New Zealand South Island Itinerary, 4 Week Road Trip

4 Week New Zealand South Island Itinerary

4 Week New Zealand South Island Itinerary

This 4-week itinerary will take you to the South Island’s premier hiking destinations, famous wine regions, and charming historical towns. For those arriving on the South Island via the Interislander ferry, this will be a perfect plan to follow. If you’re arriving in Christchurch or Queenstown, you can easily re-work this route based on your starting point.

We traveled through New Zeland with an NSC (non self-contained) campervan from mid-January to mid-April (Summer, Autumn). This itinerary is closely based on what we did, though we lingered in some places longer due to bad weather. For each day, we’ve outlined our favorite things to do and see, including hikes, wineries and places to eat. We’ve also included where to stay, whether you’re camping, backpacking, or staying in hotels. Also use our New Zealand Travel GuideNew Zealand Hiking Guide, and North Island Itinerary to help plan your trip.

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New Zealand South Island Itinerary - 4 Week Road Trip

New Zealand South Island Itinerary Overview

  • Day 1: Marlborough Wine Region
  • Days 2 – 4: Nelson Lakes National Park
  • Day 5: Hanmer Springs
  • Day 6: Waipara Valley Wine Region
  • Days 7-9: Mount Cook National Park
  • Days 10-15: Wanaka & Mount Aspiring National Park
  • Day 16: Central Otago Wine Region
  • Days 17-19: Milford Sound & Fiordland
  • Days 20-23: Queenstown & Around
  • Days 24-26: Haast Pass & West Coast
  • Day 27: Arthur’s Pass & Castle Hill
  • Days 28-29: Banks Peninsula
  • Day 30: Christchurch
Planning a trip to New Zealand? Read these helpful guides next:
Get the Guide
  • Lonely Planet New Zealand – an indispensable guide for traveling in NZ. We consulted our LP on our whole trip. We also bought the Lonely Planet’s New Zealand’s Best Trips book.
  • This is a road trip guide that gives you a good visual understanding of how regions are connected and how to plan your trip. Buying both was a bit redundant, but it did simplify the planning process.
Spy Valley Cellar Door, Wine Tasting in NZ, NZ South Island Itinerary | Moon & Honey Travel

Day 1: Marlborough Wine Region

Marlborough is New Zealand’s largest and most well-known wine region. With an international reputation for sauvignon blanc, Marlborough delivers that and so much more.  Many winemakers are challenging the region’s reputation by producing interesting varietals that don’t reflect the somewhat aggressive standard. We recommend seeking out small, family-owned wineries during your visit. They’ll offer insight into the making and philosophy behind their wines. Most of the open cellar doors are concentrated in and between the towns of Renwick and Blenheim. Pop into the i-Site in Blenheim to grab a wine trail map. Cellar doors are usually open between 10:30 a.m. (or 11:00 a.m.) and 4:30 p.m. (5:00 p.m.). Note: winter hours are generally shorter than summer hours.

Cellar Doors to Visit in Marlborough

  • Gibson Bridge Vineyard – Boutique family owned vineyard located in Renwick. They’re passionate about what they do and it shows. Their wines will surprise your palate. They don’t add sugar or sulfites. 
  • Bladen Wines – A glass of their 2017 Gewürztraminer in Palmerston North led us to this family-owned winery. Established in 1989, they have the oldest Pinot Gris vines in the area. 
  • Spy Valley Wines – a Successful family-owned winery. Though they’re a larger producer, they still make excellent wines. We love their aromatics, especially their Pinot Gris. Excellent cellar door experience – thorough and educational.
  • If you have more time in Marlborough, or if you can drink more than us, here are a few other tasting rooms to visit: Te Whare RaFramingham, Forrest, HuiaWhitehavenSaint Clair, Wither Hills, Fromm, and Brancott Estate.  

Marlborough Wineries with Food

  • Rock Ferry Cellar Door & Cafe – Standout wines. We came here for lunch. The atmosphere is lovely. The food is good, but not great, though it strives to be. 
  • Wairau River Wines – Our tastebuds were useless by the time we hopped in here, so our opinion is useless. This is a popular winery for lunch. Make sure to make a reservation. 
  • Brancott Estate Cellar Door & Restaurant – Restaurant is open for lunch.
  • Giesen Wines – Grab a platter and a glass of wine and enjoy it in their sunny courtyard.
  • Hans Herzog Estate – Bistro and Gourmet restaurant.
  • Wither Hills – Restaurant open for lunch. They have platters and mains. Drink wine next to a fireplace.

