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26 Best Hikes in New Zealand: North Island and South Island

Best Hikes in New Zealand

The best way to experience New Zealand is with your own two feet. New Zealand is a hiker’s paradise. During our three months traveling in NZ, we sought out the best trails and hiked as much as possible. We’ve assembled our favorite hiking trails below for both the North and South Islands. You’ll find a range of short and long day hikes as well as 2-day hikes. We’ve also included trails we didn’t experience due to poor weather, or lack of proper equipment (basically our wishlist for our next trip). So, if you’re asking “where should I hike in New Zealand,” or “what are the best backcountry hut hikes,” keep reading because we’ve got you covered.

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26 Best Hikes in New Zealand - find out where to hike in the North Island and the South Island

26 Best Hikes in New Zealand Overview

  1. Tongariro Alpine Crossing, North Island
  2. Mount Ruapehu’s Crater Lake, North Island
  3. Taranaki Falls, North Island
  4. Tama Lakes, North Island
  5. Mangorei Track to Pouakai Range, North Island
  6. Wilkies Pool and Dawson Falls Loop, North Island
  7. Cape Kidnappers Gannet Reserve, North Island
  8. Pinnacles Track, North Island
  9. St. Arnaud Range Track, South Island
  10. Robert Ridge Trail to Angelus Hut, South Island
  11. Sealy Tarns Track, South Island
  12. Mueller Hut, South Island
  13. Hooker Valley, South Island
  14. Roys Peak, South Island
  15. Isthmus Peak, South Island
  16. Ben Lomond, South Island
  17. Tiki Trail to Skyline Complex, South Island
  18. Lake Alta, South Island
  19. Lookout, The Remarkables, South Island
  20. Routeburn Track to Routeburn Falls, South Island
  21. Routeburn Track to Harris Saddle, South Island
  22. Mount Aspiring Hut, South Island
  23. French Ridge Hut, South Island
  24. Rob Roy Glacier, South Island
  25. Key Summit, South Island
  26. Avalanche Peak, South Island
Planning a trip to New Zealand? Read these helpful guides next:
New Zealand Hiking Resources

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Lake Alta, the Remarkables, New Zealand

Where to Hike in New Zealand

Click the dots to explore specific destinations.
North Island
  • Tongariro National Park
  • Egmont National Park
  • Hawke's Bay
  • Putangirua Pinnacles
South Island
  • Nelson Lakes National Park
  • Arthur's Pass National Park
  • Mount Cook National Park
  • Mount Aspiring National Park
  • Wanaka
  • Queenstown
  • Fiordland National Park
Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand

Best Hikes in Tongariro National Park

North Island
Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Day Hike
New Zealand’s Greatest Day Hike really lives up to its name. This outstanding hike weaves through rugged volcanic terrain and rewards you with unforgettable views of Mount Ngauruhoe (“Mount Doom”), emerald pools, craters, and lakes. This is a point-to-point hike, so you need to organize a shuttle transfer a few days in advance. It’s no longer possible to park your car at Mangatepopo Road for the day (4-hour limitation). And, unless you start hiking at 6 am, you won’t secure a parking place at Ketetahi.

 

Total Distance: 19.4 km

Total Time: 6-8 hours

Trailhead: Mangatepopo, or Ketetahi. It’s more popular to hike from Mangatepopo to Ketetahi.

Restful Ridge, Mount Ruapehu
Mount Ruapehu's Crater Lake
Day Hike for Experienced Hikers
Mt. Ruapehu is an active volcano in Tongariro National Park. In summer, this ski region turns into a quiet hiking destination. There are a few marked trails on the mountain (Skyline Ridge, Waterfalls Descent, Meads Wall), but the most exciting option – crater lake – is unmarked. To reach the crater lake near the summit, you can join a guided trek or hike there independently (weather and visibility permitting). You can begin the hike from the base of the Iwikau Ski Village and hike the Waterfalls Trail up to Knoll Ridge, or you can take two chairlifts up to Knoll Ridge (29 NSD per person).

 

Read Next: Hiking to Mt. Ruapehu’s Crater Lake without a guide

Total Distance: 7 km (chairlift option), 10 km (hike from bottom)

Total Time: 5 hours (chairlift option), 7 hours (hike from bottom)

Trailhead: Top of the Waterfall Express Chairlift, Iwikau Village, Whakapapa Ski Area

 
Taranaki Falls, New Zealand
Taranaki Falls
Easy Loop Hike
If you’re looking for a short hike and love waterfalls, don’t miss out on this trail. This loop track takes you to the striking Taranaki Falls, which tumble over the edge of a large lava flow into a rocky pool. We saw lots of waterfalls in NZ and this was one of our absolute favorites.

 

Total Distance: 6 km

Total Time: 2 hours

Trailhead: Ngauruhoe Place, Whakapapa Village

Tama Lakes, New Zealand
Tama Lakes
Moderate Half-Day Hike
The Tama Lakes Trail follows the Taranaki Falls trail. After passing the waterfall, you’ll continue through tussock country to the Lower Tama Lake lookout. The steepest part of the hike is to the Upper Tama Lake viewpoint. We hiked to the lakes on a cold, low visibility day, so we didn’t see views of  Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Ruapehu. We recommend doing this tramp on a clear day. 

