With an area the size of Great Britain, a relatively small population and some of the most dramatic and unique landscapes in the world, New Zealand is a stunning environment to enjoy walking, tramping and hiking. Some of the best walks on the planet are in New Zealand.
The country is very well set up for walkers and trampers. The Department of Conservation (DOC) maintains a national network of tracks to a high standard. Whether you want to walk for an hour of for a few days (or even weeks) there is plenty to choose from in New Zealand.
Here are some of the highlights amongst the vast array of New Zealand walks.
New Zealand's Nine "Great Walks"
The New Zealand Department of Conservation has designated nine walks as being of particular interest and significance. All are multi-day treks, and there are huts situated along the routes that are maintained to a high standard. Of the nine, three are in the North Island, five are in the South Island and one is on Stewart Island. The tracks are:
- Lake Waikaremoana (North Island; 4-5 days)
- Tongariro Northern Circuit (North Island; 4-5 days)
- Whanganui Journey (North Island; 5 days by kayak or canoe)
- Abel Tasman Coastal Track (South Island; 3-5 days)
- Heaphy Track (South Island; 4-6 days)
- Routeburn Track (South Island; 2-3 days)
- Milford Track (South Island; 4 days)
- Kepler Track (South Island; 3-4 days)
- Rakiura Track (Stewart Island; 3 days)
New Zealand National Parks
More than a third of New Zealand is designated as public land, with much of it contained within 14 National Parks. These are all wonderful areas to explore, although they are generally in quite remote areas. The 14 National Parks are:
- Te Urewera
- Abel Tasman
- Nelson Lakes
- Arthur's Pass
- Westland Tai Poutini
- Aoraki/Mount Cook
- Mount Aspiring
- Learn More About: New Zealand's Parks and Forests
Wherever you are in New Zealand you will find day walks of great interest. There are walks in the main centers, particularly Auckland and Wellington, but nowhere is far from an interesting walk overland or by the water.
Some of the best places for day walks are:
- Waitakere Ranges, West Auckland
- Auckland Region
- Coromandel Peninsula
- Mount Maunganui
- Lake Taupo
- Tongariro National Park
- Eastern Bay of Plenty
- Aoraki/Mount Cook
- Kahurangi National Park
- Central Otago Rail Trail
Te Araroa Trail
Te Araroa means "The Long Pathway". This is a network of walks and trails that extends the total length of New Zealand, from Cape Reinga and the top of the North Island to Bluff at the very bottom of the South Island. It was opened in 2012 and in total covers a distance of more than 1860 miles (3000 kilometers).
More Information for Trampers
The most important things to consider when undertaking a walk of any length in New Zealand are the weather conditions and the equipment to take. Many people underestimate the conditions of New Zealand's walking areas and there are several incidents each year involving searches for lost trampers.
The weather can be extremely changeable at all times of the year, especially in the alpine regions. It is important to be well equipped and to alert others to your walking intentions. In many areas there is a DOC office or Information Center where you can record your planned itinerary. It is a very good idea to use this facility so that should you get into trouble on your walk the authorities know to come looking for you.