Located in the heart of the South Pacific Ocean, far away from the rest of the world, lies New Zealand.
Made up of two main islands, this is a destination high up on many people’s bucket lists, and quite rightly so.
If you love exhilarating road trips, adrenaline-fuelled adventures, and unbelievable nature, then there’s a good chance you’ll love New Zealand.
New Zealand is known the world over for its amazing scenery, and the best way to explore it by far is by hiking it.
This place is quite literally a paradise for hikers, with exceptional hiking trails that pass through breathtaking settings across the entire country.
In this article, I will be sharing with you 10 reasons why you need to go on a hiking trip to New Zealand.
I’m sure by the time we reach number 10; you’ll be ready to book the next ticket here. Let’s get started.
Why You Need To Go Hiking in New Zealand
The Trails and Tracks are World Class
To start off with, New Zealand has some excellent hiking trails and tracks. Throughout the country, you will find well-maintained tracks and trails, which means hiking is easily accessible to everyone.
The world-class tracks here are managed by the Department of Conservation which is a government agency responsible for the protection of New Zealand’s nature and cultural heritage.
The Department of Conservation has created a great hiking infrastructure throughout the country; for instance, footbridges, boardwalks, staircases, and paths have been created in places that would have otherwise been impassable.
A lot of this has been created with the preservation of the environment in mind, but this has inevitably made hiking a lot more accessible.
Another great feature of the trails, which is not always commonplace in other countries, is good signposting. Almost all the trails and tracks in New Zealand are very well signposted throughout.
This means you’ll spend a lot less time getting lost and more time enjoying yourself out on the trails.
The Backcountry Huts and Campsites
One very unique aspect of hiking in New Zealand is the system of backcountry huts. There are almost 1000 backcountry huts across the entire country that provide shelter from bad weather and act as places to stay on overnight hiking trips.
These huts are great, they allow you to stay out in the backcountry, and they have all the basic facilities you’ll need, such as toilets, heating, and running water.
The huts are managed by the Department of Conservation. Some huts on the more popular trails have a warden, based at the hut, who can provide you with important information about the area.
Not only are the huts really fun to stay at, but they also provide much access to the rugged backcountry.
For instance, over longer stretches of track, you’re likely to find multiple huts along the route, giving you the opportunity to venture deep into the backcountry.
As well as huts, there are also a lot of backcountry campsites where you can pitch your tent if you prefer more privacy.
The 10 New Zealand Great Walks
There are so many hiking trails and tracks to choose from in New Zealand, but if you’re looking for the best, you’ll want to try The Great Walks.
The New Zealand Great Walks are a series of 10 multi-day hikes across both the South Island, North Island, and Stewart Island/Rakiura.
They are called The Great Walks because of their outstanding walking tracks, which pass through some of New Zealand’s most amazing scenery.
Each of the Great Walks gives you an opportunity to experience a different part of this amazing place. Hike along alpine ridgelines, through active volcanoes, along coastal paths, around large lakes, and among towering mountain peaks.
There are three Great Walks on the North Island, six on the South Island, and just one on Stewart Island/Rakiura.
All the Great Walks are in high demand, but some of the most popular are located in Fiordland National Park.
There are three here in total, the Kepler, Routeburn, and Milford Tracks, with the latter often being referred to as ‘the finest walk in the world.’
It’s a Perfect Destination for Mountain Lovers
If you love mountains, you will be spoilt for choice in New Zealand. The country lies on the edge of both the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, which has created some amazing mountain ranges.
The most impressive mountain range is the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana which spans the length of the South Island.
The tallest peak in New Zealand, Aoraki/Mount Cook, is found in this mountain range, standing at 3724 metres tall. All of New Zealand’s 24 peaks over 3000 metres are actually located in the Southern Alps.
The Hooker Valley Track and Mueller Hut Route are both great hikes if you want to experience this beautiful mountain range.
The North Island also has some remarkable mountains. However, these are volcanic peaks, unlike the Southern Alps on the South Island.
The most notable peaks are Mount Taranaki, located in Egmont National Park, as well as Mount Ruapehu, Mount Tongariro, and Mount Ngāuruhoe, located in Tongariro National Park.
The Pouakai Crossing or Circuit and Mount Taranaki Summit Track are great hikes to experience magnificent Mount Taranaki.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing, on the other hand, is a very popular track that navigates you through the volcanic peaks of Tongariro National Park.
You Can Hike Through Active Volcanic Landscapes
Following on from the last point, there are many places worth hiking in New Zealand. Where you can actually hike through volcanic landscapes.
The best example of this is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing which is a day hike that takes you right between Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngāuruhoe
The Tongariro Northern Circuit is another great option for those looking for a multi-day hike.
There are also a few hikes that actually allow you to summit some of New Zealand’s volcanoes. The Mount Tarawera crater walk is one of them; this is a guided walk that takes you right to the crater’s edge.