 

Total Distance: 17 km

Total Time: 5-6 hours

Trailhead: Ngauruhoe Place, Whakapapa Village

 
Where to Stay in Tongariro National Park for Hiking
Camping | Kaimanawa Road Campsite is a free campground for SC and NSC vehicles. Given its proximity to Ketetahi Car Park (where the Tongariro Alpine Crossing hike ends), this campsite fills up early. 

 

Budget | Pipers Lodge is a great value accommodation, located in Tongariro National Park. The lodge features a bar and restaurant, a lounge with an open fireplace, and a communal kitchen. Guests also have access to hot tubs and a game room (ping pong, pool, etc…). 

 

Midrange | Chateau Tongariro Hotel is a stately hotel in Whakapapa Village set in the heart of Tongariro National Park, at the base of Mount Ruapehu. You can hike to Tama Lakes and Taranaki Falls directly from the hotel. During your stay, you can enjoy the indoor pool, fitness center, sauna, game room, and hotel cinema. Tip: make a reservation for high tea, which is a bucket list experience for many. 

 

Luxury | Tongariro Suites in Ohakune delivers a polished and elevated experience with its attention to detail, modern furnishings, and spacious rooms. A free breakfast basket is delivered to your room, so you can enjoy breakfast in bed.

 

Find a place to stay in Tongariro National Park.

 

Best Hikes in Egmont National Park

North Island
Hiking Trail in Egmont National Park
Mangorei Track to Pouakai Range
Day Hike
This hike promises some of the best views of Mount Taranaki. For the first two hours, you’ll hike through Egmont’s Goblin Forest via a slow ascending staircase track. The forest is dense and the trees are festooned with heavy moss. It’s both enchanting and eerie. Once you get above the bushline, you’ll enter a dwarfed schrubland area where the views begin to expand. The day we hiked this trail, Taranaki and the whole region were shrouded in impenetrable fog. The fog didn’t lift for us, so we can’t say how good the views are. The destination of this hike are the  Pouakai Tarns (20 minutes from the Pouakai hut),  which reflect the volcano on a clear day.

 

Total Time: 5-6 hours

Trailhead: Mangorei Road Carpark, New Plymouth

Dawson Falls, New Zealand
Wilkies Pool and Dawson Falls Loop
Short Day Hike
This easy hike takes you into Egmont’s Goblin Forest to various cascading waterfalls and pools. Because of heavy rainfall in this region, the trees are draped in heavy moss. We hiked to the Dawson falls via the Wilkies Pool and Ridge Loop Tracks. If you don’t have a few hours, you can also park at the Visitor Center, walk down the road you drove up (5-10 min), and follow the signs to the falls.

 

Total Distance: Dawson Falls Visitor Center to Wilkies Pools (30 minutes), Wilkies Pools to Dawson Falls via Ridge Loop Track (1 hour)

Total Time: 1.5 -2 hours

Trailhead: Dawson Falls Visitors Centre

 
More Hikes in Egmont National Park
Fanthams Peak (Day Hike): We wanted to do this hike, but opted out, because of poor visibility. Total Time: 5 – 6 hours. Trailhead: Road end at Dawson Falls. DOC Trail Page

 

Pouakai Circuit (Multi-Day Trek). This is a 2-3 day loop trek. DOC Trail Page

 
Where to Stay in Egmont National Park for Hiking
Camping | Volcanoview is a popular tavern and campground offering paid spaces for SC and NSC vehicles as well as tents. 

 

Midrange | Dawson Falls Mountain Lodge is situated at an elevation of 905 meters above sea level on the south-eastern slopes of Mount Taranaki within Egmont National Park. With its unbeatable location and volcano views, you’ll love your stay here. The hotel dates back to 1896 and features 12 guest rooms, all furnished in a warm, alpine style. Guests love the onsite restaurant (fully licensed). From the lodge, you can hike directly to Wilkies Pools, Dawson Falls, and Fanthams Peak. 

 

Midrange | Ngati Ruanui Stratford Mountain House is a top-rated accommodation in Egmont National Park, surrounded by forest and native gardens. After exploring the Goblin Forest, guests can savor the sauna and steam room and dine at the on-site Mountain Café and Mountain Restaurant (open Wednesdays – Sundays).

 

Find a place to stay in Egmont National Park.

 

Best Hike in Hawke's Bay

North Island
Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony, New Zealand
Cape Kidnappers Gannet Reserve
Day Hike
Bird sanctuaries and wildlife parks are enjoyable, but if you have an opportunity to witness birds in their natural habitat, it’s far more rewarding. Cape Kidnappers is home to four gannet colonies, where an estimated total of 15,700 gannets live. It’s a 2-hour beach walk to reach the Black Reef Colony and an additional 45 min to reach the Plateau Colony. It gets really windy along the coast, so make sure you have a proper rain/wind jacket.

 

When to go: early November to late February (when the chicks have hatched). In March, the gannets start their migration to Australia.

