Our Favourite New Zealand Great Walks
8 Jul 2016
We very much believe New Zealand’s diverse landscapes are best experienced on foot. There’s nothing better than lacing up your walking shoes and hiking through a Fiordland rainforest, or up and over a mountain ridge, or past stunning lake shores. Living in Te Anau, our family of six loves exploring the great outdoors – the kids especially enjoy trying to spot as many native birds as possible.
Wondering which NZ hiking adventure to add to your kiwi vacation? Below are our favorite New Zealand Great Walks; many of which we have walked or experienced ourselves (the whole family did the Abel Tasman last year!)
Have a read, and we’ll see you out on the trail.
The famous Milford is what put hiking in New Zealand on the map. It’s one of our favorites because it’s right in our backyard and it weaves through some of Fiordland’s most impressive natural wonders – thundering waterfalls, a huge mountain pass, ancient rainforests and the grand finale; Milford Sound itself. We also love the rare, endangered species of birds that call the Milford Track & its surrounds home; notably the weka, kea, kaka and New Zealand Falcon. This track brought us and many of our guides to Fiordland for work, so is very special and today we call the area home.
This is the ultimate mountain adventure with views that are out of this world. Hike through the Routeburn Gorge along the banks of the Route Burn - a thundering Fiordland river – past the spectacular Routeburn and Earland Falls, and up to stunning Key Summit. We know the Routeburn well, as one end of it is very close to Te Anau where we live. The Routeburn follows a trail that was originally used by Maori travelling from the East Coast to source greenstone in the West Coast rivers. This is a great first hike, as the days are shorter but the views incredible as you cross the Southern Alps of the South Island.
A 60km loop track that departs on the doorstep of Te Anau town, the Kepler takes in tussock grasslands, expansive lake views and the fascinating Luxmore Caves. Our kids love spotting bellbirds and tomtits or listening for the NZ parakeet, kakariki where the trail winds along Lake Te Anau. Higher up, silver beech trees dominate the subalpine landscape. Views from Luxmore Hut – where hikers stay on the first night – are spectacular.
Listen to kiwi in the wild, try to spot the nocturnal carnivorous land snail and journey through giant Nikau Palms to the wild West Coast. Our guide, Geoff, recently hiked the Heaphy and loved its contrasting scenery. The trail winds its way through Kahurangi National Park, the second largest national park in the country – add the Heaphy to your itinerary and you’re in for 80km of pure wilderness adventure.
Make it happen: Hike the whole track over 5 days by booking through the DOC Website here.
Abel Tasman Track
The whole family loved this track when we hiked it in Winter 2015. Weaving through Abel Tasman National Park at the top of the South Island, this is a walk studded with golden beaches, native bush and huge granite headlands. Viewpoints offered beautiful coastal vistas and the opportunity to try our luck at spotting marine life, while hiking across tiny sandy coves made for blissful paddling when the kids needed a rest. This trail is not a circuit, so transport needs to be organized at either end but this is easy with the water taxis, but it’s one that comes highly recommended – especially if you’re wanting a family-friendly hike, year round.
Make it happen: Hike the whole track over 4 days by booking through the DOC Website here. A number of local operators also offer day walk options, some via water taxi.