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Ultimate Hikes

Ultimate Hikes

Types of adventures:
Trekking  +  walking
Type: DMC
No of tours: 7
Destinations: 1

About company

The Routeburn and Greenstone Tracks had their beginnings in the 1860s when a route through the Southern Alps to the West Coast was proposed for shipping gold to Australia, though this never eventuated. The Routeburn track was finally completed in the 1920s. A private guided walking operation was founded in 1967 and the concession to operate private walks was awarded to Ultimate Hikes in 1989.

Quintin Mackinnon discovered the pass which allowed land access to Milford Sound in 1888, and he was the first guide to take walkers from Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound, on what is now famously known as the Milford Track.  In 1901, the government established the Department of Tourist and Health Resorts and assumed administrative control of the track. The guided walk operation was retained in government control until it was sold to a private enterprise in 1990. Ultimate Hikes acquired the concession to operate on the Milford Track in 1992.  The company remains the only one permitted to operate multiday guided walks on the Milford, the Routeburn and the Greenstone Tracks (which, combined with the Routeburn Track makes up the Grand Traverse).  Ultimate Hikes has put extensive time, effort and investment into upgrading the facilities on the tracks, and we constantly strive to provide a safe and professional guided walk experience with an international reputation, attracting walkers from New Zealand and all over the world.

Operating in National Parks, where in excess of 9 metres of rain can fall per year, is a challenge; unpredictable weather conditions and relative inaccessibility of the lodges are major considerations in the daily operation of the guided walks. Accommodation for walkers is provided in purpose-built lodges, privately owned and operated by Ultimate Hikes.

Over 120 people are employed each walking season to ensure that the service provided exceeds our walker's expectations.

Safety is paramount and we have strong communication systems connecting the guides, lodges and Queenstown base at all times.

Considerable effort goes into maintaining the tracks and Ultimate Hikes works closely with the Department of Conservation, on track maintenance and pest control.

Ultimate Hikes also operates guided day walks on the Milford, and Routeburn Tracks. These day walks are specifically designed for those who can't fit the full walks into their holiday.

Sister companies of Ultimate Hikes include other iconic New Zealand visitor attractions; the historic Hermitage Hotel, Glacier Explorers, Tasman Valley 4WD and Argo Tours, and the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre (all located at Aoraki Mt Cook Alpine Village), NZSki Ltd operators of New Zealand's premier ski areas: Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Mt Hutt, and AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand.


Flag of New ZealandNew Zealand
No of tours: 7
Rating in New Zealand :
Types of adventures: Trekking  +  walking

Company tours

$ 920
The Routeburn Track
Trekking  +  walking
Trekking + walking

New Zealand

Rating in New Zealand
$ 1424
The Milford Track
Trekking  +  walking
Trekking + walking

New Zealand

54 days

Rating in New Zealand
$ 134
Milford Track Encounter Day Walk ex Te Anau
Trekking  +  walking
Trekking + walking

New Zealand

Rating in New Zealand

Client's Reviews

Beautiful walk ruined by guides
Written: May 14, 2019 | Event date: March 2019 | Source: tripadvisor.com
My mum and I hiked the Milford Track in March 2019. We emailed this feedback to Ultimate Hikes in March, and didn’t receive a response.

We had some issues with the lodges that could have been easily avoided. Our room at Quinton Lodge had a broken flyscreen in the bathroom (and staff knew it was broken, because it had been “fixed” with poorly attached duct tape). The window was left open before our arrival. That meant we had sandflies all through our room that night. Our room at Mitre Peak lodge also had a broken flyscreen, as well as a dirty used cottonbud under the sink, and hair in the bathtub.

We also grew to hate the guiding system. I should be clear that we didn’t have an issue with the guides themselves, who were lovely. But we hike at a comfortable pace, which meant we were often at the back of the group, shadowed by a guide. It was difficult to “hike at our own pace” and we felt pressured by constant company. It also meant we couldn’t really have private conversations, or feel alone with nature.

