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The Best Hikes in New Zealand

schedule10 Minute Read

29-Mar-2023 Karl Page

The Best Hikes in New Zealand

See the land of seismic beauty up close and personal...

When it comes to countries that are perfect for travellers, very few can compete with illustrious New Zealand. Based in the Pacific Ocean, New Zealand is a dream destination for those looking to embrace some of the world's best outdoor landscapes. Split between two main islands - the aptly named North Island and South Island - New Zealand is home to fjords, glaciers, volcanoes, beaches, lakes and more.
For those considering a luxury holiday to New Zealand, there is no better way to explore this spectacular country than by foot. So, lace up your walking boots and take to the trails as you surround yourself with stunning flora and fauna. You'll be able to enjoy New Zealand up close, taking it in and tantalising all of your senses.
Are you tempted by a hiking holiday to New Zealand? In this guide, we share some of the most enviable routes on the two main islands and some of the best places to stay for adventurers. Read on to learn about everything you need for hiking in New Zealand.

The Best Hikes on New Zealand's North Island

With cosmopolitan cities, relaxing beaches, spectacular national parks and towering volcanoes, New Zealand's North Island, known locally as Te Ika-a-Maui, is an impressive destination for adventure lovers. The striking landscapes here are just crying out to be explored, and there isn't a better way than by foot. Weave over volcanic landscapes, discover four impressive national parks, and uncover historic Maori settlements.
For those planning a luxury holiday to New Zealand's North Island, there are five world-class hikes that you should consider. So, whether you are a seasoned hiker looking for a challenging hike or an adventure seeker looking to spend a few hours exploring the natural landscape on foot, we have the perfect recommendation for you.

  • Tongariro Alpine Crossing
  • Mount Taranaki Track
  • Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk
  • Te Henga Walkway
  • Kauaeranga Kauri Trail
A person hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand
Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

  • Location: Tongariro National Park
  • Length: 19.8 kilometres
  • Elevation Gain: 840 metres
  • Route Type: Point-to-Point
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is one of New Zealand's most popular hikes. Sat at just under 19.8 kilometres, you can complete this hike in a day, exploring Tongariro National Park, New Zealand's oldest national park and a dual UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Set aside the whole day to make the most of this hike. It's a challenging route due to its length, and some of the trail can be technical underfoot. You'll also need to arrange transport from both ends, which is easily done due to the hike's popularity.
If you want somewhere to relax and unwind after the hike, the Huka Lodge is ideally situated. Only an hour and a half drive north from the route, you'll soon be kicking back in this stunning retreat. On the other hand, if you want to keep the adventure going, Huka Lodge is only a short walk from the mighty Huka Falls.
Mount Taranaki and Poukai Pool, New Zealand
Mount Taranaki and Poukai Pool, New Zealand

Mount Taranaki Track

  • Location: Egmont National Park
  • Length: 11.7 kilometres
  • Elevation Gain: 1,421 metres
  • Route Type: Out & Back
Looking to summit a mountain on your hike? Then the Mount Taranaki Track is for you. A challenging climb; you'll have to tackle stairs, scrambles, and scree to reach the summit of this now-dormant volcano, but the view at the top is exceptional.
It's often considered one of the most strenuous hikes in New Zealand due to the technical nature of the trails, so it should only be attempted by those who are sure-footed. However, although it's challenging, it is a popular route, so you'll see plenty of other hikers to keep you company on the way.
Viewpoint on the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk, New Zealand
Viewpoint on the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk, New Zealand

Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk

  • Location: Te Urewere
  • Length: 50.4 kilometres
  • Elevation Gain: 2,351 metres
  • Route Type: Point-to-Point
This point-to-point trail is a multi-day route that's perfect for those who are looking for an adventure. The walk weaves around Lake Waikaremoana and has spectacular views as you work your way through it. With huts along the route, many opt to camp overnight as a part of the experience. But, be aware that due to the weather in the area, some parts of the track may need maintenance and be easy to lose, so ensure you can track your route well if you want to tackle the challenge.
Dave Dean is a born-and-raised New Zealander who loves to travel, sharing his adventures on his blog, What's Dave Doing? He has hiked the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk recently and told us why he recommends this route to those looking to hike in New Zealand:

Due to its remote location, the four-day walk around beautiful Lake Waikaremoana is far less popular than other Great Walks in New Zealand. This means you'll often be walking with nobody else in sight, with only the sound of native birdsong for company. Coupled with incredible views, lush rainforest, and frequent opportunities to swim in the lake's crystal-clear waters, it couldn't be more worth the effort!

