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 by card at the time of booking. We accept Visa, Mastercard and American Express. 

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 date of walk departure: NZ$100 per person;
  • Between 89-60 days from date of walk departure: NZ$200 per person;
  • Between 59-31 days from date of walk departure: 50% of full fare; or
  • Within 30 days of 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 you have a cancellation policy related to covid?
Not at this time.  Our cancellation policy above applies to all walkers.

Do I need travel/medical insurance?
Yes. We STRONGLY 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 including covid. In the unlikely event of a medical/accident emergency on the track, an evacuation by air will be carried out by New Zealand emergency services which may incur some financial cost.

Health and Safety
The health and safety of our walkers and team is at the forefront of our operation. We are members of outdoors mark and submit annual audits.  Your guides are trained in first aid and go through an extensive pre-season training programme in mountain safety.  You are required to always adhere to their instruction, particularly in adverse weather conditions.  Guides and lodge staff are in constant touch with each other, the lodges and the Queenstown base by radio.

For the safety and consideration of others, walkers must sign a waiver to confirm they are not ill or been in contact with someone who is, within 48 hours of departing and should consult a staff member if they feel unwell on track.

Risk management
Before booking a hike with Ultimate Hikes you should be aware that Hiking on New Zealand’s Great Walks and tracks, involves risks that include natural hazards such as flood, rockfall, landslip, earthquake, tsunami (Milford Sound) and avalanche.  Unpredictable weather including high winds, snow and heavy rain can occur at any time.  The tracks are uneven, rocky and steep in places. Ultimate Hikes takes every reasonable precaution to eliminate or minimise the risks you could be exposed to,  but natural hazards can be unpredictable and should they occur, they could result in injury and even death.  Read the Risk Management Strategy.

Dietary requirements
Vegetarian options are included in all our menus, and we will notify where no dairy or gluten is added.  If you have specific food allergies or dietary requirements, please contact us to discuss them before departure. We will endeavour to cater for general requirements but we are unable to cater for strict diet plans or specific food requests due to the extremely isolated and challenging environment we operate in. 

Do I have to carry my pack or do you transport it? 
You will carry your own pack from lodge to lodge. We do not transport packs. 

There is a facility to send a small bag to the last lodge at Milford Sound on the Milford Track. Your pre-walk booklet will provide details.

What size pack should I carry and how heavy should it be?
You can use your own pack or we can provide a 40L backpack for you, this can be collected at the pre-track briefing or from the Ultimate Hikes Centre.  A photo of the pack can be viewed on our website What to Bring.

The pack is likely to weigh between 5-7 kg (10-14lbs) full, if you follow our recommended equipment list

Is there power in the lodges?
Power in the lodges is driven by generators.  They are turned on in the morning (timings depend on lodges) and all are turned off at 10pm. There is no power from 10pm until the morning.  Nightlights operate on small batteries charged during the day.

Steele Creek lodge on the Greenstone Track (Grand Traverse) is on solar power so there is limited ability to charge devices, and there is no drying room.

Is there power in the Lodges for a CPAP Machine?
We are able to supply 600W power points to two private Rooms for a CPAP Machine at each of our lodges on the Routeburn and Milford Tracks to run machines through the night. You must have booked a private room and contact us to be allocated the room - they are subject to availability. There is no power source for CPAP machines in multishare rooms or in the first two lodges on the Greenstone Track. 

Is there wifi or internet access on the track and in the lodges?
No.  you will lose access soon after joining the tracks and there is no facility to access internet or wifi in any of our lodges along the track.  Messages can be relayed through the Queenstown office.  All guides and lodge staff are in constant touch with each other by radio and with Queenstown base.

How many people share the shared rooms?
Shared rooms sleep 4 -6 people in bunk or single beds on the Milford and the Routeburn tracks.

On the Greenstone track Steele Creek lodge has dormitory style rooms and McKellar lodge has up to 4 people in bunk rooms.

All shared rooms share bathroom facilities with cubicle showers and flush toilets.

Will I be fit enough?
To enjoy your walk you must be able to carry a medium sized backpack (weighing 5-7kgs) for 6 to 9 hours over 10-21km of mountain track each day.

If you are not a regular walker, you should begin walking regularly at least 6-8 weeks before your departure carrying a pack and including hills and/or staircases.  You should also be prepared to walk in windy and rainy weather.  Walking through surface and even running water is probable in heavy rain.

The track surface varies from rough terrain broken up by large rocks and tree roots to well-formed paths. Training on uneven ground with poles is strongly recommended along with core strength exercise to support balance on rough terrain. We recommend you wear hiking boots, which provide firm ankle support.

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 group. 

Click here for more information

What are the track conditions like?
Track conditions vary from wide flat and graded to very steep over rocks and tree roots.  There are some steep steps too, both up and down, and in heavy rain, sections of the track are prone to flooding.  Wind, rain and snow can also affect track conditions, particularly in exposed sections of the track.  A high level of stamina and stability is required.

Click here for more information

What clothing do I need to bring?
We suggest taking one set of clothing to walk in, the more that is taken, the more that must be carried. All of our lodges have hand washing and drying facilities so clothing can be washed and dried overnight.

We suggest you wear fabrics that are lightweight but warm and quick drying such as merino wool, polypropylene, thermal, micro fleece and polar fleece. Cotton is not recommended for physical activity as when it gets wet, the fabric retains the moisture next to your skin and can make you feel cold.

See What to Bring for a complete, downloadable list.

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 heavy rain can occur at any time of the year. It is therefore very important to be prepared for all weather conditions, and carry the appropriate clothing at all times.

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 on the Grand Traverse has limited ability to wash and dry clothes as it doesn't have a drying room.

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

Smoking and vaping.
Smoking and vaping is strictly prohibited in all Lodges and Ultimate Hikes facilities.  Please ask at lodges where the designated smoking area is.

How bad are the sandflies?
We recommend you wear insect repellent each day. They are notably worse on the Milford Track.

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.

Where can I leave my excess baggage while I'm walking?
We recommend you leave any excess luggage at your pre and post accommodation. We can store excess luggage at our centre in Queenstown for an additional fee. There is no need to book this – just bring it with you on the day of your departure.

Luggage storage is not available for Te Anau departures and drop offs. For further information, please contact our Reservations team prior to your arrival.

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 Anau. 
Click here for more information

What time do I arrive back in Queenstown?
We arrive at approximately 4pm. To avoid unnecessary stress and to make allowances for delays we strongly recommend you book flights to depart after 6.00pm.

All walks depart from and return to the Ultimate Hikes Centre in Queenstown. We do not provide hotel pick up or drop offs.  We can meet walkers in Te Anau for the Milford and Routeburn Tracks but only walkers on the Milford Track can be dropped off there. Milford Track walkers can also be dropped off at Queenstown airport on request. 

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 shared rooms.