Hiking in New Zealand is almost like an unofficial national sport. Here are our top 4 things you need to know about hiking in New Zealand.
There are tracks everywhere; some rough, others well-worn and paved, with sign-posts and hand-rails to make your passage easier – all are free and open for exploration, provided inclement weather doesn’t spoil the fun. Although, if you’re going to travel like a local, the first thing to know about walking in New Zealand is the terminology – we don’t call it hiking. We don’t call it walking. We’re all about tramping.
Tramping in New Zealand is a weekend activity, a holiday getaway or a month-long adventure – it can be anything you’d like it to be, provided you follow these commandments.
1. Less is More
If you’re a seasoned tramper, you can skip this section, although nobody ever suffered from the effects of a quick refresher course!
Pack what you need, not what you want. Start by purchasing a pack suitable for your New Zealand hiking style – day-trippers don’t need packs like week-walkers, and two-day adventurers won’t require the same volume as a ten day jaunt.
Instead of relying on the internet to work out what you need, speak to one of our travel experts about recommended gear, depending on your booking. It doesn’t hurt to get another opinion either, so if you’re forum savvy or interested in heading into an outdoors store, do so. Get comfortable with the lingo. Get to know what’s essential.
- Pillow from home = non-essential
- Inflatable, space saving pillow = smart packing
2. Shorter can be better
Closer to the inexperienced side of the line? A collection of shorter walks will serve you better than one big New Zealand tramping adventure. Not only will the break give your muscles time to adjust – New Zealand great walks can be difficult at times – you’ll also enjoy the freedom to do other things besides walk! New Zealand is brimming with activities. Make the most of your time and be honest about your ability.
Suggested Short Routes:
- 1 Day: Twilight–Te Werahi Loop – North Island
- 2 Day: Rakiura Track – Stewart Island
- 3 Day: The Routeburn Track – South Island
3. Longer Routes Require Higher Levels of Fitness
Navigating one of the many New Zealand great walks is not solely a question of experience, fitness also plays a role. If walking to the end of Baldwin Street in Dunedin gets you huffing and puffing, these treks are not for you – they can be challenging, arduous and physically demanding… but they’re worth the effort and training if you’re eager to give it a shot and make one of these New Zealand walks a lasting memory.
And remember, you don’t have to do it all at once. You can always enjoy a short section of one of the longer trails.
Suggested Longer Routes:
- 15 day: Heaphy Track – South Island
- 5 day: Abel Tasman Coast Track – South Island
- 5 day: Queen Charlotte Track – South Island
4. Independent v Guided?
Great Walks New Zealand is a string of words every tour guide looks forward to hearing – it’s an opportunity for local trampers to show you their favourite places, along well-trodden trails and a few secreted tracks, giving you an authentic New Zealand experience without stepping foot in a city.
Attractive prospect, isn’t it? We recommend taking advantage of their wisdom unless you’re extremely comfortable and confident with your surroundings – safety first.
As well as all the unforgettable activities on a Kirra Tour, there is also time discover your own slice of New Zealand in your free time. Take a look at our current tours here and plan a hike on one of New Zealand’s many trails into your adventure.