New Zealand's Great Walks

February 10, 2015

New Zealand is blessed with plentiful bush, beautiful scenery and numerous walks that network through the countryside and it's multiple National Parks.

At the core of these tracks are the hard work of the Department of Conservation – who maintain the track’s safety and conditions, along with the facilities that are dotted along the many branches of the walking linkages.

Whether you are wanting to walk in Northland, or Southland or anywhere in between, walking within the New Zealand scenery and its pristine natural flora and fauna is an envy to many other countries around the world.

 

When you mention ‘great walks’ in New Zealand, what you are referencing is the Nine Great Walks through some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes. Though as kiwis we are extremely bias – and every walk in New Zealand is a great walk, formally the nine Great Walks include the following.

Nine Great Walks of New Zealand

Lake Waikaremoana

This 46km walk (3-4 day trek) is located in Te Urewera on the East Coast.

With five huts and five campsites along the track you’ll find that it is suitable for those with a moderate fitness level, with ample opportunities for swimming and fishing amongst this amazing scenic backdrop.  

Tongariro Nothern Circuit

This 43.1km circuit circumnavigates the Tongariro and Ngauruhoe volcanoes. A trek of 3-4 days, walk (3-4 day trek) is a well beaten path, well-marked and suitable for walkers with moderate fitness. Located in the Tongariro National Park this walk encapsulates volcanic craters, brilliant blue lakes, steaming geothermal areas and glacial valleys.

Kiwi Travel offer the Tongariro experience with their guided Tongariro Alpine Crossing package – you can choose from a variety of day/night packages all while getting a similar experience to that of the Northern Circuit.

Whanganui Journey

Noted as a great walk, the Whanganui Journey is in fact a canoe or kayak paddle down the Whanganui River.

Located in the Whanganui National Park, the 145 km paddle from Taumaranui to Pipiriki is 5 days well spent travelling through a landscape of green hills and bush clad valleys. Rich in Maori history and remote scenery, this trip while paddling can be refreshing and thought-provoking.

Abel Tasman Coast Track

The Abel Tasman Coast Track is a 54.4km trek located within the Abel Tasman National Park. With beautiful scenery, this track is easy walking and includes the requirement to cross tidal areas on route, where you cross particular waterways 1-2 hours either side of low tide. Depending upon your abilities, this trek can be completed in 3-5 days. Facilities on the track include four huts and 18 campsites – be sure to book these before you begin your walk.

You can join a Kiwi Travel Queen Charlotte Track Guided Walk that takes into account the beautiful Marlborough region, with stunning coastal scenery, much like Abel Tasman Coast Track. In a similar location to the Abel Tasman Coast Track (Top of the South Island), you’ll receive a similar experience with each walk providing an insight into the ecological systems and sounds formation of this stunning area. With the Queen Charlotte Track guided walk package you can also take a break from walking, and take the opportunity to kayak or water taxi through the sounds while marvelling at the experience and scenery, before settling in for the night in resort style accommodation.

Heaphy Track

The Heaphy Track is the longest of the Great Walks, covering a span of 78.4km. It takes 4-6 days to complete and you even have the ability to mountain bike the track May 1 – September 30. Located in the Kahurangi National Park, the track is characterised by beech forest, expansive tussock grasslands, forest, Nikau palms and the Tasman Sea.

For those with a moderate fitness level, the tracks are well maintained with seven huts and nine campsites to stay at.

Routeburn Track

Offering spectacular mountain landscape views, the Routeburn Track is a 32km walk through beech-forested valleys and alongside clear green rivers and alpine lakes. You will cross the Southern Alps and revel in not one, but two National Parks – Mt Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park. This track is well-travelled, with a high standard of track and comfortable serviced huts – four in total. Two campsites are also along the route for your convenience.

 

 A 3 Day Routeburn Track Guided Walk package is available from Kiwi Travel. With an expert guide, coach trip, provision of backpacking equipment, all meals and 2 nights lodge accommodation, take advantage of this package and experience the New Zealand nature at its finest!

Milford Track

Possibly New Zealand’s most well-known trek is the Milford Track. Noted as a trampers ‘must-do’ and located within the Fiordland National Park, you’ll be spell bound by the natural vistas of this untouched landscape. Like the Routeburn Track, the track is of a high standard and hut accommodation exceptional (three available).

A walk of 53.5km – this takes approximately 4 days to complete.

