Kiwi families like a challenge, but sometimes finding the right adventure to keep both parents and kids happy can be tricky. Will the route be too difficult? Will it be too easy? How will we cook for a bigger crew in the backcountry? What food to pack?! Before you put it in the 'too hard basket', check out these suggestions for our family friendly treks - and breathe a sigh of relief that summer vacation is saved.
For younger kids (as young as seven if they're keen and fit!):
4 Day Upper Wilkin Experience
The beauty of the Upper Wilkin Experience is that it can cater to a range of abilities. This is a hut based trip, meaning you'll spend all three nights based at Top Forks Hut in a remote area of Mt Aspiring National Park. Each day your guide will lead you on a hike in a different direction, including to glacial lakes, waterfalls, and beautiful viewpoints. Because there isn't a new daily camping destination, you have the flexibility to go as far and as hard as you'd like, or turn back early if needed. You can even stick closer to the hut and enjoy the riverside, playtime, and good books. Access is by small plane or helicopter, and there is the option to fly back out instead of hike to the jetboat, in case younger kids can't manage the hike. It's a great option for getting truly backcountry in a less committing way.
3 Day Motatapu Trek
This is true Otago highland terrain, with class hut to hut trekking. The Motatapu Trek winds through the mountains, beginning in Wanaka and ending in Arrowtown (near Queenstown) on the other side of the range. Experience a variety of landscape, from pasture through forest, into bush and tussock covered hills. While the trek is a step up in challenge, requiring slightly heavier packs each day between huts, it's a well maintained route that will give a feeling of achievement while also offering the comfort of shelter each night. No flights required, this is also a cost effective option for the whole crew.
For late teens and older:
4 Day Gillespie Pass Trek
Gillespie Pass is an excellent introduction into the challenges of pure NZ backcountry tramping. The route is a loop, staying in huts and/or camping nearby, with new scenery each day. The trip involves river crossings and steep ascents through beech forest, where tree branches become jungle gyms to pull yourself upward on the trail. The view from the top of Gillespie Pass is incredible, and the jet boat ride back to civilization at the end is an exhilerating finish.
Back to News
Knowing which backcountry options are safe for kids - and that won't destroy all hope of future family adventures due to too hard days, stressful logistics, and potentially mediocre backcountry fare - takes the guesswork out of planning your holiday adventures. The help of a guide puts your mind at ease, as well, and means you can enjoy more family time and less stress over logistics. Win, win!