New Zealand is home to nine famous walking routes, and each offers a unique and spectacular perspective from which you can appreciate the country’s incredible natural beauty. The walks vary in difficulty and expertise required, as well as in how long they take to complete. There are three routes found on the North Island, whilst the other six are all in the South. All tracks are accessible with the purchase of a Great Walks Pass, which covers you for hut and camping accommodation whilst on your adventure. Most of the routes are peppered with accommodation, including campsites and guesthouses, allowing visitors to spend the night in whatever level of luxury they desire.      

Great walks on the North Island

Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk

New Zealand's Nine Great Walks

The first walk is located in the east of the North Island. This route skirts along the water’s edge at Lake Waikaremoana, passing through ancient Podocarp forests and remote stretches of sand, before taking you up to the breathtaking views from Panekire Bluff. The track around the ‘sea of rippling waters’ is 46 km and, on average, takes three to four days to complete. The Lake Waikaremoana Walk is suitable for hikers with standard levels of fitness and no great experience is required.

Tongariro Northern Circuit

New Zealand's Nine Great Walks

A walk around the Tongariro National Park in the centre of the North Island is a truly magnificent experience, and you will be astounded at a landscape full of geothermal activity, stunning lakes and glacial valleys. The 43 km track meanders around the Tongariro and the Ngauruhoe volcanoes- both are active, so watch out. The Northern Circuit takes between three and four days to complete, and is suitable for hikers with a good level of fitness.       

Whanganui Journey

New Zealand's Nine Great Walks

Okay, the title of this page may be slightly misleading, as the Whanganui Journey is not a walk at all, but a float. Drift, paddle or row down the Whanganui River, taking in the natural beauty and significance of this historically important stretch of water. The entire route is around 145km, and takes around five days to complete. Unless you’re feeling especially Jesus-like, it’s best not to try and walk this route. A kayak or canoe is highly recommended.  

Great Walks on the South Island

Abel Tasman Coast Track

New Zealand's Nine Great Walks

The Abel Tasman National Park extends to the north shore of the South Island, and the coastal track winds along the sea front, offering fantastic views and a truly wild outdoor experience. Arguably though, the serenity of nature comes at a price, as some of the tidal crossings are only open for a limited window each day- be sure to check the tide times when you visit! There are a number of campsites and lodges along the 54km route, and it takes around five days to complete.

Heaphy Track

At almost 80km, the Heaphy Track is the longest of the great walks, and as such offers incredible variety in terms of landscapes and views. The route goes down the South Island’s west coast, and you can expect to see a beautiful combination of grasslands, woods and scenic beaches. Walking, the Heaphy Track takes between four and six days to complete, whilst it is also popular with cyclists looking for some off-road adventure. 

Routeburn Track

New Zealand's Nine Great Walks

One of the most popular tracks in New Zealand, the Routeburn offers incredible views of the Southern Alps and the Fiordland National Park. At only 32km, the path is relatively short, but still manages to pack in a vast amount of stunning scenery. As you wind through steep valleys which overlook classic Kiwi lakes and icy rivers, you will begin to understand the reason that thousands of tourists flock to New Zealand every year.     

Milford Track

New Zealand's Nine Great Walks

The title of ‘finest walk in the world’ is not one given away easily, but that is exactly how the Milford Track is referred to in some quarters. Its 53km of striking, natural magnificence are found in the Fiordland National Park on the south west of the South Island. Over the course of around 4 days, you will come across towering waterfalls, tranquil forests and picturesque mountain views. 

Kepler Track

New Zealand's Nine Great Walks

The Kepler track is also found within the South Island’s Fiordland region, but takes you a little higher than the alternative tracks close by. The climb rewards you with spectacular panoramic views of the Kepler Mountains and the surrounding landscape. Plenty of the 60km route will see you strolling along above the clouds, and an average hiker should be able to complete the track in between three and four days. 

Rakiura Track

New Zealand's Nine Great Walks

The Rakiura track is found on Stewart/Rakiura Island, which is around an hour by ferry from the South Island’s south coast. The route is a great way to see more of Rakiura, which is a beautiful, unspoiled retreat with a fascinating Maori heritage. Now though, only a relatively small population calls the island home, so you are unlikely to come across too many people over the course of the 39km trail.