What are the Best Hikes in New Zealand?
Strap on your backpack and lace up your hiking shoes because the best way to experience the great New Zealand outdoors is on the trails. Hiking here can come in a range of experiences, from easy family-friendly rambles in the forest to multi-day missions over mountains. You don’t have to be a backcountry expert to enjoy New Zealand’s walks thanks to many trails being well-graded, easy to follow and well-signposted with the distinguishing green and yellow signs from the Department of Conservation. So what are the best New Zealand hikes? We’ve compiled a wide variety of New Zealand walks from both the North and South islands, including short walks, day hikes and multi-day tracks.
1. Hooker Valley Track
For a good mix of swingbridge crossings, majestic mountain scenery and a glacier lake, set out on the Hooker Valley Track. It’s an easy half-day out to suit most fitness levels. See more like this in the 10 Best Hikes Around Mt Cook.
Time: 3 hours return / Distance: 10km ( miles) / Location: Mt Cook, South Island
2. The Mount (Mauao) Summit Walk
Walk up the extinct volcano of Mauao, isolated the end of Mt Maunganui’s beaches. You’ll get expansive views of Tauranga city, the Bay of Plenty and the Pacific Ocean. Learn more about the trail in the 19 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Tauranga.
Time: 30-45 minutes one way / Distance: 3.4km (2.1 miles) / Location: Tauranga, North Island
3. Kura Tāwhiti Access Track (Castle Hill)
Walk among the craggy limestone outcrops of Castle Hill on the Kura Tawhiti Access Track. At the end of the track, you can wander around the giant boulders following the lightly trodden trails in the grass.
Time: 20mins one way / Distance: 1.4km (0.9 miles) / Location: Castle Hill, Canterbury
4. Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway
A fun and historic-themed adventure awaits at Karangahake Gorge. Wander through old railway tunnels, over swingbridges, alongside mining relics and to Owharoa Falls on the two walks here: the Rail Tunnel Loop (45mins return) and Historic Walkway (4 hours return).
Time: 45mins return or 4 hours return / Distance: 2.5km (1.6 miles) or 4.3km (2.7 miles) / Location: Paeroa, North Island
5. Pelorus Bridge Tracks
While the vineyards might take most of the limelight in Marlborough, the walks of the Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve are a real hidden gem. Check out the reserves’ short walks by the scenic Pelorous River like the 45-minute Circle Walk or the 4-hour Daltons Track. See more walks in the 10 Best Walks in Marlborough.
Time: 45mins to 4 hours return / Distance: 1.7km (1 mile) to 14km (8.7 miles) / Location: Havelock, South Island
6. Dawson Falls and Wilkies Pools Loop
Well worth seeking out in Taranaki, the 1h20min Wilkies Pools Loop takes you through the gangly moss-covered trees of the “goblin forest” to Wilkies Pools. Combine the trail with the 1-hour Kapauni Loop Track to see the picturesque Dawson Falls.
Time: 1h20mins and 1-hour loops / Distance: 1.4km (0.87 miles) and 1.9km (1.2 miles) / Location: Egmont National Park, North Island
7. Hokitika Gorge Walk
See vibrant blue water, huge grey boulders and verdant forest all in one place on the Hokitika Gorge Walk. The short walk here features a couple of swingbridges, viewpoints and access to the river. See more hikes in the area in the 23 Best Walks in Hokitika.
Time: 1 hour loop / Distance: 2km (1.2 miles) / Location: Hokitika, South Island
8. Onepoto Caves Track
Get truly off the beaten track and walk from cave to cave on the Onopoto Caves Track in the Te Urewera forest. Look out for cave weta and admire the views from two lookouts. See the 17 Best Lake Waikaremoana Walks for more walks nearby.
Time: 2 hours loop / Distance: 2km (1.2 miles) / Location: Te Urewera, North Island
9. Lake Matheson
Walk through ancient West Coast rainforest around the perimeter of Lake Matheson. You’ll reach various viewpoints with reflections of the Southern Alps in the inky black water. Check out more walks nearby in the 9 Best Walks in Fox Glacier.
Time: 1h30mins loop / Distance: 2.6km (1.6 miles) / Location: Fox Glacier, South Island
10. Deliverance Cove Track to Castlepoint
A token lighthouse walk on this list of New Zealand hikes, the Deliverance Cove Track gives you two options to get to the Castlepoint Lighthouse. Either walk through pine trees above a lagoon or walk the southern route on the edge of the lagoon through coastal grassland.
Time: 1h30mins return / Distance: 3.6km (2.2 miles) / Location: Masterton, North Island
11. Oparara Arch
Follow the trail through a lush forest with cascading streams and the Oparara River until you reach Oparara Arch, the largest limestone arch in Australasia. Discover more walks nearby in the 10 Best Walks in Karamea.
