Trek Notes - New Zealand

1000 Acre Plateau


4 days Christchurch - Nelson
Grade: Medium – some off-track, rocky terrain.
Meeting Point: 8.00amChristchurch Visitors Centre.

Thursday Join tour in Christchurch 3 hours hiking

We meet at the Christchurch Visitors Centre, and after a short briefing by the guide we head to the supermarket to collect food supplies. We then drive north across the Canterbury Plains - the largest area of flat land in New Zealand - and into the mountains. We cross the main divide at Lewis Pass and continue north to Murchison, stopping on the way to view Maruia Falls. These waterfalls were formed during the 1929 Murchison earthquake when the river path was redirected over a bluff. Our destination is the Matiri Valley, in the southern part of Kahurangi National Park where scenes from Lord of the Rings were filmed. Here we pack our gear and hike through beech forest beside the Matiri River to tranquil Lake Matiri. We enjoy a refreshing swim and set up camp near this lovely lake. After dark we listen for the mournful night time call of the morepork and the furtive whisperings of elves.

Friday  Matiri - 1000 Acre Plateau - 6 hours hiking

We ascend a narrow track through goblin forest to the broad expanse of Thousand Acre Plateau (1100m). This plateau is a remnant of a once extensive sea-level plain which, over 45 million years ago, stretched across New Zealand. We hike across the open tussocklands past clumps of stunted beech trees and clusters of small alpine lakes (tarns) to the head of Larrikin Creek. Here a cosy hut sits nestled beneath towering limestone cliffs in which Hobbit holes are carefully concealed.

Saturday  Larrikin’s Hut - 6 hours hiking

We spend some time exploring this mysterious limestone landscape, climb The Needle or The Haystack, and keep an eye open for the quiet, elusive Hobbits. Fine weather will favour us with views of the Mt Owen massif to the east. We learn about some of the alpine plants in this area and may be visited by keas, New Zealand’s most curious and comical birds. Later we start back towards the Matiri River.

Sunday  Tour ends in Nelson - 6 hours hiking

We descend to Lake Matiri where we stop for a swim and lunch. Here we may see paradise ducks, the distinctive white and chestnut female and grey-black male, or hear their zeek-honk duet in flight. We then continue out the same way to our vehicle and a change of clothes. We drive on up the Buller valley to Hope Saddle and a viewpoint of both the Kahurangi and Nelson Lakes National Parks. Continue on to Nelson arriving about 7.00pm where the safari ends.

This trip is for people seeking a shorter outdoor experience. This is a new trip and may vary considerably to the given itinerary according to the weather conditions and the groups ability.Hiking boots are essential as is good equipment - see 'What to take'.

Do you have what it takes?
This is a real New Zealand experience. Tracks can be slippery and rough, and you will get wet boots when we have to cross rivers. At times, we hike off the track, which puts extra stress on your ankles and knees. Please advise us if you have a history of knee or ankle problems. Although you do not need prior hiking experience (except for safaris graded ‘fit’), you do need to be reasonably fit, enthusiastic and prepared for a mental and physical challenge.

You won’t be left behind! We hike together as a group at a steady pace, stopping for a good lunch and often for snacks. Due to changeable weather conditions and the remoteness of the areas we visit, we insist that the group stay together.
If you are concerned about your fitness, get out and do some day hikes in the weeks prior to the safari (4-5 hrs hiking with a pack). Your body will thank you!

A unique point of difference is that our maximum group size is 12. You will travel with a small and social group of people, sitting around camp fires telling stories and playing games, sleeping under the stars, and relaxing in natural hotpools...


We spend about half the nights on safari in camps or huts in the mountains away from the vehicle. On the remaining nights, we camp by the vehicle in secluded places. Sometimes, in wet weather we seek out budget accommodation. There are always rivers and lakes to swim in or wash by, and we usually stop at places with hot showers every third or fourth day. We can also heat water for washing when camping by the vehicle.

Your guide will book accommodation for you in a backpacker hostel for the end of the safari. You can also be dropped off at your own pre-booked accommodation.

Domestics are a team effort, from collecting firewood, setting up camp and cooking, to doing the dishes and cleaning the vehicle.

Food is run on a kitty system so everybody chips in with the buying, preparation and cooking of meals: barbecues, salads, stews, pancakes, pasta, dampers, hangi. Each person’s contribution is about $10 per day. Vegetarian meals are no problem - just advise us when you book.

