Here’s a snapshot of the best hikes in New Zealand. Remember, it’s a HUGE country - so if you dig a little deeper there are many more gems to find!
1. Short and sweet, lesser known, packs a punch: Los Angelus Track
Start: Mount Robert Carpark
End: Coldwater Hut
Distance: 13.5 miles
If you’re in Nelson Lakes National Park, this short track is spectacular! The Angelus Hut is a hands down winner of the hut system across New Zealand.You might even want to spend two nights there, and explore Lake Angelus Basin for a day. There are 900 National Parks huts to stay in around New Zealand for a minimal fee. They vary in quality and size.
2. Quintessential Alpine: Routeburn Track
Start: The Divide
End: Routeburn Shelter
Distance: 20 miles
(You can start either end)
It’s not hard to imagine the huge eagles that used to soar through these high rock walled valleys. This valley is remote, with rivers rather than roads snaking their way below you. This is a three day affair, with established huts to stay in along the way. Scenes include alpine tundra, mossy beech forest and pristine lake walking. The number of people is managed by the Great Walk hut system, which needs to be booked three months in advance. It’s worth the effort. Other nearby winners include Milford and Kepler Track. The Kepler tends to be the cheapest option, with less transport required than the Routeburn and Milford. If you love Ridgeline walking, go for the Kepler! The Milford is even more difficult to get onto, selling out the hut passes in record times when they come up for grabs. The fairyland moss environment is unbelievable. The Routeburn requires track transport, whereas the Milford also requires boat transport at either end. If you can get onto one of these three, you’re winning.
3. All-inspiring Lakes: Lake Waikaremoana Hike
End: Hopurahine Landing
Distance: 28.6 miles
This is another Great Walk, and one of the only two in the North Island. Essentially, it’s a 30 mile walk around a pristine lake. The water makes your soul feel pure. The rainforest is even more soothing. It’s not too hilly, except for one that offers spectacular views across the lake and forest. Once again, you can stay in huts along the way.
4. Coastal Insanity: The Abel Tasman Track
Start: Wainui Car Park
Distance: 37 miles
It’s also possible to kayak this route! We think it’s best hiked, so you can get the high vantage points over the sensational coastline. Pack togs and make sure to go in summer - this one is all about soaking up the saltwater and blissful bays. The sea is packed with fun seals and bottlenose dolphins. The environment is benign and safe, and the walking is divine - a lime green roller coaster on smooth clay through coastal dreamland.
5. High Country Beauty: Mount Arthur and Tableland
Start/End: Flora Car Park
Distance: 22 miles
Fortunately, this one is not a Great Walk so it’s easier to get into one of the huts. Emerge from the treeline to climb Mount Arthur (4298ft) for unique alpine views, then rest a night in Salisbury Lodge. Head onward through The Tableland and enjoy the burnt orange highland environment field with tarns and alpine flowers. Lake Peel is especially impressive. All of these hikes can be found on the Department of Conservation Website.
New Zealand is brimming with every hike you could ever want. Once you get tired of the pristine high altitude lakes and staggering forested cliffs, there’s a simple solution. Take a short flight across to Australia! The hikes there are a complete contrast to New Zealand. Join us on our New Zealand Adventure Guide Program to experience some of the iconic off the beaten track hikes.