Whether you know about ‘tramping’ or not, the hiking trails in New Zealand are some of the most spectacular in the world. At the same time, these trails are well maintained and extremely diverse with every trail offering something unique or different to the next.
Now, you might not know this but locals in New Zealand use the word ‘tramping’ when they refer to hiking, backpacking or rambling around. In North America, they use the term ‘thru hiking’ while almost everywhere else in the world relies on ‘hiking’ or ‘trekking’ to describe their favourite past-time.
Anyway, regardless of what you call it, the hiking trails in New Zealand are unlikely to disappoint!
Let’s take a closer look at five of the most incredible hiking trails in New Zealand:
Featuring a stunning blend of fjord and alpine scenery, the Milford Track is home to flowing rivers, cascading waterfalls and luscious valleys. What’s more, the most famous hiking trail in New Zealand is suitable for inexperienced hikers and can be completed in less than four days.
Milford Track begins at Te Ana’s Downs where a short ferry ride takes eager thru-hikers to the start of the trail. At this point, you will find a series of boardwalks, and suspension bridges as the trail reaches high up into the mountains where mesmerizing lakes and valleys await. In fact, the Milford track is also home to the tallest waterfall in New Zealand and when it comes to jaw dropping scenery, the Milford Track offers constant encounters with breathtaking views.
Hiking this trail is best between October and April, when the track is less busy and more likely to receive rain or unfavorable weather. As for where to sleep, camping is not allowed but you will find three private lodges situated at various milestones.
Difficulty - Moderate
Hiking Time – 4 Days
Distance – 54km
Abel Tasman Coastal Track
Located in Abel Tasman National Park, this is stunning trail is easily accessed by water-taxi and can be explored on with a day trip or multi-day hike. After crossing the estuary, the track enters some beautiful open countryside with striking rock formations.
White powdered sands and azure water are a common sight, while the luscious interior offers even more variety. You see, the Abel Tasman Coastal Track ventures along many golden beaches and past the inlet at Falls River where hikers cross a 47 metre suspension bridge. In between, there is also ‘Cleopatra’s Pool’ where a mossy waterslide travels down into a natural rock pool.
Abel Tasman Track also features plenty of wildlife encounters with seals, kekeno and various bird species inhabiting the area. Either way, this beautiful track is suitable for any level of fitness or experience and provides the perfect opportunity to trek along one of the most stunning coastal trails in New Zealand.
Difficulty - Easy
Hiking Time – 5 Days
Distance – 51km
Te Anau township is the starting point for the Kepler Track, a beautiful network of trails with a very diverse range of landscapes. Kepler Track begins next to a shimmering lake before continuing into forests of red beech trees and some very dramatic mountain scenery.
Many of these trails were created for recreational reasons but just as many are remnants from ancient explorers. You will find the Maori greenstone tracks here, which were used to explore this part of New Zealand in a very different era. The track is now well-marked and maintained in such a way that it provides a rather comfortable walking experience.
The Kepler Track is an intermediate trail with bridges, boardwalks and even steps to navigate the steeper sections. In fact, there are also easy crossings for bog areas and river flats while the rock formations and cascading waterfalls are little more than scenery.
From luscious canopies and breathtaking valleys to an impressive array of bird species, the Kepler Track features an ideal mix of fjiordland features and various campsites along the way for multi-day hikes. Bookings are necessary for these sites and the summer months provide the most favorable weather for hiking this wonderful trail.
Difficulty – Easy/Moderate
Hiking Time – 4 Days
Distance – 60km
On the Hollyford Valley you will find two of the highest peaks in New Zealand and a sublime series of lakes and waterfalls. What’s more, the variety of flora makes this an incredibly colorful encounter while the local bird life never fails to delight the hikers who take on this excellent trail.
As with some of the most popular hiking trails in New Zealand, the Hollyford Track has several swing bridges and boardwalks to help navigate the terrain. Meanwhile, the Hidden Falls is a certain highlight which really demonstrates the variety of natural attractions in this part of the world.
Tall beech trees dominate the forests while Little Homer Saddle opens up to dramatic panoramas and inspiring peaks. The track offers a remote hiking experience and includes an encounter with Jamestown, one of the most historic settlements in New Zealand. As if that’s note enough, the trail is suitable for tramping at any time of year, even during times of snow.
Difficulty – Easy/Moderate
Hiking Time – 5 Days
Distance – 56km
Queen Charlotte Track
Queen Charlotte is known as one of the most popular hiking trails in New Zealand for good reason. This stunning trail takes in beautiful bays, luscious forests and natural attractions at every turn. Stretching for more than 70km, this is also one of the longer hiking trails in New Zealand but you will still find the same standard of accessibility and maintenance as any alternative hikes.
As for the actual thread, the Queen Charlotte Track is wide and smooth with a certain flexibility that enables hikers to pass through a range of gradients. Now, that’s not to say the terrain is steeper than elsewhere but rather to explain the convenience and standard of the actual trail.
In many ways, the Queen Charlotte Track can feel quite remote or isolated and certainly less ‘spoiled’ than some alternative trails. Hiking along these coastal walks, the views are entirely unobstructed and then moving inland, the surrounding nature is quite dense and colorful. For first time hikers, this might feel a little overwhelming but the truth is, most hikers find the absence of distractions and civilization one of the highlights of the overall experience.
Difficulty – Moderate
Hiking Time – 6 Days
Distance – 71km
As you can see, even the most remote hiking trails in New Zealand are easily accessed. What’s more, each trail is well maintained and blessed with just as much attraction as the next. While you might want to start with a day trip, fitness is not important and some common sense is usually enough to get out there and take on one of these multi-day hikes in New Zealand.