The Hollyford Pyke

Embark on a 7-day journey to the end of the world (and back.)

The Hollyford Pyke Expedition

The Hollyford Pyke Expedition combines our 2-day professional packrafting training course with 5-days of adventure around the famous Hollyford Pyke Loop.

During this 5-day/4-night guided packrafting expedition you’ll be travelling from the mountains to the sea, up the coastline and back into the mountains. You will paddle the Hollyford River, Lake McKerrow, Lakes Wilmot and Alabaster, and the Pyke River. You will walk along the rugged coastline to Big Bay, cross into the Pyke Valley, and wander past waterfalls on the famous Hollyford track.

While the expedition is a tremendously rewarding adventure, it is not for the meek. Fiordland weather is unpredictable, and the days are relatively rigorous, because the setting is very nearly at the end of the world. But for those up for the challenge, it offers unparalleled opportunities to escape the day to and immerse yourself in the wilderness.

What you need to know

  • Expedition pricing:
    • Winter & Pre-Season (Sept & Oct): $2,300
    • Summer season (Nov-Aug): $2,500
  • Maximum 6 people per expedition departure date.
  • Great for beginner/intermediate packrafters.
  • You only need 5 days off work for 7 days of adventure.
  • The trip begins and ends in Te Anau and includes both the 2-day level 1 course + 5 days in the wilderness.
  • Accommodation is included before and after the expedition in our Packrafting HQ glamping tents.
  • Breakfast and dinners are provided, but you will need to organise your own lunches and snacks.
  • All paddling gear (our high-end Alpacka Packrafts, paddles, and PFD’s) is included.
  • Your backpack will weigh between 15kg and 20kg.

Sample Itinerary

This is the first day of your Packrafting level 1 course. We build your skills in inflating and deflating boats, self and buddy rescue, important paddle strokes, and learning how to fall out of your boat in style.

We build on your training from the first day, and practice all the learned skills in and on a real river – the Waiau River.

The adventure begins! We pack the van and drive into the Hollyford valley, leaving civilization behind. After that, the day will be spent floating, paddling, and portaging down the Hollyford River, beneath the towering peaks of the Darran Mountains. We camp overnight at McKerrow Island which is about 6-hours down river.

An early start gets us 15km across Lake McKerrow. Tides will then determine whether we paddle or walk the final 7km to the iconic Martin’s Bay Hut. A challenging journey of about 6-hours, but one that we should complete by lunchtime. This allows for an afternoon of leisure: explore the wild and scenic coastline, get to know the native wildlife, relax, or all of the above!

We take a break from paddling today and walk the rugged and spectacular coast to Big Bay. The trek involves scrambling and boulder hopping, but gets easier as we go, culminating in a 5km stretch of windswept beach that leads to the night’s destination – Big Bay Hut. White sand beaches, a walk-wire bridge, and swimming opportunities exist for those that still have the energy. This day is somewhere around the 6-hour mark on your feet.

Another combo day. We’ll start with a 14km walk on a track to the upper Pyke river, which usually takes about 3-hours. We then inflate the boats again and paddle about 2.5-hours downriver past high peaks and dozens of epic waterfalls. A crossing of Lake Wilmot and a quick visit to the legendary Bushman Sammy Stoat (a real life Robinson Crusoe) round out the day, which ends at Olivine Hut. Evening options include an adventurous bush bash to Olivine falls, or a ride across the historic cable car spanning the Olivine River.

Day 5 in reverse! We start with a paddle to, and then across, Lake Alabaster which will take about 2.5-hours again. We then pack up the boats and walk to Roadend, which is by far the biggest day walking (25km easy’ish going.) From here it is only short walk on the Hollyford Road to bring us back to where we started, completing the 150km long Hollyford-Big Bay-Pyke loop! We will be back in Te Anau by around dinner time, with time to spare. Either wind down from the expedition, or get organised for whatever adventure is coming next.

What will I need to bring?

  • Walking and hiking clothing (for all seasons)
  • Camping and overnight clothing (for all seasons)
  • Personal kit (incl. backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, head torch, water bottle etc)
  • And whatever else you normally taking on outdoor adventures (sunglasses, bug spray, sunblock etc)
  • Oh and also a great sense of adventure (and humour!)
  • NOTE: A full gear list will be supplied once you booked your trip.

Gear we supply

  • Backup Tents (in case we aren’t able to stay in a hut)
  • Sleeping mat (will be supplied by Packrafting NZ)
  • Stoves and gas
  • Tarps/emergency shelter

Other things to bear in mind

  • You need to make your own way to and from Te Anau, as this is not included.
  • We recommend allowing for an extra day after the trip, for unplanned delays as we go.
  • Breakfast and dinners are included, but lunches, snacks and tea and coffee is not included.


  • New for the Season 2023/2024, accommodation is included in our Packrafting NZ Eco Village – glamping-styled tenting, shared facilities, and epic views. Available the night(s) before and after the expedition. 

Ready to book?

Keen to embark on this wilderness adventure? Read all the expedition info and keen to book yourself (and your mates) in? Book below.

Need more info?

Need more info on this expedition? Pop your name and email address in below and we’ll send you some addition details.