Time: 50mins return / Distance: 2km (1.2 miles) / Location: Karamea, South Island
12. Manginangina Kauri Walk
An easy one for families and suitable for wheelchairs, the Manginangina Kauri Walk displays New Zealand’s largest trees along a fully boarded trail. Check out more kauri forests to walk through in the 10 Kauri Forests in New Zealand.
Time: 15mins / Distance: 350m (383 yards) / Location: Kerikeri, North Island
13. Queen Charlotte Track
One of many multi-day hikes in New Zealand, the Queen Charlotte Track spans from the historic Ship Cove to the inner arm of Queen Charlotte Sound. Enjoy forest, history and views of the sound’s calm waters on this walking and cycling trail. Check out more walks nearby in the 10 Best Walks in Marlborough.
Time: 3-5 days / Distance: 71km (44.1 miles) / Location: Picton, South Island
14. Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Spend the day trekking over the volcanic terrain of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing with emerald lakes, craters and steaming vents. The walk can be done independently between November and May but transport needs to be arranged for this one-way hike. Plan your hike using our Tongariro Crossing Accommodation and Transport Guide.
Time: 6-8 hours one way / Distance: 19.4km (12 miles) / Location: Tongariro National Park, North Island
15. Cape Foulwind Walkway
Follow this superbly graded track along the South Island West Coast to see a seal colony, a lighthouse, rugged coastline and the sands of Tauranga Bay. See more walks like this in the 10 Best Walks in Westport.
Time: 1h15mins one way / Distance: 3.4km (2.1 miles) / Location: Westport, South Island
16. Mangawhai Cliffs Walkway
A short walk to admire the North Island’s coastal beauty, the Mangawhai Cliffs Walkway offers just the right balance of coastal forest, unfolding views, beaches and crystal clear waters.
Time: 2-3 hours return / Distance: 9km (5.6 miles) / Location: Waipu, North Island
17. Hollyford Track
Another breathtaking multi-day hike, the Hollyford Track is a journey from mountains to sea through the wilderness of the Fiordland National Park. It’s one of the rare multi-day hikes in Fiordland that you can do all year round.
Time: 4-5 days / Distance: 56km (34.8 miles) / Location: Fiordland National Park, South Island
18. Manawatu Gorge Tawa Loop Track
Manawatu Gorge might have a short walk and a long hike to choose from, but the Tawa Loop Track provides a happy medium meandering through the forest on a 2-hour loop. Find lookouts over the river gorge and a Maori statue part-way through. Check out more walks nearby in the 26 Best Hikes Around Palmerston North.
Time: 2-hour loop / Distance: 4.1km (2.5 miles) / Location: Ashhurst, North Island
19. Ben Lomond Track
A popular day hike in Queenstown, the Ben Lomond Track is a steep climb across the Ben Lomond Saddle (3-4 hours one way) to the summit (6-8 hours one way). Walk the trail in summer, otherwise, the trail will likely be under snow.
Time: 3-4 hours one way or 6-8 hours one way / Distance: 11km (6.8 miles) / Location: Queenstown, South Island
20. Mt Urchin Track
Time: 3-4 hours return / Distance: 6.6km (4.1 miles) / Location: Turangi, North Island
21. Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway
Watch seal colonies and seabirds on the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway. The walk can be started at different points between Kaikoura town and the car park on the peninsula itself, giving you a choice of short and long walks. See more walks like this in the 5 Best Walks in Kaikoura.
Time: 5mins one way to 3 hours loop / Distance: 200m (218 yards) to 11.7km (7.3 miles) / Location: Kaikoura, South Island
22. Taranaki Falls Walk
Not just a walk to the magnificent 20m (65ft) Taranaki Falls, the Taranaki Falls Walk features forest, ancient lava flows and views of the volcanoes Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe on a clear day. Combine this New Zealand walk with others in the 13 Best Walks Around National Park Village & Whakapapa Village.
Time: 2-hour loop / Distance: 6km (3.7 miles) / Location: Tongariro National Park, North Island
23. Cathedral Caves
Meander down the forest to the sandy shores of the Catlins Coast on this walk. Cross the beach and you’ll find Cathedral Caves, two huge cave entrances carved into the cliffs. Note that this walk can only be done at low tide and requires a small fee.
Time: 30mins one way / Distance: 1km (0.6 miles) / Location: Catlins, South Island
24. Mangapohue Natural Bridge Walk
Several short walks to spectacular limestone features can be found on the road from Waitomo to the coast, such as the 17m (56ft)-high arch Mangapohue Natural Bridge. It’s a stroller-friendly track down a river gorge to the bridge then returning over farmland.
