World → AustralasiaNew Zealand

The best hiking region in the world is

New Zealand — all things considered — is the best hiking destination in the world. It’s also arguably the best holiday destination.

Nowhere else can you do so much varied “tramping”, so easily, year round.

New Zealand mapAT A GLANCE

Note: Tramping is Kiwi for hiking.

  • hundreds of magnificent trails
  • superb tourist infrastructure
  • perhaps the best hostels in the world
  • terrific hut system
  • convenient public transport
  • easily available trailhead shuttle service
  • good management by the DOC (Department of Conservation)
  • the nine (actually eight) “Great Walks” are very well marketed — but there are many equally good tramps not listed
  • great hiking for all levels of ability
  • best weather Jan-Mar
Hooch - Emerald Lakes, Tongariro Crossing
Hooch – Emerald Lakes, Tongariro Crossing


  • if it were anywhere else in the world, less remote, tourists would overrun it
  • travel in New Zealand is still relative inexpensive
  • hike both North & South Islands, both wonderful, both utterly different
  • tiny New Zealand has every climatic zone on Earth, even a small desert on the Tongariro Circuit
  • challenging alpine hiking with no risk of altitude sickness (the glaciated peaks are low)
  • superb volcano hiking and scrambling
  • fantastic hot springs, hot rivers, and even hot beaches
  • blissful coastal hiking
  • unique Kiwi flora and fauna
  • interesting new “private” hikes on “private” land
  • special features
  • Maori cultural and spiritual associations
  • easy and inexpensive to get a quality hiking guide
  • almost no dangerous wildlife (unless you get bitten by a rabid possum)


  • sandflies on the west coast of the South Island are the worst biting insects we’ve ever encountered. (In fact, we were driven off the Heaphy Track after only 1-night.)
  • over Christmas many of the famous trails are packed with Kiwis
  • avoid the mountain trails July – August
  • getting a reservation to hike the famed Milford Track is difficult. But there are a half dozen hikes nearby, just as good, that you can get on easily.
  • Tongariro Crossing is a MUST HIKE, but it could be the busiest difficult walk anywhere

The BEST HIKE in New Zealand is the Tongariro Northern Circuit.

Our favourite guide book:

See All New Zealand BEST HIKES on our Australasia page. 

3 Replies to “NEW ZEALAND”

  1. Hey Rick,

    I’m trying to put together my itinerary for my trip down to NZ and I’m kinda struggling with the reservations aspect for the trip from DOC (sorry for the long comment).

    I have roughly 16 days, with 4+1 of those planned for the Tongariro Circuit, with traveling, on the northern island with the camping spots booked. That gives me 11 days to tramp around on the southern island during Christmas season at the end of December.

    I signed up for the NZtracker service, but also wanted to ask about your specific experience there at Milford Track. From the sounds of it, you guys were able to pick up passes last minute in Te Anau. First, how likely are the cancellations that I’ll be able to grab a few up? Secondly, what were you guys considering to do instead before that came open? And is Milford that much of an experience relative to others in the area to put up $1500 for 2 together for it?

    I also have the option of booking the Abel Tasman during the first few days when get down to NZ. Would you recommend grabbing that first rather than waiting on Milford track to be open? If that was the case, our itn is looking something like the following:

    Day 1) Set up for Abel Tasman
    Day 2-5) Abel Tasman Tramp
    Day 6) Get out and to Queensland
    Day 7-11) Head to Te Anau and Cross fingers for Milford, maybe Routeburn or Keppler or maybe of those lesser know ones a Kiwi might know.
    Day 12) Get up to the North island and set up for Tongariro Circuit
    Day 13-16) Tongariro Circuit and getting out to Auckland.

    I’d appreciate any feedback. Thanks.


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