Top 5 'off the beaten track' hikes in New Zealand

A description from my experience from some of the best 'off the beaten track' hikes in New Zealand.

Lake Crucible Siberia Valley

This stunningly beautiful ice studded lake is not easy to get to, but well worth the effort! My favourite way to visit Crucible is to first enjoy the views from above in a fixed wing plane which lands in the remote Siberia valley of Mt Aspiring National Park. A fun and exhilarating way to see the peaks from above. One of the friendly and knowledgeable pilots will drop you off just near a small river crossing close to Siberia Hut where you can grab a bed for the night or pitch a tent and swap your big bag for a day pack for the hike the following day.

The hike up to Crucible starts off with a stroll along the valley floor and then follows a waterfall straight up the mountain. It's what I call a fast ascent because although tricky underfoot it is so steep you gain meters by the minute. There are a couple of river crossings which can become dangerous very quickly so care must be taken and it is wise to check the forecast beforehand.

Once you reach the tree line during spring you will be greeted by a smattering of Mt Cook lilies in a stunning open meadow where the trail winds its way up to the lake. Be careful not to let the 'false peak' fool you as it is still a short distance with a 'leg burner' climb up through a rocky trail before you can enjoy an icy plunge to cool off. The views of this alpine lake are incredible, with cobalt-blue water and even the odd iceberg hanging on from winter! 

When you arrive back at the Siberia Hut take another brisk and refreshing shower in the waterfall then watch out for those pesky sandflies.

You can complete the Siberia experience with a 3 hour bush walk to the jet boat pick up point in the Wilkin Valley. Brace yourself for a thrilling scenic mountain river journey back to Makarora.

Mt Brewster

If you're at peace in the mountains you will love this hike. Starting at Fantail Falls carpark, just off the Haast highway, cross the river and climb up steadily through beech forest to the bushline. From there the track continues up snowy grassy faces and along ridgelines heading towards Mt Armstrong. There are impressive views of the surrounding mountains and vallies below. Once you reach the hut at the top you can either stop for lunch and head back down or stay the night to explore the surrounding area, which is great for both climbing and ski touring (best done with an accompanying certified mountain guide).

Mt Angelus Circuit

There are a few different approaches to the Mt Angelus Circuit, which are all beautiful! This is my favourite; starting at St Arnaud you take an easy hike along the lake to Lakehead Hut. Spend the night here and enjoy watching the black swans from the jetty down by the lake. The second day is a varied hike starting off with a river crossing or a slightly longer hike to the swing bridge. Travelling through beech forest you will begin to climb up and within a few hours you will come across a couple of grassy clearings. The second is a great place for lunch and a photo of the daunting trail ahead which climbs steadily up to the top of the mountains. It is a scramble made easier with the use of both hands as well as your feet!

Angelus hut is set in a surreal location where you can relax in the sunshine on the deck, enjoy a swim in the alpine lake, or take a hike up to Mt Angelus itself for even more spectacular views. Keep your fingers crossed for nice weather on the hike back to civilization as the exposed Roberts Ridge can make you feel on top of the world, admiring 360 degree views of the surrounding valleys and mountains.

Far North Cape Brett

Cape Brett can be enjoyed as a quiet coastal day walk or pack your bag and get set for a night out by the old light house. The track traverses through native and regenerating bush alongside a dramatic cliff-face where you can take in the spectacular coastal scenery - if you're lucky you might even see dolphins or seals swim in close to the shore.

You can take a water taxi to Deep Water Cove where you will then hike to the Cape Brett Landing and be picked up in the afternoon. Although it is not that far to the lighthouse at Cape Brett it will take you about 2-3 hours, and can be quite tiring. The effort is rewarded with outstanding views of the Bay of Islands, north to the Cavalli Islands and south to Whangaruru and beyond to the Poor Knights Islands.

Access to the track can also be made by land, from Oke Bay, Rawhiti, 26 km from Russell or you can join the trail from the Whangamumu Track.

Milford Sound Tutoko Valley Route

This is a trail that I stumbled upon on a morning off from work in Milford Sound. If you are into nature, peace and active meditation it is one of the best easily accessible places to escape the hordes of daytrippers that Milford attracts. Now, on a spare morning I never go anywhere else, yet I have still to come across another person on the trail! The trailhead is signposted on the side of the Milford road where you enter straight into the dense rainforest. It is an enchanting valley walk through the rainforest where you can feel a million miles away from civilisation. Enjoy the sounds and smells of the surrounding, encroaching nature and turn around to head back wherever you like.

More great off the beaten track hikes:

Mt Taranaki New Plymouth

Earnslaw Burn

Mt Fyffe

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