Sillhouette of a hiker on a grassy mountain ridge at sunrise. Lake dotted with clouds in the background.
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New Zealand’s Great Walks

New Zealand is one of the top backpacking destinations in the world. It has everything, from dramatic alpine landscapes to fjords, lush rainforests, pristine beaches, active volcanoes, and anything in between.

New Zealand has great infrastructure too. You can stay in backcountry huts for a more comfortable experience, and on point-to-point hikes, you can reserve a shuttle to pick you up.

To promote tourism and preserve popular hiking trails, the Department of Conservation established 10 Great Walks. They traverse the most scenic parts of the country, and they are a great introduction to New Zealand.

All Great Walks require advance reservations, and spots run out quickly. If you’re interested in a great walk, click “See itinerary” below to see which itineraries and dates are still available, or use the cancellation alert feature to receive text messages when we find extra spots.

New Zealand map with Great Walks marked on it
1. Lake Waikaremoana Track3–4 days29 milesPoint-to-point
2. Tongariro Northern Circuit2–4 days28 milesLoop
3. Whanganui River Journey3–5 days54–90 milesPoint-to-point
4. Abel Tasman Coast Track3–5 days37 milesPoint-to-point
5. Heaphy Track4–6 days49 milesPoint-to-point
6. Paparoa Track3 days34 milesPoint-to-point
7. Routeburn Track2–4 days21 milesPoint-to-point
8. Milford Track4 days33 milesPoint-to-point
9. Kepler Track3–4 days37 milesLoop
10. Rakiura Track3 days20 milesLoop
Beginning of the track
Photo by Kathrin & Stefan Marks / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

1. Lake Waikaremoana Track

Hike along the shore of Lake Waikaremoana in Te Urewera, the home of the Ngai Tūhoe people. Views of the lake punctuate the walk through the prehistoric rainforest.

See itinerary
Emerald Lakes
Photo by Daniel Pietzsch / CC BY-NC 2.0

2. Tongariro Northern Circuit

Explore the volcanic features of Tongariro National Park. The trail passes through dramatic landscapes composed of craters, alpine lakes, and lava flows.

See itinerary
Canoeing down the Whanganui River with Kahuna Station above
Photo by Department of Conservation / CC BY 2.0

3. Whanganui River Journey

Paddle down the meandering Whanganui river. The steep cliffs leave no escape until the end of the 90-mile journey, or at the halfway point at Whakahoro.

See itinerary
Walking across the golden beach at Anapai Bay on the Abel Tasman Coast Track.
Photo by Department of Conservation / CC BY 2.0

4. Abel Tasman Coast Track

This is one of the most popular Great Walks, and for a good reason! The trail follows the sandy coast of Abel Tasman National Park. You will want to take your time to enjoy the crystal clear water.

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Photo by Mike and Lara Wolfe / CC0 1.0

5. Heaphy Track

Mountain or beach? This Great Walk has both. Start in the lush forest of Kahurangi National Park before reaching the West Coast at the end of your trip. Unfortunately, the trail is currently damaged and is closed to through trips.

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Cycling on the Paparoa Track
Photo by Mike and Lara Wolfe / CC0 1.0

6. Paparoa Track

The Paparoa Track takes you up the wooded ridge with views of the Tasman Sea and back down throught the limestone cliffs of the Pororari River Gorge. The trail is also open to bikes.

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Photo by Curtis Simmons / CC BY-NC 2.0

7. Routeburn Track

If you like alpine landscapes, this trail is for you. The trail climbs up a glacial valley before reaching meadows and lakes with incredible views of the nearby mountain ranges.

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8. Milford Track

The Milford Track is one of the most popular trails in New Zealand. The trail follows a historical route through rainforests, deep valleys, and waterfalls.

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Kepler Track - The Ridgeline
Photo by Evan Forester / CC BY 2.0

9. Kepler Track

Kepler Track is one of the few Great Walk loops. From the grassy ridge, the trail offers panoramic views of Lake Te Anau and Lake Manapouri.

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Beach at North Arm Hut, Rakiura Track, Stewart Island
Photo by Christoph Strässler / CC BY 2.0

10. Rakiura Track

Finish with this relaxing trip on Stewart Island. It’s the perfect place for star-gazing as the island is one of the few International Dark Sky Sanctuaries.

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