The beautiful natural environment and stunning landscapes of New Zealand are well-known worldwide. Hiking is among the most popular activities for visitors to this stunning country, which should come as no surprise. Making a decision about which hiking tours to take might be difficult with so many possibilities. Everybody can find a variety of hiking tours in New Zealand. Whether they like the rugged highlands of the South Island or the pristine beaches of the North Island.
If you are looking to get up close and personal with some of the most stunning natural wonders in the world, then hiking in New Zealand should be at the top of your list. In this post, we will explore some of the best hiking tours in New Zealand and what makes them so special.
#1. Milford Track
Milford Track is undoubtedly one of the finest hiking tours in New Zealand, and for good reason. Located in the beautiful Fiordland National Park, the Milford Track is a 53.5 km hike that will take you through some of the most breathtaking landscapes in New Zealand. The hike usually takes around four days to complete. You will be treated to panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, pristine rivers, and stunning waterfalls along the way. The track is well-maintained and there are comfortable huts along the way where you can rest and refuel.
Additionally, one of the hike’s highlights is the opportunity to stroll through the legendary Milford Sound, one of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders. The sound is encircled by cliffs and tumbling waterfalls, creating a spectacular scene. While the hike can be difficult, it is suitable for anyone with a reasonable degree of fitness. Because the weather in Fiordland National Park can be unpredictable, it’s crucial to arrive prepared with the correct gear, such as strong hiking boots, a good rain jacket, and warm clothing.
#2. The Routeburn Track
The Routeburn Track is a 32-kilometer track in New Zealand’s South Island that provides spectacular views of valleys, lakes, and mountains. The walk from Routeburn Shelter to Divide can be done in two to four days, depending on travel speed. The well-marked and well-maintained trail is a favorite among hikers all around the world.
More so. the Routeburn Track is famous for its rich flora and fauna. This includes native birds, alpine plants, and towering beech trees. It traverses two national parks, Fiordland and Mount Aspiring, delivering a one-of-a-kind hiking experience. The Harris Saddle, the track’s highest point, provides panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, as well as opportunities to see native animals such as kea parrots and mountain goats. It is indeed one of the best options for hiking tours in New Zealand.
#3. The Kepler Track
The Kepler Track is a 60-kilometer hiking trail in Fiordland National Park, New Zealand, offering stunning views of the country’s natural beauty. The trail is divided into four sections, each lasting about a day. It starts at Lake Te Anau and ends at Milford Sound, a landmark. The hike is suitable for moderately fit individuals due to steep climbs and descents, but the rewards are worth it. The trail is well-maintained, with camping sites and huts available for overnight stays. One unique feature of the Kepler Track is the Luxmore Cave, a natural wonder with stunning rock formations and underground streams.
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#4. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is an adventurous and challenging hike in Tongariro National Park, New Zealand. This 19.4 km (12-mile) trail offers stunning views of the volcanic landscape and surrounding mountains and valleys. It takes approximately 7-9 hours to complete and is considered an advanced hike.
Hikers must be prepared with proper gear and clothing for steep climbs, rocky terrain, and harsh weather conditions. Along the way, they will pass by natural wonders such as the Emerald Lakes, Blue Lake, and Red Crater. The unique volcanic landscape offers a fascinating insight into the geological history of the area, making the Tongariro Alpine Crossing a must-do for any adventure-seeker visiting New Zealand.
#5. The Abel Tasman Coastal Track
The Abel Tasman Coastal Track is a breathtaking 60 kilometers long coastal walk in Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand’s smallest national park. The track offers stunning golden beaches and crystal-clear waters, making it suitable for hikers of all levels. The track is well-maintained and offers breathtaking views of the coastline.
One highlight is the opportunity to sea kayak in the Tasman Sea, providing a unique perspective of the coastline and exploring secluded bays and coves. The track is also home to native wildlife, such as the endangered kakapo, kiwi, and tuatara, and a diverse range of flora, including the iconic New Zealand silver fern. The track is well-maintained and suitable for hikers of all levels.
