Great Walks in New Zealand: Exploring the Spectacular Trails of Nature's Playground

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Great Walks in New Zealand

Introduction to the Great Walks in New Zealand

New Zealand’s Great Walks are ready to be explored! From forests and valleys to snowy peaks, you will create unforgettable memories. Take a journey back in time with the Routeburn Track, or go wild on Milford Track or Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Each offers unique charms and challenges.

Be ready! Weather and terrain can vary drastically depending on the season. Research and pack accordingly. Some tracks may require permits or bookings months in advance to protect the environment.

Pro Tip: Get the most out of your experience by hiring a professional guide or joining a tour group. They provide valuable insights into the landscape, culture, and history. Get your hiking boots ready for an epic adventure. Nine Great Walks in New Zealand await!

The Nine Great Walks in New Zealand

To learn about the nine adventurous walks in New Zealand, dive into this section with the title, “The Nine Great Walks in New Zealand,” and discover popular tracks that you can go on. These tracks are the Milford Track, the Kepler Track, the Routeburn Track, the Heaphy Track, the Abel Tasman Coast Track, the Tongariro Northern Circuit, the Whanganui Journey, the Rakiura Track, and the Paparoa Track.

The Milford Track

The Milford Track: a four-day hike from Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound. A physical feat, requiring fitness and hut bookings.

“The finest walk in the world,” it’s an unbeatable journey to New Zealand’s wilderness.

Towering peaks, vast valleys, delicate alpine flowers – all intermingled with tranquility. One hiker found themselves small in its grandeur. A must-do for nature lovers.

The Kepler Track: where your hardest battle is the uphill climb – and your hiking partner’s puns!

The Kepler Track

The Kepler Track is a 60 km circular route in the Fiordland National Park. It takes around four days to complete. It has huts and optional side trips. It starts and ends at Lake Te Anau. Then it moves up to Luxmore Hut which is named after Bill Luxmore. After that, it passes the limestone bluffs of Hanging Valley and Iris Burn Hut. The final part is a walk alongside the Waiau River.

The Kepler Track is accessible all year round, making it great for winter hiking. Remember to check the weather first and bring appropriate gear. Alternatively, check out the Routeburn Track for breathtaking views and fresh air.

The Routeburn Track

This outstanding track is one of New Zealand’s finest. Nestled in the Southern Alps, the Routeburn winds its way through lush beech forests and crystal-clear streams. Alpine meadows and snow-capped peaks, plus numerous waterfalls, make for a pristine experience.

Journey over 32 kilometers from Queenstown to Milford Road. The hike offers two Fiordland National Park valleys – Routeburn and Hollyford. What sets this hike apart is that it combines Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks.

Routeburn Track features many unique aspects. Spot rock wren, yellow-crowned parakeet, cheeky kea birds, hanging gardens and cascading waterfalls. At the end, there’s a serene lake surrounded by epic mountains.

Pro Tip: For experienced hikers, walking the trail west to east is the way to go. It’s steep at first, but you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views. Heading to the Heaphy? Don’t forget your extra socks – it’s sure to be wild!

The Heaphy Track

The Heaphy Track meanders through the Kahurangi National Park. It is renowned as one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, boasting beautiful scenery, rare flora, and unique fauna.

Hikers can enjoy stunning views of the Tasman Sea and walk among ancient podocarp forests. A highlight of this track is crossing the Gouland Downs, an expanse of tussock grasslands. This is home to kiwi birds and other endemic species.

It is advisable to carry insect repellent to ward off sandflies. Start the hike early in the morning and watch out for rainfalls.

The Heaphy Track is an unforgettable experience for any outdoor enthusiast or nature lover. Marvel at the one-of-a-kind scenic beauty that contrasts markedly with other tracks amongst New Zealand’s Great Walks collection. Hike the Abel Tasman Coast Track for golden sands and only human snakes!

The Abel Tasman Coast Track

Discover a scenic coastal hike on the southern island of New Zealand! Spanning over 60 kilometers, the Abel Tasman Coastal Trail offers golden sands, turquoise waters and lush greenery. Experience idyllic landscapes via inviting pathways, tunnels and swing bridges.

