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Hiking in New Zealand – Our top 5 kiwi hikes

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Do you love the outdoors and exploring on foot? Does the sound of birdsong and roaring rivers get your adrenaline pumping? Then exploring New Zealand on foot is something you should definitely do if you’re coming to visit! We have a huge range of hikes here in New Zealand, from walking through lush forest, to seeing the lake views from a volcanic mountain top, right down to heading to the coast with tracks that wind past some of the most beautiful beaches you will ever see.

If you don’t mind getting a little sweaty, then hiking is the activity for you. I mean – when else will you get an excuse to smell your worst, let your hair be a mess and wear the same clothing for multiple days, then have to jump into an ice cold river at the end of the journey because you’re worried about stinking out the car?! Hiking lets you get back to nature – warts and all!

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Exploring on foot has got to be the best way to see NZ!

As a Kiwi (New Zealander) I was raised around hiking, it’s can be tough and sweaty but the views, experiences, wildlife, team challenges, (not so much the food) and being with great company makes it all worth it. Even hiking can be a great experience – it’s great for a bit of soul food; being at peace with your surroundings before you get back to reality where the cars zoom by and everyone walking down the street has their face down looking at some sort of technology.

Hiking in New Zealand is by far a Backpacking experience, and below I’ve shared some of my favourite New Zealand hikes – everything from a few hours to a few days.

Heaphy Track – Multi Day

Kohaihai River mouth – Heaphy Hut, 16.2km one-way, 5 hours walking per day

2 days and 1 night hike on the western side, sleeping at Heaphy Hut

You would be leaving from Kohaihai river mouth and hiking into Heaphy Hutt, returning back to Kohaihai the next day.

The Heaphy river mouth is an extraordinary beautiful place. The river surges out through a narrow gap gushing out into the ocean. When the salty waves hit the fresh water it is such an amazing sight.

This tramp is spectacular for its scenery and full of adventure. It is truly a backpacking experience.

You can take this tramp to the next level experiencing the whole walk (the Heaphy Track Great Walk), it takes about 5 days 4 nights. The difference of scenery you get to experience is mind-blowing. Walking in between bush to been in open fields surrounded by shrubs to walking by the river is truly beautiful.

Mt Tarawera – 4.5 hours, day hike

Craters edge – Summit – Crater bottom and also a 4WD experience.

This unique hike is one of the best day hikes I’ve ever experienced who would of thought I would hike around a mountain that once erupted and destroyed the legendary pink and white terraces.

This hike is a hike not all get to do; it’s privately owned and only some people have the privilege of being able to have access.

Kaitiaki Adventures is one of the organizations lucky enough to have access. When I experienced this hike, we started by jumping into our 4wd transport, setting off on our journey from Rotorua and driving on the open road for about half an hour. We then hit the dirt road and that’s when it started getting really exciting. The road was bumpy but so much fun! I loved driving through the lush NZ native bush. We got to the start destination for our hike, piling out of the 4wd to get a friendly briefing and an amazing story about the Maori legend of the mountain.

The hike begins, walking to the craters edge not getting too close of course will always cease to amaze me. I was looking down into a crater that once exploded and created disaster for the locals, Mother Nature is a beautiful and powerful thing.

We got to the summit and the view was breathtaking. I could of stood there for hours just staring out over the lakes that surrounded Mt Tarawera. The sky was blue, everyone was quiet and taking in the surroundings. WOW. Mt Tarawera surely has some of the most spectacular views I’ve ever laid my eyes on.

But the fun was yet to come, the scree run or walk for those who would prefer. The scree run is a 400m run down into the crater itself. What a awesome adventure that was you’d almost want to do it again if it wasn’t so much of a mission getting back to the top! We got to catch our breath as the Kaitiaki guides gave us a little geology lesson on the different types of rocks that formed and flew out the volcano during the eruption. I never knew there were so many different types of rocks!

This hike was awesome – definitely a Rotorua Must-do – get in touch with the team at Kaitiaki to book your spot.

Abel Tasman Coastal Walk

Marahau – Anchorage, Nelson

Time: 4hours

Distance: 12.4km

You can either do this as a day walk or a overnight staying at Anchorage.

If casual hiking is for you, then this walk is on the top of the list. Abel Tasman is located at the tip of the South Island, and is one of New Zealand’s biggest tourist attractions. Walk around the beautiful coast of Abel Tasman, stopping at some beautiful golden beaches and keeping an eye out for the Kekeno (NZ fur seal) playing around, eventually making your way inland.

This bush walk is covered with New Zealand’s native lush beech forest and our very well known large Kanuka trees. Finish the hike at the beautiful Anchorage where the beach is golden and the waters are blue. There are also some awesome small caves at the end of the beach. Visiting these at night unveils the glow worms that dot the cave roof – amazing!

Day 1 - Marahau to Anchorage

Day 1 – Marahau to Anchorage

Tararua Ranges

Road end – Atiwhakatu Hutt

Time 2 hr 30mins

Distance 14 kms

Day walk/overnight

This beautiful walk along the Atiwhakatu stream is truly stunning. Crossing over swing bridges to get over the flowing water, walking through the native green fernery listening to our native birds the Tui and Kereru sing, these sounds of the birds singing is truly bliss. At the end of the Atiwhakatu track is a beautiful Hutt to rest or stay over in. It is well maintained and quite new. With its location beside the river you can even take a dunk if you wanted too.

Pelorus Track, Marlborough

Multi day Hike

Do you like a bit of a challenge? Then this tramp is for you. This tramp is spectacular filled with different scenery the whole way. There’s everything from walking along the beautiful Pelorus River, to trekking up hills through the inland forest. The Hut facilities are not the flashiest but the hike and locations are well worth the effort. Take a bit of extra weight – pack your tent and pitch it on the nice grassy locations beside the river for a more enjoyable overnight experience. Face your tent door towards the river and wake up to the beautiful view and sound of the Pelorus River. Beautiful!

Be sure to ask for information before setting off on a hike, always check the weather forecast and let somebody know your plans. Keep your New Zealand hiking experiences safe, fun and enjoyable.

New Zealand really does have some of the world’s best backpacking experiences around – see you out on the trails this summer!

  • “We had an amazing time in the rapids and waterfalls and I would highly recommend Kaitiaki to anyone wanting the full 'white water' experience”
  • “If you havent already been white-water rafting then this is the BEST place in the world to have a go!”

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