An adventurer’s guide to hiking in New Zealand (guest blog)

Hiking in New Zealand - Mount Cook CREDIT Jordan Heath-Unsplash

The moment I think of New Zealand, a smile immediately stretches across my face as I relive my best moments hiking in New Zealand. As someone who truly appreciates the rewards of adventure and exploration, learning new things and discovering new places, New Zealand jumps to the forefront as my happy place. With the scenic pleasures and panoramic magnificence that this beautiful country has to offer, a good trail and hiking adventure can offer you the time you need to explore and witness the beauty surrounding this spectacular place. 

As an adventurer, it would be a sin to not share my personal favourite hiking trails and experiences with everyone, so that you too can gather and bask in the memories and journeys that await you. With so many insanely beautiful hiking trails in New Zealand, it’s no wonder you’re seeking a guide of some sort. So without further ado, let me take you on an adventurer’s guide to hiking in Maoriland. 

Guest blog by Michelle Williams

📷 above image: Mount Cook, New Zealand. CREDIT Jordan Heath/Unsplash

Hiking in New Zealand - Tongariro Alpine Crossing CREDIT Katie McBroom-Unsplash
Tongariro Alpine Crossing. CREDIT Katie McBroom/Unsplash

One day hike: Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Tongariro National Park

Let’s start with the volcanic terrain and steamy yet eerie day hike at the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in North Island. You can expect a healthy and interesting walk of about six to eight hours, depending on how much time you want to spend exploring. Witness the steam vents and unforgettable emerald-coloured lakes, not to mention the volcanic landscapes that serve this hike up as one of the most famous hikes in New Zealand. 

🏨 Hotels near Tongariro National Park

🛌 Hostels near Tongariro National Park

Hiking in New Zealand - Milford Track CREDIT Liam Simpson-Unsplash
Milford Track. CREDIT Liam Simpson/Unsplash

Multi-day adventure: Milford Track, Fiordland National Park

Now, if you’re anything like me, you want to push your adventurous self to get the absolute most you can from a hike. What better way to do this than with an extensive yet absolutely gorgeous walk in the south of New Zealand. 

The hiking season for Milford Track is between late October and late April when you’ll experience the best and most favourable weather. We decided to go rogue and take on an independent walk but understandably, if you are not too familiar with hiking on multi-day tracks, I recommend looking into a guided tour which could take you roughly about four to five days to complete.

You’ll certainly be spoilt with fauna and flora surroundings and even stay over accommodation if you prefer. Remember the three P’S: pack for prepared pleasure (see below).

🏨 Hotels near Fiordland National Park

🛌 Hostels near Fiordland National Park

Hiking in New Zealand Sandymount Reserve, Otago Peninsula CREDIT Aleks Dahlberg-Unsplash
Sandymount Reserve, Otago Peninsula. CREDIT Aleks Dahlberg-Unsplash

Half-day hike: Sandymount Reserve, Otago Peninsula

If you enjoy the pleasure of coastal views and fresh air, then the Sandymount Reserve offers you a short yet stunning two-hour trail, where its viewpoint will show off in more ways than one.

This trail is not for the faint at heart when it comes to heights, lack of perimeter boundaries and exposed cliffs. Practising caution, especially due to winds you might experience up there, is important to keep in mind.

Oh, and don’t mind the sheep along the way – they’re friendly locals who are welcome to fellow hikers and enthusiasts. Remember to breathe in the salty fresh air as the Peninsula’s glory swoops in through the winds. 

🏨 Hotels near the Otago Peninsula

🛌 Hostels near the Otago Peninsula

Hiking in New Zealand - Roy's Peak CREDIT Aaron Sebastian-Unsplash
Roy’s Peak. CREDIT Aaron Sebastian/Unsplash

Tips for hiking in New Zealand

New Zealand is truly spoilt with incredible natural infrastructure to accommodate hiking enthusiasts from all over the world. Simply pointing your finger at a map and giving that trail a go is exactly what you should do. 

However, some hikers are not confident and would prefer to know a bit more detail to prepare with before heading out on an adventure trail. So here are some helpful tips to keep in mind which I think could be very useful: 

  1. Best time to hike in New Zealand: I’ve experienced various weather conditions and climates and feel the best time to explore New Zealand’s trails would be anywhere between September and November. This is when their spring provides you with favourable conditions.
  2. Pack for prepared pleasure: as I touched on earlier, you really don’t want to find yourself four hours into a hike and stranded without a few important things. This includes proper apparel for all types of weather, enough water and snacks, sunscreen, hiking boots, a first-aid kit and plenty of water which is ideally carried in a hydration pack for easy access. Make sure you do some research before attempting your chosen hike. Most locations have websites or other articles that you can draw information from to make sure you pack for the trails specific conditions, infrastructure and experience. Since the weather is so unpredictable, it is ideal to have a waterproof phone case with you on all hikes.
  3. Be realistic about your fitness and abilities: trust me, you do not want to opt for a multi-day or challenging hike if it’s not a realistic option. You can end up spoiling an amazing experience and turning it into an uncomfortable regret. The great thing about hiking is that no matter what level you start at, there’s so much to see and explore on day walks or the shorter trails. You can always work yourself up to longer and more challenging terrains as you gain more hiking experience and I can assure you, reaching your goals in a phased and pleasurable approach will be well worth it. 

Sharing this guide to some of my favourite hiking trails and tips has got me all excited for my next adventure and most certainly for yours. If ever there was a way to truly emerge yourself into the beauty of New Zealand, it would be by foot. Enjoy your adventure!

About the author

Guest author - Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams is an avid writer, traveller, surfer (and many other outdoor pursuits). Having visited over 30 countries in the last 15 years, she loves to get off the beaten track and explore new destinations. You’re equally likely to find her with my laptop on the top of a mountain or a hidden beach. 

Her writing is across various publications online and she is always happy to write for anyone, just drop her a line.

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