Whether you are a beginner or an avid hiker for a long time, one of the perks of going hiking that you probably know about has to do with the destination and the trail.
Some physical activities require you to be confined inside the gym. But with hiking, you get to see a lot of beautiful views. It helps you to disconnect to the hustle and bustle, as well as have a moment for yourself while getting an exercise.
There plenty of countries that have beautiful hiking trails to behold. Speaking of beautiful hiking trails, one of the best countries to go hiking is in New Zealand.
Trivia: They call hiking as “tramping.”
Not only is New Zealand beautiful but they also welcome a lot of hikers so you will not feel out of place if you go hiking in this country.
New Zealand is Known Because of its Outdoor Activities
Aside from being known for being the set of the Lord of the Rings movie franchise, another thing that New Zealand is known for is the outdoor activities that you could do in the country.
Aside from tramping, there are also plenty of physical activities ‒ like biking and skiing ‒ that you can do in the country.
New Zealand has a lot of hiking and biking trails that you can use. These trails are a lot safer than cycling down the highway so you should definitely research the biking trails in the country depending on how extreme you would want to do.
There are also a lot of water sports that you can do in this country, like kayaking and white water rafting. If you like diving, then New Zealand also has a lot of diving spots for you.
However, if you really want to experience New Zealand to the fullest, then you should definitely invest in some hiking and camping gear and go tramping.
The Best Time for Hiking in New Zealand
If you plan on visiting New Zealand, there is no season that you should avoid. New Zealand is beautiful no matter what season it is. However, you should prepare yourself for the season that you think you will be arriving in and pack your hiking gear like hiking boots and walking sticks.
Usually, the start of the hiking season in New Zealand is around spring which is during the months of September, October, and November.
Spring in New Zealand is when you really see the beauty of nature all around you because the flowers are blooming, the waters are flowing, and the creatures are crawling out from their winter slumber. Sometimes if you are lucky you can even experience the spring season during December.
This is the best time to go hiking because the temperatures are not too hot and not too cold, either. September is when the spring season is coldest, and then it gets warmer as the months pass by. So make sure you dress appropriately.
Going hiking in the summer, which usually starts between December and January, is also a good idea. However, you have to make sure that you are properly hydrated and that you have the right protection against the sun.
By the way, are you interested in hiking or camping in Australia? Read our post on Australia Adventures.
You Can Tramp in New Zealand’s Great Walks
When talking about going hiking in New Zealand, your best bet should be on the country’s premier walking tracks that are specially maintained by the government.
These premier walking tracks are called New Zealand’s Great Walk and they pass through a lot of beautiful sceneries and really highlight the best of New Zealand.
The great thing about these Great Walks is that they are maintained well, which means that it is easy to follow. Easy-to-follow hiking trails are very important especially if you are not used to the area and you want to be comforted by the fact that you are less likely to get lost.
1. Lake Waikaremoana, North Island
One of New Zealand’s Great Walks is a place called Lake Waikaremoana. It is located on the North Island around the east coast. In particular, it can be found in the Te Urewera area.
This particular great walk or hike in trail takes about 3 to 4 days of hiking and is about 46 km long. This particular great walk passes through Lake Waikaremoana, also known as the “sea of rippling waters.” It follows the shores of the great lake, leading to the pristine rainforest and shrublands.
That said, you can pack your swimming gear because the lake is popular for angling, boating, and swimming. There are a lot of isolated beaches that you will pass along the trail, and you will even see Korokoro Falls.
Aside from that, the Lake Waikaremoana is known for the rainforest, wetlands, and a magical “goblin forest” that surrounds it. In fact, this track has the largest area of native forest in the North Island. Not to mention that it is known as the ancestral home of the Maori tribe called Ngao Tuhoe (“Children of the Mist”).
Do remember to enjoy the setting of the sun over the lake or the ocean, especially if you are on Panekire Bluff.
2. Tongariro Northern Circuit, North Island
Much like Lake Waikaremoana, this next Great Walk that you should visit is also located on the North Island.
The Tongariro Northern Circuit is 43.1 km long and can take you three to four hiking days to complete. The great thing about this hiking trail is that it takes you to a world heritage site which is the Tongariro National Park.
There are a lot of active volcanoes that you can see around the hiking trail. For example, there is Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe around this trail.
If you do not want to spend three to four days hiking then this particular great walk has one of New Zealand’s best day walk experiences which should definitely try if you do not have the time.
3. Whanganui Journey, North Island
If you want to do something a little different from hiking then you should definitely go on the Whanganui Journey. This particular Great Walk is still located on the north island of New Zealand.
What makes this trail unique is that you will be going through a lot of bodies of water particularly the Whanganui river.
