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The 9 Great Walks of New Zealand

Don’t settle for a good walk. Take a great walk!

It’s difficult to imagine how so many different landscapes can be in one country. In the North Island there are volcanoes, native rainforest bush and mighty long rivers with steep valley sides. Then the South Island takes us into beech forest territory, paradise beaches, secluded tussock lands, and onto majestic mountains.

Tramping just one of New Zealand’s 9 Great Walks gives a real feeling of serenity and achievement. Tramping all 9… well you will have the ultimate experience of New Zealand’s backcountry, as well as proving you are the ultimate machine! Which ever walk you choose, make sure you are well-prepared by taking a look at How to Prepare for a Great Walk in New Zealand.

Here is a list of New Zealand’s 9 Great Walks to tick off your list.

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1. Lake WaIkaremoana

Walking the shoreline of Lake Waikaremoana will take you through a mass of rainforest, waterfalls and secluded beaches. This Great Walk is in the Te Ureweras. It is a moderate level walk full of culture and history. Take a look at the Te Urewera – Guide for Backpackers for more information.

Distance: 46km. 4-5 days. Tourism NZ

2. Tongariro Northern Circuit

In this volcano country you walk past Mt Tongariro, Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe a.k.a Mt Doom in The Lord of the Rings. The Tongariro Northern Circuit includes one of the most popular day walks in New Zealand: the Tongariro Crossing.  This includes a magnificent view of the Emerald Lakes that fill the volcanic craters. Find out more about this national park with world heritage status in Tongariro National Park – Guide for Backpackers.

Distance: 43km. 3-4 days. BackpackerGuide.NZ

3. Whanganui Journey

Not so much a walk, as this trip is done by canoe or kayak. Steep valley walls and native forest stand on either side of the Whanganui River. The Whanganui Journey possesses a cultural experience, as one of the backcountry huts is a marae (Maori meeting house). Read more in Whanganui National Park – Guide for Backpackers and Guide to the Whanganui Journey.

Distance: 145km. 3-5 days. BackpackerGuide.NZ

4. Abel Tasman Coast Track

One of the more easily accessible Great Walks, the Abel Tasman Coast Track takes you through stretching golden sand beaches and native bush. You don’t even have to do the whole journey by foot, as taking a water taxi and kayaking are also good ways to revel in coastal scenery. Although it has this reputation of being easier than the other Great Walks, that’s not to say that there are a few climbs to coastal cliffs along the way. Find more on the Abel Tasman National Park here.

Distance: 60km. 3-5 days.

5. Heaphy Track

The Heaphy Track is where forest meets the West Coast. Along the way, you’ll walk over the Gouland Downs, dense rainforests and along the wild West Coast. A whole bunch of native birds are likely to be spotted such as tui, weka, kea, kaka, kereru and, if you are super lucky, a kiwi. The Heaphy Track is in Kahurangi National Park.

Distance: 78.4km. 4-6 days. BackpackerGuide.NZ

6. Kepler Track

Tramping the Kepler Track is one of the Great Walks that traverses through the huge Fiordland National Park and one of 5 Incredible Multi-day Hikes in the Fiordland National Park. The walk is a circuit starting and ending just outside of Te Anau. The terrain goes from lakeshores, to tussock lands, and to mountaintops. Be sure to bring a torch to explore the limestone caves near the Luxmore Hut.

Distance: 60km. 3-4 days. Tourism NZ

7. Milford Track

On this Great Walk you will see an abundance of waterfalls including the gargantuan Sutherland Falls, which is 580m high. Walk along the rivers in pure green rainforests. The track emerges into the famous and stunning fiord of Milford Sound. Again, this is another track in the huge Fiordland National Park and one of the 5 Incredible Multi-day Hikes in the Fiordland National Park.

Distance: 53.5km. 4 days. Tourism NZ

8. Routeburn Track

This walk through the Southern Alps gives you the best views of the glacier carved valleys and majestic lakes. Out of the 3 Great Walks in the Fiordland National Park, the Routeburn Track spends less time the forest and more time in the alpine environment.

Distance: 32km. 2-4 days. BackpackerGuide.NZ

9. Rakiura Track

The most southern Great Walk, the Rakiura Track is on Stewart Island. Because the Rakiura National Park makes up 80% of the island, doing the Rakiura Track is the best way to really see Stewart Island. Walk along golden sand beaches and forests. You never know, you might see or hear the island’s native kiwi.

Distance: 32km. 3 days. BackpackerGuide.NZ

More information on the Great walks in New Zealand.

Tramping the Great Walks is enjoyable but no easy task. Check out our Guide to the Great Walks for more information and How to Prepare for a Great Walk.

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