I think it’s safe to say that none of us knows anybody who just heads off to see the best places in New Zealand and just ends up at the (albeit, great) cities like; Wellington or Auckland. You see, there’s a heap of natural sites to see that’s well worth including with a little city break, too. On top of that, you’ve got a mountain of the best hikes in New Zealand that’ll also take in a fair few sites, too.
After all, the totally dreamy nature of New Zealand is what lent itself as a perfect backdrop to the Lord of the Rings films (need I say more). It’s one of the gorgeous places in the world, that’s so dramatic and relatively accessible with official trails, national parks and a whole heap of the best hikes in New Zealand that are dotted across the island.
Now, I’m a total fan of slower travel and there’s honestly no better way to explore some of New Zealand’s natural treasures than by foot. This is why I wanted to share some of the best hikes in New Zealand that you can consider joining on your next trip to the islands.
That being said, it’s important that you always take the necessary precautions, listen to local (official) advice and only ever hike responsibly.
Plus, always take a look at the New Zealand government advice on how to staying safe in the outdoors in the country. After all, no one likes a reckless hiker!
With that in mind, here are some of the best hikes in New Zealand.
1.) Kepler Track, South Island
There’s something pretty epic about a mountain hike. Yeah, it can be tough on the legs, but you’re always rewarded with some incredible views when you reach the summit.
Better still, in New Zealand, you’re so high up, yet completely dwarfed by the landscape around you.
Within Fiordland National Park, you’ll find one of the best hikes in New Zealand that is much more of an advanced trail. This is especially true as it’s a four-day hike along the Kepler Track.
Easily, one of the highlights is the panoramic views at the peak of Mount Luxmore. Stunning.
2.) Abel Tasman Coast Track, South Island
A close second to a mountain hike is that of a beach hike, right?
Abel Tasman National Park has over 30 miles of golden beaches, making it one of the areas with the best hikes in New Zealand.
Now, couple this with its clear waters, impressive granite cliffs and lush vegetation, and you’ll quickly realise why this area is so idyllic.
The coast track at Abel Tasman National Park isn’t too strenuous. Plus, there’s plenty of opportunity for bird-watching and wildlife-spotting along the way.
3.) Abbey Caves, Whangarei, North Island
Often the idea of hiking is to get off the (metaphorical) beaten track, right? Well, if so, this is one place to visit.
If you’re someone who enjoys getting something unique out of every hike, don’t miss Abbey Caves on North Island.
You can take a more advanced and somewhat challenging trail through three caverns to experience the other-worldly beauty of the stalactites and flowing streams in the ethereal light of the caves’ glow worms. There’s not much else quite like it.
Though, as always, with this hike don’t just head into the caves alone. Always go with an experienced and accredited guide.
Finally, don’t forget to take a little trip to Whangeri Head, too. The views are stunning.
4.) Tongariro Alpine Crossing, North Island
The landscape of Tongariro National Park may be barren but it’s no less beautiful and pretty unique, too. This all makes the national park routes to have some of the best hikes in New Zealand.
Now, the full hike takes around seven-hours, and is a whopping twelve-miles long. Though, with views of beautifully-jarring jagged rock formations and a view of Mount Ngauruhoe, you’ll quickly lose track of time.
If you go the full distance, the views of the naturally heated Emerald Lakes towards the end of the trail are well worth the effort, too.
With this hike, it’s important you plan your day in advance. Plus, I’d only recommend joining this hike if you’re going with a group or a guide. It can be tough at times.
5.) Mount Victoria Trails, Wellington, North Island
Sometimes there’s nothing more impressive than looking out across a cityscape from the peaceful surrounds of nature. This is especially true when you’re looking for a relatively easy hike and a little break from the city streets.
From here, you can easily see green hills that are nestled around Wellington; plus, the trails are easily accessible from the city itself.
If you make it to the 643-foot summit of Mount Victoria, you have the choice of doubling back or carrying on down to the sea. Either way, the view from the top is possibly one of the easiest and best hikes in New Zealand.
6.) Mount Sunday Hike, South Island
Hiking is almost always about getting away from it all, and Mount Sunday is pretty much as far away as you can get.
It’s remote, even by New Zealand standards; which makes it a lovely hike and only to see some gorgeous views.
Once here, you can join the track or follow the advice of the local government trail page, too. It’s pretty easy and one of the best hikes in New Zealand for a quick jaunt.
7.) The Tongariro Northern Circuit, North Island
Now, first off, this loop track takes around three to four days to complete. This all means you need to plan your trip well in advance and is mostly suited to more advanced hikers.
Your start and endpoint is at the base of Mount Ruapehu, and it takes you through the dramatic landscape of the area’s active volcanic region, too.
Honestly, the views include stunning geological formations, like; lava formations, steaming geysers and brilliant emerald lakes. It’s easily one of the best hikes in New Zealand for its uniqueness, that’s for sure.
Though it’s a popular route, one section, The Tongariro Crossing, is as a great day walk if you’re not up for a several day trip. As with all hikes, always check local advice and guidance from the park, too.
8.) Rakiura Track, Stewart Island
Located on New Zealand’s most southern and sparsely populated island, the Rakiura Track is a real gem when it comes to spotting some interesting birdlife.
Since a planked walkway paves the way for hikers, it’s a good option year-round, despite the region’s unpredictable weather. The whole route takes around three days (so plan with a local guide), but its gentle gradients mean it’s not too strenuous and easily one of the best hikes in New Zealand if you love birdwatching.
9.) Charming Creek Walkway, South Island
All of the hikes mentioned offer some stunning natural scenery, but Charming Creek Walkway offers something a bit extra.
This six-hour return hike follows an abandoned coal railway through the Ngakawau River Gorge which is pretty different. You can see numerous rusted relics from a lost time in New Zealand’s history along the way, including an old suspension bridge.
Plus, it also offers a pretty incredible view of Mangatini Falls.
10.) Te Araroa to Bluff, from North to South Island
This trail only opened in 2011, and it’s one of the world’s longest trails to complete.
Yeah, It may take around four months to hike the trail in its entirety, but it’s actually a connection of smaller trails, so you can choose a section if you don’t have four months to spare.
It may be a monster of a trek, but the fact that it will take you through everything New Zealand has to offer.
From clear lakes to subtropical forests to snowy mountain, this easily makes it one of the best hikes in New Zeland to join.