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McKinnon Pass

Hiking in New Zealand

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One of the most picturesque countries to go hiking in the southern hempishere is New Zealand. Hiking (or tramping as the locals call it) across both north and south islands will grant you access to some of the world’s best loved tramps that allow you to immerse yourself in some of earth’s most stunning scenery. Follow the suggestions below to enjoy the wonderful trails that the ‘youngest country on earth’ has to offer.

Starting on the North Island, there is Tongariro Crossing, which is often described as one of the greatest 1-day tramps in New Zealand. The walk is at high altitude and stretches across volcanic terrain which offers cold mountain springs, lava flows, an active crater, emerald-coloured crater lakes, and truly unforgettable views. A must do for the fit and enthusiastic!

Hop on the Picton ferry from Wellington, and head west once you have arrived on the South Island for the Abel Tasman Coastal Track; a relatively easy 3-5 day walk which offers a guided version of the walk; an option if you’d like to abandon your heavy bag for a bit. This tramp is 32 miles long and winds in and around beautiful sheltered coves, golden beaches, rocky headlands and natural bush.

Not too far away is The Heaphy Track, which offers no guided luxuries like the Abel. Here you go it alone for 4-6 days from the junction of the Brown and Aorere rivers, across tussock-covered flats to the wild seas of Karamea on the West Coast.

Next up, one of the world’s most loved multi-day tramps, The Milford Track. Running alongside the best of Fiordland, the 33-mile trail follows the Clinton and Arthur valleys and crosses McKinnon Pass with breathtaking views you are likely to never forget.

McKinnon Pass

McKinnon Pass

Finally the granddaddy of them all; The North West Circuit. Not for the novice hiker, a 10-12 day walk lasting 78 miles through bird-filled native bush, big beaches, and long stretches knee-deep in mud. Not one I have done myself, but I’m told the satisfaction at the end is plentiful.

If you are going to attempt all or even just one of this hikes, make sure to invest in some durable and hard wearing walking hiking boots. Be sure to bring your camera with you too, as not just the hikes but the journeys in between offer some brilliant photo opportunities, particularly along the west coast of the south island where you’ll find the fox and Franz Joseph glaciers.

1 Comment

  1. Lucy Hodgson
    Lucy Hodgson06-10-2010

    Great summmary of walking in New Zealand. It gives a really good sample of the variety available. I’ve been a walking Guide for 15 years, and would like to point out that the Abel Tasman Coast track is the best choice for those who are not as “fit and enthusiastic” as they could be. Something that many internationals miss out on is the concept of “guided” walking in New Zealand. The term means you have the support, information and safety of a host with local knowledge, hot showers and meals cooked for you. You still get to enjoy the fabulous New Zealand wilderness and can choose the level of solitude or company that suits you.

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