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The Best Day Hikes On New Zealand’s South Island

The hike to Rainbow Reach is around 3 kilometres (1.9 miles) each way, and the hike to Brod Bay is a little further. Luxmore Hut is a fairy-tale place of white clouds that hovers over an invisible, mountain-ringed Lake Te Anau. It’s a great place to wake up early and be awed. Thus begins your second day on the four-day Kepler Track, one of New Zealand’s famed Great Walks.

There are many hiking trails here, including the Milford Track (4-5 days). It’s certainly not a cinch, however, with fast-changing weather conditions and some hard ground to conquer. Remember that there are limits on car spaces inside the national reserve, so it’s best to park outside and use a shuttle bus to get to and from the start and end points. The Abel Tasman Coastal Track is one of the 10 Great Walks of New Zealand, and meanders its way through the iconic Abel Tasman National Park.

  • The retreating glacier is situated above a rock face with cascading waterfalls.
  • The St. Arnaud Range Track begins at Kerr Bay, and climbs to the top of the St. Arnaud Mountain Range.
  • The Franz Joseph and Fox glaciers are 2 of the most famous attractions on the West Coast of New Zealand.
  • There are a few DOC huts that you can stay in for the night, but you will need to be completely self-sufficient since you’ll be hiking there for at least three consecutive days.

The trail is super short at only 700 meters each way but leads to a stunning beach and some caves to explore. You can enjoy the coast, spot blue penguins, or even find starfish at the beach. The Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk is a short 2.5-kilometer (1.6 miles) trail each way, that takes around 1.5 hours.

For those fortunate few who can book a tour or make a booking, you’ll be able to enjoy one of the most rewarding and diverse hiking trails in New Zealand. Hooker Valley Track is the most well-known day hike in South Island. This 10-kilometre easy return walk will bring you pass alpine streams, emerald lakes and ancient glaciers. For those who are travelling to the West Coast from Nelson and Christchurch, Westport is a popular destination. The trailhead for the breathtaking Cape Foulwind Walk is located 16 kilometres south of Westport. The trail is only 3.4 kilometres (2.1 mi) long and takes you to Cape Foulwind lighthouse, seal colony, and Cape Foulwind lighthouse.

To access Roberts Point Track, start at the Alex Knob/Lake Wombat parking lot and then hike to the right side of the valley. Follow the trail through lush rainforest, crossing the foot bridge over the Waiho River. This 12 kilometre (7.5 mile) return trail opens up to smooth rock outcrops, and incredible views of the surrounding mountains and waterfalls. If you are looking for a spectacular single-day hike, you can start at Waikori Road End. After approximately 1 hour, you will come to a junction with Pororari River Track.

hiking in new zealand

Roy’s Peak is an iconic New Zealand hike with famous views over Lake Wanaka and the surrounding mountains, including Mt Aspiring. This walk is completed by thousands every year. However, it is a steep climb that should not to be underestimated. The famous viewpoint is only 3/4 of the way to the summit, and it’s worth the extra minutes to climb to the top for even better views.

Absorb the varied landscapes on foot, tip to tip, via the youngest of the world’s long trails, Te Araroa–Maori for The Long Pathway–which officially opened in December 2011. Te Araroa, at 1,864 miles is the Kiwi version of the Appalachian Trail. It offers dramatic views and spectacular walks amid lush subtropical forests, snow-crowned peaks and alpine lakes. Not to mention scores of native and endemic birds, like the kiwi, kea, and the schizophrenic tui, that abound in all corners. You’ll walk through New Zealand’s diverse ecosystems, including glacial river valleys and rolling grasslands. You’ll also cross rugged terrain and get resupplied in several towns.