounge area for charging cameras etc..
We can organise to have 24hr power in your room. Whilst our bedrooms don't have 24hr power, our lounge area does and so we can simply run an extension cord through to your CPAP machine. We will need to put you in the room closest to the lounge. Please note however that being in a remote area, we generate our own power, and the power system we use, although very reliable, cannot be 100% guaranteed.
A selection of New Zealand beer and wine along with soft drinks are available for purchase at the lodges. We accept credit cards or cash, and you will be asked to pay for any drinks at the end of your walk before you fly out to Milford Sound.
No, whilst this is an all-inclusive trip, any alcoholic beverages or soft drinks (other than tea, coffee and juice) are an additional cost.
The bathrooms have hot showers with unlimited hot water and flush toilets. We provide towels, soap, shampoo, and hair dryers.
Given our remote location it is difficult to cater specifically to all diet requests. However, we can cater for the following, if we know well in advance of your arrival:
Vegetarian will / will not eat fish
Dairy Free / Lactose Intolerant
At the time of booking, you will be asked to confirm any such dietary requirements, likewise, if you have any food allergies, please let us know.
The average age of our walkers is 50+ but many people in their 60’s and over have also taken up the challenge. We are also starting to attract more and more families wanting to share this unique experience together.
It takes just under 4 hours to drive from Queenstown to the start of the track. En-route, we stop in Te Anau, albeit briefly, as well as at Gunn’s Camp museum. Given the distance, this is another reason to consider departing from Te Anau.
Don’t worry, our jet boat ride is simply a means of transport which cuts out at least 2 days walking! Think of it as cruise down the lake and not a fun park ride!
Yes, we ask all our guests to attend their pre-departure briefing (held in both Queenstown at The Spire Hotel and Te Anau - venue TBA), at 5.30pm, the day prior to your departure. This is a chance for you to meet your fellow walkers and to make sure you are fully prepared for the hike ahead. It also gives you the opportunity to pick up a backpack and/or raincoat, should you require one. If you are unable to attend, please contact the office who will try and make alternative arrangements for you.
Given the location of the Hollyford Track it is important to note that we don’t have modern communication amenities such as cell phone reception and telephones. Whilst these amenities are now a standard part of our modern lives you’ll be glad not to have them for a few days, as it gives you a 100% revitalising break from your ‘other’ lives. It doesn’t take long to adjust and enjoy not having them. Do take comfort in knowing that we do have satellite phones and radio contact for the daily operational running of Hollyford Track and of course for use in the very unlikely case of an emergency.
We have many guests that travel with us on their own and many find it a great opportunity to walk and interact with other guests. The lodge bedrooms are twin share rooms. If you would like to guarantee a room to yourself, a single supplement charge will apply at the time of booking.
We aim to start walking at around 11am.
Yes, just let us know at the time of booking. You will have to consider any additional luggage you may have, however, in such instances and where possible, we may be able to store your additional luggage whilst you are on the track.
We recommend travel insurance to cover cancellations due to reasons such as: falling ill prior to your departure / a sprained ankle whilst partaking in another activity / a bereavement in the family / missing a flight to Queenstown and therefore, missing your departure etc.
We walk through the rainforest of our South West coast and this location can experience high rainfall.
Out of interest, Fiordland has one of the highest levels of rainfall in the world! Whilst this can make it spectacular and contributes to the beautiful flora, it also means that the track can be very wet, muddy and slippery. Likewise the creeks can rise rapidly, and therefore our groups often have to walk through water and mud – hence good quality, waterproof hiking boots are essential