New Zealand is famed around the globe for its variety of scenery and landscapes, especially perfect for those who are outdoor enthusiasts. From lush rainforests to towering mountains, and active volcanoes to picture-perfect beaches, we would highly recommend including a Great Walk of New Zealand on your holiday!
There are ten Great Walks in total, dotted around the country with varying degrees of intensity and lengths. These take you through some of the country’s most spectacular places. Here are six of the Great Walks, all ready and waiting for you to tick off your bucket list!
The 4-day, 53-kilometre Milford Track is New Zealand’s most famous walk, showing outdoor enthusiasts glorious Fiordland National Park for over 150 years! With suspension bridges, a mountain pass, waterfalls (including New Zealand’s tallest – Sutherland Falls, pictured), rainforests and finishing at the iconic Milford Sound, it’s no wonder that the track has been walked by travellers from far and wide.
Tongariro Northern Circuit
New Zealand is well-known for its active and dormant volcano activity, and the centre of the North Island is no exception. Recognised as a volcanic plateau, the area encompasses three active volcanoes – Mount Tongariro, Mount Ruapehu and Mount Ngauruhoe (famously known as Mount Doom in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy).
The Tongariro Northern Circuit takes you on a loop around Mount Ngauruhoe over 4 days. 41-kilometres later, you’ll have walked through some of the very best scenery in the North Island. From alpine views to craters and lava flows, hiking around an active volcano adds to the experience, too!
While not actually a ‘walk’, the Whanganui Journey is still an epic adventure involving kayaking along the mighty Whanganui River. Go off the grid and feel at one with nature as you paddle for 5 days through lush, native forest and beside steep canyon walls. You’ll dock and set up camp every night, with one night spent at a marae (a Māori meeting house) for an additional cultural experience. Get your paddle on!
To go off the beaten track, take a small plane or boat across to New Zealand’s southern-most island: Stewart Island. Having hardly changed over thousands of years, the Rakiura Track is the full island experience covering about 80% of the island over 3 days. It’s home to only 400 people but a plethora of native wildlife – in particular, native birds like the kiwi and morepork (owl)!
Abel Tasman Coastal Track
A popular walking track through Abel Tasman National Park, the Coastal Track is one of New Zealand’s most accessible walks for people at all levels of fitness. If you have the time, the full track can take up to 5 days, but it’s easily broken down into half or full day excursions with the option to take a water taxi there and back. With golden-sand beaches and azure waters right at your feet, the track is stunning at any time of year.
The South Island of New Zealand is famed for its rugged and wild West Coast, and the Heaphy Track certainly delivers on this aspect. As you make your way through thick rainforest and tussock grasslands, and past rugged mountains and Nikau palms, this 80-kilometre hike is a longer duration sitting around 4-6 days. It’s a fascinating walk that follows the same route as Māori pounamu (jade) hunters. Keep your eyes peeled as well – the area is home to many kiwi!