Great Walks in New Zealand

Great Walks of New Zealand
Great Walks in New Zealand

If you want to truly experience our vast wilderness down here in New Zealand then there is only one thing you can do… get amongst it! Lucky we have a great network of hiking tracks, each offering a different perspective of our epic landscapes. Great walks in New Zealand are the elite of the elite. In New Zealand’s most iconic, untouched and beautiful places, these nine walks have something to delight around every turn – native wildlife popping up to say “kia ora,”indescribably magic views and landscapes so contrasting it’s like you’re visiting many different countries all at once. A True 100% Pure New Zealand Experience 

New Zealands Great Walks Map
Walks in New Zealand's North Island

Lake Waikaremoana Track:

In the Te Uruwera region, the Lake Waikaremoana Track is an enchanting journey along the shores of mighty Lake Waikaremoana, amongst the magical “Goblin Forest,” past wetlands and through misty river valleys. Ngai Tuhoe is the tribe of the Te Urewera area, and the three-four-day hike around Lake Waikaremoana captures the spiritual connection and respect they have for the land. Keeping farmers and foresters away for centuries, the Ngai Tuhoe people have maintained and nurtured the largest area of native bush in the North Island, which homes nearly every type of New Zealand native bird.

Take a look at the 4 Day Lake Waikaremoana Track Hiking Itinerary and Prices

Lake Waikaremoana Track

Tongariro Northern Circuit:

Ever walked on an active volcano? The Tongaririo Northern Circuit loops around the almost perfectly cone-shaped Mount Ngauruhoe (or better known by all you Lord of the Rings fanatics as Mount Doom) and you can even choose to climb up it. Set in one of New Zealand’s most unique national parks, Tongariro, the whole circuit takes four days and guides you through an awe-inspiring volcanic hinterland. You will pass lava flows, turquoise crater lakes, steaming valleys and golden herb fields. As delightful as it sounds, the climate is very harsh in this part of the country so make sure you pack for all weather conditions – from blistering sun to blizzards.

Take a look at the 4 Day Tongariro Hiking Itinerary Itinerary and Prices

The Tongaririo Northern Circuit loop

The Whanganui River Journey: Walking on Water

If you are someone who thrives on something a little different, the Whanganui Journey most probably is one you want to undertake. Technically it should be called one of New Zealand’s Great Canoes instead of Great Walks, as most of the trip is done on the water. This five day adventure takes you deep into a paradise, where it will feel like you’re the only human for miles… and it’s very possible you could be! As you twist and turn down one of the longest rivers in New Zealand, the Whanganui River, cliffs soar high above you, forests reflect in the water and little beaches invite you for a picnic. Along the way there is even a small hike to the Bridge to Nowhere. You will realise the meaning behind its interesting name when you see the lone piece of infrastructure floating amidst a dense natural landscape.

Take a look at the 4 Day Whanganui River Journey Itinerary and Prices

Whanganui River Journey
Walks in the South Island

The 3 Day Routeburn Track

This is one of the shortest of New Zealand’s Great Walks but packs in some of the biggest scenery in the country. The Routeburn Track is a 2 - 3 day alpine hike linking two iconic national parks, Mount Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park. The highest part of the track is 1255m above sea level so the views are out to snowy mountains, mirroring lakes and valleys carved by glaciers. In winter, this alpine location is prone to ice and avalanches so hiking the Routeburn in the cold season is not recommended.  Kepler Track: Most of New Zealand’s Great Walks are historic trails, carved by Maori or by pioneers.

See a great Itinerary that includes the 3 Day Guided Routeburn Track Itinerary and Prices

Alternatively, you could do the  3 Day Self-Guided Routeburn Freedomwalk Itinerary and Prices

Routeburn Guided Track

The Kepler Track

The Kepler Track is different; it was carefully planned to highlight all the best bits of Fiordland, so the paths are made for easy walking and scenic panoramas. Three-four days of traversing mountains, ancient Beech forests and river flats and you’ll experience everything which is truly amazing about the South-west corner of New Zealand. 

Take a look at the 4 Day Guided Kepler Track Itinerary and Prices

Kepler Track

Rakiura Track:

On our Southernmost Island, Stewart Island, the Rakiura Track is for those wanting to escape civilization. With less than 400 people living on the Island, the native wildlife and natural surroundings are abundant - it is one of the best places to spot New Zealand’s national icon, the Kiwi, in its natural habitat. The three-day hike is easy compared to others, with boardwalks to keep your feet dry and gradients no higher than 300m above sea level; although, it is in no way boring, following raw coastlines, negotiating rocky plateaus and even passing an ancient Maori village and sawmill site. 

Take a look at the 3 Day Guided Rakiura Track

The Rakiura Track

Heaphy Track:

The Heaphy Track has everything from sandy beaches to rugged mountain tops and all the forests, rivers and unique rock formations in-between. If you are after variety, then the Heapy Track is a must for you! It is not an easy hike but each stretch of track is like you are in another world, so you’re mind shouldn’t linger on your sore feet for long. On the Heaphy Track you will be following in the footsteps of Pounamu (New Zealand’s jade) hunters hundreds of years before your time. It’s located on the upper West Coast of the South Island. 

Take a look at the 3 Day Guided Heaphy Track Itinerary and Prices

Heaphy Track

Abel Tasman Coastal Track:

This peaceful, 3 – 5 day hike is one of the best ways to see the beauty of Abel Tasman National Park and meet the wildlife who inhabit the glittering shoreline. One of the many perks of this coastal escapade is that you do not need hardcore hiking boots like the other Great Walks; some sturdy walking/running shoes (and your swimsuit for a quick cool down) is all you need to explore the rich rainforests, crystal clear coves and view-commanding cliffs of the Abel Tasman National Park. 

Take a look at the 5 Day Abel Tasman Relaxed Adventure Itinerary and Prices

Abel Tasman Coastal Track

The Milford Track:

The Milford Track is New Zealand’s most famous walk and for good reason. Beginning at glacial-carved Lake Te Anau, this four-day hike is the perfect marriage of alpine and fiord scenery. Snowcapped mountains, never-ending fiords, bush-clad cliffs and torrential waterfalls accompany you on your way, and the well-known dynamic weather pattern makes it all even more special. Rain brings more power to the waterfalls, lingering mist gives a mysterious feel to the valleys and when it is still you cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is a reflection in the mirror-like waters 


See a great Itinerary that includes the Day Guided Milford Track Itinerary and Prices

Alternatively, you could do the  5 Day Self-Guided Milford Track Freedom Walk Itinerary and Prices

Milford Track

All these hikes sound pretty amazing, right? Can’t choose one over the other? Don’t worry, most of New Zealand’s Great Walks have the option to complete just one leg or even only a short day walk on the track, so you can still see the best of the New Zealand great outdoors, even if you’re pressed for time! To rest your legs between hikes,

First Light travel reckons it’s an awesome idea to drive yourself when in New Zealand. This way when you hear about an awesome hike from one of our friendly locals, you have the freedom to veer off-course to see what all the hype is about.

Get in touch – we’re keen hikers and road trip enthusiasts, and we’ll help you plan the New Zealand trip you’ve always dreamed of!

Updated on the 23 November 2018

New Zealand Walking Tours


Suzie Thorp
: 2 Oct 2017 (Last updated: 12 May 2021)

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