New Zealand is a paradise for nature lovers who like to spend their time outdoors. There are suitable hiking trails in New Zealand for every requirement, every fitness level and every type of travel, promised! The nice thing about it: New Zealand’s nature is incredibly multifaceted. One day you’re hiking in the rainforest, the next you’re on the rough coast and one day later in a barren volcanic landscape.
In this blog article we present you our favorite day hikes and shorter hikes. In the meantime we have already been to New Zealand twice and have explored quite a few hiking trails.
1. New Zealand’s Hiking Network New Zealand’s hiking network is impressive. We have never been to a country where hiking was the focus of our trip.
These are above all the nine so-called Great Walks, which attract attention in New Zealand (and which New Zealand also likes to use to attract visitors abroad). The Great Walks are something like the figureheads of hikes in New Zealand and therefore lead through particularly impressive nature. They are managed by the New Zealand Conservation Union, the DoC (Department of Conservation) managed. The Great Walks are designed as multi-day hikes. You can stay overnight in huts along the way.
The good thing about the Great Walks: You can easily tackle selected stages of the hike. Therefore, some of the hikes in this article are also part of a Great Walk.
Apart from the Great Walks, there are numerous other hikes in New Zealand. And by “innumerable” we also mean “innumerable”: it is hardly possible to see all of them in one lifetime.
2. Day hikes and shorter hikes in the South Island Hooker Valley Track The Hooker Valley Track is located in Mount Cook National Park on the South Island and is one of the most popular routes in New Zealand ever. The track is a bit of a “all-rounder”. New Zealand’s nature shows itself from its most beautiful side here: In a few hours you cross three suspension bridges, find yourself in the middle of snow-capped peaks and land on the End at the glacial lake, in which mostly ice floes float.
The fact that the Hooker Valley Track is so easily accessible has its price: Especially on nice days, the hiking trail resembles a Footpath. If you are looking for a hiking trail where you are all alone in nature, then you should make another choice. (The fact that we were able to take the popular photo motif with the snow-covered Mount Cook in the background without people is solely due to our patience.) Nevertheless: We have already walked the path twice and find the natural scenery so impressive , that we can definitely recommend the Hooker Valley Track.
Getting to the Hooker Valley Track We stayed in Tekapo for our hike through Mount Cook National Park. Although the place is 1 hour and 10 minutes drive from the starting point of the hike in Mount Cook Village, but the The route and the hike can easily be accommodated in one day. There is plenty of parking on site.
Hooker Valley Track Info Claim: simply
Suitable for: Families, less experienced hikers
Terrain: relatively flat with a few hardly significant inclines
Walking time: approx. 3 hours (no circular route, ie 1.5 hours there and 1.5 hours back)
Roy’s Peak Track Looking for impressive views? Then the Roys Peak Track in Wanaka is definitely something for you. Nowhere else in New Zealand have we experienced such fascinating views over the entire duration of the hike.
The Roys Peak Track leads in serpentines to the summit of mountain of the same name. The way is very steep: More than 1.200 You have to cover altitude meters from the starting point to the summit. We can confirm: You get out of breath pretty quickly here. But with every break you can enjoy impressive views: We never got enough of the sight of the sparkling blue Lake Wakatipu embedded in the mountain ranges.
About half an hour before the summit you get to the famous lookout: a narrow path meanders along the ridge here. The disadvantage: the photos suggest otherwise, but unfortunately you have to share the view with others. Waiting is the order of the day so that everyone can take the famous photo. On most days, a line of people forms in front of the photo spot.
That brings us straight to the next point: The hike to Roys Peak is not an insider tip. Although we were there at the end of the main season, we were still surprised how many people walk the track. In addition, the path itself is not a highlight. That means: The hike takes place at 60% on a steep, dusty serpentine path. The variety is zero. As a reward, there are magnificent distant views of the lake and mountain peaks all the time.
