New Zealand is without a doubt a land of great adventures and there’s no greater adventure than hiking one of the Great Walks of New Zealand. For those who don’t know, the ‘Great Walks’ are the premier walking tracks in NZ that pass through some of the most diverse and awe-inspiring landscapes in the country. They are multi-day walks requiring 2-3 overnight stops along the way in Department of Conservation (DoC) backcountry huts, during which you’ll see stunning coastlines, dense native bush, snow-capped mountains and more!

Some of the Great Walks are only accessible during the summer months as snowfall can make access to the tracks impossible during the winter, however, there are plenty of the Great Walks that can be completed all year round. If you are planning on tackling one of the 10 Great Walks during the winter months, you need to make sure you are well prepared as it will be cold in the huts at night so be aware that you will need to pack extra layers and warm sleeping bags in your pack which can add to your load.

The best place to find the most up-to-date information about all of the Great Walks is the DOC website. Here you will find details of how to book, pricing, as well as information about the tracks including any key information such as closures etc. We have included all the opening times for the tracks for the 2021-22 season below as well as including the date from which you are able to book.

Let’s check them out!

1. LAKE WAIKAREMOANA | 46KMS | 3-4 DAYS

 

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Situated in the Hawkes Bay Region to the east of the North Island, the Lake Waikaremoana walk takes you around the shoreline of this beautiful lake through a mass of rainforest where you will stumble across stunning waterfalls. Panekire Bluff provides breathtaking views of the lake and on a hot day, there is nothing better than taking a dip in the lake!

Bookings for 2021-22 open on Wednesday 16 June for trips from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022.

Track open: All year round

 

2. TONGARIRO NORTHERN CIRCUIT | 43KMS | 3-4 DAYS

 

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Famous for its day hike, the Tongariro Crossing, the Tongariro Northern Circuit is your chance to get out and explore this area even further. This walk is rich in geological features as you walk across active volcanoes and climb craters and peaks. There are also some beautiful glacial lakes with stunning turquoise waters and amazing views at every turn.

Bookings open on Thursday 17 June for trips from 22 October 2021 to 30 April 2022.

Track open: 22 October to 30 April

3. WHANGANUI JOURNEY | 145KMS | 3-5 DAYS

The only one of the Great Walks which is not an actual walk – this journey takes you down the Whanganui River as you wind yourself from mountains to the sea through the lush green hills and bush-clad valleys. Drift along at your own pace in your canoe and visit the famous Bridge to Nowhere. There is a shorter 3-day option that is really popular but this is a great journey of discovery.

Bookings open on Wednesday 16 June for trips from 1 October 2021 to 30 April 2022.

Track open: 1 October to 30 April

4. ABEL TASMAN COASTAL TRACK | 55.2KMS | 3-5 DAYS

 

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This is one of our favourites as you follow the coastline in the stunning Abel Tasman National Park in the South Island. New Zealand’s sunniest location, the area is blessed with year-round climate which means this is a great walk any time of the year. The campsites on this walk are amazing. Camp out on golden sandy beaches with crystal clear waters just calling out to you after a long day of walking.

Bookings open Thursday 17 June for trips from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022.

Track open: All year round

5. HEAPHY TRACK | 78.4KMS | 4-6 DAYS

 

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The longest of the walking tracks, the Heaphy Track is not for the faint-hearted! Another journey that will take you from mountains to coast this Great Walks combines all of New Zealand’s scenic beauty into one walk. This is a great walk for nature lovers with all kinds of native wildlife to be seen along the way. Listen out for the kiwi birds at night time and if you’re lucky you may just catch a glimpse.

Bookings open on Tuesday 15 June for trips from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022.

Track open: All year round

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6. PAPAROA TRACK & PIKE29 MEMORIAL TRACK | 55KMS | 2-3 DAYS

 

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The Paparoa Track & Pike29 Memorial Track are opening in 2019 and will be the newest Great Walks for visitors to enjoy. The Paparoa Track will incorporate sections of existing tracks like the Croesus Track and the Croesus-Moonlight Walk. The Pike29 Memorial Track will lead to the site of the former Pike River Mine. Both will offer memorable experiences featuring the Pororari River Gorge and its limestone cliffs and beech forests as well as offering insights into the regions unique mining history.

Bookings open on Wednesday 16 June for trips from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022.

Track open: All year round

7. ROUTEBURN TRACK | 32KMS | 2-4 DAYS

 

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This track takes you through two of New Zealand’s most spectacular national parks; The Mount Aspiring National Park and the Fiordland National Park. This walk is perhaps most famous for its stunning reflective lakes and tarns and ice-carved valleys formed by glaciers. This is a walk between giants as you make your way between the snow-capped mountains. You may need more than one camera!

Bookings open Wednesday 16 June for trips from 1 November 2021 to 30 April 2022.

Track open: 1 November to 30 April

8. KEPLER TRACK | 60KMS | 3-4 DAYS

 

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Another big walk at 60kms, the Kepler Track is another of the Great Walks that takes you through the Fiordland National Park. This is a walk that take you up high and often above the clouds which presents a stunning scene. There’s also heaps of lakes to take a dip in if you get too hot from all the exertion! We highly recommend the Luxmore Hut for one of your stopovers – the views at sunrise are something you will never forget.

Bookings open on Thursday 17 June for trips from 26 October 2021 to 30 April 2022.

Track open: 26 October to 30 April

9. MILFORD TRACK | 53.5KMS | 4 DAYS

 

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This is perhaps one of the most famous of New Zealand’s great walks mainly thanks to one of the world famous features on the route – Milford Sound. This walk is however about much more than the end point – the journey to get to Milford Sound is a spectacular one as mountains soar above you and waterfalls cascade down rock faces. It is a truly spectacular walk with a fitting end. Do it!

Bookings open on Tuesday 15 June for trips from 26 October 2021 to 30 April 2022.

Track open: 26 October to 30 April

10. RAKIURA TRACK | 32KMS | 3 DAYS

 

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There is perhaps no better way to explore Stewart Island than on the Rakiura Track. This is a true escape from the world and a chance to get back to nature. The next stop beyond Stewart Island is the Antarctic and it sometimes feels as though you are the last people on earth as you explore the islands fascinating past. As you would imagine, this walks offers some stunning coastal views with secluded bays where you can sit back and watch the world go by at your own pace.

Bookings open on Tuesday 15 June for trips from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022.

Track open: All year round

A FEW GREAT TIPS FOR THE GREAT WALKS

So there it is! The 10 Great Walks of NZ are the cream of the crop when it comes to hiking in New Zealand and the world. Before we wrap up we thought we’d leave you with a few tips to help you prepare in the best way possible.

• Freestyle camping is not permitted though there are campsites on some. It’s important you book all accommodation in advance

• The Great Walks vary in difficulty but require at least a basic level of fitness

• Appropriate footwear, clothing and equipment is vital and you’ll find recommendations on the DoC website

• You’ll need to take and carry your own food for the trip so choose wisely

• There are no bins on the Great Walks and hikers must take all their rubbish with them

• Have fun and enjoy!

Bonus tip

If you are planning on doing one of New Zealand’s Great Walks in the next 12 months, make sure you head to the App Store and download the NZ Great Hikes App. This is a free app made right here in New Zealand which has been specifically designed for the Great Walks. Once you download any of the trails, the app works fully offline and is GPS enabled to help you to orientate yourself along the tracks of the Great Walks. The app features all of the 10 Great Walks covered above including the Whanganui Journey paddle.

Download for Android

Download for Apple

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Updated: 26 May 2021