What Multi-Day Hikes to Do Instead of the New Zealand Great Walks?
The New Zealand Great Walks are an amazing way to experience the famous landscapes of New Zealand, but did you know that there are more multi-day hikes in New Zealand than the Great Walks? Cheaper, less-crowded and more off-the-beaten-track, other multi-day hikes in New Zealand are an awesome alternative.
There are multi-day hikes in New Zealand to suit beginners to expert trampers. Enjoy accommodation, such as huts and campsites which are much more affordable than the Great Walk huts. Plus, there are even multi-day hikes with luxurious lodges to stay in if you are more of a flashpacker than a backpacker.
Before we get started, know what to expect by checking out our guide to Multi-Day Hiking/Backpacking/Tramping in New Zealand.
1. Hollyford Track (2-8 Days)
Some of New Zealand’s most popular Great Walks are in the World Heritage Site of Fiordland National Park. Why not try this awesome Great Walk alternative, the Hollyford Track? The track is open year-round and is usually well-maintained with decent huts to stay in, costing a fraction of the price of a Great Walk hut. The Hollyford Track begins in the sheer rock faces of the Darren Mountains and follows the Hollyford River through beautiful native forest on its journey to the wild west coast. Note, however, that this is a one-way hike, so you may only want to do a portion of the walk as a return trip. Alternatively, return helicopter transport is available. See more hikes in the area listed in the 5 Incredible Multi-day Hikes in the Fiordland National Park.
Location: Fiordland National Park, South Island.
2. Pouakai Circuit (2-3 Days)
Walk around one of New Zealand’s most beautiful volcanoes, Mt Taranaki, on the Pouakai Circuit. The track takes you through wild and wonderful forest, tussock-covered sub-alpine wilderness, the unique Ahukawakawa Swamp and the popular photo spot of the Pouakai Tarns. Side trips to waterfalls and epic viewpoints are an added extra. Stay in the DOC’s large serviced huts with mattresses, bunks, heating and lighting. Learn more about staying in huts in our guide, NZ Hut to Hut Hiking: What is it Like to Stay in a Hut?
Location: Egmont National Park, North Island.
3. Hump Ridge Track (3 Days)
For a more “luxurious” yet stunningly beautiful walk in the Fiordland National Park, try the Hump Ridge Track. The track showcases some sensational views of the rugged Fiordland coastline while travelling over sub-alpine tops. The accommodation is privately-owned lodges – a lot more luxurious than your average DOC hut. Bookings are made at the Hump Ridge Track information centre in Tuatapere. Learn more about planning your hike here in The Complete Guide to the Hump Ridge Track.
Location: Fiordland National Park, South Island.
4. Mt Holdsworth Jumbo Circuit (2-3 Days)
Travel over the stunning mountaintops of the Tararua Forest Park. The Mt Holdsworth Jumbo Circuit is an approachable hike through beech forest to the mountain tops with well-serviced huts to stay in. Huts have heating, mattresses, bunks and cooking facilities and bookings are essential during the summer season.
Location: Tararua Forest Park, North Island.
5. Inland Track (3 Days)
Everyone’s heard of the Abel Tasman Great Walk, but check out the Abel Tasman National Park‘s wild side on the Inland Track! Walk to the calls of native birds through this tract of undisturbed forest. The track is a little rougher than those of the Great Walks, and you will often have to follow orange track markers than an actual “track”. Accommodations are two standard DOC huts with mattresses, bunks and heating.
Location: Abel Tasman National Park, South Island.
6. Aotea Track (2-3 Days)
Escape to Great Barrier Island and get lost in the wilderness of the Aotea Track. With an abundance of wildlife, awesome island and mountain views, forests, waterfalls and natural hot springs, there is a lot to experience on this multi-day hike just off the coast of Auckland. What’s more, the DOC huts on this walk are some of the best in the North Island. Find out more about the track in The Guide to the Aotea Track.
Location: Great Barrier Island
7. Pelorus Track (3-4 Days)
A great place to get off the beaten track between Nelson and Picton is the Pelorus Track. Get a semi-remote forest experience as you follow the Pelorus River, the same river that is featured in The Hobbit trilogy, along with some interesting waterfall features and a chromite mine. The accommodation is standard DOC hut accommodation with mattresses, bunks and heating, which costs only a few bucks per night.
Location: Mt Richmond Forest Park, South Island.
8. Te Paki Coastal Track (3-4 Days)
For a super cheap, easy multi-day hike and camping experience, do the Te Paki Coastal Trail. Discover the magnificent coastline around Cape Reinga, Ninety Mile Beach and Spirits Bay in this tranquil northern paradise. Two of the campsites are free, while another one is only a few dollars per person. Speaking of free hikes, see more of our recommendations in the 10 Free Multi-Day Hikes in New Zealand.
Location: Te Paki Recreation Reserve, North Island.
9. Queen Charlotte Track (3-5 Days)
The perfect mix of coastline and thick native forest awaits hikers on the Queen Charlotte Track. Enjoy tranquil bays, wildlife and a good range of accommodation options along the way to truly make this popular hiking track your own. Accommodation ranges from DOC campsites to backpacker rooms to luxurious private rooms with an ensuite and a hot shower – bliss! More information can be found in The Ultimate Guide to the Queen Charlotte Track.
Location: Marlborough Sounds, South Island.
10. Round the Mountain Track (4-6 Days)
An awesome alternative to the Tongariro Northern Circuit Great Walk is the Round the Mountain Track. Travel over fascinating volcanic landscapes as you hike around the flanks of the active Mt Ruapehu. You will experience a great variety of landscapes from forest to exposed volcanic rocky outcrops. Note that one of the hut accommodations is a Great Walks hut. Otherwise, the other huts are cheaper serviced huts.
Location: Tongariro National Park, North Island.
11. Southern Circuit Stewart Island/Rakiura (4-6 Days)
Not only is Stewart Island the home of the Rakiura Great Walk, but the island is also 80% national park well-connected with hiking routes and trails along with hut accommodation. The Southern Circuit is a truly remote backcountry experience. With so much time out in the wilderness, you’re almost guaranteed to see a kiwi bird in the wild. There is a mix of Great Walk huts and standard huts on the track for accommodation, but at least the Great Walk huts on Rakiura are some of the most affordable in the country. Find out more about the island in The Complete Guide to Stewart Island and Rakiura National Park – Guide for Backpackers.
Location: Rakiura National Park, Stewart Island.
12. St James Walkway (5 Days)
An easier-grade multi-day hike is the St James Walkway, which is a great introduction to multi-day hiking in New Zealand. Cross lush pastoral lands, beech forests and into sub-alpine regions. Mountain views will make the whole experience extremely rewarding. Stay in the serviced DOC huts where there are no bookings required (but spaces in the hut are on a first-come-first-served basis, so get in quick!)
Location: Lewis Pass Scenic Reserve, South Island.
More About Multi-Day Hikes in New Zealand
That’s it for our guide to the best multi-day hikes in New Zealand that are not Great Walks. For more tramping advice, check out the following guides:
- 10 Tips to Prepare for a Multi-Day Hike in New Zealand
- Outdoor Safety When Hiking in New Zealand
- DOC Backcountry Hut Pass: How it Works & Is it Worth it?
Plus, for the ultimate list of hikes in New Zealand, including day hikes, check out The Top 50 Hikes in New Zealand!