Introductory to Moderate
  • 3 day guided walk
  • 3 nights huts, 1 night boutique accommodation
  • 3 Dinners
  • 3 Lunches
  • 4 Breakfasts


5 daysfrom


Trip Code: GGI

Trip highlights

  • Learn about high country life, the history of the land and its conservation from fabulous local guides
  • Arrival barbecue dinner and 4WD tour with your hosts
  • 30 kilometres of private trails with limited visitor numbers
  • Fresh farm produce and wildfood meals
  • Diverse range of landscapes and vegetation throughout the walk
  • Adaptable itinerary depending on group interests, tailored as you walk
  • Truly remote high country New Zealand experience, no WiFi, TV or Phones
  • Groups can be 2 or 10 people, small and personal

There is no better way to really explore New Zealand than on a remote and truly back country experience. Your guides will explain the history of the area, show you the diverse range of landscapes and walk with you day to day, catering to your needs and making the days walk as difficult or easy as you like. The private track is part of a working sheep, cattle and honey farm that has its own private conservation reserve. The walk will see you explore 30kms of trails amidst the high mountains of Island Hills where your nights are spent surrounded by the stars and the wild in amongst the bush on a QEII conservation covenant, deep in the heart of the Canterbury high country. Spaces in the bush lodges are limited to 10 people, so you will never feel crowded and will be able to experience the wild and remote nature of the land. You will arrive to a fabulous BBQ dinner and farm tour. Before you start your hike, a track ranger will give you a history of the conservation projects and surrounding area. By the time you finish your walk, you will have truly experienced high country life and learnt a little about the history from those that live and breathe this land. A truly uniquely New Zealand experience!


After meeting with your driver this afternoon, your journey north begins through rural Canterbury to Island Hills High Country Station. On arrival, familiarize yourself with the Cookhouse accommodation and facilities. Dinner this evening is a hosted barbecue, and a 4WD tour helps you acclimatize to your surroundings. The farm museum provides you with a sure memory of your childhood and a glimpse into high country station life many years ago.

Meals:  D

At 8.30am your guides will meet you at the Cook House for a welcome to the property and a safety briefing will be conducted. You will hop onboard a 4 wheel drive and be taken on a 20 minute journey through to the entry point of the walk. The day will be tailored to suit your needs, whether they are for an easier or more challenging walk, or should you wish to learn about the surrounding area and local conservation projects. Your main bags for transfer will be left at the starting point and you will only carry a day pack. The trail is initially easy and wide and follows the flat terraces above the banks of the meandering Mandamus river along stock and 4 wheel drive access tracks. After the rockwall foot bridge the track continues into native forest with a few ups and downs above the river gorges, eventually climbing out into open grassy knolls with open views into the big mountain surroundings. Some sections will be narrow with rough, uneven surfaces. Careful footing will be required. You will then follow a historic pack track down into the Organ River to the Valley Camp Huts. For those that prefer a more relaxed pace on the first day, there are two early exit points to the Valley Camp Huts. Total elevation gain 589m.

Meals:  B,L,D

Your main bags must be ready by 9.30am this morning. Today you will follow the foothills through belts of native manuka, regenerating beech forest and sub-alpine ridge lines with your guide, who can take you off track if you are feeling more adventurous, or teach you about trapping and conservation in the region. Expect quite rough and uneven terrain. There are sections of uphill and downhill as the track climbs and descends over the spurs for 9kms to your final destination at Bush Hut. So although the kilometres are shorter, don't be fooled as the terrain will take some careful and considered footwork. Bush Hut is set in native bush and built in 1931, has all the characteristics of the pioneering era, so sit back, relax and enjoy. Total elevation gain 590m.

Meals:  B,L,D

Embrace a disconnect from the outside world, while embarking on your final guided short walk through the high country. The walk today is mainly easy and enjoyable as you cover high country farmland and native bush. Total elevation gain 589m. Your packs should arrive back at the Cook House by 1.00pm. We will transfer you to your accommodation in Christchurch, for an evening at leisure.

Meals:  B,L

Arrangements conclude this morning after check out from your accommodation.

Meals:  B



The map and elevation chart are for illustrative purposes only and meant to provide general guidelines.


  • Return transfers from Christchurch to Island Hills
  • 3 nights country hut accommodation (1 night twin share, 2 nights shared single bunks)
  • 4 Breakfasts, 3 packed lunches, 3 dinners (including wild and local fresh produce)
  • Professional local Guide
  • Luggage transfers from hut to hut (20kg per bag maximum per person, plus 1 chilly-bin per group)
  • Hot drinks (tea/coffee)
  • Sleeping bag and liner hire
  • Drinking water (available from huts and motel/hotel)
  • 1 night boutique accommodation in Christchurch (twin share)
  • $25 per person donation to the predator free Mandamus Preservation Reserve
  • New Zealand Goods and Services Tax (GST)

  • International or domestic flights and taxes
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary and trail snacks
  • Drinks other than those mentioned
  • Water bottle (help us save the environment by bringing your own drink bottle or hydration system)
  • Personal equipment such as rainwear, gaiters, walking boots, walking poles etc
  • Personal expenses (e.g. phone calls, wi-fi, laundry, shopping etc)
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa (if required)

Trail Surface



Introductory to Moderate  

INTRODUCTORY TO MODERATE - GRADE 4 These trips involve a combination of what is described in our Introductory and Moderate levels. The emphasis is on introductory activity with several moderate stages. These adventures involve walking for up to 6 or 7 hours a day at a steady pace. You will need a good level of fitness and must be in good health. Be prepared for potential variable weather conditions. The majority of the track is well graded, but there are a few challenging short ascents and descents, plus uneven surfaces and narrow sections in parts. Suggested preparation: We recommend 45 minutes of aerobic type exercise three times a week, from a minimum of three months period to your departure. This can include swimming, jogging, hard walking or cycling - good cardiovascular exercise. Hill or stair walking with a 7kg daypack is also highly recommended at least once a week. During the walking stages you will need to carry your daily requirements such as water, lunch, spare clothing and personal items.

Departure dates


Our guided trips allow for extra exploration of unmarked hiking routes & outdoor camping possibilities dependent on group interests at the time.
Trips need a minimum of 4 to be guaranteed. Should minimum numbers not be reached, the trip will become self-guided instead.

Want to organise a customised tour?

School groups, friends, family trips, corporate events and even making the trail accessible for everyone. Learn how you can organise a Customised Tour with Great Walks of New Zealand.

Priceper person from


Options & Supplements*
    *Prices listed are per person and also from

Essential Information

Ready to book? Make sure you download and read the detailed Island Hills High Country Guided Hike trip notes which contains all the essential information you need to know before booking. Once you’ve booked, we will supply you with a Pre-Departure document which contains a detailed gear list and other important information to help you prepare for your adventure ahead.

Trip reviews

Why walk with us

Self-Guided Experts

Our itineraries have been carefully designed and researched with you in mind.  The logistics are handled for you allowing you the freedom to walk New Zealand at a level of your choosing and in your own stride.


A core Maori value exercising guardianship in relation to nature, flora and fauna and its people, ensuring that sustainability and environment are valued, respected and protected for future generations to enjoy.

Supporting Local

As a small business ourselves, we love supporting and sharing New Zealand with other small and likeminded businesses and communities to showcase for you, what our land and people have to offer.

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