Whether you call it hiking, tramping, or trekking in your corner of the world, it is frequently named as one of the top reasons for visiting New Zealand. Aotearoa New Zealand offers an abundance of tracks available to choose from, varying in length, terrain, difficulty, scenery, climate, accommodation options, level of luxury.
Here are the Top 10 New Zeland Hikes from our partner Southern World:
1 – Kepler Track
Luxmore Heli Hike Experience a guided heli-hike on the Kepler Track. Begin with a spectacular flight by helicopter from Te Anau Township, over the hidden lakes to arrive at Luxmore Hut. The walk begins in the alpine area then descends through magnificent beech forest. The effects of different altitude and weather conditions experienced in Fiordland are clear to see, as the trees and undergrowth quickly changes, creating a varied backdrop for your hike. We conclude the hike at the sandy beach of Brod Bay, the pick-up point for the water taxi back to Te Anau township.
2 – Routeburn Track – Key Summit Track
Enjoy a guided walk to Key Summit on the renowned Routeburn Track Great Walk. This spectacular trail ascends through lush, temperate rainforest and onto a unique alpine herb field. On the summit, hikers experience panoramic views of mountains, alpine lakes, and deep, glacial carved bush clad valleys. Walking in a small group, you’ll love learning about this stunning natural environment from your friendly Trips & Tramps guide.
3 – Milford Track – Giant Gates Waterfall, combined with Milford Sound Cruise
Soak up the grandeur of a guided walk to Giant’s Gate Falls on the world-famous Milford Track. Departing from Milford Sound, we begin with a short boat ride to Sandfly Point. The walk meanders alongside the cascading Arthur River through lush rainforest to Giant’s Gate Falls. This spectacular waterfall is best viewed from the large swing bridge spanning the river. There is much to see, from the ancient trees towering above, to the vibrant ferns and mosses, plus the array of birdlife inhabiting this lush environment.
On conclusion of the guided walk, complete the Milford Sound experience with an afternoon scenic small boat cruise 2 hours in length. With indoor and outdoor spaces, you can be sure you’ll get some great viewing opportunities including the geological drama of sheer cliffs, massive waterfalls, glaciers and rainforest.
4 – Hollyford Track – Fiordland National Park; best accessed from Te Anau
The Hollyford Track package is a premium product and it offers it all – and more! You realise that this is a truly magical place the moment you turn off from the main Milford Road and head down into the Hollyford Valley. This three-day hike on the remote Hollyford Track in Fiordland National Park is rich in Maori, pioneering, and geological history and of sheer natural beauty. And there’s basically nobody else there, apart from the odd ranger perhaps… The more challenging bits are cut out and replaced by scenic jetboat rides and most of your luggage gets transported for you.
There’s nothing better than reaching your exclusive lodges for a hot shower, drink from the bar and three-course dinner (delicious food, too!) cooked by your hosts after a long day hiking. And can you think of a better way to end this trip than being picked up by helicopter and flown into Milford Sound where you reconnect with the world? The perfect trip for the active and adventurous who enjoy a touch (or two, or three…) of luxury!
5 – Humpridge Track – Fiordland National Park & private land; best accessed from Tuatapere (on southern coast)
This hidden gem at the very bottom of the South Island has been confirmed to become New Zealand’s 11th Great Walk in a couple of years’ time. It has, therefore, gained some attention recently. Due to its remote location and limited accommodation, you’ll meet very few, if any, others.
Currently, this is a 62km, three-day loop track taking you through diverse, stunning scenery, from sea level to sub-alpine scenery. It’s a challenging track with long days including steep climbs and descents. The terrain is challenging at times but the views, once you get above the tree line, are to die for and there is plenty of history to be discovered along the way, too.
The verdict after completing this hike is that it is a great choice for fit and very avid hikers. To upgrade this to a Great Walk, a third lodge is currently being built and the Humpridge Track will essentially become a four-day hike with shorter days. Watch this space!
