When tourists picture New Zealand they imagine a landscape of lush rolling hills, endless aqua lakes and beautiful terrain. And there is no better way of seeing that stunning scenery than taking a walk outside.
New Zealand is set on a backdrop of beauty where the morning can see people frolicking on black or golden sand beaches followed by an afternoon of hiking steep mountainous terrain throwing snow balls at each other.
Just taking a drive past, or even through, places like the Marlborough Sounds, Milford Sounds, or Tongariro doesn't let the viewer appreciate the enchanting details of these unique areas. Lacing up some hiking boots and setting off on the plethora of trails throughout these charming areas is simply the way to see what New Zealand's countryside has to offer.
Also one of the most popular walks in the country with more than 14,000 visitors a year, the Milford Track, set amongst lush rainforest and the mountains of Fiordland in the South Island, runs 53.5 kilometers. The hike begins at the head of Lake Te Anau and ends at Milford Sound. The track can only be walked in one direction during the booked walking season, from late October to late April, with 40 hikers allowed to start the track each day. The hike is full of huge valleys which are the result of glaciers which carved their way through the mountains. Those sleeping overnight along the journey can do so in one of the many Department of Conservation huts set up along the route, these contain beds and cooking facilities but hikers must bring their own food. Sights include Sutherland Falls, New Zealand's tallest waterfall at 580 meters, Lake Te Anau, Milford Sound and glacial mountain ring Nicolas Cirque.
Queen Charlotte Track
Sitting on top of the spectacular Marlborough Sounds in the South Island, the Queen Charlotte Track takes hikers through Ship Cove to Anakiwa in Grove. The hike provides views of Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds. The track is ruled by tree-lined shores, bays and coves and runs 71 km, showing off its native bush and wildlife. While the track isn't particularly steep it is long and there can be significant distances between resting points. Depending on fitness levels the track can be completed between three and five days, however there are also day trek options available which just encompass part of the track. There are plenty of places to stay along the way including camp sites, homestays and cabins. Because of the temperate climate the track is generally accessible all year long, although it is most popular between November and May.
The 32km South Island track takes hikers from the north end of Lake Wakatipu to the Te Anau side of the Southern Alps at the Divide. The track meanders through two national parks, Fiordland National Park and Mount Aspiring National Park. Known as the 'Great Walk' there are four huts hikers can stay at along the way, although these must be booked during the peak season during the summer. The two to four day track heads through forested valleys and alongside clear lakes. There are many long views to be had from the Harris Saddle overlooking the Hollyford Valley and Fiord Mountains. There are several different ways to do the track and there are shorter routes to be taken, making the track suitable for families.
Snuggly nestled within the South Island's Kahurangi National Park, the 82km hike is also known as one of the 'Great Walks'. Taking about four or five days to complete, Heaphy Track runs from Kohaihai to Golden Bay, at the upper valley of the Aorere River. Littered with Nikau Palms, black sand beaches and rivers, Heaphy Track is noted as one of the more diverse tracks, with ever changing scenery and is suitable for those with low to moderate fitness levels.
The Lake Waikaremoana Track
Located on the east coast of the North Island in the corner of the Te Urewera National Park, the track covers 46km along the shore the lake. The hike takes between three and four days and roves through bush and lake shores, enabling the hiker to partake in a swim or a bit of fishing along the way. There are Department of Conservation huts and campsites along the journey but they must be booked in advance. Also, as the track is not a circuit, hikers will need to organize transportation at the other side.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Not for the faint hearted, the popular crossing, set in New Zealand's oldest national park, runs 24.5 kilometers. The track is part of the Tongariro National Park, a World Heritage Site, and boasts the volcanic peaks of Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe. The crossing has been ranked as one of the best one-day trek in New Zealand and can be started at Mangatepopo and running to Ketetahi Hot Springs, although it can be started at either end. Depending on fitness levels, the hike generally takes about seven hours and hikers should ensure they are well prepared by taking enough water, snacks and wearing the appropriate clothing for the season. The terrain has many troughs and peaks which are complemented by stunning views. Before beginning the trek, hikers should make sure they have arranged transportation at the other side of the hike.
We at Sunrise Holidays Campervan Hire have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to exploring our beautiful country. Simply get in touch with us to hear more about how we can help you plan your dream New Zealand hiking holiday!