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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.
Day One: Queenstown guests travel 170km to Te Anau, and it is a further 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 Two: 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 Three: After breakfast we walk up to 8.5kms (5 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 120km to Te Anau.
The Hollyford Track is a well-formed valley walk suitable for most ages (10+) and abilities. However, the days are long, and Day One can be quite tiring as you walk 19.5km in approximately 7 hours. On Day One you are required to carry your 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 for six months from late October through to late April, and the flora and fauna in the valley can vary within that period. When you travel may depend on your interests:
The New Zealand Fur Seal colony 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.
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 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. If this is not possible please get in touch with us at the time of booking.
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. In Te Anau there is a secure parking facility: www.saferparking.co.nz
From October to March Queenstown guests will be picked up on Day One from their hotel/accommodation from 6:30am. If staying in Te Anau guests meet at the Distinction Te Anau Hotel at 8:30am. For this reason, we highly recommend all our guests start their Hollyford journey in Te Anau for a more relaxing start to the trip.
In April, our trips only start in Te Anau and guests meet at 7.15am at the Distinction Te Anau Hotel. On Day Three you will arrive back in Te Anau at approximately 4:00pm, and in Queenstown by approximately 7:00pm. Note: We cannot guarantee the Queenstown arrival time so please do not book a flight out on Day Three.
Both lodges have flush toilets and there are clean long drop style toilets at our lunch 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 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 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.
A selection of New Zealand craft beer, fine wines and organic 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. 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.
The bathrooms have hot showers with unlimited hot water and flush toilets. We provide towels, soap, combination shampoo/conditioner, and hair dryers.
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
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.
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.
It takes 2 hours from Queenstown to Te Anau, then just under a further 2 hours from Te Anau to the start of the track. Given the distance, this is another reason to consider departing from Te Anau. We aim to start walking at around 11am. (Note, April trips depart from Te Anau only, and are brought forward so you start walking around 9:30am).
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 river and lake, and not a fun park ride.
Yes. We ask all our guests to attend their pre-departure briefing held in both Te Anau and Queenstown at 5.30pm the day prior to your departure. 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.
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.
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, and if not indicated otherwise 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.
Yes, just let us know at the time of booking. You will have to consider any additional luggage you may have. In such instances, where possible, we may be able to store your additional luggage whilst you are on the track. Please ask at the time of confirming your accommodation.
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.
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.