Introductory to Moderate

Traveller Rating


  • 3 day self-guided walk
  • 3 nights huts, 1 night hotel
  • 3 Dinners
  • 3 Lunches
  • 4 Breakfasts


5 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!


After meeting with our driver this afternoon in Christchurch, your journey north begins through rural Canterbury to Island Hills High Country Station. On arrival, aquaint yourself with the Cookhouse accommodation and facilities. Dinner is a hosted barbecue, and your hosts provide a 4WD tour to help familiarize you with 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 guides will explain the conservation projects and teach you about the surrounding area. Your main bags for transfer will be left at the starting point and you will just take your day pack with you. 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. 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. 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

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 to your trip accommodation in Christchurch CBD where your high country experience will end. Total elevation gain 589m.

Meals:  B,L

Trip arrangements will conclude today after breakfast.

Meals:  B



The map and elevation chart are for illustrative purposes only and meant to provide general guidelines.
On self guided trips, actual route information provided before departure will be more detailed.


  • Return transfers from Christchurch to Island Hills
  • One Hosted BBQ and 4wd farm tour on evening of arrival
  • 3 nights country hut accommodation (1 night twin share, 2 nights shared single bunks), shared bathrooms with hot showers
  • 4 Breakfasts, 3 packed lunches, 3 dinners (1 BBQ, 2 easily prepared meals)
  • Daily luggage transfers from hut to hut (20kg per bag maximum per person, plus 1 chilly-bin per group)
  • Hot drinks including tea/coffee/hot chocolate
  • Drinking water (available from hotel and huts)
  • sleeping-bag/liner/drybag, towel, duffel bag, cooler bag, suitcase storage
  • Transport to trail head
  • Route notes and map
  • $25 per person donation to the predator free Mandamus Preservation Reserve
  • 1 night accommodation in Christchurch (twin share) with private bathroom
  • New Zealand Goods and Services Tax (GST)

  • International or domestic flights and taxes
  • 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 day pack, 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 5th October to 14th 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.

Priceper person from


Options & Supplements*
  • Single Supplement - (own room, Christchurch only)NZD$150
*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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