New Zealand's ultimate day hikes
Have your clients’ discover New Zealand’s wonders first-hand by adding one of the country’s many spectacular day hikes into their itinerary.
Each of these hikes take 3–8 hours to complete. Their grades vary greatly from easy walking on well-formed pathways to more challenging hiking through rough and steep backcountry, but a moderate to high level of fitness is required for all. Be sure to choose an adventure that’s right for your client.
Te Whara Track, Northland | 7.5km | 5-6 Hours
Te Whara/ Bream Head summit is located towards the Ocean Beach end of the track, not far from the ruins of a WWII radar station. The track passes through some of the North Island’s best coastal forest. At the summit, a magnificent coastal panorama stretches from Cape Brett in the north to Cape Rodney in the south, with islands scattered far and wide across the blue horizon.
Coromandel Walkway | 20km | 7 hours
Skirting the tip of the Coromandel Peninsula, this is a contender for New Zealand’s finest coastal day walk and an achievable option for walkers of most abilities. Starting at Stony Bay, the trail traverses farmland and forest as it heads over the low Moehau Range to Fletcher Bay. Memorable offshore landmarks include the aptly named Sugar Loaf (221m) and Pinnacles, as well as Great Barrier Island.
Tongaririo Alpine Crossing, Ruapehu | 19km | 7-8 hours
Often touted as one of the world’s greatest day walks, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing traverses a volcanic landscape so striking it had a starring role in the Lord of the Rings
trilogy. The crossing takes walkers past two active volcanoes, fumaroles, giant lava fields, a bright red crater and emeraldgreen lakes, it’s like a crazy geology field trip with a whole lot of exercise and plenty of photo ops.
Cape Kidnappers Walking Track, Hawke’s Bay | 19km | 5 hours
This wonderful Hawke’s Bay walkway follows the beach below towering cliffs for most of the way before climbing up to the tip of the cape. Along the way, all sorts of strange geological sights are revealed in rock layered with stone, gravel, pumice and silt. Petrified wood and lignite, fossilised shells can also be seen, along with fragmented fault and tilt lines that reveal New Zealand’s slow-motion rise out of the sea.
Hooker Valley Track, Mount Cook | 10km | 3-4 hours
This Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park track is a rewarding outing for those seeking a leisurely walk with maximum mountain scenery. It starts at the visitor centre, an excellent place to learn about the Southern Alps’ incredible natural and mountaineering history.
Rob Roy Track, Wanaka | 10km | 3-4 hours
Less than an hour’s drive from Wanaka, this track takes walkers into the heart of Mount Aspiring National Park, part of Te Wāhipounamu–South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. After crossing the West Matukituki River on an impressive swing bridge, the track climbs through a small gorge into beech forest before emerging into a wonderland of snowfields, sheer rock cliffs and cascading waterfalls.
Key Summit Track, Fiordland National Park | 7km | 3 hours
Easily combined with a trip to Milford Sound, this half-day hike gives walkers a taste of the world-famous Routeburn track. Starting from the Milford Sound Road, it climbs gently through pretty silver beech forest to an alpine grotto of tarns, sphagnum bogs, stunted trees and bizarre plants including the world’s largest fuchsia which grows up to 12 metres tall.