New Zealand hiking?
September 22, 2012 3:18 AM   Subscribe

Good day hikes in New Zealand? I'm travelling to New Zealand from the UK in November to go to a wedding. I'm taking three weeks off work and I plan on doing some hiking while I'm there.

I'm an experienced hiker and reasonably well equipped. I'll be travelling alone and even at the best of times I'm a reluctant camper so I'm really looking at walks that I can do in one day.

The wedding is on North Island and I haven't decided whether to head to South Island yet. South Island is beautiful but last time I was in New Zealand I spent a lot of time driving and not much time walking. I'd like to reduce my driving this time.

I like hills, mountains, lakes, forests, coasts, beautiful views and I feel there haven't been enough volcanoes in my life.

Does anyone have any recommendations for hikes?

posted by antiwiggle to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a local and have heard good things from friends and acquaintances about both of these tracks:, When I was in Golden Bay I did a bit of the Heaphy and even after only a couple of hours there were lots of amazing views - lots of sand flies though! Sorry they are both in the South Island, I don't have much experience with the North Island.
posted by kwes at 3:41 AM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tongariro Crossing follows the saddle between Mt. Tongariro and Mt. Ngauruhoe, right next to Ruapehu. It's all day, beautiful, lots of volcanic activity scenes (volcano rims, scoria, lakes, some used as scenes for that Lord of the Rings movie, but you don't have to care about that to enjoy the walk).

Other hikes in Tongariro National Park here.
posted by jujulalia at 4:02 AM on September 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

Note that you can do multi-day walks without camping, since New Zealand has an excellent network of wilderness huts. For the "officially" best walks, look at the list of great walks -- all multi-day, but all have well-equipped, comfortable huts. You'll want to book in advance, though. Kepler and Routeburn are the only two I've actually done, of which the Kepler was one of the greatest hikes in my life. (The Routeburn's less dramatic, and probably a bit out of your way too!)

I've spent far more time on the South Island than the North, and am biased in its favour, especially when it comes to hiking. If you did decide to see the splendours of the South you'd save time and money by taking a domestic flight down rather than drive/ferry all the way from the North.

If day walks are a must, Queenstown is a good base in the South -- there's loads of good walking right on your doorstep. In the North, National Park Village on the central plateau and Thames in the Coromandel might also make good starting points.

Do not omit to plumb the infinite wisdom of the Department of Conservation. The website's very informative, and in my experience the local DoC centres are extremely helpful if you just show up and tell them what you'd like to do. They'll also keep you informed about local weather conditions and other hazards.
posted by pont at 4:23 AM on September 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Correction: in the above, I appear to have written "Routeburn" when I meant the Rakiura on Stewart Island (hence the comment about it being out of your way). I've never done the Routeburn, but have heard good things about it.
posted by pont at 4:57 AM on September 22, 2012

Nthing the Great Walks, of which people have named several above.

If you don't want to spend time driving but are thinking of going to South Island, just look at discount airline flights down to Queenstown (or Wellington if you want to take the ferry across to the Abel Tasman stuff) - I think it'd be well worth it!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:13 AM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

On the way to Milford Sound on the South Island there is a great day hike to Lake Marian. Bring your camera.
posted by surfgator at 8:31 AM on September 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thank you. The Tongariro Crossing looks fantastic, I just hope it is open by the time I get there. On visiting South Island, I really hadn't thought of using a domestic flight, sounds like a good idea.
posted by antiwiggle at 2:53 AM on September 23, 2012

I walked the Tongariro Crossing on a perfect day in the short time it was open in November. It was well worth doing and I'd recommend it to anyone. Lake Marian was also very good (and I did take my camera). One not mentioned was the walk up Ben Lomond above Queenstown. I did that on another day of perfect weather and the view from the top is fantastic.

Thank you for all the suggestions.
posted by antiwiggle at 3:10 AM on February 23, 2013

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