Introductory to Moderate
  • 3 day self-guided walk
  • 1 night hotel
  • 3 nights country huts
  • 3 Dinners
  • 3 Breakfasts


4 daysfrom


Trip Code: GIH

Trip highlights

  • Truly remote high country New Zealand experience
  • Diverse range of landscapes and vegetation throughout the walk
  • Superbly located and fully equipped huts with hot showers
  • 30 kilometres of private trails with limited visitor numbers
  • Learn about high country life and the history of the region and its conservation

There is no better way to really explore New Zealand then on a remote and truly back country experience. You will explore a diverse range of landscapes and vegetations across 3 days of walking. The private track is part of a working sheep, cattle and honey farm that has its own private conservation reserve. The self-guided 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 and deep in the heart of the high county. Spaces in the bush lodges are limited to 10 people, so you will never feel crowded and will be able to experience the land for the wild and remote nature that it is. You will arrive to a fabulous BBQ dinner and farm tour and 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. A truly uniquely New Zealand experience!


Make your own way to Christchurch and check-in to your accommodation any time after 2:00pm. You should allow enough time to purchase your lunch and snack supplies for the next three days. There are conveniently located supermarkets in Christchurch that are usually open until about 8:00pm daily.

Meals:  Nil

You will be picked up today at 8.30am-9.00am from your hotel and will begin the transfer out to the NZ High Country. You driver/guide will be a world of information as they introduce you to the region and explain to you a bit about NZ life and history. On the way you will stop south of the Waipara river, where three family-owned wineries are located, to enjoy some wine tasting. You will stop at Weka Pass where there is Maori rock art to be seen and enjoy a small walk if farmer access allows it that day. And you will stop for a late lunch or refreshments at the Hurunui Pub, the oldest continued licence in NZ. From here you will walk up to the Hurunui Balmoral lookout for views over the Hurunui Awa and the region. You will arrive at Island Hills at around 6.00pm. As there is no cell phone or internet reception, you leave regular life behind, as you start your high country journey. Take a look inside the farm museum where you will learn about station life history, or simply relive your childhood. This evening enjoy a fabulous BBQ dinner. Note: be sure to purchase your lunch and snack supplies for the trail, along with any beverages for the evenings on the trail, before arriving at Island Hills. There are supermarkets in Christchurch before you are picked up for your transfer.

Meals:  D

At 8.30am the track ranger 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 track ranger will explain the conservation projects and the surrounding area. Your main packs for transfer will be left at the starting point and you will take with you just your 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 want to keep it really cruisy on the first day there are two early exit points to the Valley Camp Huts.

Meals:  B,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. 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.

Meals:  B,D

Enjoy your final morning of the high country and the disconnect from the outside world before embarking on your final short walk. The walk today is mainly easy and enjoyable as you walk through native bush and over high country farmland. Your packs should arrive back at the Cook House by 1.00pm. We will transfer you back through to Christchurch at drop you off at the airport or your hotel where your high country experience will end.

Meals:  B


  • 1 night hotel accommodation in Christchurch (twin share) with private bathroom
  • 3 nights country hut accommodation (1 night twin share, 2 nights shared single bunks), shared bathrooms with hot showers
  • 3 breakfasts, 3 dinners (Radix Nutrition meals, one of the dinners is a BBQ on arrival at Island Hills)
  • Luggage transfers from hut to hut (20kg per bag maximum per person, plus 1 chilly-bin per group)
  • Hot drinks pack including tea/coffee/hot chocolate
  • Drinking water (available from hotels and huts)
  • Sleeping bag and liner hire
  • Return transfers from Christchurch to Island Hills
  • Local guided tour of region on the way from Christchurch to Island Hills
  • Route notes and map
  • New Zealand Goods and Services Tax (GST)
  • $25 per person donation to the predator free Mandamus Preservation Reserve

  • International or domestic flights and taxes
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary and trail snacks
  • Extra activities such as wine tastings (there may be a cost involved)
  • Drinks other than water, tea/coffee/hot chocolate - good drinking water is available at each night's accommodation
  • 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

Daily from 6th October to 17th March

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.

Total Priceper person from


Options & Supplements*
  • Single Traveller SurchargeNZD$550
*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 Self-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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