We travel in a 10-12 seat minibus towing a trailer with camp equipment and luggage. An average of 2-3 hours is spent driving per day.

The itinerary given is for our normal route. However, if poor weather conditions prevail or the group has a particular preference, the hikes and itinerary are flexible. Finishing times are approximate only - we can arrive 5pm - 8pm. Please advise, when making a booking, if you have same day onward travel connections.

New Zealand mountainous areas can experience cold weather, even in summer. Warm clothes are essential (no jeans for hiking). We insist you have the essential items below and reserve the right to make you purchase/hire them before the safari.

Essential Items
· hiking boots (not shoes)
· backpack (at least 50 litres capacity) 
· backpack liner (plastic bag)
· 3-season sleeping bag 
· waterproof raincoat 
· warm fleece/wool jersey (not cotton)
· shorts for hiking
· polypro/thermals – top &and long-johns 
· 3 pairs of socks (they get wet)
· warm hat or balaclava 
· sunscreen and sunglasses
· drink bottle (1 litre)
· spare shoes or sandals
· flashlight/head lamp 
· insect repellent(sandflies like foreign blood)
· spare set of clothes

Optional Items
Therm-a-rest sleeping mat, gaiters, binoculars, gloves/mittens, earplugs, walking poles, camera.

We Supply: Sleeping mats (dense foam), tents, cooking equipment, plates/cutlery, first aid kit, safety equipment and maps.

Luggage: We allow space for 120 litres per person (one large pack plus one day pack). You may be required to forward excess luggage if you exceed this. Any gear you do not need on hikes can be locked in the vehicle. NZ Nature Safaris accepts no responsibility for security of your luggage. We highly recommend travel insurance.

Equipment Hire: We hire out good quality equipment. Arrange hire gear when you book. Requests for hire equipment must be made at least 5 days before the departure date.

Your guides have a great enthusiasm for the outdoors and a thorough knowledge of natural history. They are keen to teach you outdoor skills such as river crossing, map reading and campfire cooking. All guides have more than a decade of outdoor experience, and mountain first aid training.

Will I be fit enough to keep up with the group?

Please read carefully 'Hiking and Fitness Requirements'before choosing your hiking option and grade (medium or fit). Preparation is the key – go hiking carrying a pack, or go to the gym regularly in the weeks prior to your departure.

What is the weather going to be like?
New Zealand experiences extremely changeable weather.Some days we can be broiling in 30 degrees heat and later in the day freezing in a cool southerly from the sub-Antarctic. Our trips are very flexible and work well in all weather.

Do I really need hiking boots?
Yes! Good hiking boots are essential to protect your feet and provide ankle support. Tracks can be slippery and rough. Sometimes we hike off-track, on rough terrain, involving river crossings.

It’s summer. Do I really need thermals and a fleece?
Yes. We can experience extreme weather, even in summer.

What if I haven't got the right gear?
We can hire to you everything except hiking boots. Order what you need when you book. We also sell NZ Nature Safari fleeces, polyprop thermals.

What is not included in the price?
Food kitty and camp fee fund (averages $18/day). This cost is passed directly on - you only ay for what you get. The cost of kayaking ($40-$65), is also not included.

Can I do more than one safari?
Yes! Our safaris and hikes are designed to connect over the whole of New Zealand – anything from 3 to 37 days!

I'm a vegetarian - is that a problem?
No problem, we often have vegetarians in the group. Guides are familiar with vegetarian cooking. Please advise when you book.

Which is the best trip to go on?
The North Island has lots of secrets - volcanoes, lakes and wilderness; the West Coast has grand mountains, canyons, glaciers and rainforest; the Secret South has a lot of alpine areas and wildlife - dolphins, penguins, sea lions and seals. The wilderness hikes and expeditions explore remote areas of our National Parks. You decide!

What equipment do I need to bring along?
'What To Take' lists the minimum gear requirements. We visit mountainous wilderness areas, which can experience extremes of weather at any time of year. Be prepared!

I have a lot of extra luggage - what should I do with it?
We allow luggage space of 120 litres per person (1 large pack plus a daypack). We may require you to forward excess luggage. On overnight hikes everything is locked in the vehicle.

Print   To Top