Stay in Blenheim or Renwick

  • Renwick Domain Carpark (Free Campsite) – There are only 10 free camping spots available at this site. Facilities are minimal, but it’s a good location. This is suitable for both NSC and SC vehicles.
  • Falcon’s Rise Alpaca Farm (Farmstay) – This farm guesthouse is located close to the region’s many wineries. A unique accommodation with a farm tour, free bicycles, and wifi.

Getting to Marlborough

  • From the Picton Interislander Terminal, it’s a 25-minute drive to Blenheim.
  • From Christchurch, it’s a 4-hour 40-minute drive to Blenheim via the Pacific coastal route (Kaikoura Coast). If you’re coming from Christchurch, you can take the coastal route up, and follow the itinerary as is.
Nelson Lakes National Park, NZ Hiking Guide | Moon & Honey Travel

Days 2-4: Nelson Lakes National Park

Nelson Lakes National Park is our favorite hiking destination in New Zealand. You can hike around lakes, through beech forest, on mountain ridges, and to mountain huts. The landscape reminded us of both Norway and the Dolomites.

Hike Ridges in Nelson Lakes National Park

  • St. Arnaud Range Track (Day Hike) – This is a day hike. It was a bit difficult after wine tasting the day before, but worth every step. After two hours of hiking through dense beech forest, you’ll reach the bushline. The views of Lake Rotoiti are deeply satisfying, but once you reach the ridge, you’ll be amazed at how beautiful the other side is. You’ll see tarns and peaks in every direction. Trailhead: Eastern corner of Kerr Bay, on the edge of Lake Rotoiti in St Arnaud. 
  • Robert Ridge to Angelus Hut (Overnight Hike) – After hiking the appropriately named Pinchgut trail, you’ll follow a poled route along Robert Ridge to Angelus Hut. From the ridge, you’ll see a mountain hut perfectly situated by Lake Angelus. This is a fair weather hike. We experienced both excellent and brutal (gale force winds) weather along the ridge. In high season, you should book this hut in advance. 

Where to Eat in Nelson Lakes

  • Alpine Lodge in St. Arnaud  This might be your only option, but it’s a good option. We ate dinner here twice. If you arrive before their kitchen opens (5:30 p.m.), you can grab a glass of wine or beer and lounge around.

Stay in St. Arnaud

  • Teetotal Campsite (8 NSD per person) – This large campsite is suitable for NSC and SC vehicles. There’s only one dry toilet on site. For showers, head to West Bay Campsite on Lake Rotoiti. You can buy a shower token from the DOC Visitor Center.
  • Wairau Pass B&B (Bed and Breakfast) – Charming B&B with shared living room, fireplace, and kitchen facilities. 
New Zealand Sheep, New Zealand One Month Itinerary South Island | Moon & Honey Travel

Day 5: Hanmer Springs

Day 5 of your New Zealand South Island itinerary is all about relaxing and pampering yourself. Head to the resort town of Hanmer Springs for thermal pools, saunas, and massage. To get here, you’ll drive along Maruia River on the Lewis Pass Highway. If your legs aren’t as tired as ours were, you could hike the Lewis Pass Tops Track (something we wanted to do), which climbs through beech forest to the ridge crest. The hike starts from an inconspicuous carpark off the highway close to the Lewis Pass summit (not too far from the St. James Walkway carpark).

Soak in Hot Springs

  • Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools – There are a number of pools of varying sizes, temperatures, and mineral composition. For an additional amount, you can get a private sauna, or private pool for 30, or 60 minutes. There’s also an area that caters to children as well as an on-site cafe. Overall, we really enjoyed our experience here. 

