Our favorite Great Walks
New Zealand is home to thousands of kilometers of hiking trails that traverse forests, mountains, volcanoes, coastlines, and everything in between. There are short walks (30 minutes – 3 hours), day hikes (4 – 8 hours), or multi-day hikes which include the 10 certified Great Walks of New Zealand (7 of which are on the South Island).
Multi-day hikes are not always exclusive to those who plan on covering the entire track – so it’s possible to only walk a portion of one of these iconic walks as a day-hike. Many of the multi-day hikes can be done independently, or there are a handful of operators that provide guides and a higher level of accommodation for those who prefer not to utilize the basic shelter huts or campsites.
Depending on the season, how much time you want to dedicate to walking, your fitness level, and the kind of scenery you’re most interested in, there is a walk out there for you! And what better way to experience New Zealand in all of its beauty than by lacing up those hiking boots, getting a little sweaty, and truly being at one with nature?
While there is no one-size-fits-all Great Walk, here are some of our favorites:
Tongariro Northern Circuit
- 3-4 days
- 43 kilometers, across Tongariro National Park (just south of Taupo).
- Pass through an active volcanic landscape, glacial valleys, beech forests, and vibrant green lakes.
- 2-4 days
- 32 kilometers, between Queenstown and Te Anau (the gateway to Fiordland).
- Pass below dramatic peaks, above soft valleys, and through beech forests.
- 4 days
- 53 kilometers, between Lake Te Anau and the Milford Sound.
- Pass through rugged mountains, huge waterfalls, rivers, and rainforests.
Abel Tasman Coastal Track
- 3-5 days
- 60 kilometers, walking the length of the Abel Tasman National Park.
- Walk along golden beaches and through lush rainforests. Walk the whole way or kayak a few segments!
Queen Charlotte and Hollyford Tracks
- These are NOT considered Great Walks of New Zealand, but they are two of our very favorite multi-day walks.
- The Queen Charlotte Track is a 3-5 day walk covering 70 kilometers of the Queen Charlotte Sound near Marlborough. You can include kayaking and cycling instead of walking-only!
- Hollyford Track is 4-5 days covering 53 kilometers, including lakes, waterfalls, and summiting Fiordland’s two highest peaks!