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Things To Do

New Zealand Walking

Bush Walk, South IslandSome call it hiking, others call it walking - New Zealanders call it 'tramping'.
Tramping is pretty much a national pastime in New Zealand and there are plenty of places for a good old tramp. There are eight Great Walks, which are featured in detail here along with other guided walks, but there are around fifty rewarding tracks around the country. There are walks for every level of fitness and experience and there really is no better way to experience the country's magnificent scenery and unspoiled natural beauty. Two thirds of New Zealand is covered in National Park and there are two World Heritage Areas.

Whether you go it alone as an independent walker or take a guided walk there is nothing to worry about. There are no snakes and no chance of getting lost as all tracks are well-marked. On some tracks however it's recommended that boiled or bottled drinking water be taken.

Kauri Tree, NorthlandThere are many advantages to guided walking - you won't have to carry a heavy pack; all meals are provided; warm, comfortable beds await each night; there are hot showers; and a knowledgeable guide will definitely enrich the experience. You walk the same tracks as independent walkers but you get to stay in comfortable huts with resident cooks. Guided walks cost between NZ$500 and NZ$1600 for 4 to 5 days and we can arrange them for you as part of an itinerary. The tracks that have guided walks are marked ***. A cost guide for independent walkers - allow around NZ$12 to NZ$15 per adult a night for hut accommodation and campsites around half that.

Return to topNorth Island

Lake Waikaremoana Track
Closest Town: Rotorua
Best Time: All year round
Length of Walk: 3-4 days
51km of moderate, easy walking, suggest 3 - 4 days. For independent walkers only.
This walk offers magnificent scenery and plenty of opportunity for swimming and fishing (you will need a licence to fish for rainbow trout). The track can be walked all year round and reaches a high point of 100m giving excellent views of the lake and across to the Pacific Ocean. There's a variety of terrain and vegetation from beech forest to dense rainforest.
The track can be walked in either direction (most people start at Onepoto). Car parking is available and buses run to and from Rotorua.
There are five huts equipped with heating, mattresses, water supplies and toilets as well as many camping areas. In summer, independent walkers should carry a tent in case the huts are full as well as drinking water, food, portable stoves and fuel.

Tongariro Northern Circuit
Closest Town: Whakapapa Village
Best Time: Nov - Apr
Length of Walk: 3-5 days
A challenging walk but suitable for all ages with a reasonable level of fitness. Both guided and independent, allow 3 to 4 days.
This is a spectacular alpine walk through a volcanic World Heritage Area. The most popular time of year to walk is November to April when the track is normally clear of snow. In winter the track becomes a full alpine experience requiring ice axes and crampons (these can be hired in Whakapapa). Strong footwear and waterproof clothing should be taken year round.
The track winds its way between three still active volcanoes, past steaming vents, hot springs, old explosion craters and lava flows and through beech forests and across alpine tussock lands. There are also many beautiful lakes to rest beside and hot springs to soak in.
There are four huts and camping is only permitted near each of the huts (facilities at the huts may be used).
There are three access points to the circuit but the logical starting point is from the visitor centre in Whakapapa village.
The guided trek (summer only) is a five-day package involving three separate day walks where trampers return each night to the comfort of the Grand Chateau Hotel. One of the walks is the Tongariro Crossing which is touted as NZ's best day walk. The package includes 4 nights accommodation at the Chateau, all meals and backpacks.

Whirinaki Track
Closest Town: Murpara
Best Time: Oct - Apr
Length of Walk: 2 days
An easy 2 day walk through one of the largest tracts of untouched native reserves in the North Island. It combines lush rainforest with authentic Maori experience.
Special features include a helicopter flight to the start of the track, a visit to a marae (tribal meeting place) for a Maori welcome and hangi and accommodation is upmarket camping style with hot showers and flush toilets.


Return to topSouth Island

Abel Tasman Coast Track
Closest Town: Picton
Best Time: All year round
Length of Walk: 3-5 days
This is a popular tramp because it has beaches, forest, waterfalls, lagoons and the sea. Anyone can hike through the park on their own but there are guided three or five day walks. You don't have to be fit - there's a maximum of five hours tramping a day and there's no camping. The accommodation is in comfy lodges.
You cover the same distance on the three or five day trips, the only difference is a couple of days rest in the middle. There's plenty of local flora, birdlife and marine life (dolphins, penguins, seals and fish) but the main attraction is the views because large sections of the track hug the coast.
Independent walkers usually start at the southern end, from Marahau. There are five huts with heating, bunks, mattresses, water supply and toilets. There are no cooking facilities so you'll need to carry a stove and tents should be taken in summer months in case the huts are full. Guided walkers start at the northern end after being transported by boat. The historic lodge accommodation has twin bedrooms right on the beachfront, hot showers, flush toilets and drying rooms.

Heaphy Track
Closest Town: Nelson/Westport
Best Time: All year round
Length of Walk: 4-6 days
Average physical fitness is needed for this 4 to 6 day track through Nelson's Kahurangi National park, home to more than half of New Zealand's plant species. Beautiful red and silver beech trees accentuate the forest before it opens up to the wild seashore of the West Coast. In summer, tiny orchids flower on the forest floor. Native birds include the weka, tui, bellbird and robin and you may be lucky enough to see (or hear) the great spotted kiwi.
Most of the seven huts on the track have cooking facilities and all have bunks, heating, water and toilets. Camping is permitted in ten designated areas. Bus and taxi services are available from local towns to both ends of the track and regular bus services link the major centres of Nelson and Westport.