Stay in Hanmer Springs

  • There are several campgrounds and holidays parks in Hanmer Springs, including Alpine Holiday Apartment & Campground, Hanmer Springs Top 10 Holiday Park and Pines Holiday Park. We ended up driving to Culverden and stayed at the Culverden Domain Camping Ground (15 NSD per site).
  • Drifters Inn (Hotel) – nice rooms with access to a guest lounge.
Black Estate, Waipara Wine Region, Arthur's Pass National Park, NZ South Island Itinerary | Moon & Honey Travel

Day 6: Waipara Valley Wine Region

Waipara is a fun wine region obsessed with making pinot noir. Though tiny in comparison to Marlborough, there’s plenty to taste here. We had an amazing day twirling between cellar doors and learning about terroir wines.

Wine Tasting in Waipara

  • Black Estate Wines – Passionate winemakers. We’re sad we didn’t get to try out the adjoined restaurant, but the cellar door made up for it. They have several vineyards in the region. If you want to taste how soil composition impacts the expression of wine, come here.
  • Greystone Wines  – Incredible organic wines. 
  • Pegasus Bay – We did a wine tasting here followed by lunch. Excellent cuisine!
  • Other cellar doors to visit: Waipara Springs and Terrace Edge. 

Stay in Waipara or Christchurch

  • If you want to stay at a winery, you can. Black Estate has a deluxe studio and Greystone has a holiday home.
  • We stayed in Christchurch in an AirBnB. If you don’t have an AirBnB account, use this link to get a discount on your first booking.
Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand - Best Hikes in New Zealand

Days 7-9: Mount Cook National Park

The drive from Christchurch to Mount Cook is 4.5 hours. There are many opportunities to get out of your car and enjoy the scenery. Here’s what we suggest:

Scenic Drive to Mount Cook

  • Lunch in Geraldine – the cheese and pickle capital of New Zealand. We ate in the garden cafe Verde. It was good (not exceptional). Check out the Talbot Forest Cheese shop and Barker’s (preserves), before continuing your journey.
  • Lake Tekapo and Church of the Good Shepherd (1935).
  • Lake Pukaki – Stop at Peter’s lookout for an excellent view of Mount Cook. You’ll drive along this milky turquoise-colored lake on your way to Mount Cook. 
  • New Zealand Alpine Lavender – organic lavender farm. They sell lavender ice cream and other treats.
  • If you still have some extra time before dinner, you could hike to the Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake or hike the Hooker Valley Track. If you hike the latter, there will be a lot of people on the trail.

Hike in Mount Cook National Park

There are lots of ways to enjoy Mount Cook National Park. This is one of the South Island’s most popular destinations, so we recommend booking accommodations in advance and waking up early to enjoy well-traveled trails such as Hooker Valley. Here are three ways you can plan your trip to Mount Cook:

  1. Hike to Mueller Hut and stay the night in the hut. Make sure to book the hut in advance. Hike down the next day and grab lunch at the Mountaineer’s Cafe (This is what we did). Note: The Mueller Hut track is considered intermediate-advanced tramping.
  2. Hike the Hooker Valley track (3 hours return/round-trip) in the morning (before it gets too crowded). Eat lunch at the Mountaineer’s Cafe and check out the Tasman Glacier Lake (1-hour return) in the afternoon. The next day, you can hike to Sealy Tarns (or Mueller if you’re ambitious).
  3. Hike to Sealy Tarns (halfway to Mueller Hut) in the morning (4 hours return). Eat lunch and head to Tasman Glacier Lake. Spend the night in Mount Cook NP.  Hike the Hooker Valley Track the next morning.

Stay in Mount Cook National Park

  • White Horse Hill Campground (13 NSD per person)  great location with unbeatable views. Trailheads are located at the campground. There are flush toilets and a communal kitchen area at your disposal. This campground is suitable for both NSC and SC vehicles.
  • YHA Mount Cook – Youth Hostel. If you need to store any valuables (while you’re hiking), they have lockers available to guests and non-guests.
  • Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Lodge  The hotel to stay in if you want to be in the national park.
Roys Peak, Wanaka | Moon & Honey Travel

Day 10-15: Wanaka & Around

Wanaka is a mellow, but cheerful lakeside town surrounded by mountains. Base yourself here for a few days, so that you can fully enjoy everything this town and the surrounding region has to offer. We’ve allocated five days to Wanaka because we’re hoping you’ll head to West Matukituki Valley in Mount Aspiring National Park.

