The Ultimate Guide to Hiking in New Zealand


Are you planning to visit New Zealand and looking for a unique and exciting way to explore the country’s stunning landscapes? If yes, then hiking is a great option for you. New Zealand is known for its breathtaking natural beauty, and hiking is a great way to experience it firsthand. In this ultimate guide to hiking in New Zealand for first-timers, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know before embarking on your hiking adventure.

Why Hike in New Zealand?

New Zealand is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world. The country’s diverse landscapes include snow-capped mountains, turquoise lakes, lush forests, and sandy beaches. Hiking is an excellent way to explore these natural wonders, and there is a trail for every level of hiker, from beginners to experienced trekkers.

Best Time to Go Hiking in New Zealand

The best time to go hiking in New Zealand depends on the region you plan to visit. The summer months (December to February) are the most popular time to go hiking, but the weather can be unpredictable. The autumn months (March to May) offer cooler temperatures and less crowded trails. The winter months (June to August) are ideal for experienced hikers who want to experience snow-capped mountains. The spring months (September to November) offer blooming wildflowers and mild weather.

Choosing the Right Trail

New Zealand offers a wide range of hiking trails, and choosing the right one can be overwhelming. The Department of Conservation (DOC) maintains a network of trails, and its website provides detailed information on each trail, including difficulty level, duration, and recommended gear. Some of the most popular hiking trails for first-timers include:

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a 19.4-kilometre trail located on the North Island. It is known for its stunning volcanic landscapes and offers breathtaking views of Mount Ngauruhoe, also known as Mount Doom from the Lord of the Rings movies. This trail is considered a challenging hike, and it takes approximately 7-8 hours to complete.

Milford Track

The Milford Track is a 53.5-kilometre trail located on the South Island. It is considered one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world and offers stunning views of waterfalls, glaciers, and mountains. This trail is a multi-day hike and takes approximately 4 days to complete.

Routeburn Track

The Routeburn Track is a 32-kilometre trail located on the South Island. It is known for its diverse landscapes and offers stunning views of valleys, lakes, and mountains. This trail is a two-day hike and is considered a moderate hike.

Essential Hiking Gear

Hiking in New Zealand requires proper gear, and it’s important to be prepared for any weather conditions. Some of the essential hiking gear you’ll need include:

  • Hiking boots
  • Backpack
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Warm layers
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Map and compass
  • First aid kit

Safety Tips

Hiking in New Zealand can be dangerous, and it’s important to take safety precautions before embarking on any trail. Some safety tips to keep in mind include:

  • Check the weather forecast before starting your hike.
  • Let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return.
  • Stick to marked trails and avoid shortcuts.
  • Carry enough water and food.
  • Know your limits and don’t push yourself too hard.
  • Respect nature and leave no trace.


Hiking in New Zealand is an incredible way to experience the country’s natural beauty. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, there is a trail for you in New Zealand. By following the tips and advice in this ultimate guide, you can prepare yourself for a safe and enjoyable hiking adventure. Remember to choose the right trail, bring the essential gear, and take safety precautions to make the most out of your hiking experience in New Zealand. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures, enjoy the stunning views, and make memories that will last a lifetime. Happy hiking!

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