Great Walks of New Zealand
New Zealand Great Walks are specially designated, well-maintained hiking trails. Designated for their rugged beauty, these hikes range in duration from two to six days. If short on time, there are also half- or full-day guided hikes (or paddle trips) that include transportation. Here’s what you need to know.
Abel Tasman Coastal Track
Trace the tideline of turquoise coves, which can be explored on foot, by kayak, or a combination of both. The national park isn’t far from Nelson, and the entire distance covers 37 miles (60 kilometers) with access by water taxi.
The popularity of this 33-mile (54-kilometer) hike means it’s often booked months in advance. Leave the travel details up to a guide and combine a rainforest walk past lush waterfalls with a Milford Sound cruise or a scenic flight from Queenstown.
Pass alpine lakes, beech forest, and snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps on this incomparably beautiful 19-mile (32-kilometer) track. Located in Fiordland and Mt. Aspiring National Park—part of UNESCO-listed Te Wahipounamu—it’s accessed from Te Anau or Queenstown.
Tongariro Northern Circuit
Traverse a crater-filled volcanic landscape that features several Emerald Lakes tucked away in this World Heritage–listed national park on the central North Island. Shorten the 26-mile (43-kilometer) route with the ever-popular 12-mile (19-kilometer) Tongariro Alpine Crossing in one day.
Beech forest gives way to tussock fields with sweeping views of Fiordland National Park on the Kepler, a 37-mile (60-km) circuit that begins along the shoreline of Lake Te Anau.
Combine hiking with canoe paddling on the Whanganui Journey, situated in its namesake national park on the North Island. Start your river trip from Taumarunui or Whakahoro and finish in Pipiriki, a distance of 54 or 90 miles (87 or 145 kilometers).
The 48-mile (78-kilometer) distance can be covered one-way from Golden Bay on the northwest coast of the South Island. Beech trees, red tussock, podocarp forest, and nikau palms frame the rustic views in Kahurangi National Park.
Step foot on remote Rakiura/Stewart Island, just a short flight or ferry ride south of Invercargill, and follow a 19-mile (32-kilometer) circuit filled with New Zealand birdlife that thrives in the native bush.
Not far from Rotorua lies a one-way track that covers 28 miles (46 kilometers) and takes you past forest-clad mountain lakes in Te Urewera.