What to See & Do in Wanaka

  • Rippon Winery – From the middle of town, walk along the lake to that Wanaka Tree. After passing the tree, look for a sign to Rippon. The winery offers free tastings and arguably the best vineyard views in NZ. 
  • Cinema Paradiso – This wacky licensed movie theater offers food and drink before and during the movie. During intermission, you can pick up refreshments, or their famous freshly baked cookies. 
  • Hike Roy’s Peak – One of NZ’s most popular hiking trails. The views don’t disappoint. It’s a steep track, but not difficult.
  • Hike Isthmus Peak – Far less popular than Roys Peak (for no good reason), the Isthmus Peak traverses farmland with views of Lake Hāwea. When you get up on the ridge, you’ll have 360-degree views of both Hawea and Lake Wanaka. We hiked here in late March to the sound or rutting stags and the smell of mountain goats. 

Where to Eat & Drink in Wanaka

  • Francesca’s Italian Kitchen  pizza, pizza, divine pizza.
  • Cork Bar – small wine bar. 
  • Alchemy – spacious café serving excellent coffee and baked goods.
  • Kai Whakapai – scrumptious breakfast and lunch café. 

Hike in West Matukituki Valley, Mount Aspiring National Park

The trailhead for the West Matukituki Valley trails is Raspberry Creek carpark, an hour drive from Wanaka. The drive to the carpark is difficult to impossible depending on rainfall. We had to park 3 km from the trailhead because the fords were too deep to cross. But, without rain, it’s no problem. Here are some hiking options:

  • Rob Roy Glacier Track – Day Hike (Intermediate Tramp)
  • Mount Aspiring Hut – Day Hike or Overnight Hike (Moderate Tramp)
  • Liverpool Hut – Day Hike or Overnight Hike (Advanced Tramp)
  • French Ridge Hut – Day Hike or Overnight Hike (Advanced Tramp) 

We wrote about these hikes in our NZ Hiking Guide.

Stay in Wanaka

  • We stayed at both the Albert Town Campground (10 NSD per person) by the river and the Lake Hawea Hotel and Campground (12 NSD per person). Though a bit further away from Wanaka, we preferred the Lake Hawea campground, because there are showers, laundry facilities, and a bar and restaurant.
  • YHA Wanaka – Hostel. Double rooms available. 
  • Edgewater – Lakeside Hotel with day spa and restaurant. Stunning views. 

Day 16: Central Otago and Gibbston Valley Wine Regions

After some epic hikes in and around Wanaka, it’s time to wine and dine. Your New Zealand South Island itinerary will take you to the wine region Central Otago. Today, you’ll have a chance to taste the region’s specialty – pinot noir – as well as dine in one of New Zealand’s finest winery restaurants.

Wine Tasting in Central Otago

  • Mount Difficulty – 2 NSD per tasting. The views are phenomenal, but the tasting room is busy. We didn’t get a lot of information about the wines. There’s an on-site restaurant.  
  • Wild Earth – Winery and Restaurant. Memorable culinary experience. Their signature food & wine pairing tray is excellent. Their food is steamed, baked, grilled and smoked in retired French oak Pinot Noir wine barrels. And their wines were superb!
  • Brennan Wines – 15 NSD per tasting (but you can share). Thorough and interesting explanation of the wines. Casual and hip setting. You can lounge in some bean bags outside and play a game of petanque.
  • Chard Farm Vineyards – Free wine tasting. Many wines to choose from. Really welcoming atmosphere.
  • Wet Jacket – 5 NSD per tasting. Warm intimate tasting room. 4 wines to taste. 

Stay in Arrowtown

Arrowtown is easily the most charming town in New Zealand. We recommend wrapping up your wine tasting day here with dinner at Slow Cuts, a movie at Dorothy Browns, or some live music at the Blue Door (Wednesdays).

  • Arrowtown Holiday Park (42 NSD per two people) – The only camping option in Arrowtown. This was the best campground we stayed in. The shower facilities are excellent. There’s a communal kitchen as well. It’s walking distance from the heart of the town. They also have cottages with private bathrooms and kitchens.
Milford Sound Cruise, NZ South Island Itinerary | Moon & Honey Travel

Days 17-19: Milford Sound and Fiordland

After enjoying a slow morning in Arrowtown, we recommend heading to Te Anau. We stopped for lunch in Queenstown before driving to Te Ananu. Note: Queenstown recommendations are in the next section.

