New Zealand is a nation full of beautiful nature from the top to the bottom. It is home to some of the most spectacular hikes in the world. From pristine coastlines to volcanoes, mountains and lakes.
There is a beautiful hike in every corner of the country!
Here is a round-up of the 9 most incredible hikes in New Zealand from the North to South. These hikes go from the top of the North Island all the way to the bottom of the South Island and vary from a few hours to a number of days.
So strap on your boots and get ready for some great New Zealand adventure.
1. Mangawhai Cliff Walk
The Mangawhai Cliff Walk is located in Magical Mangawhai Heads which is an hour and a half north of Auckland. The walk starts on a track towards the end of the main surf beach. From here you climb up a steep pathway to reach the top of the cliff. Then you walk along the cliff from Mangawhai Heads towards Langs Cove.
The walk boasts spectacular views of the sparkling east coastline. Expect beautiful blue waters, secluded coves and native palms, ferns and birds. If you are lucky you might be able to spot dolphins!
The track eventually descends down onto the beach. At low tide, you can walk back along the beautiful shell filled beaches. If you are an early riser head towards the track before the sun comes up so you can enjoy one of the best sunrises you’ll ever witness!
The walk all up takes about 2.5 hours and is easy to moderate.
2. The Te Henga Walkway
The Te Henga Walkway is situated on Auckland's West Coast beaches in the Waitakere Ranges. It is about 40 minutes from the city.
The track stretches from Bethells Beach to Muriwai and takes about 3 hours return. It is moderately difficult. It is part of the Hilary Trail which connects a number of tracks in the Waitakere Ranges. The track is on a clifftop heading along the beach. It shows off the best of the famous wild west coast.
From Bethells Road the Te Henga Track crosses the Waitakere River by a footbridge which then rises to reveal beautiful views of lagoons, dune and the rugged surf. The track continues to climb steeply then follows along the cliff.
This hike is ideal to do as a day trip from Auckland City!
3. The Pinnacles Walk
The Pinnacles Walk is located in the beautiful Kauaeranga Valley, 13km upriver from Thames. Thames is located 1.5 hours south-east from Auckland. The Pinnacles walk is one of the most popular overnight hikes with an 80 bed DOC hut available to spend the night in. The hike takes around 8 hours return so it can also be done in a day.
The track starts with a 3-hour walk to the base of the Pinnacles which traverse groves of native bush, streams and swingbridges. It will then take another 40 minutes to climb to the summit of The Pinnacles. If you are staying overnight climb to the summit early in the morning and catch the sun rising above the pacific ocean! The view from the top provides 360 views of the Coromandel coast, the Bay of Plenty and Hauraki Gulf and Plains.
This spectacular hike should be high up on your list of walks in New Zealand!
4. The Tongariro Crossing
The Tongariro Crossing is one of the most famous hikes in New Zealand, and for good reason! It is part of the Tongariro Northern Circuit which is one of the 9 Great Walks of New Zealand.
This Alpine walk goes through the Tongariro National Park. It only takes one day and allows you to hike on not one, but three active volcanoes. The volcanic terrain is dramatic and awe-inspiring with desert-like peaks, old lava fields and emerald green and blue lakes.
Tongariro National Park is the oldest National Park in New Zealand and lies in the middle of the North Island near Taupo. It is a 5-hour drive from Auckland or 4-hour drive from Wellington.
The length of the crossing is 19.4km and takes from 5 to 8 hours. You will gain an elevation of 765 meters so be prepared for a challenging adventure! It is best to be physically fit and strong before attempting this hike.
You can also extend your hike by 3 hours to climb to the top of Mt Tongariro or Mt Ngauruhoe, also known as “Mount Doom”.
The weather is changeable and can be tough so make sure you are well prepared! Bring warm clothes, wet weather gear, proper boots, food and water.
If you only had one reason to go to the North Island in New Zealand, this is it! This incredible hike should not be missed off your New Zealand itinerary.
5. Abel Tasman Coast Track
The Abel Tasman Coast Track is also one of the Great Walks of New Zealand. Abel Tasman National Park is the gem of the South Island! It is the smallest national park in New Zealand and is perfect for those who love hiking, kayaking and chilling out on the beach!
Abel Tasman boasts sandy beaches, beautiful blue sea, incredible viewpoints and native bush. This place a must when in New Zealand. The Abel Tasman Track is one of the most spectacular hikes in New Zealand!
