20 rewarding hikes in New Zealand

Walking, hiking, trekking, tramping – New Zealand has a lot to offer for those of you willing to move. Combine some physical exercise with indulging your eyes and you will fall in love with tramping, as kiwis call it. We put together some experiences on foot in the Land of the Long White Cloud and ranked them from easy to hard. We hope to inspire more people to put on some comfy shoes and charge the batteries on their cameras. Best hikes in New Zealand is an incredibly hard list to put together. You’ll see why in a while.

Let us introduce you to the most rewarding hikes we did on both North Island and South Island in New Zealand, ranked from easier to hardest.

Denniston coal mine

Coal mining has a rich history in New Zealand. Besides restored villages and outside mining facilities, entering the mine itself is a memorable experience and will help you understand and appreciate how hard the miner’s job is.

Difficulty easy

$ tour fee

Advice You don’t have to worry about anything because your guide has all the mining knowledge and jokes on the world. Just follow the locals!

Chinese settlement in Arrowtown

While Arrowtown is picturesque enough to spend few hours remembering the Gold Rush, the Chinese settlement remains will add some eastern and ancient flavor to the landscape.

Difficulty  easy

$ free

Advice You can play hide and seek in the small houses and escape the sun.

Shantytown

Fly back to the past and land on this 19th-century gold-mining town

Difficulty  easy

$ admission fee

Advice Don’t miss the steam train and the gold panning class. You may leave Shantytown richer, who knows?

Moeraki boulders

The Otago coast has a surprise for the beach-lovers, biologists, geologists, physicists, did we miss someone?

Difficulty  easy

$ free

Advice Be careful with climbing and jumping off the balls. To avoid the crowds walk farther down the beach.

Ancient Kauri trees

Kauri trees are so old that some of them have seen empires rising and falling, legends born and people respecting and disrespecting nature. Ask Tane Mahuta – the oldest living kauri tree – for stories!

Difficulty  easy

$ free

Advice Don’t bring food and drinks in the kauri forest – you will be doing bad to the trees and the ecosystem.

Miners Bay beaches

West coast of South Island – rugged and genuinely beautiful! Granity is a local settlement so small there’s no info online.

Difficulty  easy

$ free

Advice Bring mosquito repellent and prepare for chilly nights.

New Zealand, South Island road trip itinerary, Miners bay

Urupukapuka island

Board a boat from Paihia and explore Bay of Islands on the inside. Expect wildlife in the water and sheep inland.

Difficulty  easy to medium

$ free once you get there

Advice When you reach the top of the hill take a minute to absorb the 360-view!

Hobbiton

Follow the steps of Bilbo Baggins and his wise friend Gandalf and explore the Shire – it is even more realistic than in the movies!

Difficulty  easy to medium

$ admission fee

Advice Take early morning tour to avoid the crowds.

Mitai Maori village

Fairy lakes, warriors in a canoe and glowworms in the dark – a fairy-tail!

Difficulty  easy to medium

$ admission fee, cultural performances paid separately

Advice Try the traditionally cooked dinner while the chief of the tribe explains how Maori people love technology.

Te Puia Maori village

Hot springs, a massive warm welcome to everybody, sing together – life is a song!

Difficulty  easy to medium

$ admission fee, cultural performances paid separately

Advice It can get pretty hot on a sunny day with all the steam around – put sun protection and stay hydrated!

West coast Pancake rocks

Nature did cook something for you! Pancakes! Take a walk and see for yourself!

Difficulty  medium

$ free

Advice Keep an eye on the see nearby – you might spot playful dolphins!

Wai-o-tapu geothermal land

Intro Geothermal land will welcome you in a challenging and informative and a little bit creepy way – it is the steam and the gurgling lakes.

Difficulty  medium

$ admission fee

Advice Take sun protection and closed shoes.

Cape Reinga National Park

The northernmost part of the country is also where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific ocean. You are welcome to that meeting!

