plan your walk

Frequently Asked Questions

We know there's a lot you want to know before you commit to walking with us - or before you begin your adventure, so we have listed below some of those questions we get asked most about.

When do I have to pay for my walk?
We take full payment at time of booking.

What is the cancellation policy?

All cancellations must be made in writing and sent to or Ultimate Hikes Reservations, PO Box 259 Queenstown NZ, 9348.

Cancellation fees for all multi-day walks are charged on the following basis per person:

  • Outside 90 days from the date of walk departure: NZ$100 per person;
  • Between 89-60 days from the date of walk departure: NZ$200 per person;
  • Between 59-21 days from the date of walk departure: 50% of full fare; or
  • Within 21 days of the date of walk departure: 100% of full fare

The date and customer name, for which the walk has been booked, once confirmed by the Operator providing the services and activities described, is non-transferable.

See Terms and Conditions for more information

 Do I need travel/medical insurance?
Yes. We HIGHLY RECOMMEND you take out your own medical/travel insurance to cover your walk and any circumstances in which you may not be able to walk. In the unlikely event of a medical / accident emergency on the track, a medical evacuation by air will be carried out by New Zealand emergency services which may incur some financial cost.

Do I have to carry my pack or do you transport it? You will carry your own pack from lodge to lodge. Unfortunately we do not offer a service for transporting your luggage.

How heavy is the pack?
It's likely to be 5-7 kg (10-14lbs) full, if you follow our recommended equipment list.

Will I be fit enough?
To enjoy your walk you should be able to carry a medium sized backpack for 5 to 7 hours over 10-21km of mountain track each day. To maximise your enjoyment we encourage you to set your own pace while walking the track, there is no need to keep up with the fastest walkers. There is always a guide at the back of the party. The track surface varies from smooth well-formed paths to rough terrain broken up by rocks and tree roots and we recommend you wear hiking boots, which provide firm ankle support. If you are not a regular walker, we suggest you begin a daily walk regime 6-8 weeks before your departure. Some practice carrying a pack and hill/staircase walking during this time will make you even better prepared for your walk.

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What weather should I expect in the month I am walking?
The unpredictable nature of the weather in this region means that snow, high winds and rain can occur at any time of the year. It is therefore very important to be prepared for the worst weather conditions, and carry the appropriate clothing at all times. Generally January and February are warmer, not necessarily dryer. In November and December the mountain lilies are just coming out and there is still snow on the surrounding mountains. If you are a keen photographer this would be the time to walk. The month of March is more settled weather wise: fresh mornings, sunny days, cooler nights and the days are getting shorter. Due to the nature of Fiordland we cannot predict any forecast.

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How remote are the tracks?
The tracks are not accessible by road except at the start and at the end. Any requirement to remove people off the track or over closed sections will be done by helicopter. In the event of an accident or emergency, a medical evacuation by air will be carried out by New Zealand emergency services

What clothing do I need to bring?
For walking: boots, polypropylene underwear (top and bottom), fleece or merino hat, fleece jacket, gloves, shorts, walking socks, t-shirt for fine days. For evenings: shirt, trousers, underwear, sandals or light shoes, night wear. See What to Bring for a complete, downloadable list.

Can I wash my clothes?
Yes. Lodges have hand washing facilities with soap powder and drying rooms. Being able to wash and dry clothing helps keep the pack weight down.  please note that Steele Creek Lodge has limited ability to wash and dry clothes as it doesn't have a drying room.

Do I have to bring all my clothing with me?
Yes.  we can lend you a raincoat, otherwise you will need to be prepared by following our equipment list.   we have a shop where items can be purchased prior to your departure from Queenstown.

Where can I leave my excess baggage while I'm walking?

Unfortunately, we are not able to store excess luggage as we don't have secure premises to do so.  Some suggestions to store luggage can be found here.

Milford Track only: A small bag (we can lend you one) of clothing for use at Milford Sound will be sent by road from Queenstown to await your arrival.

Please note that because of weight restrictions on our coaches, suitcases cannot be transported.

Where can I park my vehicle?
Check with the accommodation you have booked if you can leave it there otherwise there are some options in Queenstown and Te AnauThere is also an option to have your car transferred from each end of the Routeburn Track.
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What time do I arrive back in Queenstown?
We arrive at approximately 4pm. This arrival time may connect with some flights out of Queenstown. Milford Track walkers can finish at Queenstown airport if required.

How bad are the sandflies?
We recommend you wear insect repellent each day. They are notably worse on the Milford Track. Insect repellent can be purchased from our retail shop.

Is there alcohol on the track?
New Zealand Beer and wine is available for purchase at the lodges. This is paid for at the end of your walk.

Dietary requirements
Vegetarian options are included in all our menus.   Please advise us of any specific dietary requirements when you make your booking. We will endeavour to cater for them, however please remember we operate in an extremely isolated and challenging environment. 

How many people share the Quad rooms?
Quad rooms sleep up to 4 people in bunkstyle beds on the Milford and Greenstone tracks, and single beds on the Routeburn Track.  All quad rooms have shared bathroom facilities.  

I will be travelling by myself, is that a problem?
No problem. It is a great opportunity to walk with like-minded individuals from around the world.  Please note however that we cannot always guarantee same sex quad rooms - Please advise at booking if you have any issues with sharing a room with the opposite sex.

Are there toilets on the tracks? All of our lodges have flush toilets. There are also toilets (some flush, some Kiwi long drop style!) at all our lunch shelters and huts.