Kepler Track
Closest Town: Te Anau
Best Time: Oct - Apr
Length of Walk: 4 days
Above average fitness and experience is needed for this diverse 4-day tramp. On this one you'll stroll beside lakes, climb mountain ridge tracks and gaze across u-shaped glacial valleys. Beech is the main forest tree and there are many ferns, mosses and perching plants. Birds include NZ's alpine parrot, the Kea and the brown kiwi.
Between late October and April huts are serviced, equipped with heating, gas cooking, gas lighting, mattresses, running water and flush toilets. Camping is only permitted in certain areas.

Milford Track
Closest Town: Te Anau
Best Time: Oct - Apr
Length of Walk: 1-4 days
This is a spectacular walk through World Heritage Area from the northern end of Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound. It has been described as the finest walk in the world but it's no gentle stroll - you will need reasonable fitness. There's up to six hours walking each day, sometimes over rocky, uneven parts and rainfall is high all year round.
The area features dramatic glacier-cut fjords, deep u-shaped valleys, spectacular waterfalls and areas of rainforest with rare endangered species of plants animals and birds.
This walk has to be booked and operates from late October to mid April. Only 40 independent passes are issued each day, the track must be walked in one direction and one night must be spent in each hut. The walk begins and ends by boat and buses connect from Te Anau.
The guided walk uses comfortable accommodation with hot showers, flush toilets, bunkrooms with duvets and drying rooms. Soap, shampoo, towels and hairdryers and all meals are provided. You need only carry a sleeping sheet, personal essentials and clothes. There's pre-track accommodation in Te Anau and post-track at Mitre Peak Lodge.

Rakiura Track
Closest Town: Stewart Island
Best Time: All year round
Length of Walk: 2-3 days
This tramp is on the southern Stewart Island, a 2 to 3 day forest and coastal circuit for walkers with reasonable fitness. It's a place of great natural beauty from the sea to cloudy, windswept summits and the coastal and forest birdlife is unusually prolific. The huts have places for 30 people but it's advisable to take a tent in case the huts are full. Rainfall is high and it's quite cold so warm, waterproof clothing should be taken.

Routeburn Track
Closest Town: Queenstown
Best Time: Oct - Apr
Length of Walk: 3 days
This one is a challenging 39km through Fiordland and is very popular in summer. In winter it is extremely hazardous for all but the most experienced alpine travellers. Independent trampers can travel in either direction and features include waterfalls, forested valleys, rich bird life, lakes and spectacular mountain scenery, ferns, mosses, lichens and perching plants.
To prevent overcrowding in the huts and campsites between October and April bookings are essential.
The four huts are equipped with cooking and heating facilities, bunks, water supply and toilets. A maximum of two nights stay in any one hut applies. Camping is only permitted in three designated areas to protect the sub-alpine ecosystem. Bus companies service both ends of the track from Queenstown, Te Anau and Milford.
On guided walks, trampers are encouraged to walk at their own pace for maximum enjoyment and accommodation is in private lodges with all meals, linen and towels provided (packs and rain jackets can also be supplied).

Queen Charlotte Track
Closest Town: Picton
Best Time: All year
Length of Walk: 3-4 days
This is a 4-day walk around the bays and ridges between Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds in the Marlborough Sounds at the top of the South Island. There are stunning coastal views and a range of local flora including beech forest, rimu and nikau palms. Dolphins frequent the Sounds and several species of forest bird have their home on the track
There are camp sites and guided walkers stay in a variety of independently run bed and breakfast and lodge accommodation. The guided walk cost includes water transport to and from the track, boat transfer of luggage each day, all meals, a light daypack and a dolphin watching trip. Group sizes are kept to around 12 and there are 3-day, 4-day walks and a 4-day walk that includes 2 days sea kayaking.

Hollyford Track
Closest Town: Te Anau
Best Time: All year round
Length of Walk: 4-6 days
A very rewarding, medium-level tramp. Take some snow-covered peaks, sprinkle them with waterfalls, add a couple of lakes and a good helping of rainforest and the result is a pristine part of the South Island's west coast.
Because the trail is from the mountains to the sea, it's pretty much downhill all the way. It's not all footslog - jetboats cover some of the distance and at the track end, Martins Bay, there's the opportunity to get up close with seals, penguins and dolphins. And the NZ way of roughing it is staying at St Martins Bay Lodge with comfy twin-share accommodation, showers and gourmet meals.
The four and five day tours end with a scenic flight out of Milford Sound, a cruise and a coach trip back to Te Anau - the six day trampers choose to walk out.
Guided walks begin with a pre-tour briefing and dinner in Te Anau, group size is limited to 16 and walkers need only carry a day pack for clothing and personal items.

Waitutu Track
Closest Town: Invercargill
Best Time: Nov-Apr
Length of Walk: 4 days
This is a 4-day guided walk along the wild south-west coast of the South island, past historical sites and local wildlife such as penguins, dolphins and seals. Walkers cross a number of wooden viaducts (including the Percy Burn, thought to be the oldest remaining wooden viaduct in the world). The trip includes a jetboat ride up one of the country's steepest rivers to Lake Hauroko.
The guided package includes all meals, transfers, hut fees and accommodation at the Riverton Rock historic hotel pre and post walk with camp style sleeping on the track (all equipment is provided).

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