Spot marine life like fur seals and dolphins as you stroll through natural reserves with flora and fauna. Take a short water taxi ride or rent a kayak for an even more immersive experience. Relish gourmet treats available from local vendors.

Enjoy nature’s serenity and escape from city life. Take the trek to Mordor – minus the Orcs – with the Tongariro Northern Circuit!

The Tongariro Northern Circuit

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a demanding trek. It passes through volcanoes of New Zealand, stretching 43 km. It can take up to four days to complete.

The trail starts at Mangatepopo and ends at Ketetahi Thermal Springs. There’s plenty to witness: alpine meadows, glacial valleys and lava fields. Plus, you can see Mount Ngauruhoe, Emerald Lakes and Blue Lake.

Furthermore, the trail has significant Maori culture. Ketetahi Hot Springs is held in high spiritual regard.

Be prepared with quality gear. Weather is unpredictable. It’s safer to hire a guide. Pre-booking huts is mandatory, as the government regulates it.

Take a unique adventure down the Whanganui River. You’ll feel like an explorer, even if you still have phone service.

The Whanganui Journey

This amazing adventure takes you down the Whanganui River, giving you an exclusive view of New Zealand’s landscape. It’s an important part of Maori history and identity. Those wanting to explore the river should get ready for a treat. The 145 km (90-mile) journey starts at Taumarunui and lasts around five days. You’ll paddle through spectacular gorges, lush rainforests, and historic settlements.

You’ll see gorgeous views of New Zealand that can only be seen from the water. Like the Mangapurua Landing boat dock. There you can hike to the ruins known as ‘the bridge to nowhere‘. This area was once a vital transportation route for indigenous Māori communities and early European settlers. Now it’s popular with tourists wanting to learn Māori culture.

The history of the people who lived here is both captivating and sad. They fought wars over resources such as fish and eels they needed for survival. Take a dive into the wilds of Rakiura Track. It’s the best way to find yourself.

The Rakiura Track

The Rakiura Track on Stewart Island, off New Zealand’s southern coast, is a bucket list adventure. It’s a challenging yet rewarding 8-11 day 125 km trek of rugged coastline, lush rainforest and pristine beaches.

Kiwis and penguins are among the unique wildlife you’ll encounter. Plus, you’ll catch stunning sunsets over the ocean from secluded campsites.

The terrain varies, with steep climbs and muddy conditions. So, wear sturdy shoes! There are no facilities on the trail to cater to modern-day amenities. Bring enough food supplies and water filtration methods.

To make the most of your experience, add an extra day or two for downtime. Book accommodation in case of unexpected weather changes that may affect camping plans.

The Paparoa Track

Head off on an adventure like no other – explore the untamed terrain of the rugged wilderness of New Zealand. Discover the 55km treasure known as the Great Paparoa Trail!

You’ll find lush rainforests, towering cliffs and unique landscapes. Travel either on foot or mountain bike, and stay in cozy huts along the way.

Witness the stunning views of Punakaiki’s Pancake Rocks, traverse the ancient subtropical landscape of Nikau Flats and explore the limestone arches of Fox River Caves. It’s not just a path, but an unforgettable experience!

Don’t miss out on this escape from the everyday. Start planning today and get ready to make memories that’ll last a lifetime. Avoid the crowds and try hiking one of these trails that aren’t quite great enough to make the top nine list.

Other Popular Hiking Trails in New Zealand

To explore more great walks in New Zealand, read on for other popular trails you can hike on. The Queen Charlotte Track, The Hollyford Track, The Lake Waikaremoana Track, and The Te Araroa Trail are some of the top trails in New Zealand. Each trail offers a unique view of the country’s scenery and has different challenges associated with it, making each one a great option for your next hiking adventure.

The Queen Charlotte Track

The Queen Charlotte Track is a renowned 71-kilometer journey through the Marlborough Sounds. You’ll be surrounded by exotic wildlife, stunning coastlines, and bays ideal for swimming! Plus, there’s a detour to Ship Cove, where Captain James Cook made a stop in 1770.

The trail is well-kept and suitable for adventurers of all levels. It’s an amazing spot for multi-day hikes, day hikes, or running. There are even boat services that offer luggage transfers and water taxis.