View on the Te Henga Walkway, New Zealand
View on the Te Henga Walkway, New Zealand

Te Henga Walkway (to Raetahinga Point)

  • Location: Waitakere Ranges
  • Length: 7.6 kilometres
  • Elevation Gain: 441 metres
  • Route Type: Out & Back
If you're looking for a short route, then Te Henga Way is ideal. Only 7.6 kilometres out and back, although it's a modest route, you'll still enjoy plenty of sweeping coastal views. The main route will take you to Raetahinga Point before turning back on itself, but you can always turn around sooner if you want to.
This route is easily accessible from Auckland, so great for those who'll be spending time in the city but want to get into the great outdoors when they get a chance. But don't be deceived; you'll still need to use proper hiking gear here, especially when the weather isn't ideal!
Are you thinking of making Auckland your base when in New Zealand? The city has plenty of brilliant luxury accommodation options to make the visit extra special. From the artistically inspired Hotel DeBrett to Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour, the city has some great options. Or, get out of the heart of the city with a stay at Marino Ridge on Waiheke Island, which is only 20 minutes from the International Airport by helicopter.
Coromandel Forest Park, New Zealand
Coromandel Forest Park, New Zealand

Kauaeranga Kauri Trail

  • Location: Coromandel Forest Park
  • Length: 14.2 kilometres
  • Elevation Gain: 769 metres
  • Route Type: Out & Back
Also known as the Pinnacles Track, the Kauaeranga Kauri Trail is one of the best on the island and is the perfect way to explore the beautiful Coromandel Forest Park. This is one of New Zealand's most popular walks and is often done as an overnight walk so explorers can enjoy the sunset and sunrise.
There are some route options, meaning you can enjoy different sights as you go out to the point and return, allowing you to change up the terrain and experience. Please be aware that the route was temporarily closed in February 2023 for maintenance, so you should check that it has reopened before planning a hike here.
We spoke to Jenn, a keen hiker and camper who blogs about his expeditions on Meowtain People. He tries to hike multiple times a week and has completed the Kauaeranga Kauri Trail. Jenn took the Webb Creek Track out and returned on the Billygoat Landing Walk. He told us why he'd recommend the hike:

The Kauaeranga Kauri Trail offers one of the best walks on the Coromandel Peninsula, catering to all nature, history and geography enthusiasts, as it tracks through lush forest and ancient volcanic landforms, accompanied with rich stories from the kauri logging era.

The Best Hikes on New Zealand's South Island

Te Waipounamu, New Zealand's South Island, is one of the adventure hubs of the world. With spectacular mountains, beautiful lakes and breathtaking glaciers, it's a paradise for hikers. Discover the Southern Alps, stunning Fiordland, and ten spectacular national parks.
If you plan a luxury holiday to luxury holiday to New Zealand's South Island, then we're sure you're a passionate adventurer. There is an excellent range of purpose-built, multi-day hikes for those who want to push themselves. However, you can find simple suggestions for those who prefer shorter hikes.
  • Milford Track
  • Routeburn Track
  • Queenstown Hill Walkway
  • Abel Tasman Coast Track
  • Kepler Track
Milford Sound, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand

Milford Track

  • Location: Fiordland National Park
  • Length: 59.9 kilometres
  • Elevation Gain: 2,868 metres
  • Route Type: Point-to-Point
Kicking off the South Island routes with a big one, the Milford Track is a nearly 60-kilometre, multi-day, point-to-point track that's incredibly popular. The route opens up some spectacular scenery by taking you past glaciers and waterfalls and through the rainforest.
Despite its length, the route isn't considered overly challenging, provided you're well prepared. During the summer, the trek is delightful, and you'll often be able to enjoy beaming sunshine, but in the winter months, there is often snow and strong winds, forcing conditions only suitable for experienced hikers.
Meghan Maloney is an award-nominated landscape photographer whose subject is New Zealand. She's hiked the Milford Track and explained why she thinks it's such a brilliant experience:

The Milford Track is one of the world's greatest hikes, and for good reason. Whether it is listening to the deafening sound of native birdsong as you wander along prehistoric river valleys, scaling the heights of the Mackinnon Pass to gaze 1,000 metres down on the two valleys where you have been and where you are about to venture or standing directly under the spray of Sutherland Falls (New Zealand's tallest accessible waterfall) at over 500 metres high, the track delivers everything on a grand scale.

For a place to stay near Milford Track, Blanket Bay is one of the best options. A hotel with adventure at its heart, you'll be amidst the alpine wilderness and towering forests. Blanket Bay is the ideal destination for adventure lovers, built in the style of an alpine lodge, from hiking local routes, including the Milford Track, to horse riding and mountain biking.
Hiking the Routeburn Track, New Zealand
Hiking the Routeburn Track, New Zealand

Routeburn Track

  • Location: Mount Aspiring National Park
  • Length: 32.2 kilometres
  • Elevation Gain: 1,623 metres
  • Route Type: Point-to-Point
Another popular multi-day expedition is the Routeburn Track. A shorter multi-day route, this is perfect for hikers who don't want long days on foot but still want to challenge themselves with some big climbs and descents.
You'll find mountain peaks, waterfalls, lakes and more here. What's more, it's a very popular bird-watching spot, so make sure you bring some binoculars if you attempt the route to see the local residents amongst the treetops.
View over the Queenstown Hill Walkway
View over the Queenstown Hill Walkway

