There is a huge number of opportunities to explore New Zealand's countryside. You will find a suitable difficulty level for every age, from young children to experienced adventurers. If you’re not too confident in your level of fitness, you might miss the best views from the mountaintops but there are still hundreds of beautiful more accessible places near the road waiting for you. Depending on the length of the route the DOC (Department of conservation) divides hiking tracks into several basic categories.
Short walks are walking tracks leading to the surrounding nature which can take anywhere from several minutes to a half hour. They usually feature easy access to well-developed roads suitable for all ages and ideal for a family trip.
These day-long tracks feature at least 3-hour long hikes to the top of the mountains with spectacular views, visiting volcanos, tracks through bushes or green pastures. The difficulty and distance of individual routes vary, so always study the conditions before you go have a map with you, check the weather forecast, and no difficulty, destination, and length of the trip (so you know what time you have to leave to be able to get back before dark). Pick your equipment accordingly. Always remember to bring something to cover your head with, sunscreen and sunglasses, a waterproof jacket and plenty of water.
Among the most popular day walks are the Te Whara Track, the Tongariro Alpine on North Island, or Hooker Valley and Roys Peak on South Island. But don’t just try the most popular ones. These are usually crowded with tourists because of their popularity. On the other trails, you will discover countless views that are as good or even better, that you can also enjoy in privacy. Just you and nature.
These are trips where you spend the night on the route. In this way, as a proper tramp, you have to carry with you everything you need for a few days. The trip requires some planning and placing reservations at huts or campgrounds in advance. For your challenges, you will be rewarded by sights of the gorgeous countryside, far from the noise of civilization with stunning views and the glorious southern sky full of glowing stars.
The most popular tramp routes, two to six-day-long tracks let you discover the beauty of New Zealand. It is a great experience but you can be met with some occupancy, so we recommend booking months in ahead, a year if going to the most popular ones. A new online reservation system was put in place for 2018 season so you can take care of your bookings online. For more information regarding booking and a step-by-step guide on how to sign up in the system, please see our Great Walks article.
These trips require some basic experience of walking in nature, so we recommend first completing several shorter tracks of the same fitness requirement to get an idea of how the journey will go and whether you can handle it.
New Zealand offers 9 Great Walks:
- Lake Waikaremoana
- Tongariro Northern Circuit
- Whanganui Journey
- Abel Tasman Coast track
- Heaphy track
- Routeburn track
- Kepler track
- Milford track
- Rakiura track
WHAT TO TAKE WITH YOU
Never underestimate preparation for the journey. A comfortable backpack is everything. Do not forget to pack a functional and fully charged phone, camera, underwear, waterproof clothing, hiking shoes, warm jacket, winter cap, gloves, scarf, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, towel, brush, toothpaste, and personal medicines. Since you will be on the way for a few days, you should definitely carry a first-aid kit as an essential part of your equipment. You will also need a sleeping bag, a cooker, cooking pot, cutlery and, in the case of camping a sleeping mat and a tent. It is also important to have enough food and water for the entire journey (at least 2, rather 3 liters per day). Inform yourself about whether there are any water sources along the way before you go and keep in mind that you may need water for food preparation as well.
Never underestimate the weather, which can change extremely quickly in New Zealand. You can come out on a beautiful sunny day and a few hours may have to wear a winter jacket, or you can be suddenly met with a downpour. Use quality equipment and ideally stay in pairs. Have enough reserve water, food, and emergency equipment. Do not underestimate nature either. Always tell to someone where you are going and inform them of when you plan on returning and who you are going with. If you sleep in a hut don’t forget to write down your future hike plans in there.
We wish you a pleasant and unforgettable trip, wherever your steps may lead.