Frequently Asked Questions

Hollyford Wilderness Experience

Frequently Asked Questions

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Wanting to learn more about the guided Wilderness Experience? Find answers to frequently asked questions below, or submit a question and we'll get back to you.

We are proud to offer two different guided experiences based in the Hollyford Valley and Martins Bay area. If you're not sure which trip would suit you best, have a look at the summary table below for the key differences between the two:

  Guided Wildereness Experience (Hollyford Valley) Guided Fiordland Heli Escape (Martins Bay)
Walking distance Total walking distance of 39km (24.2 miles) Total walking distance of 14km (8.6 miles)
Trail elevation Undulating terrain with a maximum height of 168m above sea level Mostly flat terrain with a maximum height reached of 50m above sea level
Trip duration 4 days, 1 night in Te Anau and 2 nights on the track 2 days, 1 night  in Martins Bay
Transportation Return transport from Queenstown or Te Anau included in the trip Guests make their own way to Milford Airport


Hollyford Wilderness Experience

The Hollyford Track is a well-formed valley walk suitable for most ages (10+) and abilities. However, the days are long, and the first day of walking can be quite tiring as you walk 19.5km in approximately 7 hours and you are required to carry your full pack. If you have a reasonable level of fitness you will find it pleasantly challenging, and highly rewarding!



To prepare yourself for the Wilderness Experience, 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: 

  • Start simple and around town - brisk walks of approx. 1 hour; 
  • Wear a backpack weighing about 6kgs to simulate what you will carry on Day One (only) of your Hollyford Track walk; 
  • One month out increase your walks to 3 hours – more as you get fitter - and try bush tracks or uneven terrain to develop balance and the different muscle groups needed; 
  • Hills and stair work will greatly improve fitness; 
  • Walk in the rain if possible as we do experience wet weather on the track, so it helps to get used to it!
  • Walk in the boots and socks you’ll be wearing on the Hollyford to make sure they are comfortable and fit well.
  • Remember hydration and nutrition even in training – drink plenty of water and eat snack foods such as muesli bars, banana chips and chocolate. If you do this in your training walks, your body will become used to processing food whilst on the move!

Fiordland Heli Escape

The walks on each day are approximately 6 - 7km in length and will take 2 - 3 hours. They are not rigorous and the terrain is largely flat or very gently undulating through forest and coastal bush.

If you have a reasonable level of agility and fitness, enjoy walking frequently and are able to walk continually for around one hour you will most likely be very capable of completing our 2 Day Heli Escape trip.



Fiordland has very changeable and unpredictable weather, so you need to be well prepared. It can change dramatically and quickly so it’s important to be prepared for the worst conditions and carry the appropriate clothing at all times. Summer months average around 20°C but the evenings can be a little cooler. Of course, our lodges are quite warm and comfortable! Spring and autumn temperatures average around 10°C on the coast with the evenings being cooler still.

Fiordland is a temperate 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. So, you need a good rain coat.  If you don't have one, we will loan you one.  

Due to the rainfall we have drying rooms in both the lodges, so you can expect any wet clothes will be warm, dry and ready to wear each morning. Please refer to our gear check list for the most suitable clothing.

Please note that, whilst we do our best, due to the nature of Fiordland’s weather it can be difficult to make very accurate forecast predictions.

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 run an extension cord to your CPAP machine. You will be given a 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.

Hollyford Wilderness Experience

Day One: Queenstown guests travel by coach 170kms to Te Anau

Day Two: all guests travel 100km through the beautiful Eglinton Valley to the track start. From there to Pyke Lodge we walk 19.5kms (12 miles) which takes up to 7 hours.

Day Three: We walk 15kms (9 miles) between Pyke Lodge and Martins Bay Lodge taking 4 - 5 hours. During this time, you will also travel approximately 25kms by jet boat down the Hollyford River and across Lake McKerrow.

Day Four: After breakfast we walk up to 5kms (3 miles) along Martins Bay Spit, which takes 3 - 4 hours. Following lunch, you will take a spectacular helicopter flight along the coast and into the breath-taking Milford Sound before boarding our coach to drive 120kms to Te Anau (and a further 17 kms to Queenstown).


Fiordland Heli Escape

Day One: Once you have made your own way to Milford Airport (contact Trips and Tramps on 0800 305 807 if you require a coach transfer to Milford), your journey begins with a spectacular scenic heli flight down the length of breath-taking Milford Sound. Landing at Martins Bay we enjoy a picnic lunch before walking approximately 7km to Long Reef which will take around three hours.

Day Two: After breakfast we take a 15 minute jet boat ride up the lower Hollyford River to Lake McKerrow landing at Jamestown. We walk approximately 7km through the Podocarp forest back to Martins Bay lodge. After morning tea we return by helicopter to Milford.


A selection of New Zealand craft beer, fine wines and organic soft drinks are available for purchase at the lodges. We accept debit and credit cards and you will be asked to pay for any drinks at the end of your walk before you fly out to Milford Sound. Note that should you not wish to finish your bottle of wine on the first evening, we will transport it for you to the second lodge. There is also a complimentary selection of tea, coffee and fruit juice.

A gear check list for the Hollyford Wilderness Experience can be viewed here.

Don’t worry, our jet boat ride is simply a means of transport which cuts out the need for a whole lot more walking! Think of it as cruise down the river and lake, and not a fun park ride.