6 – Siberia Experience – Aspiring National Park; best accessed from Wanaka or Makarora
A true wilderness adventure, best accessed from Wanaka. The actual hiking part here is fairly easy and this day out is all about the overall experience – a mix of flying, hiking and jetboating. The adventure begins with a scenic alpine flight (fixed wing plane or helicopter) to the remote Siberia Valley where you lace up your boots and set off on your hike across tussock flats and native rainforest surrounded by incredible mountain vistas.
This is an unguided experience and the feeling of solitude when your pilot takes off is a weirdly pleasant one – encounters with other hikers are unlikely due to the remoteness. At the end of the hike, a jetboat driver turns up “out of nowhere” to take you on a scenic journey back to the start point of the trip.
7 – Abel Tasman Coastal Track – Abel Tasman National Park; best accessed from Nelson or Kaiteriteri
It’s that amazing combination of colours that makes this track so stunning – the golden sand beaches, the turquoise waters and the lush coastal native bush. The weather is usually mild too, in this region, which is an added bonus. This track remains open year-round and is a great option for winter visitors wanting to add a hike to their itinerary when the southern tracks remain closed.
60km in total length, this Great Walk covers the length of the Abel Tasman National Park. There are various access points (mostly by boat) to choose from and thanks to very slick operations, day hikes can be catered to everyone’s individual preference in terms of length and difficulty.
For multi-day options, Wilson’s Abel Tasman offer a full service package that covers almost the full length of the track with accommodation at their private beachfront lodges, offering the comforts of private rooms with ensuite bathrooms and all meals (home cooked!). This can be done as a three or five-day trek, guided or unguided, and even as a combination of hiking and kayaking.
8 – Queen Charlotte Track – Public and private land; best accessed from Picton
This track in the Marlborough Sounds, at the northeastern tip of the South Island, combines gorgeous coastal views and native bush – all on well-formed tracks. It’s not located in a National Park (scenery not less stunning!) which means there is more choice for accommodation (ranging from basic options to premium and luxury lodges). Best accessed by water, there are a number of operators offering seamless passenger and luggage boat transfers. To cover its full distance, you require 3-5 days but with such good access, most sections of the track can be used for day walks.
The track is not only regarded as a classic New Zealand walk but also as one of the country’s best single track mountain bike rides (some sections are closed to bikers in peak summer months). There are options to complete the length Queen Charlotte Track a multi-activity option including hiking, biking, and even kayaking.
Another great option for added comfort is to be based at one lodge for a few nights and being transferred to different sections of the track by water taxi each day.
9 – Tongariro Crossing – Tongariro National Park; best accessed from National Park Village or Whakapapa Village
Without a doubt the most popular day walk in the North Island! The Tongariro Crossing covers a section of the multi-day Tongariro Northern Circuit, one of New Zealand’s current ten Great Walks. Located on the Central Plateau, in the heart of the North Island, this is a hike across a volcanic alpine landscape of dramatic contrasts including steaming vents, glacial valleys, old lava flows, alpine vegetation and vivid crater lakes. This 19,4km hike is a long and challenging day out but, on a nice day, the views are absolutely worth the challenge. The Tongariro Crossing has grown incredibly popular over the years and is usually very busy making it a bit of a highway of hikers on some days. For a less frequented experience, visit in shoulder season or even in winter (guided only; ice axe, crampons etc. required) or read on for a great alternative.
10 – Pouakai Crossing – Egmont National Park; best accessed from New Plymouth
With the Tongariro Crossing having become incredibly popular and rather busy, the lesser known Pouakai Crossing in Egmont National Park has gained some momentum. Less busy but not less stunning, this hike leads along the lower slopes of the wonderfully symmetric volcano that is Mount Taranaki. A moss swamp, towering cliffs, and a mighty waterfall distract from the challenge and make this a very diverse day walk. Very similar in length, duration, difficulty, and terrain, the hike is best accessed from New Plymouth and can be completed independently or with a guide. It is a long but rewarding day out!
For more information, please speak with your Vision Travel Advisor Today!