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Best Hiking Trails in New Zealand

Overview

There aren’t enough superlatives to describe New Zealand.  This Oceanic country has stunning mountain landscapes to tramp (what the Kiwis call hiking) through and thousands of trails to enjoy.  The South Island has more of the dramatic scenery compared to the North Island; some of the popular areas include: Tongariro National Park (with the very popular Tongariro Crossing Hike), Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, Mt Aspiring National Park, Fiordland National Park, Abel Tasman National Park and so much more.  New Zealand is famous for its Great Tracks, spectacular multi-day treks such as Milford Track, Routeburn Track, Kepler Track and the big kahuna, the Te Araroa Trail, 3000 km crossing the whole country.  The best months to hike in New Zealand are October to April.  Read on for more information on where and when to hike in New Zealand. 

Capital: Wellington

When To Hike in New Zealand?

October – April: January and February are the warmest and also the most popular
May – September: Cold and snowy
Climate: Oceanic (summers are cool and winters are not that cold); windy.  

 

New Zealand Monthly Weather

Best time to hike | Hiking NZ

Accessibility of Hiking

Easy: Excellent hiking infrastructure, extensive mountain hut system, easy to hike independently here.

Transportation required: Public transportation available, particularly to beginning and end of long distance hikes (or tracks).

Where to stay in New Zealand for hiking: For those who want to stay in cities/towns

  • Wanaka
  • Queenstown
  • Te Anau
  • Mt Cook Village
  • Turangi

Top Places to Hike in New Zealand

There are thousands of km of hiking trails spanning both islands; the South Island is more rugged and where more hikers flock to. Highest Mountain: Mt Cook/Aoraki (3724 m) in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park on South Island. The map just highlights some of the main national parks/areas for hiking but there are many hiking areas that aren’t shown on the map, but details can be found in the guidebooks, websites, etc.

Filter out hiking places of New Zealand by month

Click on the red map pointers to see more info.

Abel Tasman National Park

Nelson Lakes National Park

Kahurangi National Park

Mt Aspiring National Park

Fiordland National Park

  • NZ’s largest national park; Fiordland National Park
  • Kepler Track 
  • Milford Track – one of the most well-known (once called the ‘finest walk in the world’)

Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

Arthur’s Pass National Park

Tongariro National Park

  • Tongariro National Park
  • Tongariro Crossing – most popular day hike on North Island
  • Tongariro Northern Circuit – multi-day hike

Tararua Forest Park

Ruahine Forest Park

Mount Egmont National Park

New Zealand's Long Distance Trails

New Zealand has 10 Great Walks which are long distance treks that have organized huts, etc. Known as Tracks – Great Walks of New Zealand

New Zealand's Walking & Hiking Resources

New Zealand Hiking Books: Many hiking guidebooks, just a sampling here

  • Best Day Hikes New Zealand, by Craig McLachlan, Andrew Bain, Peter Dragicevich, 2021, Lonely Planet
  • Tramping in Aotearoa: New Zealand’s Top 45 Tracks, by Shaun Barnett, 2023, Potton & Burton
  • Hiking & Tramping in New Zealand, by Andrew Bain and Jim DuFresne, 2018, Lonely Planet Publications
  • Day Walks in New Zealand, by Shaun Barnett, 2019, Potton & Burton Limited
  • Tramping in New Zealand: 40 Great Tramping Trips, by Shaun Barnett, 2015, Potton & Burton
  • New Zealand’s Great Walks: The Complete Guide, by Paul Hersey and Shelley Hersey, 2021, Random House NZ Ltd
  • Great Walks of New Zealand, by Craig Potton and Shaun Barnett, 2015, Potton & Burton, Limited
  • Excellent Short Walks in the North Island: Over 400 Walks Under 2 Hours, by Peter Leon Janssen, 2021, New Holland Publishers (NZ) Limited
  • Excellent Short Walks in the South Island, by Peter Janssen, 2017, New Holland Publishers (NZ) Limited
  • 202 Great Walks: The Best Day Walks in New Zealand, by Mark Pickering, 2012, published by Raupo

 

New Zealand Hiking Associations/Clubs:

 

Best Hiking Trails in New Zealand:

It is impossible to create a short list of best hikes in New Zealand as the country is filled with stunning hikes, but here is a small sample. You can find more details on hiking these trails from hiking guidebooks, official hiking websites, trail maps/apps, other websites, and tourist/national park offices:

  • Milford Track
  • Tongariro Alpine Crossing
  • Kepler Track
  • Roys Peak
  • Isthmus Peak
  • Mueller Hut
  • Gertrude Saddle
  • Routeburn Track
  • Arnaud Range Track

 Easy Hiking Trails in New Zealand:

  • Lake Marian
  • Pinnacles Track
  • Hooker Valley
  • Lookout, The Remarkables

 

New Zealand Hiking Websites:  There are lots of travel blogs related to hiking in New Zealand (not listed here)

 

New Zealand Weather website:

 

New Zealand Official Tourism Organizations

 

New Zealand Hiking Apps: 

 

New Zealand Hiking Maps: 

What Else To Do

  • The glowworms in Waitamo Caves
  • Adventure sports (ie. Bungee jumping, caving, etc)
  • Bird watching
  • Maori culture

Other Important Points

  • Maori culture is strong; naming of places, mountains, etc