How to plan the most memorable New Zealand camping & hiking trip ever!
New Zealand…a place where heaven seems to be tangibly present on earth, a place where the vast wilderness is best explored one tiny step at a time!
This is no secret here friends: Kiwi country is probably best explored by foot, and since its one of the best ways to ensure that you see all of the pristine beauty New Zealand has to offer, we suggest you pack your hiking gear and prepare to be blown away.
Top New Zealand Hiking Trails and Camping Opportunities
We’ve rounded up some of New Zealand’s best-kept secrets, the trails and camping grounds that will allow you to emerge yourself in the natural tranquility and start traveling with a greener tomorrow in mind. Have a look at our recommendations and see if you can squeeze them into your travel itinerary!
Milford Track – Fiordland National Park, South Island
Why Head Here?
Fiordland National Park is an excellent spot to embrace a proper multi-day hiking excursion.
Aside from the spectacular green Fjord in the National Park, Milford Track offers you a 4-day trekking opportunity, and of course the idea of losing yourself in the beauty of the misted mountains and cataracts that tumble down the valley. This place is one of the bets hiking trails in the world, which means that you’d be mad to miss out on the opportunity of seeing it!
The 33-mile trail path was made back in 1888, and spans from Lake Te Anau, all the way to Milford Sound. Roughly 14,000 backpackers head here on an annual basis, beginning their hiking and camping journeys at Lake Te Anau, and ending off their adventures at Sandfly Point.
Mount Sunday – Canterbury, South Island
Why Head Here?
It’s the best place to get that “Lord of the Rings” experience!
Mount Sunday offers backpackers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of trekking through one of the locations where the epic film, The Lord of the Rings’ Capital of Rohan – Edoras -, was shot. Sunday is as remote as they come in New Zealand, and experiencing the bliss of the Southern Alps is simply astonishing!
Explore the site that made the world relive Middle Earth, and then hike up to the windy summit to get a bird’s eye view of the Rangitata River. This also makes for a great picnic spot, so make sure you pack some munchies to complete the experience.
Abel Tasman Coast Track – Abel Tasman National Park, South Island
Why Head Here?
If you’re looking for an opportunity of trekking along a scenic stretch of beach, this is definitely it.
Lined with beautiful, golden beaches, a subtropical forest-line along the coast, and spectacular granite cliffs to explore, the Abel Tasman Coast Track is one of a kind. New Zealand is famed for its variety of Great Walks, but the Abel Tasman Coast Track is one of the least strenuous, and also one of the best beach hiking trails in the country.
You can embark on a tour that spans anywhere between two-and-five-days. As far as camping is concerned, you can choose between staying over in the Department of Conservation’s huts, or just pitching camp along the water’s edge.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing – Tongariro National Park, North Island
Why Head Here?
Backpackers looking for a quick and relatively easy day hiking trail should definitely go see this park on the North Island.
Tongariro National Park is yet another gem that Lord of the Rings fans will appreciate, as it’s the site where Mordor was shot for the films. You’d be hard pressed not to feel a little bit eerie as you take on the climbs that steeply go over the barren lands, or gaze upon the volcanic rock on a moody-weathered day.
When the weather is being friendly, hikers can look forward to seeing Mt. Ngauruhoe, the all-star attraction of L.O.T.R trilogy films, Mount Doom. Once you’ve seen the splendor on offer here, make sure you head down to Red Crater for the popular Emerald Lakes and its turquoise geothermally heated waters. On your descent, you’ll pass on towards the Ketetahi trailhead as you make your way through old lava fields, finally making your way back to the pickup bus.
Mueller Hut Route – Mount Cook National Park, South Island
Why Head Here?
If you’re a hiker looking for an epic overnight trekking opportunity, make sure you work Mount Cook into your itinerary.
New Zealand’s tallest mountain is Mount Cook, measuring it at a whopping 12,316 feet high. The terrain around here is glaciated and leads up to Mueller Hut, a cozy halfway house (well, hut), located on a high alpine plateau.
The valley’s river system that seamlessly braids through the landscape and the stunning blue glacial pools at the mountain’s foot are essentially what demands your full attention as you make your way three miles through the terrain. Once you get to the plateau, at 6,000 feet, you’ll bunk over for the night in the hut. All that’s left to do then is to soak up the breathtaking views and regroup for the descent you’ll tackle the next day!
From New Zealand’s fantastic fjords, to its misted mountains and fern-ridden forests, the miles of pristine beaches and the cascading waterfalls, Kiwi country truly is a hiker’s paradise. Where there’s a hiker with a will, New Zealand will provide a wild path.
We hope that this post has helped you, in your stupor, to plan out the best hiking and camping route for navigating the Land of the Long White Cloud. Grab your gear and your sense of adventure, and get prepared to leave New Zealand as a changed human being!
About The Author
I’m Dan, and I’m the Editor in Chief of True North Athletics. I’m also an avid adventurer, digital nomad and traveler. I enjoy all types of outdoor sports, a good golf tan, and spontaneous weekend trips. I currently live in Brazil where I can be found frequently hiking the rain forest around my city!