Arrival to Roy’s Peak Track The track is only about 10 minutes drive from the center of Wanaka. The number of parking spaces is manageable. Many recommend getting there before 9am. We ourselves were in the high season at approx. 10 o’clock there and were able to get hold of a place.
Information on Roy’s Peak Track Claim: hard – requires a certain level of fitness, not technically demanding
Suitable for: People looking for great views while hiking
Terrain: steadily uphill (1.200 Altitude from the starting point to the summit!)
Walking time: approx. 6 hours (not a circular route, ie there & back)
Caution: everyone has their own path Year between October 1st and 03. Closed November for the lambs. In the New Zealand winter you generally have to be prepared for adverse conditions such as snow and ice: Alpine equipment may be necessary!
Queenstown Hill A little insider tip in Queenstown is the hike up Queenstown Hill. When we were looking for a nice spot for the sunset, our motel owner gave us this tip. And what shall we say? It was the best decision of the day.
The hiking trail up Queenstown Hill first goes through a forest and then up through open terrain. 500 Altitude meters have to be conquered. The path is not impossible, but requires a minimum level of fitness. Once you’re out of the forest, the views are truly magnificent.
After a good hour you will reach a viewing platform with a sculpture called “Basket of Dreams”. We can only warmly recommend that you start from here for the last approx. 20 minutes to walk to the summit. Believe us: it’s SO worth it. When you get to the top, you have a 360-degree view of Lake Wakatipu and the mountain range called “Remarkables”.
In our opinion, the best time to hike it is sunset on Queenstown Hill. We waited at the top until the sun disappeared behind the hills. So we had to walk back the last part of the way in the dark, but that was easily possible.
Arrival to Queenstown Hill In principle, you can start the hike up Queenstown Hill directly in the town center. In order to shorten the walking time a bit, we would recommend you to the small car park along Belfast Terrace to drive. This will save you about 38 walking distance and 38 Elevation meters. Incidentally, the hiking trail should not be confused with the Ben Lomond Track, which leads to the neighboring mountain.
Info about Queenstown Hill Challenge: A certain level of fitness is required, but the trail itself is not challenging
Suitable for: cozy Hikers who want to work up a sweat; hiking families
Terrain: uphill, but quite doable (500 Altitude from the starting point to the summit)
Walking time: approx. 2 to 3 hours (there & back)
Abel Tasman Coast Track No matter who you ask along the way, almost all travelers make a stopover at the Abel Tasman National Park . One of the nine Great Walks, the so-called Abel Tasman Coast Track meanders through the nature reserve on the north coast of the South Island. There are no steep sections worth mentioning, so the track is one of the easier Great Walks. You can look forward to great panoramic views, tiny bays and crystal blue water.
The track extends over a total of 60 kilometers along the coast, but you can also easily take a day hike through the park. The track is located in the nature reserve, so it is not possible to reach the desired starting point by car. Instead, the ocean is used as a means of transport: Water taxis take hikers to their desired destination.
Our daily route: From Torrent Bay to Bark Bay The water taxis have put together special “tours” for day trippers: You can i.e. drop off at certain points and have them picked up again at a different point a few hours later. We chose AquaTaxi, specifically the “Falls River” tour.
It wasn’t easy to choose a section of the Abel Tasman Coast Track, as the entire route should be very scenic. The rope bridge “Falls River Bridge”, which you cross on this route ultimately led to our decision.
Getting to the Abel Tasman Coast Track The track starts in Marahau, which is accessible by car. From there, water taxis will take you to the desired starting point of your hike. We have the provider AquaTaxi and were very happy with it. The most popular place to stay near the Abel Tasman Coast Track is Kaiteriteri. Here you have some accommodation and campsites, a seafront promenade, a supermarket and: quite a lot of travellers. We were surprised how busy the place was in high season.
We alternatively decided to stay in Nelson and from there to to drive to the Abel Tasman Coast Track in the morning. With a driving time of almost exactly one hour to Marahau, this is also possible without any problems.
