Day hikes in New Zealand are a favourite activity in this stunning country! There’s a walk for everyone, whether you want to explore the beautiful coastline or go deep into the National Parks. It’s a must to explore the South Island hiking trails when visiting New Zealand.
While most of our favourite hikes are on the South Island, the North Island’s top pick, the emerald lakes gem at the heart of our walking crown, is also worth a visit. If you want to learn more about the best hikes in New Zealand, you’ve come to the right place. Just keep an eye out for the contour lines!
Ben Lomond is a challenging day hike that takes you to the top of Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital. Follow the Tiki Trail to the Skyline Building and then to the Gondola in town. The first section is challenging, but the views of Lake Wakatipu are well worth it.
You think the views can’t get any better, but then you’re greeted with breathtaking, inspiring views of Mount Aspiring National Park. In the final section of this hike, the ascent to the summit is quite difficult. Kea, New Zealand’s cheekiest bird, is frequently seen taunting tourists near their destination. These alpine parrots recognise summits as places to rest and will attempt to steal your snacks. You’ll have climbed nearly 1,500 metres, so you deserve a tasty treat.
It takes a full day to climb Ben Lomond. This epic hike, unquestionably one of New Zealand’s most beautiful, will take you at least six hours. You will be in an alpine setting. Conditions can shift quickly. You should be ready for any weather conditions and have plenty of water, food, and clothing. One of New Zealand’s best day hikes awaits those who are fit and organised. You might also come across Kea or New Zealand Falcons.
The best time to see the breathtaking views from the summit is right before your Masterpiece or Kiwi Classic tours begin. You can also visit them on your rest day if you are on our World Heritage tour.
The Rob Roy Glacier Trail
This trail, named after Rob Roy MacGregor (one of Scotland’s most famous adventurers), is undoubtedly New Zealand’s most popular. This trail is similar to its inspiration. It is about a hero and an outlaw. This hike, which was unknown to those not from Wanaka for many years, is now the most popular in this picturesque lakeside town. The starting point can be found on the road from Wanaka to Glendhu Bay or Mount Aspiring National Park.
It runs through private farmland. It should be noted that access is restricted during lambing season, which lasts from mid-October to mid-November each year. You must respect the farm owners’ property and adhere to the trail. You should use stiles if they are available. A chorus of grasshoppers or skylarks will greet you as you begin your 1,228-meter ascent. The journey to the summit will take between three and four hours, passing through alpine meadows or native tussock grasslands. The summit, which is 1,578 metres high, provides breathtaking views of Mount Aspiring National Park. From the top, you can see Lake Wanaka, New Zealand’s fourth largest lake. If you look closely, you can see Mou Waho, one of New Zealand’s hidden treasures.
This is, in our humble opinion, the best hiking on New Zealand’s South Island. Preparation is essential, as it was for the Ben Lomond mission. Check that you have enough supplies. New Zealanders frequently claim to be able to experience four seasons in a single day. This hike is about 16km/9.9 miles long. Don’t overlook the sheep!
Rocky Mountain is another gem in the Wanaka hiking chain, located west of Wanaka. Rocky Mountain is an excellent place to hike with people of varying abilities. There are numerous trails accessible from the parking lot. The hikes are ideal for a half-day hike because they last no more than three hours.
The most convenient option is to take a stroll around Diamond Lake. You can walk around the lake on the 2.5 km / 1.8 mile trail, which is lined with birdlife. The Diamond Lake Lookout Trail, which is more difficult, is the next level. The walk takes about an hour and provides a beautiful view of the lake. To complete the Lake Wanaka Lookout or Rocky Mountain Summit trails, you must ascend steeply from the Diamond Lake Lookout viewing area. It should take about 30 minutes to get to the Lake Wanaka Lookout from here. The lookout provides breathtaking views of Lake Wanaka and the islands that surround it.
Are you up for another challenge? From the Diamond Lake Lookout, the Rocky Mountain Summit will take you about an hour to complete. Rocky Mountain Summit is 775 metres high. Bluebird days provide spectacular views of the Southern Alps/Ka Tiritiri o te Moana as well as Mount Aspiring/Tititea, the highest peak in Mount Aspiring National Park at 3,033 metres.
The Pororari River Trail
This lush green wonder can be found in Paparoa National Park. This area will soon be home to the Paparoa/Pike 29 track, which will include a section dedicated to those who died in the November 2010 mine disaster. It is located on State Highway 6, near the Pororari River Bridge, north of the Visitor Centre.
This is the shortest walk on our itinerary. It feels like you’re in a prehistoric land as you walk alongside the gentle Pororari River. It’s like being on the set of Jurassic Park, with huge nikau palms and a variety of fern species waving as you search for dinosaurs. Although there may have been T-rexes or Pterodactyls in this rainforest, the Moa, a hybrid Ostrich/Emu bird that went extinct a few hundred years ago, was definitely present. Many of our native plants, such as the lancewood tree, were created by these birds, and can be seen on many beautiful walks.