Time: 20mins loop / Distance: 700m (766 yards) / Location: Waitomo, North Island
25. Wainui Falls
As you can tell by now, there is no lack of waterfall walks in New Zealand; we could easily fill this list of 50 New Zealand hikes with waterfalls. The Wainui Falls Track in Golden Bay, for instance, is a worthy option taking you through a less-visited side of the Abel Tasman National Park.
Time: 1h20mins return / Distance: 3.4km (2.1 miles) / Location: Takaka, South Island
26. Okere Falls Track
We told you! Okere Falls is a fun waterfall walk on the North Island. Follow this well-maintained bushwalk to a lookout over the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world. It’s one of the 11 Must-Do Walks in Rotorua.
Time: 30mins one way / Distance: 1.2km (0.7 miles) / Location: Rotorua, North Island
27. Roberts Point Track
Get the best hiking trail views of the Franz Josef Glacier from the Roberts Point Track. Although the Franz Josef Glacier Walk provides an easier walk, the views are unrivalled. Hike over ice-carved rock and swingbridges on this full-day walk.
Time: 5 hours return / Distance: 11km (6.8 miles) / Location: Franz Josef, South Island
28. Orongorongo Track
Staying in Wellington? A popular dar trip is the Orongorongo Track in the Remutaka Forest Park. Follow this easy-going in-and-out trail through the forest to a swimming hole.
Time: 2 hours one way / Distance: 5.2km (3.2 miles) / Location: Kapiti, North Island
29. Wharariki Beach
Strolling to the sandy shores of Wharariki Beach is just one of many walks to enjoy along this stretch of coast in Golden Bay. The beach makes for a stunning photo spot with views of the Archway Islands.
Time: 20mins one way / Distance: 1km (0.6 miles) / Location: Collingwood, South Island
30. Rangitoto Summit Track
Take a ferry from Auckland city centre to hike the Rangitoto Summit Track. Cross boardwalks over lava fields and follow trails through New Zealand’s largest pohutukawa forest to the island’s crater summit. It’s also worth taking the 30-minute detour to scramble through the lava caves.
Time: 2 hours return / Distance: 7km (4.3 miles) / Location: Auckland, North Island
31. Mt Isobel Track
Experience sublime alpine views from the top of Mt Isobel on the full-day Mt Isobel Track. The trail, which is mainly over open alpine grassland, features panoramic views of the Hanmer Basin. It’s Hanmer Springs‘ most popular day hike.
Time: 5h30mins to 6h30mins return / Distance: 9km (5.6 miles) / Location: Hanmer Springs, South Island
32. Kauaeranga Kauri Trail (Pinnacles Walk)
Either a full-day or overnight hike, The Pinnacles Walk features glorious views over the Coromandel Peninsula. Book into the Pinnacles Hut to stay overnight and catch the sunrise from The Pinnacles. Learn more in the 16 Best Hikes in The Coromandel.
Time: 3-4 hours one-way / Distance: 7km (4.3 miles) / Location: Thames, North Island
33. Lake Marian Track
Hike up to the stunning hanging valley holding Lake Marian on this half-day walk. The initial part of the Lake Marian Track takes you to a series of waterfalls before ascending to the lake. See more walks nearby in the 11 Best Walks in Milford Sound.
Time: 3 hours return / Distance: 3.1km (1.9 miles) / Location: Fiordland National Park, South Island
34. Aotea Track
Escape to Great Barrier Island and experience this piece of paradise on the Aotea Track. The multi-day hike takes you through the forest, over hilltops and to hot springs. See more walks in the 12 Best Hikes on Great Barrier Island.
Time: 2-3 days / Distance: 25km (15.5 miles) / Location: Auckland, North Island
35. Rob Roy Track
Not to be confused with Roys Peak in Wanaka, we think the Rob Roy Glacier, also near Wanaka, is much more worthwhile. Cross a swingbridge into a valley with snowfields, sheer rock faces and waterfalls on the way to a glacier’s edge.
Time: 3-4 hours return / Distance: 10km (6.2 miles) / Location: Wanaka, South Island
36. Mt Manaia Track
Time: 2 hours return / Distance: 4km (2.5 miles) / Location: Whangarei, North Island
37. Charming Creek North Walkway
The Charming Creek Walkway is split into two tracks due to a slip in the middle. The most worthwhile route, however, is the North Walkway following disused railway lines lined with old mining relics and to Mangatini Falls. Check out more walks nearby in the 10 Best Walks in Westport.
