New Zealand is a land of adventure. It’s a colour-saturated place of green rolling hills, blazing blue skies, and steely rock mountains that change coats with the seasons. It’s an outdoor fantasy landscape, a place where the heart of an explorer is an infectious thing.
Hiking in New Zealand is accessible for all travellers, whether a seasoned multi-day hiker, or a casual day-hike dabbler. Here are a few hikes to fill your niche:
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is more than a casual hike–preparedness is key. The crossing leads you through alpine, volcanic landscape, a seemingly alien world that Lord of the Rings fans will revel in. Some say this 19.4 km trek is among the world’s best single-day hikes. This is Mordor. This is Mt Doom–in the best way possible.
Mt. Victoria Trails
A day of wandering is a welcome thing, and the Mount Victoria Trails, within Wellington, are accessible and rewarding. Keep an eye open for hobbits (or just film settings) as you make your way to the mountain peak. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous (and energetic), there are plenty of paths for mountain biking. Look out over Wellington and take in the scenery of this cool capital.
This is the first multi-day hike I’ve mentioned, but I can’t leave out this trek that passes through the South Island’s Fiordland National Park. You’ll weave your way along steep mountain ridges, through overgrown and mossy forest, and across varied landscape that will be sure to take away your sense of time and fend off boredom. At 60 km, it will take three or four days to complete the circuit, but the trail is well maintained with serviced huts and camping areas. Although, if you are an accomplished trail runner, you might consider the Kepler Challenge: a race along the entire route, with winners finishing in less than five hours.
Abel Tasman Coast Track
Another multi-day hike, the Abel Tasman Coast Track leads you through the South Island’s northern Abel Tasman National Park. Carparks along the way do allow for day hikers to experience the beauty of the track. This trek offers you the chance to visit some of New Zealand’s stunning coast: crystal blue waters lined with gold-sand beaches, green forests, and unique granite rock formations. Lucky hikers might spot fur seals, little blue penguins, or dolphins. The entire route will take three to five days (some tidal crossings can only be made within a few hours of the low tide).
Ben Lomond Track
A demanding day-hike, the Ben Lomond Track has a rewarding climax: panoramic views of Queenstown surrounded by the blue waters of Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables mountain chain in the background, and the Southern Alps to the north. Somewhere between four to six hours return to the summit, a couple of hours can be shaved off the hike by taking the gondola in Queenstown, but this initial steep trek through thick forest is worthy in itself. From forest to grassy hillside, up the rocky trail, and finally to the stony and open-air peak–it’s a lot to pack into a day (in a good way!).
Read more about my time on the Ben Lomond Track.
Rob Roy Track
A final easy-going day hike of three to four hours return, the Rob Roy Track will lead you through grassy valley, lush temperate rainforest, finally opening up to clear views of the Rob Roy Glacier. Though steep grades are not a factor, parts of the trail can be unstable with loose rock, and avalanche warnings are in effect during winter and spring. You’ll see plenty of sheep and cows along the way, and perhaps witness the thunderous crack and distant icefall that comes with the glacial territory.
Read more about my time on the Rob Roy Track.
Have you gone hiking in New Zealand? What are some of your favourite hikes that show off diverse landscapes?
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