The top 10 lesser known walks of New Zealand

Outside of our more famous tracks and trails, there exists an abundance of lesser known, but equally impressive hikes well worth exploring.

We’ve put our heads together and compiled a list of the top 10 lesser known walks in New Zealand. Admittedly it was hard to narrow it down to just 10, but those that made the cut are our absolute favourites!

1. Te Ara Hura Walkway, Waiheke Island, North Island

The Te Ara Hura Walkway Network is made up of 100km of track that allows you to circumnavigate the island on foot. You can walk the entire trail over the course of about five days, or you can pick a section and enjoy a shorter stroll. Start at any point, finish wherever you want and go in either direction; the choice is yours!

2. Angelus Circuit, Nelson Lakes National Park, South Island

The Angelus Circuit is a three-day hike that takes you high above the forest floor, providing superlative views across the surrounding mountains. Along the way you’ll stay in Department of Conservation huts and enjoy a taste of the real Kiwi backcountry experience. You can make like a local and hike the Angelus Circuit on our Kiwi Classic trip.

3. Porari River Track, Paparoa National Park, South Island

Set in the Jurassic-like Paparoa National Park on the west coast of the South Island, this gentle walk follows the emerald waters of the Porari River as it makes its way through a fascinating limestone gorge forged by time and water. Find a quiet spot for afternoon tea by the river and enjoy the tranquillity.

4. Okarito Trig, West Coast, South Island

The tiny settlement of Okarito is located north of Franz Josef on the West Coast, sitting between the Southern Alps and the Tasman Sea. An enjoyable 15-minute boardwalk across the wetlands estuary takes you to a well-graded track that gradually climbs up to the trig lookout point at 158m (518ft). The views out across the beach, ocean, forest and mountains are truly spectacular. You’ll have the chance to relax in Okarito on our Masterpiece trip.

5. Sealy Tarns, Mt. Cook National Park, South Island

Home to New Zealand’s highest peak, Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park offers up many fantastic hiking options, with something to suit every fitness level. One of our favourites is the steep but spectacular hike up to Sealy Tarns, known as the ‘stairway to heaven’. With an elevation gain of 540m (1772ft), this one will certainly get your cheeks glowing!

6. Siberia Wilderness Experience, Mt. Aspiring National Park, South Island

More than simply a hike, the day begins with a scenic flight into the isolated Siberia Valley, situated in stunning Mt. Aspiring National Park. The flight is a highlight and offers an up-close perspective on the rugged cliff faces and snowy peaks of the surrounding mountains.

7. Rocky Mountain Summit Track, Wanaka, South Island

Not to be outdone by the beauty of Queenstown, Wanaka certainly holds its own in the scenery stakes. A good way to appreciate the views is the hike up Rocky Mountain to the viewpoint at 775m (2543ft) above sea level where you’ll enjoy a 360-degree aspect on the Southern Alps, Mt. Aspiring and Lake Wanaka.

8. Mou Waho Island Nature Walk, Wanaka, South Island

Mou Waho Island is known as “an island, in a lake, on an island, in a lake, on an island in the ocean”! The only way to reach the island is by boat on a scheduled tour in the company of an expert ecologist who will provide a fascinating commentary on the island’s inhabitants.
You’ll hike up 200m (650ft) to the lookout, stopping at the Arethusa Pool along the way (an excellent spot for a tea break in our opinion).

9. Mt. Crichton Loop, Queenstown, South Island

Set in the hills just off the shoreline of Lake Wakatipu, this well-graded track leads you through beautiful native beech forest, meandering alongside the clear waters of Twelve Mile Creek. There’s a bit of elevation gain, 260m (853ft), so you’ll feel a sense of achievement as you look out across the lake and mountains beyond.

10. Martins Bay Coastal Walk, Fiordland National Park, South Island

Martins Bay is situated at the northern tip of Fiordland, about 30km north of Milford Sound. It’s an incredibly beautiful area, protected by its remote location and inaccessibility. Martins Bay is also the endpoint for the Hollyford Track, another of our Great Walks, where the river meets the ocean in a rush of waves and spray!

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