Whether you are a seasoned hiker or a first-timer, there are many options for hiking in New Zealand. Whether you are looking for a challenging mountain route or a gentle stroll along a coastal trail, there are options for you.
Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park
Located in New Zealand’s South Island, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park is one of the best places in the country to hike, climb, or simply observe the amazing scenery. The park’s star attraction is the Tasman Glacier, which is the largest glacier in New Zealand.
In addition to Mount Cook and the Tasman Glacier, there are 19 peaks over 3,000 meters. You can also try your hand at glacier trekking or skiing. The largest of the glaciers is the Tasman Glacier, which covers 23 kilometers.
In addition to the mountains, the park features many other things to see and do. The most popular trail is the Hooker Valley Track, which winds through snowcapped mountains. You can also try the Red Tarns trail, which leads to a viewpoint of Red Tarns.
The park also has a visitor centre. There are exhibits and information about the region’s history (which you can also find then you visit: https://newzealandtrails.com/). There is also a state-of-the-art cinema. The park’s other notable feat is the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve, which is the world’s largest dark sky reserve. This area allows Mount John Observatory to look into space without light pollution.
Another fun activity is taking a helicopter ride over the area. Heli-skiing is also an option, but it’s expensive. You can also try guided mountaineering in the park.
Another must-do is hiking the Mueller Glacier Viewpoint trail. This is a short 20-minute one-way hike, which is part of the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky reserve.
Aratiatia Rapids Track
Located in northern Taupo, the Aratiatia Rapids Track is an easy and scenic hiking trail. It is part of a wider network of mountain biking trails in the Taupo region. The track can be walked from either end and is suitable for moderate fitness trampers.
The track is relatively flat and has some sections that are uncovered. It passes through an area of young kauri, an old pa site and regenerating native bush. The route passes an open face with excellent views of the north.
There are two lookout points on the Aratiatia Rapids Track. The first sheltered viewpoint is located high above the river below. The second is located near the Aratiatia Dam. Alternatively, you can walk to the bridge over the river.
The track is marked with green and yellow signs and is well shaped and formed. It has some gravel sections and is graded for bikes. It is not suitable for wheelchairs.
The Aratiatia Rapids Track is part of the Aratiatia Scenic Reserve. The reserve is open to visitors and has a picnic area. The track is a beautiful scenic walk and can be completed in around four hours. The track has several excellent vantage points on high rock bluffs.
The main viewing point starts 50 metres downstream of the dam bridge. The track passes a large carved stone with a Maori blessing. There is also a second sheltered viewpoint. During the summer months the track can be very hot between the Aratiatia Dam and the State Highway 1 suspension bridge. The track can also become muddy in the rain.
Aratiatia Hut Circuit
Located just north of Taupo, Aratiatia is one of the most photographed places in New Zealand. Fortunately, it is also one of the best places to view the mighty Waikato River. You can take a hike along the banks of the river, or opt for a more sedentary experience.
The Aratiatia is a water reservoir that aims to be an environmentally sustainable source of hydroelectric power. It is the largest in New Zealand and has been operating since 1964. The dam has a spill gate that can release up to 90,000 litres of water per second. These are used to cool the water in the reservoir and maintain a relatively calm stream. The dam also has several viewing platforms for catching the best views of the falls.
The Aratiatia is also home to the smallest hydro reservoir in the Waikato River system. Fortunately, the dam is a short drive from Taupo and the town centre. During peak season, visitors can book a boat tour and a Jet Boat ride to see the best views. This may not sound like much fun, but the experience is rewarding in its own right.
Aratiatia is also the site of New Zealand’s largest free attraction, Mighty River Power. More than 60,000 people visit the site per year to take part in a variety of activities. The site also boasts the world’s largest model of a steam locomotive.
Maketawa Hut Circuit
Located on the eastern slope of Mount Taranaki, Maketawa Hut Circuit is a 6.5km loop with an elevation gain of more than 1,000 feet. This is a relatively family friendly tramp that can be done in three hours. The route is a fun one with plenty of scenic attractions along the way.
The Maketawa Hut itself is operated by the Department of Conservation and it features 16 mattresses, gas heating, water and a wood burning stove. There are two ways to get there: the obvious route through the Egmont National Park or the more direct route via the highway. The latter is recommended if you want to avoid the crowds. The route is a great way to get out and see the beautiful flora and fauna of New Zealand’s highest peak.
A trip to the Maketawa Hut is well worth the time. This 4.5 star lodge is located right on the edge of the mountain, and offers plenty of amenities for your overnight stay. The hut itself is not for the faint of heart; its name is a mouthful, but it is a place to call home for the night. The staff are friendly and the meals are a cut above the rest. The lodge also has a good view of the surrounding mountains. The hut is well-priced, but it is worth the splurge.
There are plenty of other flora and fauna in this part of the country, but the Maketawa Hut is the easiest way to see the best of New Zealand’s highest mountain.
Located in Kauaeranga Valley, Pinnacles Hut is one of the largest Department of Conservation (DoC) huts in New Zealand. It is a serviced 80 bunk hut with a full camp kitchen. It is open year round. It is an ideal start for overnight hiking.
Pinnacles Hut is located at the end of the Pinnacles Walk, a popular hiking trail in New Zealand. It takes approximately 2.5 hours to get to the hut, and the walk is a moderate 3.5 to 4 hours one way.
The Pinnacles walk is one of the most popular overnight hikes in New Zealand. It is a 14 km loop with a 500 metre ascent. During the hike, visitors will learn about the history of the area and its use as a logging camp. The hike is not difficult, but it does require good fitness.
You can stay overnight at Pinnacles Hut. The fee is $15 per adult and $8 per child. It is recommended that you book online in advance.
It is a good idea to bring warm clothing, walking poles, and a camera. You should also carry enough water for the hike. You will need at least one litre of water per person per day.
A ten minute detour will take you to Billygoat Falls, an impressive 180m high waterfall. The hike is quieter and less challenging than the Webb Creek Track, but you will still have to climb a steep hill.
Lord of the Rings trail
Whether you are a Lord of the Rings fan or not, New Zealand is home to a number of locations where the films were filmed. Many of these locations are still accessible and can be reached on a self-drive tour. You can also opt for a guided scenic helicopter flight.
The North Island of New Zealand is home to Minas Tirith, Helm’s Deep, Osgiliath Wood, and Rivendell. The South Island has Lothlorien, Amon Hen, and Isengard. You can also visit Middle-earth at Hobbiton, which was created for the LOTR trilogy. You can also visit Weta Workshop, where the films were filmed.
Abel Tasman National Park is home to Takaka Hill, which was used as Chetwood Forest in the Fellowship of the Ring. It also features the Gardens of Isengard.
You can also hike the Abel Tasman Coastal Track, which features white sandy beaches and lush forests. This multi-day walk is also home to many welcoming wildlife.
Mt Aspiring National Park is also home to many Lord of the Rings locations. You can also walk the Rob Roy Glacier Walk, which features amazing glacier views. This track is accessible to all fitness levels and doesn’t require an incline.
If you are an avid Lord of the Rings fan, you may be tempted to take a self-drive tour to see these locations. The majority of these locations are accessible by car, although a few are only accessible by helicopter.