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#6. The Queen Charlotte Track
The Queen Charlotte Track is a 70km coastal walking trail in the north of the South Island, offering stunning coastal views, lush forests, and secluded bays. The well-maintained track can be completed in 3-5 days and passes through charming bays and coves, including Ship Cove, where Captain Cook anchored his ship during his travels. The trail’s highlight is the stunning views of the Marlborough Sounds, a network of sunken river valleys creating a stunning coastline of sheltered bays and coves.
The iconic Queen Charlotte Viewpoint offers panoramic views of the sounds. The track also offers an opportunity to experience New Zealand’s unique wildlife, including rare bird species like the South Island robin and the New Zealand bellbird, as well as seals, dolphins, and orca whales in the waters below.
#7. Mount Taranaki
Mount Taranaki, one of the best hiking tours is the highest peak on the North Island of New Zealand. It is a stunning stratovolcano with a height of 2,518 meters. It is a popular destination for hikers and adventure seekers worldwide, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscapes. The hike typically takes 8-9 hours and requires moderate to high fitness levels. The trail is well-marked but can be steep and rocky, so hikers should wear sturdy boots and bring water and food. The hike starts at the North Egmont Visitor Center and follows a well-maintained track through lush forest, offering stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
As they climb, the vegetation changes dramatically, from lush forest to alpine tussocks and scree slopes. The final ascent to the summit is the most challenging, with steep and rocky terrain, but the panoramic views from the summit are well worth the effort.
#8. Mount Cook National Park
Mount Cook National Park, located in New Zealand’s central South Island, is a spectacular alpine hiking region with paths appropriate for all fitness levels. With more than 700 square kilometers of spectacular beauty, the park has some of the most impressive mountain vistas in the country.
Mount Cook National Park offers several popular treks, including the Hooker Valley Track, Sealy Tarns Track, Mueller Hut Route, and Mueller Hut Route. The Hooker Valley Track is a moderate walk that takes around 3 hours and follows the Hooker River, passing glacier valleys, alpine meadows, and moraine fields.
The Sealy Tarns Track is a steep climb with panoramic views over the Hooker Valley and Tasman Glacier, taking around 3 hours to reach the top. The Mueller Hut Route is a challenging 2-day hike that requires a good level of fitness and leads to a backcountry hut with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers.
The Best Time to Go Hiking in New Zealand
The optimal time for hiking in New Zealand depends on your preferences and the type of experience you seek. The peak hiking season occurs from November to April, with warmer and dryer weather, allowing for longer periods and longer distances. However, for a quieter experience, consider the off-season from May to October. This is when trails are less crowded and snow-capped mountains and winter landscapes are more accessible.
New Zealand’s weather can be unpredictable, so check the forecast and plan accordingly. Always pack waterproof gear and warm clothing, as the weather can change rapidly. Additionally, consider the specific region you plan to hike in, as weather can vary greatly between areas. For example, the North Island has milder temperatures and more consistent rainfall, while the South Island has colder temperatures and snowy mountains.
Tips for Hiking in New Zealand
- Plan your route thoroughly: Before embarking on a hike, make sure you understand the route, distance, and estimated time of completion. Check the weather and trail closures, and always notify someone of your planned route and projected return time.
- Wear suitable clothing and footwear: The weather in New Zealand can be unpredictable, so be prepared for any situation. Wear layers, a rain jacket, and sturdy hiking boots with decent traction.
- Carry plenty of water and snacks: Hiking requires you to stay hydrated, so bring enough water with you. It’s also a good idea to bring energy bars or other refreshments to keep you going on the journey.
- Respect the environment: Because New Zealand’s natural environment is delicate, it is critical to practice Leave No Trace practices and pack out any waste. Stay on designated pathways and avoid upsetting wildlife.
- Know your limits: Hiking in New Zealand can be difficult due to steep inclines, uneven terrain, and fluctuating weather conditions. Be truthful with yourself about your fitness level and hiking experience, and select hikes that are acceptable for you.