New Zealand is known for some of the world’s most varied and gorgeous landscapes, and it’s a hikers’ paradise (also known as trampers down here). But with so many cities, parks and coastlines to see, it’s hard to pick which routes to take. If you’re heading down there, make sure some of New Zealand’s best hiking spots make your list.
Sources: OutsideOnline.com, SMH.com.AU, NewZealand.com/Travel, Adventure.NationalGeographic.com, Doc.Govt.NZ
The world-renowned Milford Track is one of the most gorgeous hikes in the world, so it’s no wonder that it draws thousands of tramping enthusiasts every year. The 33-mile path winds from Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound through mountain ranges, green valleys, and breathtaking fjords. It’s a three-day endeavor, and accommodation is available in lodges and huts along the track, as camping is not allowed.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a fantastic one-day, seven-mile option for those looking to cruise by Mount Doom and summit to the Red Crater and see the Emerald Lakes. The Northern Circuit is a three-to-four-day trek with additional active volcanoes and stunning geothermal areas.
If you’re one for the water, head for the Abel Tasman Coast Track’s 30 miles of trails that wind along golden beaches, towering cliffs, and lush bush. Bonus points for fur seals all along the water, as well as for a fairly flat walk for those who aren’t huge fans of uphills. Depending on your speed, the walk will take between two and five days, and you’re able to camp or stay in huts along the trail.
Down in the Fiordland National Park on the South Island, the Kepler Track climbs frosted peaks and stunning valleys. Kepler’s not for the faint of heart — it includes 93 switchbacks, but is entirely worth it when you’re gifted with the gorgeous Fiordland spread out before you.
Carved out from glaciers, the Hollyford Track winds through an incredible valley that combines lush rainforests and crystal-blue glacial waters. Hikers need to travel in small groups and stay at provided accommodation in huts along the trail on this three-day hike. You may be woken up by the sounds of the multitudes of native birds that call the area home.
The Marlborough Sounds provide the stunning landscape for the Queen Charlotte Track, winding through bays, inlets, and lush greenery for more than 70 kilometers. Hikers are welcome to kayak or swim in the waters as they pass through, or even hitch a ride on one of the water transport services and explore the area by yacht, cruiser, or speed boat.
One of the most stunning walks on the North Island, the Lake Waikaremoana Track winds east of an enormous volcanic plateau region for nearly 30 miles. For four or five days (depending on fitness levels), you’ll trek through lush rain forest, as well as one memorable day climbing up the steepest bluff on the track.
Mount Cook — the highest peak in New Zealand at 12,316 feet — is an imposing sight amid the lower glacial terrain, but is well worth it if you’re up for the climb. The Mueller Hut Route is one of the best tracks to the top, allowing for a quick sleep before you summit. Gorgeous views of bright blue glacial pools and valleys are all visible from the summit, but beware of avalanche warnings throughout the year.
This 50-mile track isn’t all too strenuous given the low gradients, but it’s a gorgeous five-day walk through the northwestern corner of the South Island. Beaches lined with palm trees, beech forests, and alpine herbs line the track, and as it’s available to walk year-round, the Heaphy Track is popular with locals and visitors alike.
Stewart Island is New Zealand’s southernmost point, and is well worth the trek to explore the incredible bird life and varied greenery. Though the weather is unreliable (or rather, reliably wet), the three-day Raikura Track gently winds through the island and allows for beautiful views of the coastline. Two huts for accommodation are situated for walkers along the route, a serious bonus if you’re looking for some shelter from the rain!