Information on the route Torrent Bay – Bark Bay Demand: simple, no significant gradients
Suitable for: Families, little experienced and/or leisurely hikers
Terrain: relatively flat
Walking time: approx. 3 hours
3. Day hikes and shorter hikes in the North Island Tongariro Alpine Crossing The day hike through Tongariro National Park has been described by many as “the most spectacular hike in New Zealand”. It remains to be seen whether the superlative is fair, but the hike is one thing in any case: incredibly impressive. And: incredibly demanding.
Overall, there are just 01 Kilometre, 800 Altitude meters up and 833 to put back down. The fascinating thing about the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is that the terrain is incredibly multifaceted: You start surrounded by green vegetation and a few hours later you see volcanic craters and sparkling blue crater lakes. If you’re looking for raw, wild New Zealand, you’ll find it here!
Despite the popularity of the hike, we highly recommend the Route not to be underestimated. The wind (or rather storm) was a big problem for us personally. In addition, the terrain is often slippery. Low shoes with a good profile are therefore absolutely necessary! In winter, when there is snow and ice, we would do the hike better with an experienced mountain guide.
Here you come to our detailed blog article: Tongariro Alpine Crossing – our tips
Getting to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing The trekking route is a “one-way route”. Usually one starts in Mangatepopo and ends in Ketetahi. You can also go the opposite route, but then you have to cover more altitude. We stayed in Ohakune. From there there are shuttle buses, that drop you off at Magatepopo and pick you up at Ketetahi a few hours later.
Information on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing Demand: demanding; Shoes with a good profile are absolutely necessary (shoes are enough)
Suitable for: moderately fit hikers and those in search of great views
Terrain: Volcanic landscape; total are 750 meters uphill and 1200 downhill
Walking time: approx. 7-8 hours
Lake Waikaremoana In a fairly remote area in the east of the North Island is one of the unknown Great Walks, the hiking trail along Lake Waikaremoana. The hiking trail extends over a total of 46 kilometers and meanders through the imposing Te Urewera National Park, the largest primeval forest on the North Island.
Since the lake is in a hardly besi noble area and the journey from all larger places is relatively far, the path is comparatively less frequented.
The path does not even lead completely around around the lake. So it is not a circular route, but has to be walked either from south to north or from north to south. Unlike the Abel Tasman National Park, for example, the water taxi network is not nearly as well developed here. We therefore decided to walk the first and supposedly most spectacular stretch of the walk: from the parking lot in Onepoto to the Panekire Bluff.
Our route for the day: From Onepoto Bay Shelter to Panekire Bluff The route runs steadily uphill through the forest. There are always small clearings through which you can enjoy a great view of the lake. You will reach the most impressive viewpoint after about an hour. It’s a bit off the trail, but relatively easy to find.
You can hike further to Bald Knob, which is said to be even more scenic. This route takes about 2-3 hours (from Onepoto).
Getting to Lake Waikaremoana Lake Waikaremoana is quite isolated in the Te Urewera National Park in the East of the North Island of New Zealand. There are no larger cities nearby. We decided to visit the lake as part of a day trip from Napier. A little warning: This means that you will be in the car for a total of approx. 5 hours.
The hike starts in the south at the parking lot of the Onepoto Bay Shelter. From Napier to the Onepoto car park is approximately 2.5 hours by car. The last major town is Frasertown. From here the route runs along the State Highway 38. Small warning: A few kilometers of the State Highway were blocked during our visit (February ) Dirt road. Alternatively, there are also a few selected accommodations on Lake Waikaremoana itself.
Information on the route Onepoto Bay Shelter – Panekire Bluff Demand: constantly uphill, forest path (ie possibly slippery due to tree roots)
Suitable for: rather leisurely hikers who still want to work up a sweat
Terrain: uphill but doable
Walking time: approx. 2 hours (there and back)
4. More New Zealand travel reports from us Our itinerary through New Zealand Christchurch: Sights & Tips Lake Tekapo: Our tips Do you have any other tips for short hikes or day hikes in New Zealand? We look forward to hearing about your experiences!2018