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New Zealand’s Great Day Hikes

An extensive network of enviable trails makes for memorable outdoor adventures

Sarah Bennett & Lee Slater
@BennettnSlater

Avalanche Peak - credit Bennett  Slater.JPGWhen it comes to hiking holidays, New Zealand is most famous for its Great Walks –multi-day adventures such as the Milford and Abel Tasman Coastal Track. While these are amazing and deservedly popular, walkers can also explore the wilderness on day trips. Here are some of the best, all readily accessible on your Britz campervan trip.

Twilight–Te Werahi Loop  (Cape Reinga, Northland, 4–5 hours)
Commonly considered New Zealand's northernmost point, Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Reinga) is a magical place, where the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea meet and dance around a headland fringed with sandy beaches. This loop takes in this drama and more, including huge sand dunes and a variety of coastal habitats.

Ruapani Circuit  (Te Urewera National Park, 6 hours)
The drive through this remote, rugged national park is a rewarding one. Hikers head in for the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk, but the Ruapani Circuit is a wonderful alternative for day walkers, featuring birdsong, glorious virgin forest, pristine Lake Waikareiti and other little lakes and wetlands.

Pouakai Crossing  (Egmont National Park, 8–10 hours)
A more achievable and safer option than the Taranaki summit due to its lower altitude, this track still affords incredible views while also packing in many of the national park's most interesting features such as Dieffenbach Cliffs, Bells Falls, ancient Ahukawakawa Swamp and Pouakai tarns. New Plymouth's Kiwi Outdoors Centre offers advice and transport.

 Tongariro Alpine Crossing - credit Bennett  Slater.JPGTongariro Alpine Crossing  (Tongariro National Park, 7–8 hours)
The Alpine Crossing easily justifies its reputation for eye-popping sights amidst the Ngauruhoe and Tongariro volcanoes – bubbling springs, steaming vents, old lava flows, craters, colourful lakes, and a whopping volcanic cone. Views stretch as far as the eye can see, especially from Ngauruhoe summit (2287m), a challenging side-trip for the fit and sure-footed.

Medlands Beach to Anchorage  (Abel Tasman National Park, 4–5 hours)
Seductive at any time of year, this 11km section of the coastal Great Walk scoops up buckets of Abel Tasman eye-candy with the bonus of extended beach time and a boat cruise. As well as the golden sand, blue sea and lush green bush for which the park is famous, this easy walk offers a side-trip to magical Cleopatra's Pool.

Mt Robert Circuit (Nelson Lakes National Park, 4–5 hours)
Nelson Lakes is a relatively quiet national park with nature walks and tramping tracks galore, our favourite of which is Mt Robert Circuit. It starts along the aptly named Pinchgut Track, but all is forgiven above the bushline where the terrain evens out and the views open up to a full 360. Linger on Robert Ridge if conditions allow, then amble down Paddy's Track while admiring Lake Rotoiti from on high.

 Avalanche Peak - credit Bennett  Slater 2.JPG

Avalanche Peak  (Arthur's Pass National Park, 6–8 hours)
Avalanche Peak (1833m) is a serious mission for fit, experienced hikers with a good forecast on hand. Having climbed 1096m up Avalanche Peak Track – past waterfalls, through thick forest and the alpine gardens shy of the craggy top – hikers are rewarded with views so epic and humbling they may bring a tear to the eye. Descend via Scotts Track, the easier option for jelly legs.
 

Sealy Tarns  (Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, 3–4 hours)
Suitable for those with good knees, this track is a wonderful way to survey the landscape so brilliantly explained in the National Park Visitor Centre. A gentle start is followed by a grunty 500m climb through pretty alpine gardens, via switchbacks and stairs, up to the mountain lakes (tarns). The views of the Hooker Valley and the surrounding peaks (including Mount Cook) are ample reward.

 
Key Summit  (Fiordland National Park, 3 hours)
This hike starts on the Milford Sound road and forms part of the Routeburn Great Walk. A gentle but steady 90-minute climb deposits walkers above the bushline, into a garden of alpine tarns, sphagnum bogs, stunted beach and Dracophyllum – the 'dragon-leaf'. An informative interpretive walk makes sense of this strange environment, and identifies the massive landmarks lining the 360-degree panorama.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing 2 - credit Bennett  Slater.jpg

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Posted by:
Sarah Bennett & Lee Slater
Posted on:
10/1/2014
Tags:
Walks, great walks, New Zealand, hiking
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