Where To Hike in New Zealand
There is virtually nowhere in New Zealand where you are not within reach of a good day or multi-day hike. Even the major cities all have excellent walks or challenging hikes nearby. And as you get closer to the wilderness areas of the country the options multiply and lengthen.
There are several levels of hiking available New Zealand and these are not just related to degree of difficulty, but also to accessibility due to their location, the quality of huts along the way (for overnight hikes), and the style of hiking you want to do. Options range from a simple 20 minute walk along an easy track off the highway, to long, challenging multi-day hikes (guided or unguided) that will take you through some of New Zealand's most stunning landscapes and terrains.
These hiking trails follow old pack routes, river valleys, alpine passes, trails used by early Maori, or exploratory routes. Others pass volcanoes, lakes, native forests, high plateaux or mountains. Some can be combined with a cruise or kayaking trip, and others are round-trip trails. There are almost as many options as there are trails.
And FYI - in New Zealand hiking is known as tramping. So if you read about, or hear people talking about, tramping tracks, these are hiking trails - quite simple.
We'll help you find something to suit wherever in New Zealand you are planning to travel. Below is a summary of the main hiking options in New Zealand. Take your pick of the style of hike you want to do and we will find a suitable experience for you. No matter where you are planning to travel in New Zealand there will be options available - email us for more info.
Great Walks of New Zealand
Many of the most popular hikes in the country are part of what is called the Great Walks selection. These spectacular trails have come about from their proven popularity as excellent walks/hikes that can be done in between 2 and 6 days, and include some of New Zealand's finest hikes. These are the 'top 9' in the country and include the Milford, Heaphy, Kepler, Routeburn, Rakiura and Abel Tasman National Park walks in the South Island and the Tongariro Northern Circuit, Waikaremoana Circuit and Whanganui River tracks in the North Island. The Great Walks all need to be pre-booked as hut beds and camp sites are limited. And you will need transfers to/from one or both ends of the trail.
Other Hiking Trails
There are countless other hiking tracks around New Zealand that allow you to experience the country's wilderness, and which are not Great Walks, but are still great walks anyway. These are available from the top of the North Island to Stewart Island in the south. They vary from 30 minute tracks straight off the highway, taking you to beautiful waterfalls or amazing view points, through to multi-day hikes along tracks that are possibly just poled routes (previous experience is required for these). These more advanced hikes traverse mountain passes, high plateaux, rough river beds and alpine valleys. There are easy walks, less than an hour, with wheelchair and stroller access; more advanced trails that require varying degrees of fitness and may have steep, muddy or challenging sections; and advanced/expert trails that require previous experience and developed skills in river crossings, navigation and route planning. You will also need to carry enough food and gear to last a number of days on these longer hikes.
Most popular walks are also available as guided hikes. So you can have a personal guide with you or your group who will take care of all the details, ensure you have the right gear, a good place to sleep or rest, delicious healthy food, and will also literally keep you 'on track' so you don't get lost. These guided trips vary from simple wilderness treks to a select few luxury trips that use dedicated overnight lodges and offer extras like helicopter access, bubbling spa pools and chef-prepared meals.
Some of the wilderness lodges also have guided hikes available for one or several days, and these can be booked ahead of time with your accommodation, or arranged closer to your arrival. Ask us for more details on these lodge trips.
Te Araroa Trail
The Te Araroa Trail is a collection of hiking tracks that run from one end of New Zealand to the other, in a 3,000 kilometre (1,864 mile) epic journey. Obviously this isn't something that can be done in a few weeks (3 - 6 months is recommended), but portions of it can be. And you can hike selected parts of it over multiple visits. The Te Araroa Trail is a collection of existing tracks and trails, joined by additional new sections of track, with a few parts using existing roadsides and water travel as joining sections. There are 300 sections in total, ranging from a few hours to 9 days in length; much of the Trail passes through conservation land (wilderness), and longer portions require experience in back-country traverse, river-crossings and navigation skills. More isolated sections require you to pack large amounts of food and equipment.