The full hike is 60km and can be completed in three or four days depending on how slow you want to take it. Take your time to soak in the scenery and enjoy everything this hike has to offer! If you are short on time it is possible to do a small part of the hike. Again, this is a one-way track so you must arrange to have a boat transfer back to Marahau. The nearest main town is Nelson which is about 70km away from Marahau which is where the track begins.
As the name suggests this track is mainly along the coast so is relatively flat making this an easy hike.
Much like the other Great Walks of New Zealand, it is super popular! This means you need to book your accommodation well in advance. It is possible to camp on this track and you can take as little or as long as you like. But just remember you have to carry all of your own food and equipment!
6. Hooker Valley Track
The Hooker Valley Track is known as the best short hike in New Zealand. Located in the South Island, this track is in the shadow of New Zealand’s tallest mountain, Mt Cook. As the track leads you closer to Mt Cook it will loom larger above!
The hike is a 10km return walk through the jaw-dropping Hooker Valley in the Mount Cook National Park. You will be surrounded by spectacular views of mountains, tussock grasses, rivers and lakes throughout the well-graded trail. The trail ends at the milky, glacial Hooker Lake which features icebergs and view of Mt Cook.
It is easy to see why this has been named the best half day hike in New Zealand! It is easy to access and rewards you with the very best of New Zealand nature. The hike is well paved and mostly flat making it relatively easy.
The easiest way to get to the Hooker Valley Track is to fly into Queenstown and drive about 3 hours to Mt Cook National Park.
7. Roys Peak
There are so many incredible hikes in New Zealand, it can be hard to find ones that stands out. But Roys Peak is one of those hikes that will really take your breath away and cannot be missed!
Roys Peak is located in the South Island near beautiful Wanaka which is a one hour drive from Queenstown. Thanks to Instagram, Roys Peak is now one of the most popular hikes in New Zealand and it can be done in a day! The most famous viewpoint comes just before you reach the summit which provides stunning views over Lake Wanaka, best enjoyed at sunrise.
The summit reaches heights of 1500m. The carpark is only at an elevation of 200m meaning you gain an altitude of a whopping 1300m over 8km. This steep climb means you need to be physically fit to attempt Roys Peak. It will take around 3 to 4 hours to reach the summit and coming down will take another 1.5. Allow for a full day so you can take your time and enjoy the views!
Bring plenty of water and protection from the weather no matter the season.
8. Routeburn Track
The Routeburn track is another one of New Zealand's Great Walks. If you are an avid hiker then this track is an absolute must! At 33km, it is the second shortest of all of New Zealand’s Great Walks making it a great option if you have limited time.
You need to plan your Routeburn Hike well in advance. Bookings in the four DOC huts along the trail fill up fast, especially during hiking season in the months of November to April.
The track will take you through stunning alpine scenery from Mount Aspiring National Park to Fiordland National Park. It can be done over 2 to 3 days. There are some steep climbs but for the most part the hike is of moderate difficulty.
Since the track is not a circuit you can choose which trailhead to start at. The first is close to Queenstown and the second is close to Milford Sound, near Te Anau. Unless you want to hike there and back you will need to arrange transport to take you back to where you began.
9. Milford Track
The Milford Track is coming in last but certainly not least! It is another one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. It is one of the most iconic hiking trails in the whole world! The hike is all up 53.5km through outrageously beautiful scenery and will span 4 days and 3 nights.
The track can only be walked in one direction and there are a restricted number of huts you can stay in. This makes the hike quiet and secluded but difficult to book a spot on. Bookings for permits open for the following hiking season in mid-June and sell out within days. You must stay in the 3 designated huts on this hike! Camping is strictly banned.
To get to the start of the track you need to get from the nearest town of Te Anau to Glade Wharf via boat. Te Anau is approximately 2.5 hours drive from Queenstown.
The hike itself is highly regulated and each hiker must strictly stick to the same schedule. You can’t rush ahead or lag behind over the course of the 4 day hike.
At the end of the hike, you will find yourself in the glorious Milford Sound! Hang around for a night or two and enjoy a boat cruise or a kayak before heading back to Te Anau or Queenstown.
It might be hard to get a spot on this trail, but it is more than worth the effort. Make sure you are kitted up with hiking gear, water and food and get ready for the best hike of your life!
There you have 9 of the most incredible hikes in New Zealand!
New Zealand is one of the natural wonders of the world with something for everyone across a small landmass. It is an adventurer’s dream destination.
The diversity of landscapes is mindblowing! The country is well equipped with hundreds of hiking trails to show it all off.