A Quick Guide to Hiking in New Zealand

Hiking in New Zealand is the best way to explore the country’s bafflingly picturesque scenery. The popularity of hiking owes to the country’s stunning walks with snow-capped peaks, lush forests, golden sand beaches and crystal clear waters. Both the North and South Islands of New Zealand have a diverse range of hikes to their name.

Here is a list of the best hikes in North Island and South Island:

Best North Island Hikes in New Zealand

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1. Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Widely recognized as the world’s best single-day hike, Tongariro Alpine Crossing is an amazing journey through the Tongariro National Park, the oldest national park in New Zealand. The picturesque scenery in the nineteen-kilometre hike has volcanic terrain, emerald lakes and alpine gardens. Since hazards like avalanche risk and sub-zero temperatures are dominant during the winter season from July to October, it is advised to accompany a guide or choose a different track.  

The trip begins from the South crater, the climb to Mount Tongariro saddle from Mangatepopo Valley, leading to the highest point of the Tongariro Alpine crossing named Red crater. The rest of the trail descents down through the blue and emerald lakes to ultimately reach Ketetahi falls.
Location: Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Tongariro National Park, Waikato 3989, New Zealand
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2. Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk

With native trees, waterfalls and serene beaches that cover a length of forty-four kilometres, Lake Waikaremoana Track is one of the ten great walks of New Zealand. Located in Te Urewera, the path surrounds the beautiful Lake Waikaremoana. It takes three to four days to complete the walk.

The most challenging part of the journey is reaching from Onepoto to Panekire, yet the stunning view at Panekire is worth all the effort. Fishing and swimming are two popular activities at the walk.
Location: Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Tongariro National Park, Waikato 3989, New Zealand
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3. Pinnacles Track

Located in the Aurangi Forest Park, The Pinnacles Track is approximately two hours from the Wairarapa region. One of the short walks for hiking in New Zealand, the track leads to Putangirua Pinnacles. The astonishing rock formations in the track are best viewed in the early morning, owing to the early sunshine and lack of heat.

The Pinnacles have magnificent views of Palliser Bay and Lake Onoke. An iconic scene in ‘The Return of the King’ from The Lord of the Rings film franchise was also shot here.
Location: Putaringua Pinnacles Scenic Reserve, Wairarapa 5772, New Zealand
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4. Te Whara Track

Just a forty-minute drive from Whangarei, Te Whara Track follows an age-old Maori trail from Ocean Beach to Urquharts Bay. The climb is very steep and narrow from the beginning itself and continues to be the same way for some parts of the track, making it very challenging. The efforts are well-rewarded in the end since the track passes through some of the best coastal forests in the country and has remarkable views.

The Te Whara Track is also featured among New Zealand’s Top Five Great Day Walks by the Department of Conservation and Tourism.
Location: Whangarei Heads 0174, Whangarei, Northland

The Best South Island Hikes in New Zealand:

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1. Roy’s Peak Track

One of the best day walks for hiking in New Zealand, Roy’s Peak Track is a moderately challenging steady uphill climb with a three-sixty degree panoramic view of Lake Wanaka, Mount Aspiring and the other surrounding peaks at the summit. The track is best used from January to October and is closed for lambing till the first ten days of November every year.
Location: Glendhu Bay, Otago, 9382, New Zealand
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2. Abel Tasman Coast Track

Known as New Zealand’s best walk, Abel Tasman Coast Track has mild weather, charming golden sand beaches, ravishing rock formations and crystal clear waters. It runs along the alluring coastlines of South Island and is one among the ten Great Walks in New Zealand. One of the easier walks to try hiking in New Zealand, the track lets you explore the features of the Abel Tasman National Park.

Open throughout the year, Abel Tasman Coast Track can be covered completely within three to five days.
Location: Abel Tasman National Park, South Island 7183, New Zealand
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3. Milford Track

Hugely famous around the world, Milford Track is also one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. Around four days are needed to cover the track that extends from Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound. Each year, almost fourteen thousand people complete the track.

The Milford Track located in the Fiordland National Park has a beautiful landscape that includes much-photographed waterfalls like the Sutherland Falls. There are also abundant rainforest and marvellous mountain peaks. Anyone except Alpine Hikers is advised to visit the track exclusively from October to May.
Location: Fiordland National Park, Southland, New Zealand
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4. Hooker Valley Track

With mountain views throughout the journey, The Hooker Valley Track is the most popular short walk for hiking in New Zealand. Located inside the Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park, the walk lets you explore the landscape filled with ice and rock. To have the view of Aoraki/Mt. Cook, the tallest mountain in New Zealand, the glacier lake must be reached by traversing the path through the Hooker Lake.
Location: Hooker Valley Track, Mt Cook National Park 7999, New Zealand
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5. Routeburn Track

Located between Glenorchy and The Divide, the Routeburn Track has views of the soaring peaks of Mount Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park. The scenery also consists of glistening lakes, lush forests and majestic valleys. The Key Summit on the track is often considered as Fiorland’s best day walk.

It requires two to four days to completely cover the track. From May to October, only those with alpine skills are advised to visit the Routeburn Track since the weather can be extreme.
Location: Fiordland National Park & Mount Aspiring National Park, New Zealand
Did we miss any of your favourite places for hiking in New Zealand? If yes, please tell us in the comments.

This post was published by Vishnu Kesavan

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