Walking is an experience we humans have been loving since the dawn of our existence. There’s just something totally awesome about strolling along a pristine trail, knowing you can take it at your own pace, stopping whenever you want to soak in the sights.
New Zealand is a land filled with scenery that could blow the silver right off a Hollywood silver screen, and you can experience it on a road trip holiday to our Great Walks.
Here’s what to look for.
The waters of Waikaremoana are often so clear, you’ll feel like you’re hovering above the ground, rather than floating. Plus, it meanders through the largest area of native forest on the North Island, so you’ll be fully immersed in a gorgeous green world.
–Distance: 46 kilometres, one way
Tongariro Northern Circuit
We can’t get enough of the dramatically volcanic Tongariro National Park, and we’re sure you’ll feel the same way after you visit. The Tongariro Northern Circuit encircles Mount Ngauruhoe, meaning you might see lava flows, explosion pits, craters and volcanic lakes!
–Distance: 43.1 kilometres, looped
Abel Tasman Coast Track
If you choose to tour up to Golden Bay Kiwi Holiday Park in your rental car, you’ll be in close proximity to the truly stunning seaside experience, Abel Tasman Coast Track. Beginning in Marahau to the south, this is the quintessential Kiwi wildlife walk – with birdlife in abundance, not to mention sandy beaches and lush bush.
-Distance: 60 kilometres, one way
In Golden Bay, you’re also remarkably close to another Great Walk: Heaphy Track (40 minutes away). People love the variety of scenery along this route, which features craggy peaks, palm-lined beaches, gently trickling rivers and ancient limestone caves. It’s also the gentlest Great Walk in terms of terrain type, perfect for beginners.
–Distance: 78.4 kilometres, one way
If you want to add a truly famous walk to your road trip plan, look no further than Milford Track. Literally thousands of people complete it each year, heading home with tales of unparalleled beauty. Glacial activity has scarred this landscape with numerous valleys and sounds, and plenty of waterfalls burst from the hills above to crash down below with a starry sparkle.
–Distance: 53.5 kilometres, one way
Not to be outdone by its fellow Fiordland cousin, Kepler Track is also in the area. You can easily access it from Te Anau, where affordable accommodation – with plenty of camping spots, kitchen facilities and a sauna – can be found at Te Anau Lakeview Kiwi Holiday Park.
Literally custom-made, Kepler has been designed to feature everything you could dream of in Fiordland scenery. Tussocky high country sweeps down into luminous beech forests, which themselves are filled with the buzz of birdlife.
–Distance: 60 kilometres, looped
When you inevitably find yourself in Queenstown, take a breaks from the high-thrill likes of the Goldfields Jet or bungy jumping and try the Routeburn Track, near the northern tip of Lake Wakatipu. Once a historic Maori trail for accessing areas rich in greenstone, this walk now passes through two national parks (Fiordland and Mount Aspiring), crossing from Glenorchy over Milford Road – talk about a shortcut!
–Distance: 32 kilometres, one way
Also on the list of Great Walks are the Whanganui Journey (North Island) and Rakiura Track (Stewart Island). The latter is a fantastic way to spend time on NZ’s lesser-known island, circumnavigating a portion of its eastern coastline while following old tramlines used in the logging industry of yesteryear. The former, meanwhile, isn’t a walk at all! If you love kayaking, hire one near the trail head and float down NZ’s second-longest river, camping along its glistening banks.