Queen Charlotte Track
A chance to enjoy some quintessentially Kiwi serenity, the charming but lengthy Queen Charlotte Track wends its way for 70 kilometres through the Marlborough Sounds at the top of New Zealand’s South Island.
You can either choose to complete the track in its entirety, which will take about five days, or opt for day walks here and there along the way.
Lovers of fine wine and food can book package visits designed to suit their needs, including boat transfers between the beautiful isolated lodges dotted at various points along the route.
Known for its stunning views at every step, historical landmarks and native birdlife, the track passes through forests, empty beaches and skyline ridges that command spectacular views of Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds.
Arguably the flagship of New Zealand’s nine “Great Walks”, the Milford Track is bucket-list material.
However, unlike walks such as The Queen Charlotte or the Abel Tasman where you can pick and choose segments and fetch a ride back, once you’re in, you’re in.
The route starts at Lake Te Anau and hands you a glorious prize at the finish line 53 kilometres later: Milford Sound.
It’s not for the faint-hearted, though, and you’ll have to commit to four days and three nights of medium to difficult trekking to reach that spectacular goal.
You must also book to be able to experience this once-in-a-lifetime hike, and it fills up fast, so plan well ahead.
The Routeburn Track, another of The Great Walks, boasts forests, alpine flora, lakes, waterfalls and countless panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
The three-day trek will see you cover 39 kilometres of well-maintained track through some of the South Island’s most stunning and breathtaking scenery.
Tawharunui Regional Park
For a more gentle and family-oriented walking experience, head to Tawharanui Regional Park north of Auckland.
You can spend a full day – or a couple of days if you take your time – exploring the many different routes and trails that follow the rugged contours, native bush and white-sand beaches of the Tawharanui Peninsula.
There are plenty of campsites and picnic areas to maximise your enjoyment of this slice of New Zealand paradise, just an hour’s drive north of the City of Sails.
On a clear day you can see north to Whangarei Heads – where lies another network of excellent beginner-to-experienced walking – while even on the dreariest of days you can make out Kawau Island to the southeast.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
One of New Zealand’s most popular full-day walks, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is an internationally-renowned hike.
You’ll need a decent level of fitness to take on the eight-hour trek that takes you up a handful of steep mountain ascents.
But every ounce of effort you put your calves through is worth it for the views alone, the most famous of which is the vista over Emerald Lake.
Note that the crossing is a linear walk – so you’ll need to arrange transport to return you to your car, but there is a regular shuttle bus service that goes back and forth and can be booked online.