Hiking is one of the activities that are most coveted by tourists in New Zealand. Many adrenaline junkies want to hike in a forest, climb a mountain, discover new places, and even sleep in the wild. The best way to make this happen is through hiking. New Zealand has some great hiking tracks on both of its islands. Here are a few.

1. Rangitoto Summit Track in Auckland

The Rangitoto Summit Track is seven kilometers only and is located on an active volcano. The site is stunning, and it will take you two hours to hike. To access it, you will take a ferry from the Queen’s Wharf to the island volcano.

Do you love soaking in breathtaking views? Say no more! At the summit, you will be able to see views of Auckland, the Hauraki Gulf, and other beautiful places. And don’t forget; you will encounter bare lava fields and the biggest Pōhutukawa forest in the world as you hike the track.

rangitoto track

2. Rakiura Track

If you are looking for a remote trail to hike, and you are an experienced hiker, then this one is perfect for you. The Rakiura Track is a 20-mile loop that will take you three days to finish. Luckily, you can access it at any time of the year.

The track is located on Stewart Island which lies off the southern point of South Island. If you are on Stewart Island, you are sure to view kiwis; some flightless birds that can be seen on the beaches. The island is also popular for sandy beaches and rugged native forests.

rakiura track

3. Charming Creek Walkway at the West Coast

Do nature and history excite you? Because the Charming Creek Walkway will offer you exactly that. The track is 9.5 kilometers long, and it takes about two and a half hours to hike it. The hike will allow you to experience the Mangatini Falls, the New Zealand West Coast, and the Ngakawau Gorge. As you see and delve into nature, history will come back to life through the native bush as well as old sawmills and coal mines.

To access the Mangatini Falls, you will walk on a suspension bridge before accessing a 50-meter tunnel that will take you to the remains of Watson’s Mill.

creek walk

4. Abel Tasman Coast Track

Abel Tasman Coast Track is another long track that is suited for hiking enthusiasts. The trail is 37 miles (ca. 60 km) and takes about three to five days to complete. So, you might want to have your gear with sufficient supplies.

The trail is located on the north of South Island, hugging the magnificent coastline. Hikers have to navigate the 15-foot tidal range, which is one of the largest in the country. You will see the jade-colored ocean and golden beaches. It’s no wonder, the most famous trail in New Zealand.

5. Lake Matheson on the West Coast

Lake Matheson formed 14,000 years ago as a result of glacial activity. The lake offers a short trail, a 2.6-kilometer walk that takes an hour and a half to complete. The lake is popular for offering clear reflections of Mt. Cook. This is because the lake water has organic matter that comes from the floor of the ancient forest that nears it. This results in a dark color of the water with reflective properties.

The best time to walk this path is during the morning or evening when the light and reflections are best, offering excellent opportunities for photography. As you walk the trail, you will notice the odd toadstool, native wildflowers, and native bush of kahikatea and rata.

lake matheson track

6. Milford Track

Milford Track is not open all year round; it’s accessible between late October and early May. It is a 33-mile trail that takes about four days to complete. You are sure to encounter beautiful waterfalls, forested mountains, and glacier-carved valleys. One of the most stunning falls is the Sutherland Falls, which is 1,903 feet.

The high rainfall experienced by the region creates the possibility of these falls. The yearly average rainfall is 22 feet.

milford track

7. Kura Tawhiti Access Track

The Kura Tawhiti Access Track features mammoth boulders of limestone that were featured in one of Hollywood’s movies; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The 1.4 km trail will take you only 20 minutes to complete. However, it has more to offer than the massive boulders. For instance, the Castle Hill Buttercup is a yellow wildflower that is only found in this place. You can see it at particular times of the year.

The piece of land used to be a massive shallow inland sea before the water was replaced by land, and the boulders were formed.

kura track

8. Cathedral Cove Walk

The Cathedral Cove Walk allows you to enjoy the breathtaking views of the Coromandel Coast’s blue seas. The 2.5-kilometer trail will take you a whopping 1.5 hours to complete.

You can park your car in the North Island town of Hahei. It is only two kilometers away from the track. The trail meanders along the beautiful coast, and you will be able to soak in the sun and surf the seas if you are interested.

cathedral cove track

9. Blue Pools Track on Haast Pass Road

The Blue Pools feature fresh crystalline waters that allow you to peek at the sand and rocks beneath. The track is on the road to Wanaka and is only 1.5 kilometers, which means an hour is sufficient for the walk.

The pools are peaceful and bright on a summer afternoon. Around them is a forest that provides a more serene atmosphere for you to indulge in. You can view the pools from above on one of the track’s swing bridges. However, you cannot swim in the Blue Pools as they are ice-cold throughout the year.

blue pools track

FAQs about Walks & Hiking Tracks in New Zealand

1. How fit should I be?

Hiking is no easy activity. So, you need to be at least fit enough to walk the length of the hike you want to venture. If you don’t walk regularly, try walking every day for 1-2 months before your adventure. You need to have the ability to carry an average-sized bag for 5-7 hours for more than 10-21 kilometers of mountain trail every day.

2. Do I require medical/travel insurance?

Getting medical or travel insurance is crucial for hikes, especially those in rough terrains. In case you get injured, you can get rescued by New Zealand emergency services, and this may cost you.

3. What are some of the things I need to carry?

When going on a hike in New Zealand, you need to take the size and weight of your luggage into consideration. You don’t want to be stuck with a backpack that is too heavy to carry. Some of the essentials that you need to carry are clothing, debit/credit cards, sleeping essentials, a tent, food and water, material for repairs, water and food-related tools, and personal care items, among others.

4. Any safety precautions I need to take?

When you hike, it is advisable that you let your family know of your whereabouts. In some cases, strangers may offer free food, accommodation, and rides. You need to be cautious in such instances and gauge if the person appears genuine. If you feel you are in danger, you can call 111, the New Zealand Emergency number.

5. What type of clothing should I have?

There are certain kinds of clothing you will require when hiking, including boots, fleece or merino hat, gloves, walking socks, polypropylene underwear, a fleece jacket, shorts, and a t-shirt. During the evening, you will want to keep warm by wearing a shirt, underwear, nightwear, trousers, and light shoes.

6. Can I clean my clothes?

If the trail you are hiking has lodges, you can wash and dry your clothes. Hence, the weight of your backpack will be manageable enough for you to carry.

7. What is guided walking?

Guided walking involves the use of guides to make hiking safe, adventurous, and educational. The guide will answer all the questions you might have about the physical and historical features, allowing you to learn as much as you want. Even more, the guides are formally trained on safety and first aid, which means you can rely on them in case of an emergency.

8. What’s the best time to hike in New Zealand?

The best time to walk in New Zealand is between the spring and autumn months. Winter can be too cold for anyone to enjoy the hike. Plus, the views are always best when the sun is out. So, be sure to plan for your adventure between late October and April.

9. How difficult are the walks?

Many factors determine the difficulty of the hike. For one, the length of the hike varies among the trails. While some trails can be as short as one kilometer and take a few hours to complete, others can be over 20 kilometers and take several days to finish. What’s more, the terrain of the trail counts. A mountainous region can be hard to navigate, while a beach can be quite straightforward.

10. How slow or fast should I walk?

You should walk at a pace that is right for you. If you like to take many stops and enjoy the many views on the way, then don’t be in a rush. In the case of a guided tour, the guides will consider the different fitness levels of everyone to ensure no one is inconvenienced. There should be at least two guides; one at the front and the other one at the back.

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Thank you and safe travels 🙂