New Zealand is home to some of the finest trails in the world. It is truly a hiker's paradise! Tramping (the kiwi word for hiking, bushwalking or trekking) is the best way to experience New Zealand's beauty. There are thousands of kilometers of tracks, and tramping is made easy by NZ's excellent network of huts, if you don't want to carry a tent. Whether you want to do a short walk, or embark on a multi-day adventure, there's a suitable track for everyone. Kiwis also tend to carry their own pack, so be prepared to carry a pack weighing up to 15kg for multiple days, unless you choose one of our guided options.
The Great Walks of New Zealand are truly breathtaking and deserve all the hype they get. But there are many other tracks a little bit more off the beaten track if you want to get away from the crowds. It is here you're more likely to find only kiwis on the trails, and you might be sharing a bunk bed with a deer hunter. A real kiwi experience in itself. This is also a great option if you are booking quite late, the huts and campsites on New Zealand's Great Walks fill up extremely fast, with the Milford Track known to be fully booked within a week of opening bookings. We recommend you get in touch with us first to check availability on the Great Walks.
When to Go
The best weather is from January to March, though most tracks can be walked enjoyably anytime between October and November. It may be wetter in some regions compared to others such as Fiordland National Park and the West Coast of the South Island, but for these regions the rain just adds to the appeal, as it is quite common for hundreds of waterfalls to appear out of nowhere and cascade down steep mountains for hundreds of meters. Winter is not an ideal time to be on the tracks, especially at altitude. The weather is very changeable and there is also avalanche risk. A high level of experience is required. Always remember to leave your trip details behind with someone before you venture out into the wilderness.
What to bring
The following list mainly applies for multi-day hikes.
Backpack (40-60l for multi-day hiking)
Waterproof/plastic pack liner
Sleeping bag (3-4 season)
First aid kit (including insect repellent, sunscreen, blister kit, personal medication)
Survival kit (survival blanket, whistle, paper, pencil, high energy snack food)
Safety equipment relevant to the track and time of year (compass, map, tide table, etc..)
Drink bottle (1-2l capacity)
Eating and cooking utensils (knife, fork, spoon, plate, cup, pot/pan/billy, cleaning kit, tea towel).
Matches or lighter in waterproof container
Torch/flashlight + spare batteries
Rubbish bag (you must take all rubbish with you).
Earplugs for bunk rooms
Hiking boots or firm footwear (should be comfortable and well broken in).
Socks (wool or polypropylene)
Shorts (quick dry material)
Shirt (wool or polypropylene)
Underlayers (top and bottom)
Raincoat (waterproof, windproof with hood)
Overtrousers (waterproof, windproof with hood)
Warm hat and gloves
Sunhat and sunglasses
Bring food that is lightweight, fast cooking and high in energy.
If you are camping
Portable stove and fuel
Getting there and away
If you are on a coach tour, we will organize transfers to and from the start and end of the track. This will usually be a mini-shuttle. It might also involved water taxis or a boat ride. In case you are self-driving and there is a car park, you can just leave your car at the start of the track. Just make sure you lock your car and don't leave any valuable items in sight. New Zealand is a safe country, and thieves are uncommon, but don't ask for being robbed either by leaving all your valuables in plain sight. If the track is not a loop track and you require transport back to your car, this will also be included.
Know before you go
- Tell someone your plans. Safety is your responsibility. Leave your intentions – including your trip details and emergency contact information – with a trusted contact. It could save your life if things go wrong.
- Be aware of the weather. New Zealand weather is very changeable. Plan for the worst, expect the best. Check metservice.com for the most up to date info.
- Know your limits. Always follow the track markers and signposted tracks. Off-track navigation is not recommended for novice walkers in New Zealand. A good level of fitness is required to walk the track. You can expect to walk up to 7 hours a day depending on your fitness level. If you get into trouble don’t make a bad situation worse.
- With NZ’s changeable conditions many hikers are frequently caught out by isolated local conditions. Carry – and expect to use – rain jackets all year round. Take an extra day’s supply of food and an emergency shelter. Don’t rely on cellphone signal alone for communication. Food and drinks are not available to purchase at huts or campsites. Plan to be self-sufficient.
- Easiest : Short Walk Easy walking for up to an hour.Track is well formed, with an even, well drained surface. There may be steps. Stream and rivers crossings are bridged. People of most ages and fitness levels.
- Easy: Walking Track Unusually smooth, well-marked track, easy gradients. Up to about 4 hours tramping per day. People with low to moderate fitness and abilities. Some tracks suitable for mountain biking.
- Intermediate tramping track: Comfortable multi-day tramping/hiking and typical New Zealand tramping track. Track is generally well formed, some sections may be rough, muddy or steep. Track has signs, poles or markers. Major stream and river crossings are bridged. People with limited backcountry (remote area) experience. Some tracks suitable for mountain biking.
- Advanced tramping track: Challenging day or multi-day tramping/hiking. Track is mostly unformed, may be rough and steep. Track has markers, poles or rock cairns. Expect unbridged stream and river crossings. People with moderate to high level backcountry (remote areas) skills and experience, navigation and survival skills required. Some tracks suitable for mountain biking.
- Expert : Route : Challenging overnight tramping/hiking. Track unformed and natural, may be rough, muddy or very steep. Track has markers, poles or rock cairns. Expect unbridged stream and river crossings. People with high level backcountry (remote areas) skills and experience, navigation and survival skills required. Complete self sufficiency required.