What time to go: low tide. Lonely Planet recommends: “leave no earlier than 3 hours after high tide; start back no later than 1.5 hours after low tide.” Use MetService to check the tide, as it varies each day.

Total Distance: 19 km

Total Time: 5 hours

Trailhead: Carpark at Clifton

Guided tours: Find out about alternative ways to experience the gannet colonies at Cape Kidnappers.

 
Where to Stay in Hawke's Bay for Hiking
Budget | Cedar Road Cottage is a bed and breakfast in Te Awanga, close to the Clifton trailhead. Guests have access to a garden as well as a shared lounge and kitchen. Travelers love the peaceful location (close to the sea), the breakfast, and Maureen (the host).

 

Midrange | Te Awanga Cottages (2 nights minimum) is a bright and cheerful place to stay in Te Awanga, ideal for hikers seeking a private and relaxing accommodation. Each unit has a fireplace, a living room, a fully equipped kitchen, and a washing machine. 

 

Luxury | The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is a five-star, one-of-a-kind accommodation in Cape Kidnappers, perfect for special occasions, honeymoons, and romantic getaways. All meals are included (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). At this upscale farm, you’ll savor vast ocean views, an open fireplace, the wine cellar, tasting room, and a swimming pool and hot tub. 

 

Find a place to stay near Cape Kidnappers.

 

Best Hike in Aorangi Forest Park, Wairarapa

North Island
Pinnacles, New Zealand
Pinnacles Track, Putangirua Pinnacles Scenic Reserve
Short Hike
Take the loop track first to the base of the pinnacles (up the river bed) and then to the lookout point. The pillars consist of partially cemented greywacke gravels that have been contoured by water and wind. When you’re at the base, the pinnacles tower above you. This is also a Return of the King, Lord of the Rings filming location. This badlands-like landscape is a unique landform in New Zealand. After exploring the Pinnacles, check out the seal colony on the way to Cape Palliser Lighthouse.

 

Total Time: 2 hours

Trailhead: Putangirua Pinnacles Scenic Reserve (one hour from Martinborough). You can also camp here.

 
Where to Stay near Putangirua Pinnacles Scenic Reserve for Hiking
Camping | The Putangirua Pinnacles Campground is located at the Pinnacles walk trailhead. Camping fees are very reasonable. 

 

Budget | Waimeha Camping Village is a dream accommodation on the coast for those on a budget. They offer cabin-like container units as well as powered and non-powered sites for campers. Enjoy the sunset. Guests have access to a communal bathroom, kitchen, BBQ facilities, and activity room.

 

Luxury | Wharekauhau Country Estate is a luxurious, ocean-facing cottage with an outdoor pool, tennis court, and double spa bath. Breakfast and a 4-course gourmet dinner are included.

 

Find a place to stay near Putangirua Pinnacles

 
Lake Angelus, New Zealand

Best Hikes in Nelson Lakes National Park

South Island
St. Arnaud Range, New Zealand
St. Arnaud Range Track
Day Hike
Nelson Lakes National Park is one of our favorite hiking destinations in New Zealand. There’s very light traffic on the trails and the views are simply phenomenal. The St. Arnaud Range Track starts at Kerr Bay and climbs to the summit of the St. Arnaud Mountain Range. For the first two hours, you’ll ascend steadily through thick beech forest to the sound of humming bees. Once you get above the bushline, you’ll see magical views of Lake Rotoiti and Mount Robert. The final push to the summit is very steep, but keep pushing. When you get to the top, you can hike the ridge and see beautiful tarns (mountain lakes) on the other side as well as countless mountains stretching out in every direction.

 

Total Distance: 10 km

Total Time: 5 hours

Trailhead: Eastern corner of Kerr Bay, on the edge of Lake Rotoiti in St Arnaud

Lake Angelus Hut in Nelson Lakes National Park
Robert Ridge Trail to Angelus Hut
Overnight Hike
It’s hard to pick a favorite hike in NZ, but this might be it. The initial zig zag Pinchgut Track is a pain-in-the-ass, but it gets you above the bushline really quickly. The majority of the hike follows Robert Ridge via a pole-marked route. The views seems to crescendo in beauty. The final destination is Angelus Hut, situated on Lake Angelus. It’s paradise! You first see the lake from the mountain ridge above. The last stretch is a rocky descent to the hut. Note: This is a fair weather hike.

 

Total Distance: 24.4 km

Total Time: 2 Days. 4-6 hours one-way

Trailhead: Mt. Robert Carpark

 
More Hikes in Nelson Lakes National Park
Lake Angelus to Hopeless Hut, Sunset Saddle (Multi-Day Trek) – You could lengthen the Angelus Hut hike (see above), by hiking to Hopeless Hut the next day. It’s an unmarked route, but the ward at Lake Angelus was recommending it to other hikers. We didn’t have enough supplies to continue hiking for another two days, but this is something we’d love to do if we come back. Note: the route requires traversing over scree. You need to be experienced and very fit to attempt this.

