All of our Hollyford Pyke Expeditions combine the IPIA Level 1 course and 5 days of hands-on packrafting to test your new skills on the holy grail of New Zealand Packrafting, the amazing  Hollyford/Pyke Loop. 

This is the ultimate way to learn new skills and put them into practice in one of the most beautiful and untouched wilderness areas on the planet!

  • Consolidate your training to test your skills in a wilderness environment
  • All packrafting gear is included – bring your own – if you have it!
  • Advance your packrafting proficiency
  • Experience the holy grail of packrafting in New Zealand

What’s included:

  • 2-day IPIA Level 1 Certification Course
  • Online theory component to be completed pre-course / trip
  • 5-day Hollyford/Pyke packrafting expedition
  • Friendly, experienced and professional instructors/guides
  • All track accommodation in DOC Huts or Tents
  • All meals on track
  • All packrafting gear as detailed below

Please note:  The Certification Combo is a performance-based course followed by a full on packrafting expedition. Participation in the expedition  requires demonstration during the course that you have achieved the appropriate competency level. Should you not meet the required level, we can refund your payment less the IPIA Level 1 cost or book you onto another expedition departure later in the year to allow for greater skill development. Warnings aside, we are confident that by the end of the course, our  instructors will have you more than skilled enough for the expedition.


The Hollyford/Pyke packrafting expedition gives you access to an area normally visited only by very experienced backcountry explorers. This expedition is the holy grail of Packrafting in New Zealand. With four trips a year at six people max, only 24 people will have the chance to experience it.

While for many it represents a once in a lifetime type of adventure, it is not for the meek.  Fiordland weather is unpredictable, the days are relatively rigorous, and the setting is, well, very nearly at the end of the world. But for those up for the challenge, it offers unparalleled rewards. 

This part of New Zealand will take your breath away and that’s a huge statement in this country!  During this 5 day/4-night guided packrafting expedition you will 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.

A maximum number of 6 people and 2 guides makes sure you’ll get a very personal experience and have constant support on this breath-taking, challenging, and unforgettable journey. 


Learn all required skills in an controlled environment before we step it up and test your skills on the river.

Remember you’ll need to sort accommodation in Te Anau for this night, although if you choose to camp at one of the several campgrounds, you are welcome to use our tents!

We’ll get on the road after coffee and enjoy a nice ‘guided’ tour with several stops as we head up along the Milford road towards our destination, the Hollyford River.

If we feel that a little more training is in order, we’ll spend an hour or so further sharpening our skills near Gunn’s Camp just before lunch.

Otherwise, we’ll jump right in (literally) for a 5ish hour paddle to our first night’s stop on Mckerrow island.

We’ll get on the road after coffee and enjoy a nice ‘guided’ tour with several stops as we head up along the Milford road towards our destination, the Hollyford River.

If we feel that a little more training is in order, we’ll spend an hour or so further sharpening our skills near Gunn’s Camp just before lunch.

Otherwise, we’ll jump right in (literally) for a 5ish hour paddle to our first night’s stop on Mckerrow island.

We’ll get an early start to take advantage of calmer conditions and bypass the notorious Demon trail with a 16 km paddle across lake Mckerrow.

Followed by iconic walk past Martins Bay Hut and around long reef point and along a rocky coastline giving way into pristine sand beaches ends at Big Bay hut.

This is real wilderness–no trails, pounding sea, and true isolation.

Another big day from Big Bay!  The morning starts with a 10km along an old prospecting road (which hardly feels like a road any more!) into the upper Pyke Valley.

Here we’ll inflate the boats again and set off down the Pyke river–flanked by majestic mountains and waterfalls–across lake Wilmot, and to Olivine Hut at the water’s edge.

After a lazy start (you’ll have earned it!), we’ll continue paddling the Pyke river to Lake Alabaster.

On the way there are opportunities to check out waterfalls and see the arduous ‘track’ that awaits trampers trying to negotiate this section–some of the markers are actually in the river!

The night will be spent either at Alabaster Hut or the aptly named Hidden Falls Hut, 10 km further down the track.

The final day of the adventure takes in the last 10km  (if day 5 ended at Hidden Falls) or 20km (if Alabaster) of the Hollyford track.

Good footing and easy walking through stunning sub-alpine forest and over Little Homer Saddle allows you to get up close and personal with a number of spectacular waterfalls.


Departure Dates:

We offer 3 departures of this expedition between the months of October & March.  

We offer 1 winter time departure which adds an extra layer of difficulty and rewards. This is only for the most experienced adventurers.  


This 7 Day Adventure includes the following:

  • IPIA Level 1 certification
  • All specialised boating equipment
  • All main meals ( breakfast & dinner ) on the trail you need to bring your lunches
  • All National park and camping/hut fees
  • All DOC ( Department of Conservation fees )
  • Accomodation in DOC huts or tents
  • Pre-departure briefing
  • Friendly, professional, IPIA certified instructors/ guides
  • Packrafting down the Hollyford & Pyke river and across Lake McKerrow, Lake Wilmot & Lake Alabaster
  • Backpacks can be hired if required
Standard equipment supplied by Packrafting New Zealand :
  • 3/2 mm wet suit for summer departure
    • and a dry suit for the winter trip
  • Pfd
  • Helmet
  • 4 split carbon fibre paddle
  • Alpacka rafts
  • Spray tops ( if needed )
  • Drybags for ( Sleeping bag, Camp / spare clothing )
  • Backpack in liner ( big plastic bag )
For you to bring :

Please ask us for rental options or if you need to go shopping so we can give you some advice, if you do not have the items listed below.

  • 65l – 70l backpack
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping mat
  • Head Torch
  • Personal hiking gear
  • Personal sleeping gear


Please Note:

  • A booking form and a $500 deposit per person is required to secure your booking.
  • The balance of payment is to be paid four weeks prior to your departure date.
  • For cancellations prior to your departure date the following refund applies:
  • Within 3 weeks = no refund applies
  • 3 – 6 weeks = deposit non refundable, 80% of balance paid refunded
  • 7 – 12 weeks = deposit non refundable, 100% of balance paid refunded
  • More than 12 weeks = full refund including deposit
  • Once your trip has commenced no refund applies due to any circumstance.

WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND that you arrange personal travel/medical insurance. This will protect you for any loss of fares if you need to cancel your trip due to unforeseen circumstances.


The weather in Fiordland can be very unpredictable and change dramatically, very quickly; the close proximity of towering mountains and the ocean makes for conditions and temperatures that can vary markedly during the course of a day. Fiordland is one of the wettest places on the planet.

Summer months average around 20°C but the evenings can be a little cooler. Winter temperatures average around 10°C on the coast with the evenings much colder.It is not unusual to experience both summer and winter conditions and temperatures on the same day!

It is important to be prepared for the worst conditions carry the appropriate clothing at all times. In the event of extreme weather, your safety is our priority and parts of the day may need to be changed. Any decision to do so is a professional decision made by your guide, please respect their decision as it is based on experience and with your safety in mind.

Regardless of the conditions you experience, sun, rain, a combination of the two, or anything in between, your experience on the Hollyford/Pyke Loop will be a memorable one.