New Zealand’s best walks
A walk to some means the chance to unwind while a walk to others means the promise of adventure. New Zealand's best walks are a spellbinding mix of scenery, history, culture and wildlife, and we have collected some our favourites to share with you. Our short list of New Zealand's best walks starts in the North and works its way South, offering something for residents and holidaymakers of all fitness levels.
Te Ara Hura Walkway, Waiheke Island, North Island
Just a pleasant ferry ride from Auckland City lies Waiheke Island, a peaceful oasis flush with secluded beaches, flourishing native bush and gorgeous wineries. The Te Ara Hura Walkway Network allows visitors to explore the beautiful island on foot, with the choice of either completing a short section of the track within a matter of hours or walking the entire network over approximately five days. The walkway network is split into four segments: Headlands, Beaches 'n' Baches, Forest Heart and Far End—with each between 15km and 25km long. Along your travels you will experience native reserves, historic sites, vineyards, sandy beaches and quaint villages boasting unique souvenir stores and cafes bursting with character. The Te Ara Hura Walkway Network is an enjoyable and active way to experience all that Waiheke Island has to offer.
Abel Tasman Coastal Track, South Island
Abel Tasman National Park is heralded as one of the country’s most beautiful, and the Abel Tasman Coastal Track one of the country’s most popular walks. The 60-kilometre-long track constitutes a three to five day walk in its entirety, depending on the speed at which is it travelled, and walkers can choose to explore the specific sections of the track that they find most appealing. Those wishing to hike a longer distance have a range of accommodation options at their disposal including campsites and huts, cosy lodges or boats moored in the bays. Smaller sections can be completed in a single day, with the Bark Bay to Torrent Bay track offering spectacular views over both land and sea and a stroll over a charming swing bridge draped 15 metres above the Falls River. You can choose to hike independently or with an expert guide, the track can be navigated in either direction and you can access specific locations by water taxi or kayak if you wish. Thanks to the region’s mild and pleasant climate and the well-sheltered environment, the track is generally open throughout the year.
Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway, South Island
If looking for more of a pleasant, leisurely stroll as opposed to a hike through nature, the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway is the perfect answer. Easily accessible from the Kaikoura town centre, the 11.7-kilometre walk takes approximately three hours to complete and is designed to be suitable for families. The walkway loops around the Kaikoura Peninsula which juts out into the Pacific Ocean, offering expansive sea views and the chance of encounters with thriving local marine wildlife including seals, seabirds, dolphins and whales. Dotted throughout the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway are a collection of information panels, sharing interesting and often surprising insights about the surrounding history, flora and fauna.
Hollyford Track, Fiordland
The Hollyford Track begins at the Darran Mountains in the Fiordland National Park, follows the Hollyford River and ends at Martin Bay on the West Coast. Classified as an ‘advanced’ track by the New Zealand Department of Conservation, the Hollyford Track is described as a backcountry experience for those who like to venture a little off the beaten track while enjoying the benefits of well-maintained facilities. Unlike other tracks in the South Island, the Hollyford Track has no alpine sections, making it accessible in any season. Highlights of the Hollyford Track include passing by lakes, waterfalls and geological wonders, as well as crossing the longest swing bridge in Fiordland. Elevate your experience with a fully guided and catered tour that will see you arriving in and departing from Martins Bay by helicopter, enjoying luxurious overnight accommodation and cruising sections of the wilderness by jetboat.
Hump Ridge Track, Fiordland
Heading further South, the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track is a 62km, three-day loop walk located at the bottom of the South Island. Just one hour from Invercargill, one and a half hours from Te Anau and two and a half hours from Queenstown, the scenery and terrain you will encounter on this walk is as diverse as it is beautiful. You’ll cross swing bridges, clifftops, boardwalks and viaducts, pass through native bush and amble along the coast as you take in oceans, islands, coastlines, mountains and glaciers. The Hump Ridge Track is oft applauded for its warm and friendly hospitality, with two cosy, perfectly situated lodges offering walkers hot showers, comfortable beds and wholesome meals. Skip the steep inclines and the heavy lifting by having a helicopter deliver you or your pack directly to the Okaka Lodge, or select a guided experience with cooked breakfasts, packed lunches and three course dinners offering sustenance to see you through your Fiordland adventure.
Rakiura Track, Stewart Island
Stewart Island's Rakiura Track is one of the Department of Conservation's 'Great Walks', defined as well-formed tracks that pass through diverse, spectacular scenery and are easily accessible from major towns. The Rakiura Track is a three-day trek, weaving through peaceful native bush while showcasing the rugged beauty of the island's untouched coastlines. The track passes by interesting historical sites such a rusted steam boiler, a remnant from an old sawmill which ceased operation 90 years ago. Bird-watchers will marvel at the incredible bird population and delight in the chance to see the nocturnal native kiwi in its natural habitat. Two well-equipped Department of conservation huts offer a warm, dry solace each night, so with the right preparation and by booking ahead, the track can be explored at any time of year.