If you want to take this journey you have two options: You can paddle from Taumarunui to Pipiriki which will take about 5 days and is actually a 145 km paddle. If you do not have 5 days to spare then you can take the three-day journey which is from Whakahoro to Pipiriki.
4. Abel Tasman Coast Track, South Island
If you do not want too much of a challenge when it comes to a hiking trail then you should definitely try out the Abel Tasman coast track. It is located on the south island of New Zealand.
This hiking trail or Great Walk is known for being easier than other Great Walks which is great for people who do not want too much of a challenge but still want to go hiking.
This hiking trail can take you three to five days to finish and is around 60 km in length. If you do not want to do the whole journey on foot you can take a water taxi or even go kayaking so that you get to see the coast in its fullest glory.
5. Heaphy Track, South Island
Another hiking trail located on South Island is called the Heaphy Track. Also known as an ancient Maori trail, his particular hiking trail will take you around four to six days to complete and is around 78.4 km in length.
In this hiking trail, you’ll cross over tussock down to lush forests, leading to the roaring seas of the West Coast. You will also be able to see the Heaphy River right where it connects to the ocean which is a very beautiful and curious sight to behold.
That’s why it is said that the Heaphy Tracks delivers the strongest contrast of all the Great Walks, from the luxuriant rainforest, sub-alpine tussock grasslands, to rugged mountains, you’ll get to see all of it when you take this trail.
Aside from hiking on foot, if you are an experienced or an advanced cyclist, then do know that this particular hiking trail is open for cyclists at a particular time in the year. If you are an experienced mountain biker then definitely give it a try.
However, do note that this is for advanced cyclists only. So, for your safety, if you do not think you can handle it then you do not have to.
6. Routeburn Track, South Island
If you want to surround yourself in an alpine environment then definitely give Routeburn track a try.
Instead of golden sands or green lush forest, what you will experience in the Routeburn track are snowy valleys and beautiful blue lakes. Located on the south island of New Zealand, this particular track will take you two to four days to accomplish, and it is around 32 km in length.
Regardless, there are some people who even finish the entire hiking trail in less than a day.
It is best that you go hiking here between October to April. Otherwise, you might have to deal with weather conditions that are challenging to say the least.
7. Kepler Track, South Island
Still in the south island area, there is another Great Walk called the Kepler track, which leads to the Fiordland National Park.
It will probably take you three or four days to finish the hiking trail but it is relatively short compared to others on this list because it is only 37.3 km in length.
There is a particular lakeside footpath that you will definitely appreciate as the blue contrast the greens of the lush forests around you.
8. Milford Track, South Island
Milford track located on the South Island is another Great Walk that has a lot of waterfalls for you to see.
This hiking trail will take you 4 days to finish and is about 53.5 km in length. The biggest waterfall you would probably see in this Great Work is the Sutherland Falls and this particular waterfall is 580 meters in height.
They say that this particular hiking trail is the finest walk in the world, so you know that this is something that you should definitely go to.
9. Rakiura Track, Stewart Island
Located on Stewart island is another Great Walk called the Rakiura track. It is the southernmost Great Walk from all of them.
This particular hiking track actually makes up 80% of the entire island. So if you want to see Stewart island to the fullest then definitely go on this particular hiking trail. You can finish this hiking trail in about 3 days of hiking and it is around 32 km long.
10. Paparoa Track and Pike29 Memorial Track, South Island
The Paparoa track or the Pike29 Memorial track is made in commemoration of a tragic accident in the Pike River Mine. You can finish this hiking trail on the south island within two or three days of hiking and it is about 55 km in length.
This particular great walk is also available for mountain bikers, which will take them about two days to finish or one day if they are quick.
Are You Allowed to Camp in the Great Walks of NZ?
If you plan on hiking in one of the Great Walks of New Zealand do note that you are not allowed to go freedom camping in the area.
This is heavily monitored and it is best that you book your accommodations in advance with the Department of Conservation.
In terms of lodging, the accommodations for the Great Walks of New Zealand are usually the huts maintained by the Department of Conservation themselves. Depending on your particular hiking trail, the price for accommodation tends to vary. So you should definitely check first.
Plus, the prices will also change depending on whether or not a particular trail’s peak and off-peak season.
Special Tips: If you are planning to camp, don’t forget to take essential items like; campfire grill grates, tent, knives, oil lantern, etc. in your smell proof backpack.
The reason why a lot of people consider New Zealand as a paradise for hikers is mainly because of the Great Walks maintained by the Department of Conservation.
This is a source of pride for New Zealand so you should make sure that you treat their hiking trails right since they are monitored very well.