One of our favourite reasons to buy a car in New Zealand is to get easy access to so many of the fantastic hikes around the country.
New Zealand has hundreds of fantastic hiking (or tramping as we call it here) trails and there are a few particularly special ones known as the Great Walks of New Zealand.
These are located in both the North & South island and some of the tramps are extremely popular with a set allocation of people allowed on them each day. This means you may need to think ahead and book in to do these walks.
Below is a quick overview of each of the nine great walks You can find more information on all of them at www.doc.govt.nz.
North Island Great Walks:
The Lake Waikaremoana Track
Lake Waikaremoana is 46 km long and is located in a remote part of the North Island. The track stays near to the Lake and it takes 4 to 5 days to walk. Take your togs (swimsuit) and fishing rod as there is ample opportunity for both on this walk.
Tongariro Northern Circuit
This track takes three to four days and is based in the central volcanic plateau region which incorporates Mt Ruapehu, Mt Ngaruahoe and Mt Tongariro. Part of the walk takes you over the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is one of our most beloved day walks. If the weather is clear, at the top of the pass you can look out to the ocean and across to Mt Taranaki.
The Whanganui Journey
This is not actually a hike…it is actually a canoe or kayak ride down the stunning Whanganui river and can be as long as 145km in length. The trip can begin in Taumaranui and takes around 5 days or you can shorten it by beginning further south. Accommodation options vary on the way from camping to
South Island Great Walks:
The Abel Tasman Coastal Track
This is one of the easier Great Walks and at 50km in length most people take 2-4 days to walk it. You can pack away your heavy hiking boots and enjoy this walk wearing comfortable lighter shoes. You will need to arrange your own transport to get to the start and end of the track. There is an array of accommodation options including campsites. This track is very popular to mix and match with sea kayaking.
The Heaphy Track
At around 80km in length, this walk takes most people around 5 days and covers an array of scenery including the west coast beaches, beech forests and tussock downs. It starts and finishes in Golden Bay and the West Coast, depending on the direction you choose to take so you will need to arrange transport at either end.
The Kepler Track
The Kepler Track takes four days to walk and handily it is a loop track that starts and ends in Te Anau. To stay in a hut costs approx. $54 a night.
The Routeburn Track
This track covers almost 40 km and you will see waterfalls, mountain lakes and beautiful New Zealand flora and fauna. There are two starting and finishing points, one close (68km) to Queenstown and the other 85km from Te Anau.
The Milford Track
This is our most famous Great Walk and has an international reputation. It is based in Fiordland and begins in Lake Te Anau and finishes at the stunning Milford Sound. You have the option for a guided and unguided walk on this track. If hiking independently you will need to book in to a hut (at a cost of approx. $54 a night) for the three night walk. You will also need to arrange transport to the start and from the end of the track.
The Rakiura Track
This is based in Stewart Island and takes around 3 days. The weather can be changeable and this track has a reputation for being quite muddy!
For more information about the Great Walks check out the Department of Conservation website – www.greatwalks.co.nz.
This is a one stop shop where you can watch short videos about each track, and get information about accommodation, transport, trip highlights as well as other planning information. You will also find the link to book yourself of to the tracks.
If for any reason you cannot get the dates that you want on the tracks that you want…do not despair. There are hundreds of other track options in New Zealand. They are not as popular or well known as the Great Walks but many locals would like to tell you that they offer an experience equal to the Great Walks.
There are a number of companies around New Zealand that offer guided walks. These will of course cost you more than hiking independently but can be the preferred option for less experienced hikers…as well as those who might not want to carry a heavy pack for days.