New Zealand's best hikes


New Zealand may be justifiably famous for its Great Walks and other multi-day hiking trails, but don’t break out the cooking stove and sleeping bag just yet.

Much of the same wilderness can be explored on day hikes, which means less gear, less effort, and quite possibly more fun. Here are some of the country's best hikes.

Twilight–Te Werahi Loop

This mostly flat five-hour loop provides a front-row view of the Far North’s natural drama, starring powerful seas, shifting sands, shapely headlands and ever-changing light.

Much of the same wilderness can be explored on day hikes, which means less gear, less effort, and quite possibly more fun.

Coromandel Walkway

Combine with a pilgrimage to windswept Cape Reinga (Te Rerenga Wairua), where the swirling waters of the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet, and Maori spirits are said to depart for the afterlife.

Linking Stony Bay and Fletcher Bay, the 10km track takes three or four hours, with memorable views over the aptly named Sugar Loaf, Pinnacles and Great Barrier Island.

Key Summit

This three-hour return hike offers a taste of the Routeburn Track, arguably the most scenic of New Zealand’s Great Walks.

Starting from the Milford Sound Road, the climbs into an alpine wonderland of tarns and spiky dracophyllum plants, with panoramic views of Fiordland National Park's mountains, valleys and waterfalls.

Medlands Beach to Anchorage

This 11km section of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track serves up several stretches of beach paradise, swathed in golden sand and awash with sparkling sea

The easy trail runs through lush, ferny coastal forest with lots of lovely lookout points. Getting there requires a super-scenic boat cruise, and you can also combine your walk with a kayak trip.

Charming Creek Walkway

One of the best day-walks on the West Coast, the Charming Creek Walkway is an all-weather trail following an old coal railway line through the Ngakawau River gorge.

Along its length (about six hours return) are rusty relics, tunnels, a suspension bridge and the mighty Mangatini Falls. The walkway is also an excellent mountain bike ride.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Set amongst volcanic scenery made famous by the Lord Of The Rings, this crossing in Tongariro National Park is often lauded as New Zealand’s finest one-day walk and one of the best in the world.

The highly weather-dependent 20km walk takes between six and eight hours, although sure-footed types can add on a side-trip up the near-perfect cone of Mt Ngauruhoe.

Want to plan your hike?

Grab the latest book from Lonely Planet.