What Are the Best Treks in New Zealand?

Andrew AstonMarch 18, 2019

New Zealand is located in the South Pacific Ocean, 2000km East of Australia, and is comprised of two main islands, the North Island and South Island. Despite its relatively small size, the country is quite biodiverse and has a wide array of different topography, landscape, scenery and terrain.

The myriad of mountain peaks, volcanoes, alpine lakes, rolling green fields and hills, humongous valleys and gorgeous beaches has gained New Zealand a reputation as one of the most beautiful, tranquil and idyllic countries on earth, with millions of people visiting every year to sample these natural delights.

Hiking and trekking are a couple of the best ways to get out and explore this exquisite countryside. Cross rivers through stunning forests and falls, or hike along high mountains and glaciers with unobstructed views, often on the same day!

The Southern Alps is probably the most famous area for hiking and trekking, with countless routes and trails that take in the large amount of raw natural scenery.

There is plenty more to see and do in New Zealand, from the big cities of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, to isolated and remote coastline and beaches, and the outdoor activity mecca of Queenstown.

There are so many possibilities when visiting New Zealand that in order to help with your decision making, we’ve taken the time to compile a list of the top spots and some other useful information. This will hopefully help you when planning for your next hiking adventure to New Zealand!

3 Reasons to go Trekking in New Zealand

 

Gillespie Pass, New Zealand
A typical scene from the New Zealand countryside. Photo courtesy of New Zealand Adventure Consults.

Stunning Scenery

New Zealand is a truly gorgeous and beautiful country, and it encompasses an amazing amount of diverse scenery in comparison with its small size. The North Island features many volcanoes, hot springs and geysers, with large lakes and exquisite beaches also featuring prominently.

The South Island is more well-know than the North for its magnificent scenery, with the Southern Alps dominating the landscape as they snake 500km down the island. There are huge alpine lakes and landscapes, with the area around Queenstown being particularly popular with outdoor activity enthusiasts.

Great Exercise

Trekking and hiking are a brilliant way to get and stay fit, with the added bonus of being exposed to some truly breath-taking and jaw-dropping views and scenery, of which there is no shortage of in New Zealand. From snow-capped mountains to epic volcanoes, rocky ridges and terrain to tranquil alpine forests, lakes and glaciers, you can make your way around all these and more on both islands. Exploring all of this on foot is the best and most rewarding way to discover what makes New Zealand tick.

Incredible Biodiversity

Due to its relative geographical isolation and late arrival of humans, biodiversity in New Zealand was allowed to thrive, causing biological isolation and thus a unique evolutionary system. 82% of the plants in New Zealand are endemic, and some of the exotic local animal species include the world famous Kiwi bird and many types of frogs, spiders and insects, as well as having more penguin species than any other country on earth. Hiking and trekking are superb ways to interact and get close to this brilliant and abundant flora and fauna.

Where to go?

1| Hiking Gillespie Pass

Gillespie Pass, New Zealand
The mighty and majestic Gillespie Pass. Photo courtesy of the Department of Conservation.

Gillespie Pass is nestled within the mighty Southern Alps on the South Island of New Zealand, and is a hikers paradise that links the Young Valley with the Siberia and Wilkin Valleys in Mt. Aspiring National Park.

Located just a short drive from Wanaka, the untouched, pristine alpine bush that lines the path will lead you over gorgeous green valleys and fields, as well as snowy and rocky terrain.

There are ample amazing views out over the majestic Southern Alps, including Mt. Alba (2360m), and a highlight of this area is a visit to Lake Crucible, regarded as one of the most picturesque, pretty and tranquil lakes in the country.


In brief:

  • Area: Mount Aspiring National Park, Region of Otago.
  • Starting point: Wanaka, a resort town in the region of Otago on the South Island, standing at the end of its famous namesake lake.
  • How to get there: Wanaka is located just a 60-minute drive from Queenstown International Airport, with Dunedin and Christchurch International Airport both a 4-5 hour drive away.
  • Difficulty level: Intermediate, as a good level of fitness is required.
  • Duration: 4 days.
  • Top Trips: 4-day hike across Gillespie Pass in New Zealand’s Southern Alps.

2| Brewster Glacier Trek

Brewster Glacier, New Zealand
The peaceful and idyllic Brewster Glacier. Photo courtesy of New Zealand Adventure Consult.

The Brewster Glacier is located within the Southern Alps, close by to Haast Pass on the Main Divide.

The Glacier is a manageable trekking distance from the town of Wanaka, and you will experience the thrill of crossing the Haast River via Fantail Falls to reach Brewster Hut, which offers some of the best views in the Alps.

Hiking to Brewster Glacier is relatively straightforward from the hut, and an alternative is to scale the summit of nearby Mount Armstrong (2179m).


In brief:

  • Area: Mount Aspiring National Park, Region of Otago.
  • Starting point: Wanaka, a resort town in the region of Otago on the South Island, standing at the end of its famous namesake lake.
  • How to get there: Wanaka is located just a 60-minute drive from Queenstown International Airport, with Dunedin and Christchurch International Airport both a 4-5 hour drive away.
  • Difficulty level: Easy, as the trekking is gentle with little in the way of difficult parts.
  • Duration: 2 days.
  • Top Trips: 2-day Brewster Glacier Trek in New Zealand.

What is the Best Time for Trekking in New Zealand?

 

Hiking in New Zealand
There is great weather for much of the year. Photo courtesy of New Zealand Adventure Consult.

Winter can get quite cold in New Zealand, especially in the main Southern Alps region on the South Island, therefore most hiking and trekking tours are run in the warmer months, generally from November to April. This ensures the most fun and comfortable experience for all, and also gives the best opportunity to see the glorious scenery in all its beauty.

So what are you waiting for? Book now to experience all the raw natural beauty of New Zealand with an epic and awesome trekking and hiking trip.

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