This came to a head on our last day. After we left the lunch spot, the guide behind us met up with a staff member from the huts who was also heading back, and started to talk very, very loudly about scuba diving, only a few meters behind us. Eventually we asked them to hang back, which they did, but it made me uncomfortable to even have to ask. And of course, we felt even more stress to walk quickly.

As we neared the end of the track, they caught up with us, still talking loudly. I understand wanting to reach the group at the end, but it really ruined a special moment for us. Mum has wanted to do this track since she was a teenager, and we expected the ending to feel a little triumphant. Instead we just got to trudge along listening to the girls chat loudly about holiday plans.

Then they pushed us to start the walk to the boat, while some of our group were still taking photos near the sign. We didn’t even get a chance to sit down, or look inside the hut at Sandfly Point.

This was even more frustrating as we were later told we actually made great time. We boarded the boat at 4pm, being told that groups often finished at 5pm, or even later.

The stress caused by the guides on that last day ruined what should’ve been a great experience for us, and it’s for that reason I wouldn’t recommend a guided hike to anyone else.
Ultimate Hikes responded to this review
Responded May 28, 2019
Dear Hanna

Firstly please accept our sincere apology for not responding to your email. We certainly received it and discussed the issues you raised – however the response clearly didn’t make it back to you and for that we are very sorry.

In relation to your concerns, the level of cleanliness of your room at Mitre Peak lodge was clearly unacceptable and we immediately reported this to the manager so he could take it up with his staff.

We are also very sorry that your experience was marred by the intrusion of our staff into your experience of hiking the Milford Track. We accept that you had the right to have your own time on the track uninterrupted and we are very sorry that you felt rushed. It is certainly not our intention to make any of our walkers feel uncomfortable.

It is usual for the last boat to leave Sandfly Point at 4pm, and I do think the guides were just trying to advise you to make the boat otherwise you would be waiting for the next one in what can be uncomfortable conditions. It also gives walkers reasonable time to settle into the lodge before dinner.

Please accept our sincere apologies again for the distress you felt on the walk and please know that our guides and staff do their very best to assist walkers and provide them with the best possible experience, and I know they are sorry that their behaviour impaired your enjoyment.

Kind regards,

Noel Saxon
General Manager
Unforgettable experience
Written: May 6, 2019 | Event date: April 2019 | Source: tripadvisor.com
Went with a group of friends for the 5day Milford Track Hike and it was amazing. Our magnificent guides, Colette, Verity and Graham were great, very supportive and knowledgeable. The facilities and meals at the lodges were impressive. I would highly recommend this company for an unforgettable NZ experience!
James R
Milford Track - would rate it 6-stars if I could!
Written: Apr 26, 2019 | Event date: April 2019 | Source: tripadvisor.com
We had a truely awesome experience with Ultimate Hikes on the Milford Track. We were the final group through the track for the season, but the levels of energy and enthusiasm from the staff still felt like the beginning of the season. There were 47 trampers in our group, ranging in ages from 13 to 60s (I guess!); everyone was well cared for and looked after. I didn't hear anyone in the entire group grumbling about anything major at all - despite some VERY wet weather being encountered.

The staff at the shop in Queenstown were great; the behind-the-scenes staff in all the lodges were obviously very efficient and were all welcoming and did whatever they could to make the whole experience enjoyable. And the guides - wow! They were awesome. We had 4 guides in our group; a mixture of both Kiwis and other nationalities (which I only mention as I didn't expect that). They were great - funny, knowledgable, caring, and they all really must have put 110% effort into making sure everyone had a good time and more importantly finished the walk safely. The sizes of the packs the guides were carrying was amazing - but when you're greeted at the top of a cold and windy mountain-top with a cup of hot coffee and/or chocolate, you REALLY appreciate the effort they put into doing what they do.

I cannot speak highly enough of the trip; it was totally brilliant; much better than I expected.

And the food! Wow; who would have expected "fine dining" experiences in the middle of nowhere, two days walk from civilisation? Never-the-less, that's what we got - in some cases more than we could possibly eat.