 

Travers-Sabine Circuit (Multi-Day Trek) – This is a 4-7 day tramp. Total Distance: 80 km. DOC Trail Page.

 
Where to Stay in Nelson Lakes National Park for Hiking
Camping | Teetotal Campsite is a large campsite, suitable for NSC and SC vehicles. There’s only one dry toilet on site. For showers, head to West Bay Campsite on Lake Rotoiti. You can buy a shower token from the DOC Visitor Center.

 

Budget | Wairau Pass B&B is a quaint and hospitable bed and breakfast with a shared kitchen and living room with a fireplace, a garden, and a terrace. Dinner is available upon request. 

 

Midrange | Avarest Bed & Breakfast is a welcoming B&B in Nelson Lakes National Park, a mere 2-minute walk from Lake Rotoiti. Guests have free use of the BBQ facilities, shared lounge area, terrace, and laundry room. 

 

Luxury | The Woodsman’s Den is a 2-bedroom private guesthouse in Saint Arnaud. During your stay, you can wander around the 10-acre property, collect your own organic free-range eggs and seasonal vegetables, dip in the hot tub, and rest by the fireplace.

 

Find a place to stay in Nelson Lakes National Park

 
Mount Cook National Park, NZ Hiking Guide | Moon & Honey Travel

Best Hikes in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park

South Island
Mount Cook, New Zealand
Sealy Tarns Track
Half-Day Hike
This staircase track to heaven takes you to a small mountain tarn. The views of Hooker Valley and Mount Cook are so impressive, you won’t even care that it took 2,200 steps to get there. Sealy Tarns also makes for a great picnic spot. If you continue up the same track, you’ll reach Mueller Hut in 2 hours.

 

Total Distance: 5.8 km

Total Time: 4 hours

Trailhead: White Horse Hill car park, at the end of the Hooker Valley Road

Mueller Hut, New Zealand
Mueller Hut
Advanced Overnight Hike
The red Mueller Hut might be the most popular hut in New Zealand. You can hike up here and back in a day, but it would be a great shame if you didn’t sleep here. Just make sure you book the hut well in advance. The first half of the track is to Sealy Tarns via a staircase switchback trail. The second half of the track is unformed. You’ll follow orange poles over the ridge and to the hut. The second half is more challenging, due to scree and rocky terrain. Take your time and go slowly. This will likely be one of your most memorable experiences in NZ.

 

Total Distance: 10.4 km

Total Time: 2 Days, or 7 hours.

Trailhead: White Horse Hill car park, at the end of the Hooker Valley Road

 
Hooker Valley Day Hike, Mount Cook
Hooker Valley
Easy Hike
This easy, flat track leads you through Hooker Valley over several swing bridges. The track ends at Hooker Lake. It’s a very popular track, so start this hike early to avoid the crowds.

 

Total Distance: 10 km

Total Time: 3 hours

Trailhead: White Horse Hill car park, at the end of the Hooker Valley Road

 
More Hikes in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park
Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier View (40 minute walk) and Tasman Glacier View (1 hour walk) – views of the Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake. Trailhead: Carpark at the end of the Tasman Valley Road. DOC Trail Page.

 

If you are interested in guided hikes in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, check out these activities.

 
Where to Stay in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park for Hiking
Camping | White Horse Hill Campground is located directly at the Hooker Valley trailhead. This campground is suitable for both NSC and SC vehicles.

 

Budget | YHA Mount Cook is an affordable youth hostel in Mount Cook National Park, offering both private and dormitory rooms. 

 

Midrange | Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Lodge is a comfortable and friendly accommodation in Mount Cook Village. Guests loved the mountain views, location, and the shared kitchen. 

 

Midrange | Aoraki Court Motel is a modern, apartment-style accommodation in Mount Cook Village, ideal for couples and families. Each unit has a kitchenette.

 

Find a place to stay in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.

 
Roys Peak, Wanaka

Best Hikes in Wanaka

South Island
Hiker descending from Roys Peak in Wanaka
Roys Peak
Day Hike
This is a calf burner. This steep track steadily winds through farmland up to the summit of Mount Roy. The views are spectacular from every vantage point. The track itself is more like a road, so you’ll have no problem knowing where to go.

 

Total Distance: 16 km

Total Time: 5-6 hours

Trailhead:  Roys Peak Track car park on the Mount Aspiring Road

Isthmus Peak Track, Wanaka
Isthmus Peak
Day Hike
Far less popular than Roys Peak (for no good reason), the Isthmus Peak traverses farmland with views of Lake Hāwea. When you get up on the ridge, you’ll have 360 degree views of both Hawea and Lake Wanaka. We hiked here in late March to the sound or rutting stags and the smell of mountain goats. The trail is soft (mostly grass) and ascends gently.

 

Total Distance: 16 km

Total Time: 6 hours 

Trailhead: Stewart Creek carpark is off SH6

Where to Stay in Wanaka for Hiking
Budget | YHA Wanaka is a clean and comfortable backpackers’ hostel set in a great location, close to the lake. Guests love the staff, the well-stocked kitchen, communal lounge and dining area, and the rooms. Double rooms available. 