Te Anau

We rented an AirBnB with our friend who was visiting, so we ended up enjoying the comforts of a kitchen, couch, and tv during our time in Te Anau. We did stroll through the free bird sanctuary, which we can recommend.

Drive to Milford Sound

The drive to Milford Sound is as beautiful as Milford Sound itself. You’ll see a plethora of cascading waterfalls as you drive the mountainous road to the fjord. Rainforest and evergreen beech forest dominate the surroundings. A few notable stops on the drive are Mirror Lakes, Chasm Creek, and Homer Tunnel. 

Cruise Milford Sound

  • We did the basic Southern Discoveries cruise (10:30 a.m.) and we couldn’t be more pleased. The boat wasn’t overcrowded and there was plenty of space to move around and take in the panoramic views. We also saw dolphins, seals and many temporary rainbows, due to heavy rainfall the night before.
  • What cruise to choose? The time of day is more important than the cruise you choose. There are a lot of tour companies that operate one-day Milford Sound tours from Queenstown. That means that Milford Sound is especially busy in the early and mid-afternoon. You should try to snag an earlier cruise time (10:30, 11:15, 11:30).

Hike in Fiordland National Park

  • If you’ve opted for an early cruise, you’ll have plenty of time to do a hike in the afternoon. Just make sure to bring a packed lunch, since there are no reasonable places between Te Ananu and Milford Sound to eat.
  • Key Summit Track (3 hours round-trip)
  • Lake Marian Track (3 hours round-trip)

Stay two nights in Te Anau

You could drive from Queenstown directly to Milford Sound, but it’s four hours. We recommend staying two nights in Te Anau, which is a two-hour drive to Milford Sound. If you do, you’ll have more time to enjoy the scenic drive as well as the region.

Ben Lomond Hike, Queenstown, New Zealand South Island 4 Week Itinerary

Days 20-23: Queenstown & Around

Queenstown is an energetic town with more tourists than locals (at least it feels that way). Surrounded by jaw-dropping mountain ranges, you can’t blame the place for being a bit smug. There are trails, restaurants and bars and no shortage of activities to partake in.

Best Hikes in Queenstown

  • Ben Lomond (Day Hike) – One of our favorite peak hikes in NZ. When you get to the Ben Lomond Saddle, you won’t believe your eyes. 
  • Lake Alta in The Remarkables (Short Hike) – It’s a short hike to get to this gorgeous glacier lake. For some reason, it’s not a busy destination. Perhaps it’s because it’s a long drive up to the Ski Base (trailhead). If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also hike the ridge of the Remarkables. 

Where to Eat & Drink in Queenstown

  • Fergburger – This burger joint is easily NZ’s best place to grab a burger. There will be a wait, but it’s worth it, especially after a long hike.
  • Directly next to Fergburger is the tiny but mighty bakery Fergbaker. Oh, the pies! And the bread! And the muffins! Everything is delicious. Eat! Eat! Eat!
  • The Winery – This is a self-service wine tasting room. The concept is cool. You can go around reading about different regional wines and deciding whether you want a tasting size or a full glass. 

Side Trip to Glenorchy

  • Glenorchy is a small town located on the northern end of Lake Wakatipu. There are a few cafés as well as a general store in the town. The point in coming here is the drive. If you have time, drive to the Routeburn Shelter. The scenery crescendoes in beauty. The Routeburn shelter is the trailhead to the Routeburn Great Walk. While the walk itself is 2-4 days, you can also do a long day hike, or a small nature loop as well. We hiked to Harris Saddle and back in one day (20.2 km return).

Stay in Queenstown

  • Twelve Mile Delta Campsite (13 NSD per person)  a 15-minute drive from “downtown” Queenstown. The views are great, but there are minimal facilities.
  • Sir Cedrics Tahuna Pod Hostel
  • The Dairy – Private Hotel. Excellent location: close to the Gondola and Bespoke Kitchen.
Avalanche Peak, Arthur's Pass National Park, | Moon & Honey Travel

Days 24-26: Haast Pass & West Coast

From Queenstown take the Crown Range Road to Wanaka. You won’t drive through Gibbston Valley again unless you want to. The drive to the West Coast via Haast Pass is full of scenic short walks and opportunities to get bombarded by sandflies. There are a lot of glacier-themed activities to do around Fox Glacier and Franz Joseph Glacier. We drove the West Coast in one day, because we wanted to hike Avalanche Peak in Arthur’s Pass on a sunny day (the only sunny day in a week). But, take it a bit slower than us, and check out the glaciers. You’ll find the most accommodation options around Franz Joseph.

