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New Zealand truly is a hiker's paradise! Our beautiful country offers hundreds of thousands of kilometres of tracks and trails, with so many choices for all abilities. Large sections of the country are protected as conservation areas, and there is a diversity of trails that not many other destinations can rival from stunning coastal walks, glacier hikes, lush rainforest rambles and desolate alpine and volcanic treks.
With a motorhome as your base, you can hop from one great walk to another at your leisure, not to mention having a comfy oasis to return to at the end of a long day on your feet!
Here’s a few of New Zealand’s best walks to wet your appetite for what is on offer:
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Arguably the best one day walks is the world famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing, situated in the Tongariro National Park. This 19km journey is unique in that it takes you across a living breathing volcanic plateau.
Prepare for the elements as the weather can throw anything at you, but you will be rewarding with stunning photo opportunities of the bright turquoise crater lakes and volcanic peaks of Ngauruhoe, Tongariro and Ruapehu. You will also get stunning 360 degree views of the central plateau.
The Routeburn Track
Departing 26km north of Glenorchy, the Routeburn is a world renowned multi day walk. It was named as one of the top eleven trails in the world by National Geographic. The views along the way of pristine rivers, alpine lakes, mountains, and valleys will blow your mind. The Routeburn is best tackled in summer and its fringing months ie: between November and April. This 32km walk traverses Mount Aspiring and the Fiordland Nationals Parks, in Te Wāhipounamu – the South West New Zealand World Heritage Area.
Keep in mind there is a 5 hour drive in between the start and finish of this walk, so you will need to make plans for relocation of your camper. Just ask our Reservations staff for recommendations.
An alternative is taking on a part of the Routeburn as a day hike. In the NZ Frenzy guide book you can pick up at Wilderness HQ or download free online, Scott Cook highly recommends the Routeburn Falls Hutt day walk as a great way to sample the famous Routeburn without all the planning and relocation hassles associated with a multi day walk. And it is complete with glorious 360 degree views when you pop above the 1000m bushline.
The walk to Key Summit is another superb short walk and this can be tackled in a few hours and still give you a taste of the world famous Routeburn tack.
The Milford Track
Often described as the finest walk in the world, the Milford Track is a 53km hike starting in Te Anau and finishing at Milford Sound. Along the way you will traverse rainforest, wetlands and an alpine pass. Due to the popularity of the track you need to pre book your walk, only 90 walkers can start the trail per day (40 independent and 50 guided). Again this is a one way walk, so you will need to talk to our Reservations staff about some recommendations for relocating your camper from one end of the trail to the other, or shuttle arrangements.
The Abel Tasman Coast Track
Another of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’ this 3-5 day 60km walk traverses golden beaches and coastal forest. You can choose to walk the whole track or we’d highly recommend getting hold of the NZ Frenzy guide book and taking on some of the best and lesser known day hikes instead. That way you get to take in some of the "off the beaten path" Abel Tasman beaches, have less of the crowds, and still have your camper van as a base to explore from.
Checking out the Franz Josef or Fox Glaciers on the West Coast of the South Island are a must do while you are in New Zealand. These glaciers (or a contantly moving body of dense ice) are unique worldwide in how close they come to the coastline - less than 300m above sea level - and are set amongst lush rainforest and waterfalls. Once again the NZ Frenzy Guides available at Wilderness HQ provide some great ideas for getting to some less touristy vantage points. The walk up to the Rob Roy Glacier is another really impressive walk which is highly recommended.
Year Round Coast and Kauri Walks - Coromandel and Northland
Both Northland and Coromandel in the upper North Island host some of New Zealand’s lesser known walks but the keen tramper could spend months exploring both of these regions. A bonus is the tracks can generally be explored all year round, including winter. In Northland the 8 hour Cape Brett track boasts dramatic cliffs, native forest and stunning coastal scenery. The Waipoua Forest includes the largest remaining Kauri trees in New Zealand including Tane Mahuta and Te Matua Ngahere “Father of the Forest, all very easy walks from the road. And The Mangawhai Cliff Top Walk is a 2-3 hour return walk with outstanding views to Bream Head and Mokohinau Islands
Coastal scenery does not come much better than on the Coromandel, and the Coromandel Coastal Walkway between Fletchers Bay and Stony is very rewarding return day walk. The Pinnacles Walk is a superb day trek to the top of the Coromandel ranges. There are a multitude of other quick rewarding points to stunning vantage points like the Opito Bay Pa or the short walk into Cathedral Cove. Freedom camp on the beach at Opito Bay and take the walk to the top of the old Maori Pa site at the end of the beach for an amazing sunrise over the Mercury Islands you will never forget.
Keep in mind walking and tramping in New Zealand can be dangerous. Even on a short walk, track conditions can change quickly. Ensure you get good local weather advice before setting out. Ensure you are dressed for the conditions and take adequate supplies.
If you want any more advice don't hesitate to get in touch with the Wilderness Reservations team. We love exploring New Zealand too and our team can provide plenty of ideas for your New Zealand motorhome adventure!
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