Are you the type of traveller who prefers to venture where few others have been before? You might not think it, but it’s still possible in NZ – that’s why you’ll love this hike.

Geoff Gabites is one of New Zealand’s most experienced & respected adventure travel experts. His travel CV includes climbing in the Himalaya with the likes of Peter Hillary as well as starting his own adventure holiday company, Adventure South, which has become one of the leading operators of NZ walking & cycling holidays.

He’s peddled and plodded all over the North and South Island’s however there is one walk that is very close to his heart. It’s called ‘The Best of the Southern Alps’ and we asked him some questions on why he believes this trip warrants the use of the words ‘Best of’.

Q: For people looking for a trek away from the busier trails, what would you recommend?

Our Best of the Southern Alps Trek is the one trip that I am most proud of.  Many years ago Australian trekking specialists, World Expeditions, requested that I design a walking trip in NZ that could serve as a suitable warm up for a trek in the Himalayas. This trip came out of that brief, and it remains my favourite to this day.

I may be biased, but for me the scenery in stages is even more spectacular than Nepal – and I have equal experience in trekking in both countries.  Not enough people in Australia – or New Zealand for that matter – know about the amazing opportunities so close to them. We’re talking less than 4 hours away for east coast dwelling Australians! In hindsight, this trip should probably be called the ‘NZ’s Best Kept Secret Trek!!’

Q: Can you give five reasons why you think it’s ‘the best’?

Over six days it traverses from my beloved Christchurch to the adventure capital of Queenstown.

You can overnight in a private mountain hut above Lake Tekapo, which affords fantastic views across the lake and the local peaks.  The following day you can hike to this amazing ridge to the top of a 2000m peak where the Southern Alps just opens up in front of you.

You’ll hike into the Hooker Valley below Mt Cook, to get up close and personal to this fantastic mountain.  The crowds here – or should I say lack of them – just highlight how remote and private this trek is compared to the busier guidebook listed trails in NZ.  It’s like trekking to Everest Base camp with no one around and without the hangover headache!

Mount Aspiring National Park South Island New Zealand

Mount Aspiring National Park South Island New Zealand

The next day you will be right back into solitude again, with a full day hike into remote lakes and valleys based out of my favourite accommodation and a highlight in itself, Ohau Lodge.

Heli-hiking.  Kiwis are a bit blasé about helicopters – but they are so exciting!!  The drop off zone on the heli-hike on this trip is on the ridge between two peaks and we hike up to the summit of the Buchanan Peak that overlooks Wanaka and Mt Aspiring.  On a fine day it’s as close to perfection as you can get.

The sheer number of peaks you get to view is extraordinary – and you don’t need to be a super mountaineer to experience them!

The Best of the Southern Alps trek depart between November and March each year. Visit the Adventure South website for more details.

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About The Author

Brad Atwal is an adventure travel junkie having worked for World Expeditions for over 15 years on three continents. His ambition to showcase the world’s wildest places was inspired by an early visit to his dad’s village in India and he counts himself as one of the lucky ones to be able to wax lyrical about destinations from the Arctic to the Outback. When he’s not seeking out inspirational places to share with others you’ll find him paddling up a creek, with a paddle, with his three young daughters near his home in Coffs Harbour.