We walk through the rainforest of our South West coast and this location can experience high rainfall.

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.

Applicable to the Hollyford Wilderness Experience only

Both Te Anau and Queenstown have several specialist outdoor stores that sell clothing and other gear required for walking in Fiordland. However, we recommend that you only use these as a backup 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 gear check list here.

You will be able to store any additional luggage that you don't require with you on the Hollyford Track at the Distinction Luxmore hotel.


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 have 24hr power in the lounge area for charging cameras etc.

We have unisex bathrooms at Pyke Lodge and separate men's and women's bathrooms at Martins Bay Lodge. The bathrooms have hot showers with unlimited hot water and flush toilets. We provide towels, soap, combination shampoo/conditioner, and hair dryers.

The briefing is mandatory for the Hollyford Wilderness Experience. If you are on the Fiordland Heli Escape you will be given a safety briefing before boarding your helicopter and we will provide any equipment you need upon arival at Martins Bay

For all Wilderness Expereince guests, we ask that you attend the pre-departure briefing held at the Distinction Lumxore Hotel in Te Anau at 6.30pm.  This is a chance for you to make sure you are fully prepared for the walk and to meet your fellow walkers. It also gives you the opportunity to pick up a backpack and/or raincoat, should you require one. If you are really unable to attend, please contact our reservations team.

Hollyford Wilderness Experience

You can park your car at the Distinction Luxmore Hotel in Te Anau car park. This is where your accommodation is on the evening of day one.


Fiordland Heli Escape

There are limited free car parks available in Milford Sound, therefore we recommend allowing plenty of time (at least 30 minutes) to find a park and either catch a shuttle or walk to the airport before your 11.30 check in time.

Hollyford Wilderness Experience

Day One - if you wish to take the coach transfer from Queenstown to Te Anau, this departs the Station Building at 3:30pm and Queenstown Airport at 4pm, arriving at the Distinction Luxmore hotel at approximately 6pm.

Day Two - our coach departs the Distinction Luxmore hotel at 8am, heading to the start of the Hollyford Track.

Day Four - you will arrive back at the Distinction Luxmore hotel in Te Anau at approximately 4:00pm. We'll stop here for half an hour before continuing on to Queenstown, arriving at approximately 6:30pm. Note - we cannot guarantee the Queenstown arrival time so we advise not book a flight home until the following day.


Firodland Heli Escape

Guests need to make their own way to Milford Airport (contact Trips and Tramps on 0800 305 807 for coach services) by 11.30am on the day of departure. The heli flight will depart at 12 noon and arrive back at approximately 11.15am the next day. Allow four hours driving time to Milford if you are driving from Queenstown or two hours if you're driving from Te Anau.


The average age of our walkers is 50+ but many people in their 60s and over have also taken up the challenge. We also attract families wanting to share this unique experience together.

Hollyford Wilderness Experience

From the Distinction Luxmore hotel in Te Anau, it takes just under two hours to drive to the start of the track.


FIordland Heli Escape

Iit takes two hours from Queenstown to Te Anau then just under a further two hours to Milford. You will need to check in at Milford Airport between 11.30am and 12 noon on the day of departure.

We strongly recommend all guests, both New Zealand residents and visitors, purchase travel insurance. This should guard against loss of fares paid should your trip be cancelled for any reason within our cancellation period. Insurance may cover cancellations due to reasons such as falling ill or having an accident prior to your departure, a family bereavement, missing a flight to Queenstown, and therefore missing your departure etc. once the trip has begun it should also cover the costs associated with injury or evacuation from the track.

Both lodges have flush toilets and there are clean long drop style toilets at our lunch stops.


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 - unless you specify you want a single room a the time of booking, you will share with another guest of the same gender at no extra cost. If you would like to guarantee a room to yourself, a single supplement charge will apply at the time of booking.

Given our remote location it is difficult to cater specifically to all dietary requests. However, we can cater for the following if we know well in advance of your arrival:

- Vegetarian will / will not eat fish

- Vegan

- Gluten Free

- Coeliac

- Dairy Free / Lactose Intolerant

At the time of booking you will be asked to confirm any such dietary requirements. If you have any food allergies, please let us know.

Hollyford Wilderness Experience only

Yes, just let us know at the time of booking. 

The Hollyford Track guided Wilderness Experience operates all summer, through to early autumn. The flora and fauna in the valley can vary within this period. The Fiordland Heli Escape operates between January and March.

The New Zealand Fur Seal rookery is permanently at Long Reef. Many of the big mature bulls leave in December. Mothers have their pups in January. The rare Fiordland Crested Penguins nest in the flax bushes at Long Reef from July to December and are generally visible in pairs, and entertaining to observe. Whilst they do come back to land between February and March to moult, they are rarely seen then as they are not in pairs and are more timid, tending to hide. December is often the peak time to see the Southern Rātā flower, and the traditionally 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 when the weather is usually cooler with crisp clear days many of the flowering plants may still be in bloom. 

* Please note the flora and fauna of Fiordland is dependent on many factors outside our control, therefore we cannot make any guarantees on what might be seen.

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. 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. 

Pyke Lodge and Martins Bay Lodge have drying rooms which are designed to dry suitable fabrics (not cotton). Please note that we do not have washing facilities.