 

Midrange | Two Stories is a bright and quiet guesthouse close to the lake and the famous Wanaka Tree photo spot. The bedrooms are clean, thoughtfully decorated, and all have private bathrooms. You can use the shared kitchen, BBQ facilities, and garden. 

 

Luxury | Edgewater is situated on the shores of Lake Wanaka. The hotel’s restaurant and café are open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In addition to their seasonal menus, they bake 6 different scones daily and offer Sunday Roast and High Tea, by arrangement. The hotel facilities include a spa, two all-weather tennis courts, a 9 hole putting green, a children’s playground, and a Pétanque. 

 

Find a place to stay in Wanaka.

 
Ben Lomond Track, New Zealand

Best Hikes in Queenstown

South Island
Kea perched on a rock at the Ben Lomond Summit
Ben Lomond
Day Hike
This is a must-do hike in Queenstown. The first section of the hike weaves through forest. Once you get above the Bush Line, you’ll hike through tussock grasslands and see Lake Wakatipu. Once you reach the Ben Lomond Saddle, you’ll see layers and layers of peaks. The hardest part of the trail is between the Ben Lomond Saddle and the Summit. If you’re lucky, a Kea might drop by to say hello.

 

Total Distance: ~14 km (via One Mile Track)

Total Time: 6-8 hours

Trailhead:  Option #1: Bottom or Top of the Skyline Gondola. If you hike from the bottom, take the “Tiki Trail” and follow signs for Ben Lomond Saddle. Option #2: One Mile Creek Track to Ben Lomond Saddle. The One Mile Creek Track follows an old pipeline. We opted for this track, because we had already hiked the Tiki Trail.

Tiki Trail, Queenstown
Tiki Trail to Skyline Complex
Short Day Hike
This steep hike zig zags through pine forest. The end destination is the Skyline Gondola Complex, where there’s a fantastic view of Queenstown. You can also grab a beverage or a bite to eat at the cafe. The trail itself is unremarkable, but the view is great! If you’re short on time, you should take the Gondola up and hike to the Ben Lomond Saddle instead.

 

Total Time: 1.5 – 2 hours.

Trailhead: Bottom of the Skyline Gondola

 
Lake Alta, the Remarkables, Queenstown, NZ | Moon & Honey Travel
Lake Alta, The Remarkables
Short Hike
The walk to this glacier lake in the Remarkables winds through alpine wetlands over soft and rugged terrain. Lake Alta is an alpine cirque lake: snow fed, glacier scoured, and rain filled. It’s not a hard hike, though the signage states “advanced tramp.” The lake is absolutely gorgeous with the rugged mountains forming the background.

 

Total Time: 1 hour

Trailhead:  Medical Building, The Remarkables Ski Base Area

The Remarkables Day Hike, New Zealand
Lookout, The Remarkables
Advanced Short Hike
From the Medical Building, you’ll follow the Alta Track for the first 5-10 minutes. Then you’ll branch off to the right. Simply follow the steep wide road to the top of the Shadow Basin Chair Lift. Check out the large map in the parking area before you start.  From the top of the chairlift, locate a footpath through glacial moraine to the ridge line. From the Lookout, you can climb the ridge and follow a descending footpath back to the road. This is a fun hike for experienced hikers, who like more adventurous trails.

 

Total Time: 3 hours

Trailhead: Medical Building, The Remarkables Ski Base Area

 
Where to Stay in Queenstown for Hiking
Camping | Twelve Mile Delta Campsite is a 15-minute drive from “downtown” Queenstown. The views are wonderful, but the facilities are scant. 

 

Budget | Tahuna Pod Hostel is a super clean and organized hostel in downtown Queenstown. You can book single, or double pods in dormitory rooms, or private double rooms. The bathroom and kitchen facilities are all clean and well-stocked. 

 

Midrange | Mi-pad Smart Hotel is a modern hotel that aims to give guests a personalized experience. By using the mi-pad hotel app, you can customize and control every aspect of your stay: including the lighting and room temperature as well as food delivery and ski rental delivery. Another highlight of staying here is the rooftop terrace (perfect for sunset), boasting unrivaled views of Queenstown and the Remarkables. 

 

Luxury | The Dairy Private Hotel is a unique accommodation built around Queenstown’s original dairy shop, which dates back to the 1920s. The hotel is a short walk to the town center, Skyline Gondola, and Bespoke Kitchen. Rooms are elegantly decorated and feature air-conditioning and mini-fridges. You also have access to a guest lounge with a fireplace, a library, and an outdoor spa pool.

 

Find a place to stay in Queenstown

Best Hikes in Mount Aspiring National Park (access from Glenorchy)

South Island
Routeburn Falls
Routeburn Track to Routeburn Falls
Day Hike
The Routeburn Track is a 2-4 Day Great Walk, however you can enjoy sections of the trail as a day hike. The trail to Routeburn Falls is relatively easy. The first two hours is mostly flat, as you walk along side the Route Burn River and over a series of swing bridges. Though the end destination is a large waterfall, you’ll also see many others throughout the hike.