Rooms were all warm and comfortable; shower facilities great; their drying rooms were spectacular and would probably cause heatstroke if you stayed in them for 10 minutes! And as they used "waste heat" from their generators, actually very environmentally-friendly.

Was it an expensive trip? Yes. Was it money well spent? Absolutely! Would I do it all again? Definitely.
Milford track, ultimate experience
Written: Apr 21, 2019 | Event date: April 2019 | Source: tripadvisor.com
We loved walking the Milford track with Ultimate Hikes. The lodges were a surprise, beds very comfortable and warm. We had an en-suite bathroom which had a hair dryer, soap, shampoo, conditioner. The last lodge in Milford Sound had a bath! The food is exceptional. Three courses each night with a choice from 3 mains, one was a vegetarian option. Breakfast is basic continental with hot food of bacon and eggs, although one lodge offered eggs Benedict. Each morning at breakfast hikers make there own packed lunch, subway style. There are wraps, breads, salads, meats, also containers if you prefer to make a salad. There is fruit, chocolate and cookies available to take. The sugar is welcome at difficult times on the track, so stock up! There are hand washing facilities and drying rooms. If you wash your day clothes before dinner, you can pick them up on the way back to your room after dinner, they dry that quickly! Just remember to use the hand wringers before hanging on the drying racks.
The track itself - on the first day is a short walk to the first hut after the bus and boat trip, followed by a nature walk around the hut area. The second day is the first long days walk and in hindsight was the easiest so don’t rush, there is lots to see and take photos of. The third and fourth days are the most challenging in different ways. The third day is up and over and down the McKinnon pass. You will need hiking sticks, makes it much easier. The terrain is difficult to walk on, lots of boulders, rocks, washouts to navigate through. The fourth day is the longest stretch and we had sore calves, knees, hamstrings so made the going quite tough. Although the fourth day track section was mainly flat it was still very challenging as the track itself is rocky and some sections required us to climb over debris.
It’s very hard to train for this walk but you at least need to be able to maintain walking for 6-7 hours. The only seating on the track is at the lunch stops.
The guides are great, one is always at the front and one at the rear behind the last of the group, with the others floating in the middle. We had 40 walkers and at times we were grouped together but often you can be walking by yourself for long stretches. The guides do not walk with you. They are there more for safety and checking everyone gets through okay. The guides also give a briefing each night at dinner on track conditions.
Scenery is amazing on this track, be a turtle, not a rabbit. There is some new to see around every corner. We had no problems with sand flies ourselves but have heard they can get quite bad.
Take the offered hiking backpack, it was great, the weight sits on your hips rather than shoulders. Take very minimal clothing, really just need a change of clothes for night time as you can was your hiking clothes each night. We had two merino wool layers on top plus a fleece jacket and rain coat. More than sufficient.