Fun fact: the Māori people, who lived here before colonization, called this path “Te Ara o Wairua” meaning “The Pathway of Spirits.” This adds a sacred significance to the breathtaking trail. If you’re looking for a magical experience, Queen Charlotte Track is the way to go!

The Hollyford Track

The Hollyford Track weaves through South Island’s Fiordland National Park. This verdant, seventeen-mile-long route takes you past blue pools and cascading waterfalls, culminating at Chesamp Bay.

Traverse the ancient native rainforest, crossing six swing bridges, suspended some forty feet above the emerald waters of the Hollyford river. Explore grassy flats, alpine tussocks and snow-capped peaks, crowning the ridges on either side of Milford Sound.

Spot legendary pythons and giant tuataras, and don’t forget Naumann’s campsite – where a stunning panorama awaits! Pack insect repellant and rain gear for your outing on The Hollyford Track.

For a unique experience, try the Lake Waikaremoana Track – the only trail where the trees have eyes (kind of)!

The Lake Waikaremoana Track

The adventurous trail around Lake Waikaremoana is a top pick for nature-lovers! It provides a totally immersive experience of the lake’s beauty, lush forests and the wildlife of New Zealand.

The track is 46 km long and can take up to four days to complete. Along the way you’ll find steep climbs, descents, rocky paths and river crossings. Camp in designated areas or stay in huts with basic amenities.

As you hike, you can take in views of native trees like rimu, totara and kahikatea. Plus, you’ll see kiwis, kaka parrots and tui!

Day three’s hike to Panekiri Hut is tough, with its steep uphill terrain. Hikers have shared stories of the struggle – and the pride they felt when they made it to the summit and saw the beautiful views!

Hiking on the Lake Waikaremoana Track can be demanding. But it’s worth it, with its unparalleled beauty and a sense of achievement!

The Te Araroa Trail

The Te Araroa Trail is a 3,000km long, scenic journey through New Zealand. It offers a unique experience for all hikers. Through diverse landscapes, from ocean to forests, hikers can witness wildlife and explore culturally significant places. It’s not only a physical challenge, but also a mental one – as it takes months to complete.

You’ll come across historical landmarks, like Maori Marae, the abandoned mining town Ohai Railway Board and more. The terrain is varied – from forests like the Tararua Forest Park with native tree species like beech sub-alpines, to alpine regions like Mount Aspiring/Mt Cook National Parks with stunning glacial valleys.

In North Island, the Tongariro Crossings area will take your breath away with its volcanic craters, domes, lakes and geothermal activity like steam vents and hot springs.

The Te Araroa Trail is an adventure that no hiking enthusiast should miss out on. Streams, epic mountains ranges, historic cultural sites and deep forests – you’ll never tire of the views! Just remember – if you encounter a flock of sheep, baaack away slowly.

Tips for Hiking in New Zealand

To hike in New Zealand with confidence, equip yourself with the knowledge of tips and tricks for a successful journey. This section “Tips for Hiking in New Zealand” with sub-sections covering crucial aspects such as “Weather”, “Permits and Reservations”, “Equipment and Supplies”, and “Safety Precautions” will help you prepare for a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.


Hiking in New Zealand? Prepare for unpredictable weather. Its location means it can experience all sorts of climates. Summers are usually warm and dry. Winters bring cold temperatures, heavy rain and even snow.

Check the forecast before you go. Sudden changes can happen fast! Rain or wind could turn a peaceful hike into an adventure.

To stay safe and comfortable, wear breathable, waterproof layers. Sun protection’s essential in summer, when New Zealand’s UV index is high.

Pro Tip: Have a detailed plan and tell someone where you’re going. Don’t forget to book permits and reservations – unless you like sleeping with the birds!

Permits and Reservations

Before your hiking trip to New Zealand, you need the right documentation and planning. Get necessary permits and book campsites and huts on the trails.

Here’s a table about permits and reservations for some popular hiking spots in New Zealand:

Milford TrackYesYes
Routeburn TrackYesYes
Kepler TrackYesYes
Tongariro Alpine CrossingNo (But recommended)No (But book transport)

Even if a permit isn’t mandatory, it’s wise to make a reservation due to limited space. For multi-day hikes or backcountry camping, extra permits may be needed.