 

Total Distance: 17.6

Total Time: 6-7 hours

Trailhead:  Routeburn Shelter Carpark

Routeburn Track, New Zealand
Routeburn Track to Harris Saddle
Day Hike
After passing Routeburn Falls, it’s another hour to Harris Saddle. Harris Lake is a visual treat and the reason to hike 22.2 km in a day. From the falls to the lake, the scenery is characterized by stunted alpine shrubbery. Mountains envelop the valley. This hike is long, not difficult, so you should be fit and experienced in hiking long distances.

 

Total Distance: 22.2 km

Total Time: 8 hours

Trailhead: Routeburn Shelter Carpark

 
Where to Stay in Glenorchy
Budget/Midrange | Glenorchy Peaks Bed and Breakfast is a top-rated B&B,  located 3.4 miles from Glenorchy township. Guests love the scenic location, the views, the hot tub, and the friendly owners.

 

Midrange | Camp Glenorchy Eco Retreat is New Zealand’s first net-zero sustainable property. All rooms feature free WiFi, heated floors, and access to the shared communal kitchen. Breakfast is included. Yoga classes are offered weekly.

 

Find a place to stay in Glenorchy.

 
Mount Aspiring National Park, French Ridge Hut Hike

Best Hikes in Mount Aspiring National Park (West Matukituki Valley)

South Island
Mount Aspiring Hut Trail, New Zealand Hiking Guide | Moon & Honey Travel
Mount Aspiring Hut
Day Hike, or Overnight Hike
This mostly flat trail follows an old farm vehicle road through grazing farmland and meadows. There are some water crossings that range from easy to tricky depending on the rainfall. With consistent river and mountain views, there’s something really relaxing about hiking here. Mount Aspiring Hut is a lovely destination. With flush toilets and stoves, it’s one of NZ’s more luxurious backcountry huts. We’re really glad we stayed the night here before embarking on the French Ridge hike.

 

Total Distance: 9 km one-way, 18 km round-trip

Total Time: 4 hours

Trailhead: Raspberry Flat car park (one hour drive from Wanaka). The drive from Wanaka is 51 km. The final 30 km are not sealed. There are also several ford crossings to the car park. After heavy rain, it may be impossible to cross all of them. We had to park 3 km from the Rasberry Creek trail head, because some of the fords were too deep.

French Ridge, Mount Aspiring National Park, NZ Hiking Guide | Moon & Honey Travel
French Ridge Hut
Advanced Overnight Hike
The hike to French Ridge Hut was the most challenging hike we experienced in NZ. The first 3-4 hours are mostly flat (see hike to Mount Aspiring Hut), but as soon as you cross the river, the real fun begins. The ascent is near vertical in some places, and you need to hoist yourself up using tree roots and trunks. Once you get above the bushline, you’ll follow an uphill polled route to the hut. The beautiful red hut is surrounded by dramatic mountain and glacier views. You might even meet a few Kea and Rock Wren birds on the ridge.

 

Total Distance: 17 km one-way, 34 km round-trip  

Total Time: 6-8 hours.

Trailhead: Raspberry Flat car park. Read details from Mount Aspiring Hut Track.

 
Rob Roy Glacier Track, West Matukituki Valley, NZ Hiking Guide | Moon & Honey Travel
Rob Roy Glacier
Half Day Hike
The hike to Rob Roy Glacier begins on the West Matukituki Track (like the Mount Aspiring Hut track). After crossing the West Matukituki River on a swing bridge, the trail enters beech forest and follows the the Rob Roy Stream. The final section of the hike takes you through subalpine scrub to the viewpoint of Rob Roy Glacier. The retreating glacier sits above a rock face of cascading waterfalls. This isn’t an overly difficult hike, but you have to be careful with your footing.

 

Total Time: 4 hours

Trailhead: Raspberry Creek car park (one hour drive from Wanaka). There are several ford crossings to the car park. After heavy rain, it may be impossible to cross all of them. We had to park 3 km from the Rasberry Creek trail head, because some of the fords were too deep.

 
More Hikes in Mount Aspiring National Park
Mount Aspiring Hut to Dart Hut via Cascade Saddle (Multi-Day Trek) – DOC Trail Page

 

Liverpool Hut – This is a similar hike to that of French Ridge, but an hour shorter. It also departs from Rasberry Creek and follows the same trail as French Ridge, until the river.

 

Interested in other activities in Mount Aspiring National Park? Check out these guided tours.

 
Best Base for Hiking in West Matukituki Valley: Wanaka
Budget | YHA Wanaka is a clean and comfortable backpackers’ hostel set in a great location, close to the lake. Guests love the staff, the well-stocked kitchen, communal lounge and dining area, and the rooms. Double rooms available. 

 

Midrange | Two Stories is a bright and quiet guesthouse close to the lake and the famous Wanaka Tree photo spot. The bedrooms are clean, thoughtfully decorated, and all have private bathrooms. You can use the shared kitchen, BBQ facilities, and garden. 