Castle Hill, NZ South Island Itinerary | Moon & Honey Travel

Day 28: Arthur's Pass & Castle Hill

Braided river valleys capture your imagination as you drive the mountainous road to Arthur’s Pass. The scenery continues to unfold beautifully and shift as you make your way to Castle Hill.

Hike in Arthur’s Pass National Park

We came to Arthur’s Pass National Park with the sole intent of hiking to Avalanche Peak. The views are worth the strain, but it is a strenuous hike. We found the descent harder, because of loose rocks. Only hike here on a good day.

Explore Castle Hill

Castle Hill, or treasure from a distant land in Maori, is an unusual landscape made up of scattered limestone formations. Walking through this natural rock garden is like walking through a sculpture park. The organic smooth stones tower around you and it feels like you’re in a place of ceremony and ritual. It’s no wonder that this place is sacred to the Maori.

Stay near Castle Hill

  • Lake Lyndon Campsite (Free) – Located directly on the lake, it’s a great free option. There’s one dry toilet. 
  • Springfield Motel and Lodge
Akaroa, Banks Peninsula, Arthur's Pass National Park, NZ South Island Itinerary | Moon & Honey Travel

Days 29-30: Banks Peninsula

Formed by volcanoes, Banks Peninsula is a circular peninsula that epitomizes country living at its best. With too many bays to count and rolling green hills that gracefully descend into the ocean, this area south of Christchurch is not to be missed. Akaroa made a lasting impression on us – perhaps because it was a sunny day and we were badly in need of a good meal and a seaside stroll.

Hop between charming towns

  • Akaroa is a small town located in the Banks Peninsula. As the country’s first French settlement, it endeavors to maintain its heritage with a profusion of French restaurants and bakeries, street names and flowering gardens. We enjoyed our garden lunch at the Brasserie and espresso drinks at the General Store.
  • Lyttelton is a port town on the north shore of Lyttelton Harbour. London street has a number of shops and cafés to keep you amused. We ended up a Civil & Naval for beer, wine, and tapas, and we didn’t want to leave.
  • Little River is indeed little, but worth a road-side stop. The Little River Art Gallery and Cafe sells tasty sandwiches and baked goods.

Take a Walk

  • Packhorse Hut Trail  Hike through grazing farmland and pine forest. It’s not a must-do, but if you want to stretch your legs, it’s a good place to do it.

Stay near Akaroa

  • Little Akaloa Wilderness Campsite (15 NSD per site) – Situated at the Little Akaloa Bay (a 40-minute drive from Akaroa), this quiet campground was peaceful, but a bit out of the way.
  • French Bay House – charming, light-filled rooms. Next time we’re in Akaroa, we’re staying here! Breakfast included.
The Tannery, Christchurch, Arthur's Pass National Park, NZ South Island Itinerary | Moon & Honey Travel

Day 31: Christchurch

Christchurch marks the end of your New Zealand South Island adventure. As you unwind, enjoy the city’s breweries and cafés.


  • Cassels & Sons The Brewery (In the Tannery) – Come here for a flight of beer.
  • Addington Coffee Co-op – Hip coffee shop and store featuring organic coffee, world-conscious books and products, and collector spoons.
  • O.G.B. – Drink any alcoholic beverage you desire in this atmospheric bar.

Stay in Christchurch

  • Coes Ford (Free Campsite)  This is the closest, free campsite to Christchurch.
  • Turret House – Great location. Breakfast included. Clean, bright and happy accommodation. 

New Zealand Travel Resources

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New Zealand South Island Road Trip Itinerary
Moon & Honey Travel Resources
External Resources
  • DOC (Department of Conservation) – you’ll find every DOC trail, hut, camping ground and national park on this website.
  • MetService – weather forecast. We used this site religiously, when planning out hiking dates.
  • Day Walks in New Zealand: 100 Great Tracks by Shaun Barnett & Geographx – we used this book religiously to figure out where we wanted to hike.
  • Lonely Planet New Zealand – indispensable guide for traveling in NZ. We consulted our LP throughout our whole trip. We also bought the the Lonely Planet’s New Zealand’s Best Trips book. This is a road trip guide that gives you a good visual understanding of how regions are connected and how to plan your trip. Buying both was a bit redundant, but it did simplify the planning process.