Queenstown Hill Walkway

  • Location: Queenstown Hill Reservation Preserve
  • Length: 4.8 kilometres
  • Elevation Gain: 399 metres
  • Route Type: Out & Back
For those who love a city stay, you don't need to miss out on great hikes. Just outside of popular Queenstown, you can find the Queenstown Hill Walkway. A modest route, you'll be able to complete the walk in only a few hours and you will still have plenty of time in the day to spend in the city.
Olly Gaspar is an adventure travel blogger and photographer who shares his adventures on his blog; We Seek Travel. Olly has hiked the Queenstown Hill Walkway and told us why he'd recommend this hike:

Beginning your Queenstown adventures with a hike up Queenstown Hill is a great option since it's situated at a short walking distance from the town centre. The trail up Queenstown Hill is far from strenuous, but the stunning panoramic views from the summit overlooking Queenstown, the Remarkable Range, and Lake Wakatipu are truly breathtaking and well worth the short climb.

Ilse and Atiba are keen travellers, photographers and videographers who blog at Digital Travel Couple. They have travelled to New Zealand and have shared information about the hikes in Queenstown they enjoyed; one such hike is the Queenstown Hill Walkway. They told us:

The Queenstown Hill Walk is a short but steep track in the centre of Queenstown, taking you up to the 900 meters-high Queenstown Hill. A combination of forest and vast views overlooking Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountain peaks makes the Queenstown Hill Walk an interesting walk. The loop track at the summit provides different perspectives of Queenstown and the Remarkables Mountain range. It's one of the most popular hikes in Queenstown, and with only 5 kilometres return, and a 500-meter incline a great family-friendly hike. Allow about 2 hours to complete the hike depending on your pace and stops at the viewpoints.

Queenstown is full of great accommodations, but for those who want to enjoy the natural landscape, Matakauri Lodge is perfect. Set on the bank of Lake Wakatipu, those who stay here will have views over the Big Three (Remarkables, Cecil Peak and Walter Peak) and access to horse-riding, golf, fishing, mountain biking and more; it's the perfect hub for expeditions.
Hiking the Abel Tasman Coast Track in New Zealand
Hiking the Abel Tasman Coast Track in New Zealand

Abel Tasman Coast Track

  • Location: Abel Tasman National Park
  • Length: 52.5 kilometres
  • Elevation Gain: 1,854 metres
  • Route Type: Point-to-Point
Located on the north coast of the South Island, the Abel Tasman Coast Track is an adventure brimming with beauty and shows off the very best of the Abel Tasman National Park. Although the trail is over 50 kilometres, it's very easy to only hike a section of the trail if you'd rather not tackle the whole route.
Some of the route highlights are the estuary crossings, of which there are two, which can only be done in the two hours on either side of low tide, so you'll need to plan it right and make sure you're prepared to get wet feet!
If you are looking for the perfect place to stay near the Abel Tasman Coast Track, then we urge you to consider Edenhouse. Managing to combine a luxury spa break and an adventure holiday, you'll be able to spend your days exploring and your evenings unwinding and relaxing with in-room spa treatments. We can't imagine anything better.
The Kepler Track, New Zealand
The Kepler Track, New Zealand

Kepler Track

  • Location: Fiordland National Park
  • Length: 61.2 kilometres
  • Elevation Gain: 2,185 metres
  • Route Type: Circular
Taking you past the shorelines of Te Anau and Manpouri lakes and along ridgelines through Fiordland National Park, this 61-kilometre track is an impressive one. The Kepler Track is a custom-built route made specifically to highlight the very best of Fiordland. You'll see amazing waterfalls, have views over glacier-carved valleys, get sightings of the local flora and fauna and much more. Plus, as the track is custom-built, it's more accessible than other routes.
Sarah Wallock of Where's Wallock is a lover of travel, adventures and the outdoors, and she is always looking for her next challenge. Based in California, Sarah felt New Zealand's call to her adventurous spirit, and during her trip, she hiked the Kepler Track. We spoke to her, and she told us why she'd recommend this hike:

If you're visiting New Zealand, the Kepler Track should be at the top of your list! This epic 60-kilometre trek gives you a taste of the extraordinary geographic diversity and stunning natural landscapes that the country is famous for. The Kepler is hands-down one of the best hikes I've done in New Zealand.

Whether you are looking to plan the adventure of a lifetime or want to hear from those who have enjoyed an Elegant Resorts holiday already, you can do so with our luxury travel magazine, Elegant Traveller.
Please note: All route information has been sourced as accurately as possible; however, route lengths and elevation gains might vary slightly.
Karl Page

Karl Page

Digital Experience Manager

With a genuine love for all things travel, I love exploring new destinations and discovering something new, gaining a wealth of experience in luxury holidays along the way.

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