 

Luxury | Edgewater is situated on the shores of Lake Wanaka. The hotel’s restaurant and café are open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In addition to their seasonal menus, they bake 6 different scones daily and offer Sunday Roast and High Tea, by arrangement. The hotel facilities include a spa, two all-weather tennis courts, a 9 hole putting green, a children’s playground, and a Pétanque. 

 

Find a place to stay in Wanaka

 

Best Hikes in Fiordland National Park

South Island
Key Summit, Fiordland, New Zealand
Key Summit
Half-Day Hike
This Fiordland National Park hike begins on the Routeburn Track. You’ll gently ascend through a moss-laden forest before reaching the turn-off for Key Summit. Once you emerge from the bushline, the landscapes transform to boggy subalpine tops sprinkled with tarns. At the top, there’s a circular path that reveals views of Lake Marian, the Darran Mountains, and the Alisa Mountains. This moderate hike is a good option, especially if you’re cruising Milford Sound in the morning.

 

Total Time: 3 hours

Trailhead: The Divide

 
More Hikes in Fiordland National Park
Lake Marian (3 hours return) – Trailhead: Hollyford Carpark. DOC Trail Page

 

Gertrude Saddle (4-6 hours return) – DOC Trail Page

 

If you are interested in guided hikes in Fiordland National Park, check out these activities.

 
Best Base for Hiking in Fiordland National Park: Te Anau
Budget | YHA Te Anau is a clean and cozy hostel in Te Anau, with a shared kitchen, outdoor terrace and garden, and lounge area. 

 

Midrange | Bella Vista Motel Te Anau is a comfortable, smoke-free accommodation, offering studios and one-bedroom units. Breakfast is available upon request. 

 

Luxury | Fiordland Lakeview Motel and Apartments is an aparthotel with outstanding views of Lake Te Anau. All apartments are spacious and have a kitchenette.

 

Find a place to stay in Fiordland National Park.

 
Avalanche Peak, Arthur's Pass National Park, | Moon & Honey Travel

Best Hike in Arthur's Pass National Park

South Island
Avalanche Peak, Arthur's Pass National Park, NZ Hiking Guide | Moon & Honey Travel
Avalanche Peak
Advanced Day Hike
The hike to Avalanche Peak is a strenuous climb. The total elevation gain is 1,100 meters. It takes 1.5 -2  hours to get to the bushline and then another 1.5 hours to the summit. As you ascend past the bush, you’ll see sweeping views of the river and road winding through the valley. Once you get to the ridge, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Southern Alps and glacier views. We met a few Keas up on the summit as well.

 

Total Time: 6-8 hours

Trailhead: Behind the Arthur’s Pass Visitor Center

 
Where to Stay in Arthur's Pass National Park for Hiking
Camping | Avalanche Creek Shelter Campsite

 

Budget | Rata Lodge Backpackers is a quiet, cozy refuge in Otira, a 13-minute drive from Arthur’s Pass. You can stay in a family room, double room, or mixed dormitory. All rooms have access to the communal kitchen and lounge. There are glowworms on the property. 

 

Midrange | Arthurs Pass Motel & Lodge is located directly at Arthur’s Pass, the trailhead to Avalanche Peak and Devils Punchbowl Waterfall. Rooms and units are clean and spacious. There’s a well-equipped communal kitchen and dining room. 

 

Find a place to stay in Arthur’s Pass National Park.

 
French Ridge, Mount Aspiring National Park | Moon & Honey Travel

New Zealand Hiking Gear

Hiking in NZ requires proper equipment. You need windproof and waterproof clothing that’ll keep you warm and dry. The weather can change suddenly, so always pack a few layers no matter how promising the day looks. We had to buy gloves, a beanie, and proper hiking pants during our trip.

 

Absolute Hiking Essentials

The following list contains our personal hiking gear and a few additional recommendations.

Waterproof Hiking Boots

Merino Wool Hiking Socks. Icebreaker makes the best hiking socks out there. Socks have a lifetime warranty.

Hiking Pants. When buying hiking pants, we think flexibility and the ability to shed water are two important criteria. We both bought two pairs of these Macpac Women’s Hike Tight Pants and we love them. They’re breathable and extremely comfortable in all types of weather. Bonus: you don’t need to wear a belt.

Rain Jacket. When we tallied up all the hikes we did in NZ, we realized that we hiked in rain 40% of the time. It’s essential to always carry a proper rain jacket.

Down Vest. Everyone has different preferences, but when it comes to keeping your core warm on the trail, but not overheating, vests are your best friend.

Fleece (one for hiking, one for sleeping). It’s always good to have a fleece with you for added warmth. Fleece sweaters are lightweight and dry quickly. Check out this Marmot Norhiem Women’s Sweater Knit Fleece Jacket on Amazon.

Long-Sleeve Quick-Dry Shirt

Gloves. NZ wind can be brutal. Gloves will make hiking far more comfortable. If your hands tend to swell while hiking, buy gloves with extra room, or a size larger.

Beanie and Sunhat

Cat 4 Polarized Sunglasses

Hiking Backpack. Perfect backpack for day hiking: Jack Wolfskin Rock Surfer 25.5.

Backpack Rain Cover. Rain is part of the NZ hiking experience. You’ll definitely want a rain cover.