There are some affiliate links in this itinerary. If you make a booking or a purchase using the links, we’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. It’s how we cover the costs of running the blog!

  • Alta Via 1.  We just finished hiking the Alta Via 1 - a multi-day trek in the Italian Dolomites. And, it was an adventure we’ll never forget.  The first two days of the trek, we hiked in pouring rain. With no mountain views and poor weather conditions, we tried our best to keep our spirits up.  On Day 3, we set off once again in rain. After a few hours on the trail, it started to snow. The smart thing would have been to turn back and secure a taxi to the next rifugio. But, we kept going. As we progressed, it became increasingly more difficult to find the trail. The snow was covering up the trail markers and the wind swept away the footprints of other hikers. We lost the trail several times.  The snow that was floating down ever so gently as first turned into a no-bullshit blizzard. We were soaking wet, increasingly numb, and at a complete loss of where to go. I started crying. With no one in site and no idea where the hut was, we started to freak out.  At this point, we were physically shaking. We took a few me minutes to regroup in a WWI cave. Sheltered from the blowing snow, we could locate where we were on  We found the trail and willed our frozen bodies into motion. When we saw Lagazuoi hut, we felt a tidal wave of relief.  After ringing out everything from our shirts to our underwear and changing into warm clothes, we drank 2 liters of hot tea and then met the most amazing group of women! Thank you Chris, Sigi, Jo and Susie for the wonderful company, conversations, and shared meals.  @susielambie @jored7  Photo: 2 days after the storm.
  • 2 years ago Kati and I visited the Dolomites for the first time.  It was a whirlwind of a trip, as we were relocating from Cologne to Vienna. We drove through Germany’s Black Forest, Switzerland’s Appenzell region, across the Dolomites and finally into Austria.  During our time in the Dolomites, we experienced our very first hut to hut hike. Until that point, multi-day hiking was a vague, intimidating concept. After our short 3-day trek around Sexten, we were hooked. And, looking back, it’s easy to say that that trip really changed our lives.  We’re finally back in the Dolomites. This time we’re here to hike the Alta Via 1.
  • The pearl of the Rätikon.  Our recent hike around the Rätikon Alps started and ended here. During our trek, we saw almost every vantage point of this lake.  We just published our 5-day hiking itinerary (link in bio). We also included suggested 3 and 4-day routes, if you have less time.
  • Rätikon.  This beautiful limestone mountain range straddles the border between Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein.  We just wrapped up a 5 day hike around the range, overnighting in Austrian and Swiss mountain huts along the way.  We’ll be sharing our itinerary on the blog very soon. Until then, happy hiking dear friends.
  • Berliner Höhenweg (Berlin High Trail)  We just finished trekking the Berlin High Trail in Tyrol, Austria.  This gorgeous alpine route showcases the finest mountain and glacier vistas of the Zillertal Alps. It’s an extraordinary adventure replete with challenging ascents and descents, rustic and grand mountain huts, and bell-wearing cows and sheep.  Our trekking experience was filled with indescribable beauty, hearty Austrian food, agonizing and dangerous descents in rain, physical pain (follow our stories for details), and a stolen iPad. 
Some days were extraordinary. Other days were quite good. And one day was utterly miserable. That’s life in a nutshell, right? Cheers to living the good days, the okay days and the bad ones too.
  • I want to share with you one of my favorite German words.  Genießer/Genießerin is a person who delights and takes pleasure in living. It’s someone who enjoys and relishes the present moment completely. It can be applied broadly, whether someone enjoys reading, drinking a cappuccino, hiking, or cycling. The connotation of this type of pleasure is wholly positive.  There is no direct translation in the English language. In English, too much pleasure is perceived as a negative. We use words like glutton, hedonist, libertine to describe people who take (too much) pleasure in certain things. In English, pleasure must be restrained. Without such restraint, pleasure isn’t “good,” but marred with sin.  Would you define yourself as a Genießer/Genießerin?

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