Milford Track Hike
Written: Apr 20, 2019 | Event date: April 2019 | Source: tripadvisor.com
Excellent! We loved this experience - unbelievable scenery, comfortable accommodation, great guides, very lucky with the weather and met a lovely bunch of people. Can't wait to do this again or the Routeburn. Will definitely be back and highly, highly recommend to anyone wanting to be out in the great outdoors but not have to worry too much about logistics, planning or carrying too much. Hike was as advertised - moderate for the most part, a little challenging in some parts. We absolutely loved it.
Ultimate hiking experience with Ultimate Hikes Routeburn track
Written: Apr 19, 2019 | Event date: April 2019 | Source: tripadvisor.com
Completed the Routeburn track last week with Ultimate Hikes
over 3 days and 2 nights. We had 31 hikers in our group and
despite the size we were able to hike at our own enjoyable pace.
We had 3 glorious days of sunshine and the temperature was
cool and very comfortable for hiking.
The guides were exceptional, the lodges were great, food
exceptional quality, the scenery out of this world. It is indeed
Ultimate in hiking.
You enjoy the great outdoor with all the creatures comfort at
the end of the day at the lodges.
Some pointers for those who is planning to take this hike
(and I fully recommend with Ultimate Hikes)
a) If you don’t have the proper equipments, Ultimate Hikes do
provide back packs, hiking poles etc for free so you don’t need
to buy these equipments (saves you some money if you are a
one time hiker)
b) Food is plentiful (you prepare sandwiches/fruits/Chocolates
available each morning and they serve hot beverages at each stops). Dinner is gourmet dinning.
c) Wear layers. As you start walking, you build up sweat and can
easily peel off layers to suit your comfort levels. I heard from my fellow hikers that it is more enjoyable to do this hike during Spring/Autumn as opposed to Summer. You can always put on more layers if it gets too cold. Moreover in the cool weather I did not encounter any pesky sand flies problem even on the lower elevations for the entire trip.
d) Great washing and drying facilities at the lodge so you need to
bring just 2 sets of clothings. One for the hike and one for sleeping.
e) Several toilets in between the route.
f) Rooms with heater until 10pm but woolen blankets available to
keep you nice and warm.
g) Despite lights out at 10pm, there is night lights throughout the
night (which is quite bright for those who are frighten of the dark
and for those who wants to continue to read).
h) I classify this walk as easy to slightly moderate in difficulty.
If you are in reasonable good health, you will be able to enjoy this
hike. In my group we have childrens (+10 yrs) and senior
citizen (70+). All able to complete the trip without problems.
This is one of my most enjoyable trip so far and I highly recommend for those who enjoys the outdoors without needing to worry about logistics and coming back each evening with hot showers and gourmet dinning.
Cruel and Dangerous
Written: Apr 19, 2019 | Event date: April 2019 | Source: tripadvisor.com
My two teenage boys just loved everything about the Milford Track. The tougher the better. They & some of their new friends even went for a swim in an ice cold lake that would have made even a polar bear think twice before getting in.

However, Mum & Dad were not nearly as happy as the boys were when they themselves reached the end of the hiking on Day 4 at Sandfly Point. Why was that? The accommodation was more than adequate! The food was great! All the Ultimate Hike staff (office, accommodation & guides) were friendly and helpful! Our fellow hikers were an absolute joy. So what’s my grizzle?

On Day 3, about halfway up the Mackinnon Pass I slipped, fell sideways and landed on a rock hitting it with my right upper thigh. Worst “dead leg” of my life. Or, as I now know, a muscle contusion (better known as a “corky”). This accident was witnessed by Guide “L” who was right behind me.

After a few moments of me checking nothing was broken I staggered to my feet and then began the worst ordeal of my life. To start, the only thing that got me to the top of the hill was sheer determination & the belief that once I’d made it to the top, going down the other side would be less painful.

How wrong was I? The 900m descent over boulders and fallen trees along a barely discernible pathway was a truly painful nightmare. Full marks to Guide “L” who accompanied me for the 6 1/2 hours down the never ending track where we eventually arrived at Quinton Lodge in total darkness and where my very distressed family were waiting for me.

The last thing I felt like doing then was eating dinner but I was convinced to so because I needed the energy. When I walked into the dining room I received a standing ovation from my fellow hikers & from the staff which I must say did make me feel a bit better.

After dinner, Guide “K” gave us our briefing for the next day and then we invited him to join us for a chat. I explained what had happened to me and my current poor state of physical well-being. I was a total wreck was worried that tomorrow’s 13 1/2 mile hike was going to be too much for me. I was either going to fall & break my neck or die trying to reach the end.

As there is no phone reception, I was asking Guide “K” if, at my expense, he could organise a helicopter to fly me to Milford while the rest of my family completed the hike on foot. To my absolute surprise & despair, Guide “K” reeled off Ultimate Hike’s policy regarding my request which was a big fat “No” unless I had a broken limb or unless I was dead.

I considered some of Ultimate Hike’s policy points quite valid such as they can’t have helicopters flying people in and out on a whim. If I was to get a helicopter, then others will likely want to hitch a ride and don’t forget the negative effect on other hikers’ enjoyment listening to my helicopter passing over their heads. Etc. Etc. Etc. He wore me out. I was too tired to argue.