You can take in the Milford Track with the 5 Day Milford Track Guided Walk offered by Kiwi Travel. A five day/four night escape with the ability to view New Zealand’s wildlife and most pristine environment, this guided package provides the perfect mix of walking and luxury. Included in the package is a cruise on Lake Te Anau, a Milford Sound cruise and a scenic coach drive through the National Park. Don’t worry about packing food, they also have that included in the package along with coach transfers to and from Queenstown.

Cannot decide between the Routeburn or Milford Tracks?

No problems. Kiwi Travel have it covered. If you've got eight days on the itinerary, the 8 day guided walk combining the two walks together is the way to go. With your moderate fitness level you’ll be able to tackle the physical elements of the walk with ease, and this package includes all accommodation and meals while on the trek. In addition the package includes transfers to and from Queenstown, use of quality backpacks and wet weather gear, and of course a skilled and experience guide to maximize your experience.

Or for those of you on a tighter time frame, simply take advantage of the Guided Routeburn or Milford Track Day Encounter. A day excursion may be all you need, and at this price you could do both! All you need is a pair of sturdy shoes, warm clothes and a bottle of water and your guide will take care of the rest. All you have to do is show up and enjoy New Zealand on a plate!

Keplar Track

Noted as a walk that is ‘an adventure above the clouds’, the Keplar track is a long 60km, 3-4 day loop that takes in the beech-forested shores of lakes Te Anau and Manapouri, right up to the alpine tops of Mt Luxmore.

The view is breath taking and unexplainable – you’ll have to do this trek and try to explain it yourself! Mountainous panoramic views, lakes and valleys are all part of the experience. Due to the climb this walk is more physically challenging than some of the other Great Walks, but like the others has excellent facilities on route. With three huts and two camping grounds, the Keplar Track is well serviced.

Rakirua Track

And finally, but not the least of the Great Walks, is that of the Rakirua Track. Located on Rakirua (Stewart Island), this means that you get to experience the ‘third island’ of New Zealand that is often overlooked.  A 32km trek awaits for those with a moderate fitness level, though the entire circuit extends to 39km, including road walking. This 3 day trek will introduce you to the scenery of Stewart Island and the beauty of New Zealand’s newest National Park.

But wait there is more!

With there being officially nine Great Walks, Kiwi Travel couldn’t discriminate between greatness and had to create two more amazing packages.

The Hollyford Track Guided Walk is the perfect mix of physical exertion, luxury and a phenomenal overall experience. What makes this stand out is:

“Unlike other walks, the scenery is geologically spectacular and ever changing – snow-capped mountains, glaciers, rainforests, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, reefs, sand dunes and surf.   The experiences are diverse - hiking, wildlife interaction, historical tales, jet boating and a magnificent scenic flight to Milford Sound.”

This 3 day/2 night escape includes accommodation and of course a jet boating journey down the Hollyford River and a scenic helicopter flight to Milford Sound – an experience in itself; and when partnered with one of the most beautiful sounds in the world, an out of world experience awaits! It is not all luxury though, there is still 43km of track to conquer and absorb nature’s beauty.

 Not to be overlooked, is Kiwi Travel’s Tuatapere Hump Ridge Guided Walk. New Zealand’s newest walk takes you through bush, coastal and sub-alpine scenery. A challenging walk requiring a moderate to high level of fitness, you’ll be rewarded with vistas galore, access to two new back country hits – one of which is an old historic sawmilling village, and the ultimate comfort of your backpack being helicoptered around the circuit so you can enjoy the walk and scenery without the additional weight.

Both packages include transfers, accommodation, meals and a skilled and experienced guide.

Don’t delay

In New Zealand we are blessed. It’s time to see and experience a beautiful country while exercising the legs and lungs. Take advantage of Kiwi Travel’s fabulous packages if you want to add an element of luxury and take the hassle out of having to think of everything.

With Alpine vistas through to bush-laden valleys, coastal seascapes and an ever-changing landscape as you round the next bend, the Great Walks are a must for any NZ visitor and something that all of its own people should have done at least once.

Have you walked one of these walks? Is there a walk not on the list that should be? Let us know in a comment below and we’ll be sure to add it.

 

Photo Credits:

Walking through all kinds of weather, by Harald Selke, (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Above the Routeburn Falls Huts, by Harald Selke, (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Well marked track, by Harald Selke, (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Hollyford Valley, by Harald Selke, (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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