Hiking in New Zealand: How to prepare for an active New Zealand vacation?

6 May 2018

Misty mountains, emerald fjords, ancient fern-cloaked forests, cascading waterfalls and miles of empty black and white sand beaches… You’re likely to find any sort of wild path you’re willing to tread in New Zealand – perfect for active travellers of any age and stage.

If you are planning on hiking in New Zealand, here are a few things to help you get ready for what promises to be an adventure of a lifetime. Nothing less!

Expect changeable weather

The weather in New Zealand is unpredictable. It is quite often forgotten how far in South New Zealand really lies. Even in the peak of summer, if the sun doesn’t shine and wind picks up, temperatures can dip pretty quickly. Be prepared for rain - Fiordland alone gets 6800mm of rain over 182 days a year so you’re probably going to get WET! Remember, wet weather hiking can still be great fun here so long as you have the right gear.

Also expect the weather to change very quickly in New Zealand. In the morning you may start your hike with nice and warm sunshine while in the afternoon you could get surprised by an ice-cold wind and a hail-storm – be prepared for anything!

Be flexible

In light of the changing weather, it is best to keep you itinerary flexible. A road trip in New Zealand takes you to places you planned to visit, but also many spots that you’ll probably hear about when you arrive and talk to the locals. Allow time to discover those hidden treasures.

Pack appropriately

Changeable weather means you need to pack for all seasons. Don’t forget to pack in your wet weather gear and if you’re planning on hiking in New Zealand, keep the usual suspects like day packs, hiking boots, camera accessories etc. handy.

Lady hiking on Key Summit with mountains

With a little preparation, hiking in New Zealand will be unforgettable

You’ll need to be low to moderately fit

New Zealand has plenty of easy walks, also others that require you to be reasonably fit.  The fitter you are the more you will enjoy your time. To enjoy these – including the Great Walks – make sure you’re in reasonably good shape. Before you arrive, try sticking to a daily walking regime. Gradually increase the distance each day, and some days carry a backpack and include stair or hill climbing.

Book the Greats before you arrive

The Great Walks network in New Zealand, three of which are in Fiordland National Park (Routeburn Track, Milford Track and Kepler Track), attract thousands of people and book out very quickly. Make sure you book your spot in advance – independent or guided experiences.

Start learning the Kiwi way to speak

Although the official spoken languages are English and Maori, Kiwis speak a language all their own with local slang terms that will sound completely foreign even to English-speaking visitors. Brush up on a few of these words before you arrive.  The first one to remember is that a "tramp" is the kiwi word for "hike"...
 

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