Hiking Poles.

1-Liter Reusable Water Bottle. We both carry at least 1 water bottle each. You can refill your reusable water bottles at the mountain huts.

 

Overnight Hiking Gear (for staying in a mountain hut)

Hiking Backpack + Raincover. Ideal hut to hut trekking backpacks: Osprey Packs Kyte 36 Women’s Backpack or Osprey Packs Kestrel 38 Backpack for Men.

Sleeping Bag. Try to invest in a lightweight, but a warm sleeping bag. We tried just bringing a sleeping bag liner, but we almost froze.

Portable Camping Stove + Gas. Some mountain huts don’t have stoves, which means you’ll need to bring your own portable camping stove and gas. To find out what amenities your mountain hut has, we recommend contacting the regional DOC office.

Cooking Pot. In the mountain huts, there may, or may not be cooking appliances. We recommend bringing your own lightweight cooking pot to be safe.

Lighter, or matches. If the mountain hut does have a gas stove, you’re going to need a way to light it.

Freeze-Dried Food. We like Back Country Cuisine. You can buy their meals at most outdoor stores as well as some supermarkets in New Zealand.

Headlamp. It’s essential to have a headlamp when overnighting in NZ mountain huts. You’ll want one for navigating the hut in the evening and for nightime bathroom runs. It’s a lot safer than using the flashlight on your phone.

Geothermal shirt and pants for sleeping.

Ear Plugs. The huts have dormitory-style sleeping arrangements. So, if someone is snoring next to you, earplugs might be your only chance for a good night’s rest.

Waterproof house slippers. After a day of hiking, it’s so enjoyable to finally take of your boots and slip on a pair of Crocs. We used to only bring flip flops, but since upgrading to crocs, our feet have never been happier.

E-reader. Kindle, or iPad

 

Get Hiking Insurance

For peace of mind on the trail, make sure you have hiking travel insurance. When you have World Nomads insurance, you’ll get emergency medical insurance, emergency medical transportation, gear protection (in case of theft, loss, or damage) and trip protection (in case of cancellation). 

Learn more about hiking insurance here

New Zealand Hiking + Travel Resources

Pin This!
Hiking Guide: Best Hikes in New Zealand
Moon & Honey Travel Resources
External Resources
  • DOC (Department of Conservation) – you’ll find every DOC trail, hut, camping ground and national park on this website.
  • MetService – weather forecast. We used this site religiously, when planning out hiking dates.
  • Lonely Planet Hiking & Tramping in New Zealand
  • Lonely Planet New Zealand – indispensable guide for traveling in NZ. We consulted our LP throughout our whole trip. We also bought the the Lonely Planet’s New Zealand’s Best Trips book. This is a road trip guide that gives you a good visual understanding of how regions are connected and how to plan your trip. Buying both was a bit redundant, but it did simplify the planning process.
  • Day Walks in New Zealand: 100 Great Tracks by Shaun Barnett & Geographx – we used this book religiously to figure out where we wanted to hike.
@moonhoneytravelers
  • A few photos from the easy hike across Ochsengümple and over the Rauhekopfscharte saddle to Stuttgarter Hütte in the Lechtal Alps, Austria.

This hike begins with a cableway ascent to Rüfikopf from Lech am Arlberg. 

Trail guide on the blog. 😃🥾🏔
  • September is hands down the best month to hike in the Alps:

☀️The weather is generally stable. Thunderstorms are extremely rare. 

🥾There are far less people on the trails. 

🍺Mountain huts and alpine pasture huts are open most of the month.

💶 Hotel rates are lower than in July & August.

🌅 The days are shorter, so it’s easier to experience brilliant sunrises and sunsets in the mountains.

📍Pala Group, Italian Dolomites
  • I recently learned a new German word and I’m obsessed with it: Kuschelwetter.

“Kuscheln” means to cuddle or to snuggle.

“Wetter” means weather.

So “Kuschelwetter”means cuddling weather. 

Isn’t that the sweetest word?

📍Seiser Alm/Alpe di Siusi, South Tyrol
  • A few photos of the Sesto/Sexten Dolomites. 

1. Dreischusterspitze
2. Innichen/San Candido
3. @naturhotel_leitlhof 

📍South Tyrol, Italy (Dolomites)
  • The Emperor’s Crown Trail (“Kaiserkrone” in German) is a 65-km trail that circuits the Wilder Kaiser massif in Tirol, Austria.

This is one of the most enjoyable and leisurely treks we’ve hiked in Austria because of the superb quality of the mountain huts, the comfort of the valley accommodations, and the easy-moderate difficulty of the trails.

The Emperor’s Crown is one of the best treks to do if you’re new to multi-day hiking in the mountains. The entire circuit follows red trails (intermediate), steering clear of highly-exposed and technically-difficult pathways.
  • View of Haunold from @naturhotel_leitlhof in San Candido/Innichen in Alta Pusteria/Hochpustertal. 

We wrote about our stay here: www.moonhoneytravel.com/best-dolomites-hotels-italy/

📍South Tyrol, Italy (Dolomites)