Te Ara Whakatipu

The path of discovery: 28 April – 5 May 2019

This is a Ngāi Tahu journey never forgotten. Consider this epic hike into the most untouched and pristine of landscapes. Meet a legendary facilitation crew, explore waterfalls and coastlines, listen to our iwi leaders – it’s all part of Te Ara Whakatipu (the pathway to discovery).  Nau mai haere mai, enrol and join this mission of a lifetime!

When:     Sunday 28 April – Sunday 5 May, 2019
Where:   Whakatipu Waitai/Hollyford Valley
What:     Six day haerenga + 2 days travel (8 days all up)
Who:      13 Ngāi Tahu rangatahi between the ages of 15 and 18 years

What’s it about?

This seven-day adventure is an opportunity for Ngāi Tahu rangatahi to explore their connection to Ngāi Tahutanga, connection to the natural environment, and connection to themselves (self-identity/leadership/values).

Delivered by a combination of Ngāi Tahu leaders, professional guides, experienced Hollyford Track staff and tangata whenua, this programme weaves rangatahi outdoor leadership with Ngāi Tahutanga. It was developed by Kara Edwards (Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio member) and is funded by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu in conjunction with Ngāi Tahu Tourism business The Hollyford Track, which generously offers their luxury lodge, jet boat, staff and expertise to this kaupapa, and the hīkoi.

The programme includes a 21km walk (each way), outdoor bush skills, Te Reo Māori, waiata/haka, whanaungatanga and learning in a remote area of significant cultural value and absolute beauty.

This seven-day hīkoi includes one day travelling south (to the start of hīkoi, in Te Anau) and one day travelling home. The other five days are spent immersed in the beauty of Whakatipu Waitai/ The Hollyford Valley – a very important traditional pounamu trail linking Te Tai Poutini with Ōtākou and Murihiku.

Te Ara Whakatipu acknowledges the manawhenua of both Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio and Ōraka-Aparima Rūnanga.

Costs and Koha

There is no financial cost to whānau for this particular wānanga (other TAW hīkoi require a $100 contribution) as we are receiving full funding for the program via Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and the Department of Conservation. It is important to recognise that participation on the program is a rare opportunity and the investment the tribe is making significant.

While there is no requirement, we do ask you and your rakatahi to consider how you might like to give back in some way. This could be in the form of baking for the hīkoi, petrol vouchers to assist with travel or by other means.

Hīkoi transport

Hīkoi transport will be provided from Hokitika and potentially Ōtautahi (Christchurch) depending on numbers. The cost of getting your rakatahi to and from Hokitika or Christchurch will be up to each whānau. However, there is limited financial assistance available via the Rūnaka so please let us know if you require support.


We welcome applications from rangatahi who:

  • Are a registered member of Ngāi Tahu
  • 15-18 years of age
  • Fit and capable of safely hiking 21km (six hours+) with a pack
  • Have a passion for learning about their Ngāi Tahutanga
  • Interested in learning about, and giving back to, the natural environment
  • May also be thinking about a career with their Papatipu Rūnanga, a career with Ngāi Tahu, or be interested in tourism study/working for Ngāi Tahu tourism.

Start point and travel options

Rangatahi/whānau need to either organise their own transport to the hīkoi start point in Te Anau or travel with the group in a minivan which will be driving from Ōtautahi to Manapōuri return. Please state your preferred option on the application form.

Organising your own transport

Those organising their own transport to Te Anau – Kiwi Holiday Park will need to ensure they arrive at the destination between 5.30pm and 6pm on 28 April. Whānau are welcome to stay and join us for the mihi whakatau. If this is your preferred option, please indicate the number of whānau members in your ope so that our ringawera can prepare.

Travelling in the minivan

Those organising to travel in the minivan to Te Anau will need to be at the pickup point between 7.30am and 7.50am on Sunday 28 April at the latest. The pickup point is the Te Runanga o Ngāi Tahu office, 15 Show Place, Addington, Christchurch and or, The Makaawhio Ruannga office, 56 Brittain st, Hokitika at the same time.

Likewise, those in the minivan can be collected from the above address at approximately 7.30pm, Sunday 5 May.

If you would like to book a seat in the minivan, please indicate this on your application form.

How to apply

To apply, please complete our enrolment form and send to us or email it to [email protected] before Friday 22 March.

This enrolment form needs to be completed by the parent/caregiver AND rangatahi.

Please also note that, due to the remote location of this programme, we will do a 20 minute phone kōrero/interview/health check. You can use your application form to write your preferred day/time for this kōrero.

Fitness, Health & Safety

The programme management actively look to manage all health and safety aspects and will endeavor to implement correct management procedures to eliminate, isolate or minimise those hazards where possible. However, there will still be inherent risks on the programme, including:

  • Te Haerenga: A supervised 21km hike (42km hike return + daily smaller walks) through the exposed outdoor elements crossing forests, ledges, large hills, bridges, creeks, coastal landscapes, etc.
  • Mahi (service) & ringa wera ringa kaha (kitchen work)
  • Te reo me ōna tikanga (language and culture)
  • Respectfully listening to tribal leaders, ngā hau kāinga, kaimahi who support the hīkoi, manuhiri/guests, and other rangatahi
  • Various jet boat excursions with a commercial operator
  • Optional swimming on a remote coastline or river swimming (supervised, weather permitting)
  • Exploration of Ngāi Tahutanga and open discussions
  • Mahinga kai (food gathering).

A medium to high level of fitness, and the ability to walk with a pack for 21km, is strictly necessary and required as there are no alternative transport options.

The consent part of our application form outlines more detail around health and safety.


All rangatahi will be expected to conduct themselves in a respectful manner at all times. It is critically important that everyone listens and follows instructions. This is especially important when out on the track and or undertaking outdoor activities whereby adhering to expectations and rules are essential for the health and wellbeing of the hīkoi participants.

The following code of conduct, which ensures an enriching experience for all, applies to the course:

  • Being respectful to the natural environment
  • Taking care of one another and being respectful (to rangatahi, kaumātua, tribal leaders, ngā hau kāinga and manuhiri) at all times
  • Listening to, and following, instructions and participating in all activities as part of the rōpū (e.g. mahi/service, ringawera/kitchen work, hīkoi/on track safety, te reo me ōna tikanga/language and culture, horoia te whare/cleaning the house or kitchen etc.)
  • Communicating concerns, especially physical ailments/discomfort/limitations, to staff immediately, if they occur

Those not adhering to the above will be issued two opportunities to improve behaviour. In the unlikely event that misbehaviour continues and is having a detrimental effect on the individual and or the rōpū health and wellbeing, then unfortunately the rangatahi will need to return home at the expense of the family. This cost could be substantial and therefore we ask that you ensure that your son/daughter is well aware of the consequences of their behaviour.

If there is a need to make emergency contact with whānau, there is a satellite phone at Martins Bay lodge which can be used to call out. Alternatively, in the event of an emergency, whānau can call the Hollyford Track team via;
Katharine Franey
Customer Services Manager / Tumu

TEL: +64 3 442 3000
M +64 21 832 226

Te Ara Whakatipu is a cellphone, technology, smoking and alcohol-free kaupapa.


Te Ara Whakatipu – Application Form 2019

Te Ara Whakatipu is a wilderness-based programme which includes more than 42km of walking, in unpredictable weather. Proper gear and equipment is essential for this hīkoi.

Te Ara Whakatipu – Gear List

Please download the brief Te Ara Whakatipu – hikoi itinerary.

In an effort to keep rangatahi absorbed in each moment of the hīkoi, we only offer a brief itinerary.