To make your trip great, arrive early at trailheads and campsites. Pack lightly – some trails have weight limits. Follow Leave No Trace principles to protect the environment. Don’t forget to pack enough supplies – emergency rations include Vegemite and regrets!

Equipment and Supplies

If you’re going to experience one the the great walks in New Zealand, make sure you have the right Equipment and Supplies. Here’s what you need:

  • Comfy hiking boots with good support and grip.
  • A backpack with enough space for water, snacks, sunblock, maps, and a first-aid kit.
  • Layers of clothing for different weather conditions.
  • Insect repellent to keep bugs away.
  • Trekking poles for steep climbs and tricky terrain.

Remember, a heavy backpack can cause fatigue and injury. Check the weather before you go.

Here’s a fun fact: New Zealand has DOC campsites with basic facilities like toilets and cooking shelters. Lastly, don’t forget your hiking buddy! They make great bear bait.

Safety Precautions

When hiking in New Zealand, safety should be your priority. Pay attention to details that you may ignore when walking around your neighbourhood. Here are some Safety Precautions:

  • Plan ahead: Check the trail and weather conditions.
  • Let people know: Inform friends or family of your itinerary, check-in times and locations.
  • Be prepared: Carry essentials like a first aid kit, map, compass and proper footwear.
  • Watch the weather: Keep an eye on changing forecasts during your trip.
  • Bring food and water.

When crossing rivers or streams, be aware of water depth and adjust your backpack for balance. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from park rangers or locals who know the area. Have fun but stay vigilant.

Remember bug spray! Biting insects can also be dangerous. Hypothermia is common in people hiking New Zealand’s Southern Alps. Many fatalities have been attributed to hikers who didn’t plan for colder temperatures and appropriate gear.

Pack enough snacks so you don’t starve if you get lost!


Exploring the great walks in New Zealand reveals some of the most stunning and enriching hiking experiences. From Milford Track to Abel Tasman Coast Track, visitors can witness a variety of landscapes and wildlife. These hikes are not only demanding, but also provide an immersive experience to rejuvenate body and mind.

Moreover, each walk has its own cultural and historical significance. Tongariro Alpine Crossing offers remarkable Maori culture, while Kepler Track leads through abandoned mines and historic sawmills. This offers an opportunity to learn about New Zealand’s rich heritage.

For a more personal experience, guided walks are available. These tours come with knowledgeable guides who can inform visitors about the landscapes, history, flora and fauna of each track. They also provide necessary equipment for safety.

To make the most of these hikes, it is important to be prepared. Check weather conditions, pack suitable gear and supplies such as hiking shoes and water bottles. Also, respect local guidelines regarding waste disposal and environment disturbance.

All in all, New Zealand is a haven for hikers, offering stunning scenery and opportunities for personal growth and cultural exploration. Experiencing these scenic routes first-hand reveals why they are considered some of the best walks in the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the best Great Walks in New Zealand?

The best Great Walks in New Zealand are Milford Track, Kepler Track, Routeburn Track, Heaphy Track, Abel Tasman Coast Track and Tongariro Northern Circuit.

2. Can I do a Great Walk alone?

Yes, you can do a Great Walk alone. However, it is recommended that you have previous hiking experience and are well prepared for the terrain and weather conditions.

3. When is the best time to do a Great Walk in New Zealand?

The best time to do a Great Walk in New Zealand is during the summer months from November to April. However, some walks can be done year-round, but weather conditions can vary.

4. Do I need to book accommodation on the Great Walks?

Yes, it is recommended to book accommodation on the Great Walks, especially during peak season. Some walks even require advanced booking.

5. What should I bring on one of the many Great Walks in New Zealand?

You should bring appropriate clothing, sturdy hiking boots, a backpack with snacks and plenty of water, a first aid kit, and a map or GPS device.

6. Are there guided tours available for the Great Walks in New Zealand?

Yes, there are guided tours available for the Great Walks in New Zealand. These tours provide experienced guides, transportation, and accommodation, but are generally more expensive than self-guided tours.

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