New Zealand has long been recognized as one of the most beautiful places on earth. With stunning fjords, lakes, rivers and mountains in vast wilderness areas, there is no shortage of amazing scenery to breathe in.
One of the most rewarding ways to see New Zealand is by foot, so grab your backpack and your walking boots and hit one of the many walking and hiking trails that criss-cross this beautiful land. There are thousands of miles of tracks, with options to suit all levels of fitness, experience and time available.
Beautiful nature walks can be found right on the doorstep of many of New Zealand’s cities and towns. From Auckland you can take a 25 minute ferry to Rangitoto Wharf and make the climb through lava fields and forests to the island’s peak on the Rangitoto Summit Track. You will be rewarded with panoramic views across the Hauraki Gulf from your perch 850 feet above sea level.
The Franz Josef Walk has hikers on a track winding through a rocky riverbed towards stunning glacier views in this World Heritage-listed area. While it is a short hike at around 3.4 miles return it can be a treacherous trail that make the stunning views more impressive.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is often referred to as New Zealand’s greatest day walk. It is a challenging 12 mile walk across a landscape of awe inspiring natural scenery. Unique landforms including the volcanic peaks of Ngauruhoe, Tongariro and Ruapehu and the three water-filled explosion craters of Emerald Lakes are highlights of this journey.
Multi Day Hikes
Those wishing to delve deeper into the New Zealand wilderness should consider a multi-day hike to take in some of the country’s best scenery and diverse landscapes.
The Milford Track is probably New Zealand’s most famous walk and it has been trilling hikers for more than 150 years. The 33 mile hike takes 3 to 5 days and begins at the head of Lake Te Anau. The trail takes you across suspension bridges, board walks and a mountain pass giving you amazing views of pristine lakes, sky-scraping mountain peaks, enormous valley views and Sutherland Falls, the tallest waterfall in New Zealand.
One of New Zealand’s most popular overnight walks is the Pinnacles Walk through the ruggedly beautiful mountain ranges on the Coromandel Peninsula. The 8 mile hike follows the route used by the packhorses in the early 1900s when transporting natural resources through the forest. The area is full of history from the kauri loggers, gum diggers and gold miners who mined and trekked through these areas for many years. Sunrise is the best time to take in the views from the highest point at Pinnacles Hut. Greet the morning with 360 degree views across the Coromandel, the Bay of Plenty and the Hauraki Gulf and Plains as the sunrise paints a magical vision that will stay with you long after you return home.
Hike the stunning coastal trail alongside the Abel Tasman National Park on the 32 mile Abel Tasman Coast Track. Over 3 to 5 days you will make your way through scented forests, along deserted beaches, and over headlands with commanding views of the spectacular coastline. Mix it up a little with kayaks and water taxis to give you another perspective of this pristine area.
Soaring mountain peaks, huge valleys, waterfalls and jewel-like lakes await those who step on the Routeburn Track. Hikes usually complete the 20 mile journey over 3 days and with the highest point on the track being 4,117 feet above sea level; the work pays off with some spectacular views. Get close to nature as you weave through beech-forested valleys, past clear green rivers and glistening alpine lakes through the incredibly landscapes of Mt Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks.
Wander through an enchanted green world of rainforest, wetlands and a magical “goblin forest” on the Lake Waikaremoana Walk. Over 3 to 4 days you will wind your way through 28 miles of lush Te Urewere National Park rainforest and wetlands mostly following the shores of the lake. Take in the sights of rivers, waterfalls and the spectacular valleys of mist along the way.
No matter your fitness level or hiking experience, there is a hike in New Zealand that will get you close to nature and have you journeying through some of the most beautiful scenery on earth.
For exciting outdoor experiences around New Zealand, check out Down Under Answers.
Editor’s Note: Down Under Answers is a paid sponsor of Budget Your Trip.
Bryan has visited exactly one more country than his wife, and she won’t let him forget it! Also an avid photographer, he enjoys entrenching himself within the local culture in order to learn more about the people of a place. He is the co-founder of Budget Your Trip and loves a good adventure, an exotic meal, or a passionate conversation about global events.