So despite how badly I felt and because I don’t beg, the next morning the torture started all over again. Only 40 minutes into my journey I fell down a rocky slope and bashed my knee. Witnessed by Guide “L”, other hikers helped me back up onto my feet. My fear of further injuring myself had become a reality.

The day wore on, and on, and on! Guide “K became my minder for the last 6 or so miles and gave me glucose when it became obvious I was about to collapse through pain & exhaustion.

While all this was going on down on the ground, both Guide “K” and I could hear helicopters happily flying back & forth above us. Through the pain, the ironic humour of this was not lost on me.

Obviously I survived, but only just. Looking at photos of me arriving at Sandfly Point show it all. I truly was the walking dead.

Making this 66 year old man with a bad injury drag himself 13 1/2 miles up hill & down dale was just plain CRUEL and DANGEROUS
Ultimate Hikes responded to this review
Responded May 28, 2019
Chris, thank you for your comments on your Milford walk in April. Well done for finishing the track despite the added challenge of a “corky”. We understand your frustration at not being able to fly out. Our guides need to assess each individual and their ability to finish the track before making the decision to fly someone out. In this instance it was deemed that your injury was not bad enough to trigger that response, although I’m sure it was painful! As you have said in your post we do have restrictions in regard to helicopter movements and the guides assessed, correctly, that you were able to complete the trip with their assistance. We are glad your family enjoyed the walk and it is unfortunate that your experience was affected by your injury.

Shaun Liddy
Operations Manager
Very well organized!
Written: Apr 16, 2019 | Event date: April 2019 | Source: tripadvisor.com
We did the Milford track in April and got the ensuite twin room which was a most luxurious hiking experience. Clean sheets and hot showers welcomed us after every day. Not forgetting the very good 3-course dinners. Guides are very helpful. Recommended for anyone who wants a comfortable walking holiday.
Stunning scenery with great guides and fantastic facilities
Written: Apr 12, 2019 | Event date: January 2019 | Source: tripadvisor.com
We did the Milford track with Ultimate Hikes in January 2019. At first, we were a bit put off by the size of the group, nearly 50 people, since our only previous hiking experience was with a much more intimate 12. Still, over the course of the journey, you quickly get acquainted with the others. The size of the group can limit your ‘alone time’ on the trail, but I still found that I was able to go at my own pace and find those special moments one-on-one with nature.
The facilities are great and seem to get better each day, at least on the Milford track. We really appreciated being able to launder our clothes as soon as we got to the huts; if we wrung them out properly and immediately hung them in the appropriate drying rooms, they were usually dry by the time we finished dinner.
The food was very good, but alcoholic drinks are not included, so we did manage to accumulate an impressive bar tab during our hike.
We had a private room with our own en suite, which was perfect. The en suites are supplied with body wash and shampoo, so unless your hair has special needs, you don’t need to carry these things. One of our rooms had ill-fitting fly screens with holes that made keeping the savage sand flies out very difficult, but the rooms are also supplied with bug killer, so that helped. You will definitely want to stay covered as much as possible, even in the lounges, and bring an effective mossie/fly repellent.
The guides were great. They were very enthusiastic and knowledgeable and pleasant to share the journey with.
In terms of kit, I followed their suggestions and was fine. The packs are not huge, so don’t bring more than you absolutely need; remember, you will be able to do laundry each day. I prefer not to walk with a pole but found I could have used one on the descent from McKinnon’s pass. It’s steep in parts and can get quite slippery under foot. Using a walking pole, or two, would have taken some strain off of my knees and may have prevented the two tumbles that I took.
Amazing experience in a stunning location
Written: Apr 11, 2019 | Event date: April 2019 | Source: tripadvisor.com
We completed the Milford Track with friends recently and were blown away by the whole experience. Our guides Moon, Susan, Graham and Chloe ensured that the entire trip would be memorable, and nothing was a problem on the track. Despite the ever changing nature of the weather, their professional approach ensured everyone felt safe.The accomodation comfortable, the laundry and drying rooms ensured we had clean dry clothes for the following day, and the food was exceptional given the remote locations of the lodges, and a beer or wine at the end of the day with the other hikers was truly appreciated !!

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