5 of the Best Short Walking Trails in New Zealand
Featured destinations: New Zealand
Published 03 May 2016
Milford Track (one day)LEVEL: EasyDURATION: One day (or up to four)LOCATION: Fiordland National Park, South IslandThe Milford Track in New Zealand’s biggest national park, Fiordland, is one of the country’s most famous routes. While it’s known for being a fantastic four-day hike that traverses untouched nature and the ancient history of the Māori culture, you can also choose to do just the first, shorter section. All that requires is a single day of your time. Tramp through ancient beech forest-covered valleys and navigate clear rivers flowing into steep fjords. Be sure to book this trek early due to its popularity.
The Tongariro Alpine CrossingLEVEL: ChallengingDURATION: 7-9 hoursLOCATION: Tongariro National Park, North IslandThis 12-mile track through the dramatic volcanic landscapes of Tongariro National Park may be a slightly tougher choice for a day hike with some steep and challenging sections, but the astounding panoramas make this route one of New Zealand’s most popular short treks. A must-do for Lord of the Rings fans, watch as the barren and rugged terrain changes around you, following the trail around mountainous peaks, along the shores of startlingly blue volcanic lakes and past bubbling geothermal hot springs. Pack sensibly, though, as this UNESCO World Heritage site is known for its changeable weather and waterproof, outdoor clothing is essential.
Bay of Islands Coastal WalkwayLEVEL: EasyDURATION: 8 hoursLOCATION: Auckland, North IslandHead a little north from Auckland and you’ll escape city life in the Bay of Islands. Here you can spend a day exploring, well, a bay dotted with over 144 tiny islands. This five-mile circular walking route can be joined at any point along its path and makes the most of the short ferry links connecting Russell, Okiato, Opua, and Paihia. The coastal walkway guides you leisurely along the Bay of Island’s beaches for sweeping panoramas, pops into waterfront towns to visit historic sites and navigates through mangroves and bush in search of native flora and fauna – including the rare weka and kiwi birds.
Routeburn Track (one day)LEVEL: ModerateDURATION: 3-5 hours (or up to three days)LOCATION: Queenstown, South IslandAnother of New Zealand’s most famous multi-day hikes, the Routeburn Track sends shivers of excitement down the spine of any keen hiker. Taking up to three days for the whole route, you can instead set your compass for just a small section, where you’ll ramble along moss-lined trails through bird-filled ancient beech trees and past leafy ferns as the Routeburn River rolls past. Available as a guided walk, take a drive from your base in Queenstown to the shores of Lake Wakatipu to meet the trailhead and set off through National Parks, aiming to reach the picturesque Routeburn Falls where the river cascades over dark boulders.Explore New Zealand on foot with one of our tailor-made holidays called Journeys, which offer itineraries that incorporate both islands.You might also like: 12 Things You Must Do in New ZealandJourney Insider: Introducing the TranzAlpine Railway