Difficulty  medium

$ free, getting there is on a tour or with your own car

Advice Try the ice-cream in any of the few villages around.

Milford track

The whole track takes up to four days but we just took a 1-hour walk to feel it. It is very even and full of flora and fauna.

Difficulty  medium to hard

$ you need special permission to walk on the track

Advice Sand-fly repellent!!! And remember this track is how they discovered the Milford Sound!

Waiheke island

A ferry ride from Auckland, the ‘wine island’ will relax you from the big city craziness.

Difficulty  medium to hard

$ free

Advice Ask a local to discover fascinating private walks with marvelous views!

Rangitoto island

This lava island is too humble to show off with its beauty and small lava caves.

Difficulty  medium to hard, depending on how sunny the day is

$ free or with a tour

Advice Sun protection and plenty of water as the island doesn’t have any shops.

Stewart island

The third-largest New Zealand island. The bird-life is amazing as well as people’s hospitality.

Difficulty  medium to hard

$ free

Advice Get ready for a rough(or not  – take your chances) boat ride from Bluff or spend twice and take a 20-minute flight from Invercargill.

Arthur’s pass

  The highest mountain highway offers hidden villages and many hiking routes. The more time you spend the longer hikes you can afford.

Difficulty  medium to hard

$ free

Advice Shops are not reliable. Stock up with food and drinks before you hit the highway.

Taranaki falls

Tongariro National Park has too many jewels reachable on foot and not famous at all. Follow the hiking route to those refreshing waterfalls.

Difficulty  medium to hard, harder if you are in a hurry and the weather is getting worse

$ free

Advice Weather forecast is extremely important to follow in this region. 

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Classified as one of the best one-day hikes in the world, TAC will leave you with memorable experiences from both sides of mount Ngauruhoe. It is totally worth it the 20K trek.

Difficulty  hard

$ free

Advice Bring enough food and drinks even if you plan to do half of it – most probably you’ll feel like finishing the whole crossing. Arrange your transport to the starting and from the ending point or pray for good people to give you a ride.

Even if you don’t feel like an experienced hiker, any of the above hikes (excluding Tongariro Alpine Crossing) may be done in a way that is not physically demanding or exhausting if you have the time. And you will be rewarded by the views, the people you meet and the whole atmosphere around, we promise! So don’t worry too much and just start cramping!

And here is how you can reward yourself after a good hike with a picnic in New Zealand!

Which is your favorite hiking track in New Zealand? Did any of our list make it to your top 10 of rewarding hikes? What was the best hike you ever completed?

10 Responses

  1. Kirsty
    |

    I’d love to visit the Hobbit houses! New Zealand looks like such a beautiful country – I wish it weren’t so far from London!

  2. Anita
    |

    I love New Zealand. Have done just few from your great list like Taranaki falls, Waiheke and Wai-o-Tapu. Much more left for future reference.

    • Hey Anita that is a nice start for you. We wish you a great time in the lovely country of the Kiwis 🙂

  3. Neni
    |

    I really want to go to NZ. I have a massive Pinterest Board full of inspiration. The country seems so perfect. Also, I like that you included some videos 🙂

  4. […] 20 Rewarding Hikes in New Zealand […]

  5. […] join a fun-filled day trip (which includes sandboarding and a whizz along 90 Mile Beach.  If a day of hiking and absorbing the views is not enough for you though, you can even choose to go camping in the […]

  6. Milford Sound in Photos - Unearthing Asia
    |

    […] The Milford Sound is a fiord that is located on New Zealand’s South Island in the southeastern point.  Among beautiful views, hikes, scenery, and natuer – it is best known for incomparably large Mitre Peak as well as rainforests and waterfalls like Stirling and Bowen falls, which drape over the sheer sides. The fiord is home the Milford Track – which is one of the rewarding hikes in New Zealand. […]

  7. […] fun-filled day trip (which includes sand boarding and a whizz along 90 Mile Beach.  If a day of hiking and absorbing the views is not enough for you though, you can even choose to go camping in the […]