Time: 2 hours one way / Distance: 5.5km (3.4 miles) / Location: Westport, South Island
38. Cathedral Cove
One of the top-visited sights on the North Island, Cathedral Cove is famous for its white cliffs arching over the beach. The walk is an easy one to do. Note, however, that the car park is closed between October and April. You’ll either need to take the shuttle from the entrance of Hahei or walk from the northern end of Hahei Beach adding an extra 20 minutes each way.
Time: 1h30mins (low season) or 2h10mins (high season) / Distance: 2.5km (1.6 miles) or 3.5km (2.2 miles) / Location: Hahei, North Island
39. Routeburn Track – Key Summit
Although part of a popular multi-day Great Walk, the Key Summit of the Routeburn Track is well worth doing on its own. Starting from the Milford Sound Road, the track zigzags through the forest to alpine shrublands with mountain views.
Time: 3 hours return / Distance: 3.4km (2.1 miles) / Location: Fiordland National Park, South Island
40. Cape Kidnappers
At low tide, follow the beach under steep cliffs of Cape Kidnappers displaying faultlines and fossils. The end of the route rewards you with a close encounter with the world’s largest mainland gannet colony. See more 10 Best Walks in Hawke’s Bay.
Time: 5 hours return / Distance: 19km (11.8 miles) / Location: Hastings, North Island
41. Devil’s Punchbowl Walking Track
Another excellent waterfall walk, the Devil’s Punchbowl Walking Track is a ramble through the forest and across a river to a viewing platform for a 121m (397ft) waterfall.
Time: 1 hour return / Distance: 2km (1.2 miles) / Location: Arthur’s Pass, South Island
42. Tarawera Trail
Take the one-way Tarawera Trail through the forest on the shores of Lake Tarawera. The trail ends at Te Rata Bay where you’ll find a campsite and hot springs meeting the lake. Book a water taxi to return. Plus, plan more hikes in the area using the 11 Must-Do Walks in Rotorua.
Time: 5-6 hours one way / Distance: 15km (9.3 miles) / Location: Rotorua, North Island
43. Tunnel Beach Track
The Tunnel Beach Track leads down to dramatic coastline with arches and a tunnel carved through the cliffs. Head through the tunnel to reach a beautiful beach with caves and even waterfalls after heavy rainfall. Time your walk with low tide to access the beach.
Time: 1 hour return / Distance: 2km (1.2 miles) / Location: Dunedin, South Island
44. Wellington Southern Walkway
Yes, you can even hike in the city! Walk from coast to coast along Wellington‘s Town Belt on the Southern Walkway. It’s all about the views on this walk, which include those of the cityscape, Mt Victoria, Oriental Bay and Island Bay. Choose from more walks nearby in the 10 Best Walks in Wellington.
Time: 4-5 hours one way / Distance: 10.7km (6.6 miles) / Location: Wellington City, North Island
45. Rakiura Track
Time: 3 days / Distance: 32km (19.9 miles) / Location: Stewart Island, South Island
46. Putangirua Pinnacles
Walk among striking weathered pinnacles that formed the backdrop during the filming of The Lord of the Rings. Take either the full Pinnacles and Ridge walks or the shorter Pinnacles Track or Streambed walk.
Time: 2 to 4 hours return / Distance: km ( miles) / Location: Wairarapa, North Island
47. Ship Creek Walks
Choose from a couple of short walks over sand dunes and ancient West Coast forest at Ship Creek. The pitstop on your way between Haast and Franz Josef has walks suitable for most fitness levels. Check out more nearby trails in the 6 Best Walks in Haast.
Time: 20mins or 30mins return/ Distance: 800m (875 yards) or 1km (0.6 miles) / Location: Haast, South Island
48. Pouakai Circuit
For a spectacular multi-day hike on the North Island, check out the Pouakai Circuit. The hiking trail takes you over various volcanic terrain with side trips to a waterfall and a mirror lake.
Time: 2-3 days loop / Distance: 25km (15.5 miles) / Location: Egmont National Park, North Island
49. Children’s Bay Walkway
A walk with a quirky feature, the Children’s Bay Walkway takes you through small tracts of bush to open grasslands with metal animal structures. Either return the same way once you reach the rhino or continue on the trail and back along the roads to make a 3-hour loop.
Time: 1 hour return or 3 hours loop / Distance: 2.4km (1.5 miles) / Location: Akaroa, South Island
50. Redwood Memorial Grove Track
The final instalment of our 50 New Zealand hikes takes you through an unusual landscape found in New Zealand. In Rotorua‘s Whakarewarewa Forest, also known as The Redwoods, do the Redwood Memorial Grove Track to walk among towering Californian Redwoods.
Time: 30 minutes return / Distance: 2km (1.2 miles) / Location: Rotorua, North Island