The Mount Taranaki Summit Track is another option if you want to hike up one of New Zealand’s most spectacular looking volcanoes.
Rangitoto Island, located off the coast of Auckland, is another interesting volcano worth a visit. The Rangitoto Summit Track is a short walk that takes you on a journey through the old lava fields of the volcano.
There’s Hundreds of Outstandingly Beautiful Lakes
As well as stunning mountains and volcanoes, New Zealand is home to thousands of beautiful lakes. Many of these lakes have hiking tracks and trails situated close by, and are well worth visiting during your hiking in New Zealand trip.
The Lake Waikaremoana Track is perhaps one of the best hikes in the country that takes you around the edge of a lake.
This superb multi-day trip is actually one of the Great Walks I talked about earlier and is located in Te Urewera on the East Coast of the North Island.
Check out this great guide to learn more about the Lake Waikaremoana Track.
The list is endless when it comes to lake hikes, but there are a few that stand out from the crowd. Another Great Walk track for unbelievable lake views is the Kepler Track.
This hike gives you the chance to hike beside both Lake Te Anau and Lake Manapouri.
There are a few hikes near Lake Wanaka, which are definitely worth a visit too. Roys Peak Track is one of the most well-known and has panoramic views of the beautiful lake.
Other popular short hikes are the Lake Marian Track located in Fiordland National Park and Lake Matheson in Westland Tai Poutini National Park.
The Diverse and Unique Nature and Wildlife
New Zealand is home to some hugely diverse nature. As well as mountains, volcanoes, and lakes, the country has so much to offer; roaring rivers, untamed forests, rocky coastlines, sandy beaches, and temperate rainforests, it’s all here.
The wildlife in New Zealand is very interesting and incredibly unique as well. New Zealand is often referred to as the land of birds because of its large variety of bird species. There are over 200 native bird species, and many of them are found nowhere else in the world.
Some well-known native birds include the Kiwi, Tūī, Kākā, and Kea. The Kea is an interesting bird as it is the only alpine parrot in the world, as well as being one of the world’s most intelligent birds.
You’ll spot them on alpine hikes on the South Island as they are very inquisitive and confident.
There are a Variety of Trail and Track Types
There is a lot of choice when it comes to hiking trails, so you’ll easily be able to find something to fit your needs. New Zealand has short walks, day hikes, multi-day backpacking trips, and its very own thru-hike.
If you want to try an easy-going short walk, the Devil’s Punchbowl Walking Track and Blue Pools Track are both great South Island trails. For day hikes, try the Hooker Valley Track, Roys Peak Track, or Coromandel Walkway.
There’s no shortage of multi-day hikes in New Zealand, and if you want to try some, I’d recommend you start with the Great Walks.
If, however you want to try something a little more challenging, the Queen Charlotte Track, Old Ghost Road, and Hollyford Track are all great.
If you’re a keen hiker, New Zealand has a thru hike known as the Te Araroa trail, which translates to English as ‘The Long Path.’
This is a 3000 km journey that starts in Cape Reinga at the top of the North Island and finishes in Bluff at the bottom of the South Island.
It takes approximately 4 months to complete and allows you to explore the entire country.
There are Amazing Hikes Throughout the Entire Country
It really isn’t too difficult to find a good hike in New Zealand. No matter where you happen to be, there’s beauty to be found everywhere.
Some of the best places to find an interesting hiking trail is in one of the 13 National Parks. Three of the National Parks are located on the North Island, nine are on the South Island, and there is one on Stewart Island/Rakiura.
Are wondering what´s the best region on the South Island to go hiking in New Zealand?
Amazing hikes are not just limited to the National Parks; it is even possible to find great trails close to the major cities. For instance, the capital city Wellington has plenty of tiptop trails.
There’s the Skyline Walkway, Northern Walkway, and Escarpment Track, to name a few. Many of these tracks and walkways can be accessed right from the centre of the city.
It’s a Great Place for Hikers of All Levels
And our final reason why you should hiking in New Zealand is there are trails suitable for every level and type of hiker.
Maybe you’re looking for some family-friendly hikes you can take the kids on? Or perhaps you’re looking for something that is really going to test your limits physically?
New Zealand has a trail suitable for you, whatever your ability; this is great as it means everyone has access to the stunning nature.
A great many of the shorter walking tracks are suitable for families, such as the Hooker Valley Track and Blue Pools Track.
Many of the popular day hikes in New Zealand require a good level of fitness but are usually still pretty approachable tracks.
If you’re new to hiking and want to try some more challenging trips, the Great Walks are a perfect place to start.
You’ll be hiking for multiple days, but the trails and tracks are well suited to newer hikers. There’s no shortage of expert-level trails and tracks for those more advanced hikers as well.
Jonny Baker is the photographer and general earth enthusiast behind The Photographers Passport.
With his blog, he aims to provide the best information to help others explore and adventure our beautiful world.
Jonny is originally from the United Kingdom but spends most of his time exploring and hiking in New Zealand.