However, it is extremely rewarding. There are gentle undulations throughout the 7km/4.3 mile return hike, but they are not too difficult for novice trampers (New Zealand hikers). This trail is included in our Masterpiece and Kiwi Classic itineraries. The dense rainforest offers numerous opportunities for exploration.
Mueller Hut Trail
This popular trail is located in the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. This full-day hike is difficult, and you’ll quickly realise why it’s the best hiking in the South Island. The hike can be started from White Horse Hill, which is only a short drive from Mount Cook Village.
Your walk will begin among Tussock grasses. You’ll then proceed to your first landmark, Sealy Tarns. Hooker and Mueller Lakes are located in the valley beneath the Tarns. On a clear day, Aoraki’s frowning expression is visible. You might see a Kea or a New Zealand Falcon along the way. Just make sure you have plenty of snacks! When you reach a series of small ponds, you have completed the first leg of your journey. You’ve already ascended 1,882 steps! This is where the real difficulty begins.
The trail conditions change from here, with the route climbing a loose gravel slope or scree to reach Skyline Ridge. It’s difficult to describe the trail as rocky. Continue to follow the orange trail markers, as weather conditions at this elevation can change quickly. Hikers will be rewarded with a breathtaking view of Mueller Glacier once they reach the summit. The famous Alpine Hut, which offers spectacular views of many of New Zealand’s highest peaks, should take about 20 to 30 minutes to reach.
The Mueller Hut Trail is one of New Zealand’s most difficult hikes. It travels 1,040 metres over 5.2 kilometres / 3.2 miles. The hike should take between seven and nine hours to complete. It’s best to start early and have lunch at the Mueller Hut. At 1,800m, this is a peaceful location where you can enjoy a sandwich.
Because the South Island is so well-known for its hiking, some of the most beautiful hikes on New Zealand’s North Island are frequently overlooked. Tongariro Alpine Crossing is widely regarded as one of the best day hikes in New Zealand. It is also one of New Zealand’s most popular hikes. The walk takes place in New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park. The hike begins at the end of Mangatepopo Road. You can arrange for a shuttle service from Whakapapa or Taupo, the nearest large town.
This is not a hike for the faint of heart. It’s difficult, much like Sam and Frodo’s ascent of Mount Doom. For Lord of the Rings fans, this is a must-see location. Mount Ngauruhoe, also known as Mount Doom, towers over you for the majority of the trail. This active volcano area is one of a kind in New Zealand. As you approach the Red Crater, you could be forgiven for thinking you were on Mars. It’s a strange place with a fiery red colour.
Most people take at least seven hours to get to the Ketetahi Road End. There is a 1,196-metre elevation change as you travel along the crossing. Expect to make several ascents and descents throughout the day. The steep climbs are not too difficult because they allow you to see the true beauty of the Emerald Lakes, Blue Lake, and other landmarks. On Day 4 of our Sweet North tour, which includes the Tongariro Crossing, you’ll be exploring this extraterrestrial wonderland.
Westland Tai Poutini National Park, Fox Glacier Valley Walk (South Island)
Day hikes are popular in New Zealand. The Franz-Josef and Fox glaciers, on the other hand, are well-known for their high-end on-glacier experiences. Fortunately, there is a way to see the Fox Glacier for free (or Te Moeka o Tuawe).
This short walk in Westland Tai Poutini National Park begins at the car park at the end of Glacier View Road. It begins with a wooden suspension bridge crossing the Fox River, then continues through temperate rainforest before entering the glacial valley. As you walk by, you will notice a bright blue lake of frozen water. You might have wished you had brought your swimming suits!
The walk’s views aren’t enough to make you happy, but the reward is a view of the glacial face or snow-capped mountains.
Track Tapeka Point Location: Bay of Islands
This short and easy walk is ideal for families visiting the Bay of Islands. Tapeka Point Track is short and simple. It will take you from a peaceful suburb to a breathtaking vantage point high above the cliffs.
If you combine your walk with sunrise, you will have 360-degree views of the bays, beaches, and cliffs. You’ll rack up the kilometres as you return again and again.
After heavy rains, the path can become slippery and muddy.
Hooker Valley Track
National Park of Aoraki/Mount Cook (South Island).
You can see icebergs, glacial lakes, and mountain views within a three-hour walk of the car park. Hooker Valley Track is an incredible hike that promises a lot!
It’s a stunning location with breathtaking views! Mount Sefton (Mount Wakefield) and Mount Cook/Aoraki surround the valley, which leads to Mount Cook/Aoraki.
Three Swing Bridges will take you across the Hooker River. With each crossing, the drop to the river below appears to grow larger.
The Hooker Valley Track takes about 1.5 hours to walk. This will be determined by the number of photos taken – expect to take a lot!
Te Araroa Trail is located in New Zealand’s North and South Islands
You want to travel around New Zealand. Great. You could walk the entire length of the country. It’s an incredible experience made possible by the Te Araroa Trail.
Te Araroa Trail is one of the world’s most popular long-distance hiking trails. 3000km through New Zealand’s rugged terrain, passing through dense forests, crossing exposed alpine passes, and often without a ground trail.
Although nothing can prepare you for the big event, knowing what to expect is a big help.