New Zealand’s spectacular Great Walks

Published: Wed 24 Dec 2008 11:00 AM
Last minute places on New Zealand’s spectacular Great Walks are still up for grabs this summer. But, but they are filling fast so get in quick and make your booking now.
The DOC-managed Great Walks are tracks through our most spectacular natural areas that only require only a moderate amount of exertion. The tracks are wide and flat, and the huts have good facilities, so these make excellent trips for families. Prices range from $10 to $45 per person per night for a hut and $5 to $15 for a campsite (under 17s stay free).
DOC’s Visitor Services Manager, Gavin Walker, says places on the Great Walks can be really hard to get at this time of year. The Milford track is fully booked until March, but there are still places on other walks, particularly from mid-January onwards.
“If you’re sitting around at home wondering what to do over summer, try a Great Walk. They are the perfect way to get into the backcountry for 3-4 days and experience some of our most spectacular places. Keen trampers should get booking,” he said.
Gavin Walker is also reminding all those heading out for a Great Walk adventure to do their homework and prepare themselves for the trip.
“To have an enjoyable trip make sure that you invest the time in planning before you set out. We’re encouraging all Kiwi’s to get out there this summer and push their boundaries - but also to limit their risks.”
Check out DOC’s website where you can make online bookings for the Milford, Kepler, Routeburn, Heaphy, Abel Tasman and Lake Waikaremoana Great Walks. Hut and campsite passes for the Tongariro Northern Circuit, Whanganui Journey and the Rakiura Track Great Walks are available from the appropriate local DOC office.
As well as Great Walks, there are numerous other camping, tramping and walking opportunities in National Parks and conservation areas throughout the country. For more information, visit
The Great Walks:
Lake Waikaremoana: A moderate walk over 45km set in the rugged Te Urerewa National Park. Allow 3-4 days to travel through an area steeped in Maori tradition, with superb scenery. If you’re really lucky you could see both species of native bats.
Tongariro Northern Circuit: This walk winds its way over the Tongariro massif and around Mt Ngauruhoe, passing through unique and stunning landforms including volcanic craters and glacial valleys. It is a challenging tramp, largely on open exposed terrain.
Whanganui Journey: A river journey - paddle the full 145 kilometres from Taumaranui to Pipiriki, or shorter sections, in an area rich in natural and cultural history. There are broadleaf-podocarp forests and you’ll see kereru (native pigeon), piwakawaka (fantail), tui, toutouwai (robin) and hear the call of the brown kiwi at night.
Abel Tasman Coast track: One of the most popular of the Great Walks, from Motueka up to Golden Bay. It is an easy 3-5 day ramble around spectacular coastlines, with coastal beech forest. It has many clear waterways and much fish life as there is a marine reserve offshore. The track is also popular for sea-kayaking.
Heaphy Track: One of the longest of the Great Walks at 78km, this track takes 4-5 days. It runs from Golden Bay through to the West Coast above Karamea. This walk can be done in conjunction with the Wangapeka track if you are looking for a harder return trip.
Routeburn track: This is a 3-4 day moderate walk over 32 kilometres of spectacular forest, passing through the Mt Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks. You’ll see beech forest and many different bird species, plus there are many opportunities to fish.
The Milford track: One of the best known walks in New Zealand situated in Fiordland National Park, and part of the Te Wahipounamu, South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. The walk begins at the head of Lake Te Anau and ends at Milford Sound. It covers 53.5 kms and is a 3-4 day walk.
Kepler track: This round trip walk of 60km starts and ends at the control gates of Lake Te Anau, and is located amongst the spectacular scenery of Fiordland National Park. It is an easy to moderate 3-4 day walk, with a gentle climb half way.
Rakiura track: Located in Rakiura National Park - New Zealand’s newest and southern most park - on Stewart Island, this is a 36 km track (of which 7 kilometres is on the road). The track takes three days, is suitable for those with a moderate level of fitness and provides a great introduction to the island’s scenery.

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