5 New Zealand Bucket list walks

Rocky tors and boardwalk on Hump Ridge above Okaka Lodge | Sandra Appleby
Rocky tors and boardwalk on Hump Ridge above Okaka Lodge | Sandra Appleby

Are you looking for your next walking adventure?

Whether you want multi-day treks or shorter local hikes, you’ll encounter awe-inspiring landscapes on premier walking tracks around Aotearoa.  Magical native forests, lakes, rivers, rugged mountain peaks, deep gorges and vast valleys place you in the very heart of Lord of the Rings landscapes. Most of the tracks are well-formed, easy to follow, and are accessible from major towns with excellent accommodation and transport.

Here’s 5 of our favourite New Zealand Walks for you to knock off your list.

1. The Abel Tasman Coast Track

The Abel Tasman Coast Track is located in the Abel Tasman National Park at the top of the South Island. With its temperate climate, golden beaches and lush coastal native bush, this spectacularly beautiful location resembles a tropical paradise.

The 60km track takes 3-5 days to walk and is graded Introductory to Moderate. You can walk it in either direction, take a water taxi, or kayak between Bays. The walk is not a circuit track, so transport needs to be organised. Accommodation along the track must also be booked in advance.

With so much on offer in the Park, it’s a must to stay a few extra days either before or after your walk. Explore the crystal clear bays with their impressive rock formations and wildlife, and the vibrant city of Nelson is just a short 40-minute drive away.

Explore this trail on one of our Abel Tasman trips.

2. Queen Charlotte Track

The iconic Queen Charlotte Track is located in Marlborough, 60 minutes from Picton at the top of the South Island. Known for its stunning coastline and native bush, the track offers panoramic ocean views and encounters with Weka, Fantail, Wood Pigeon and seals.

The 70km track takes 3-5 days to walk and is graded Moderate. The track stretches from historic Ship Cove to Anakiwa in the Queen Charlotte Sound. Offering a rich history, incredible scenery and the freedom to walk without heavy packs with a network of water taxi transfers available.

With water’s edge resorts and lodges, you can make the most of discovering the beautiful historic bays in extra comfort or perhaps stay the night on board a boat in secluded coves where others simply cannot reach.

Explore this trail on one of our Queen Charlotte adventures.

The utterly beautiful location of Furneaux Lodge |  <i>Furneaux Lodge</i>

3. Kepler Track

Unlike many other multi-day walks, the Kepler Track was custom built for pleasure, rather than necessity. This jaw-dropping track showcases the very best features Fiordland has to offer. Huge mountains, native forest, cascading waterfalls and glacier-carved valleys.

The 60km track takes 4 days to walk and is graded Moderate. Vast tussock-covered ridge-lines and spectacular alpine vistas contrast with lakeside moss-draped beech forest in this wilderness adventure. The best time to walk the track is from late October to late April.

There are three huts and two campsites provided by the Department of Conservation (DOC) at points along the track. Manapouri and Te Anau are handy entry/exit points for the Track. Both towns have great restaurants, quality accommodation and quintessential alpine lake scenery.

Explore this trail on our Fiordland, Hollyford and Stewart Island Trails.

4. The Heaphy Track

Where mountains and sea combine, The Heaphy Track is located in the Kahurangi National Park connecting the Aorere Valley in Golden Bay with Karamea along the West Coast.  Every day along the track offers something new in scenery and combines the best of New Zealand alpine environments with palm-fringed coastlines.

The 82km track is graded Moderate and takes 4-5 days to walk. You’ll pass through ancient beech forests, tussock land, limestone caves and cliffs, cross rivers and trek through the rainforest. An abundance of native birds can be found in this region and huts are spaced evenly along the track.

Most people will walk from Collingwood to Karamea and unlike other tracks that close over winter, The Heaphy Track is open all year round.

Explore the track on our Heaphy Hike.

5. Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track

This track is renowned for epic adventuring, with a true Kiwi blend of nature and heritage. Traversing some of New Zealand’s wildest landscapes, the walk passes through Fiordland National Park, ancient regenerating forest, Maori land and deserted coastlines.

The 61km loop track takes 3 days to walk and is graded Moderate to Challenging. The track requires a good level of fitness, with long walking days and some steep and rugged sections. Two private backcountry lodges are available on the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track.

The highlight is the loop track at the top of the Hump Ridge range, winding around soaring limestone tors, offering panoramic views of southwest Fiordland, the Southern Ocean, and Stewart Island.

Explore this trail on the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track trip.
Walking through native forest on the Kepler Track along the Waiau River |  <i>Douglas McKay</i> Hiking along the Heaphy Track in the Kahurangi National Park Rocky tors and boardwalk on Hump Ridge above Okaka Lodge |  <i>Sandra Appleby</i>

Choosing the right walk can separate the extraordinary from the everyday tourist experience. Great Walks of New Zealand has unrivalled knowledge and offers highlights of all of the above walks. Get in touch with us and benefit from our experience. We’ll help you choose the right track option, so you can join one of our walking trips that are sure to challenge and delight you.

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