New Zealand's natural beauty will take your breath away more than the walking will.

Why do a walking holiday in New Zealand? Because where else can you spend the morning hiking up to a hanging glacier followed by wine tasting at a boutique cellar door? Where else can you walk through forests of sweet-smelling manuka trees to the song of bellbirds, or listen to ancient Maori stories of how the mountains and rivers were created? From exploring secluded bays and natural pools in Abel Tasman National Park to discovering the stunning Marlborough Sounds on the Queen Charlotte Track, a New Zealand walking tour will show you why so many travellers fall in love with this country.

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Highlights of hiking in New Zealand

Scenic views on the Queen Charlotte Track

Discover the Queen Charlotte Track

Nestled in the Marlborough Sounds where mountains meet pristine coastline, the Queen Charlotte Track highlights New Zealand's rugged beauty. Using boats, water taxis and your feet as transport, you'll discover untouched fern and beech forests, secluded coves, inlets and bays, and sweeping views across ancient river valleys. There'll be plenty of opportunities to see these lands from a different perspective whether it's heading out on the water to swim, kayak or float on a stand-up paddleboard, learn about the area’s Maori and European history, or taste some of Marlborough's finest sauvignon blanc.

The Bark Bay Trail in Abel Tasman National Park

Explore Abel Tasman National Park

Travellers come from far and wide to walk the Abel Tasman Coast Track, and it only takes a few steps to see why. The track is 60km in length and can be challenging at times, but every step is worth it when you arrive at idyllic coves, groves of native manuka trees and magical river cascades which are only accessible on foot. The Coast Track offers so much more than incredible views with opportunities to navigate the fast-changing tides of Awaroa Inlet, slide down moss-covered waterslides, and soak up the sounds and smells of New Zealand's wilderness along the way. 


Views on the Roy Rob Track in New Zealand

Hike up to Rob Roy Peak

What better way to experience the beauty of Wanaka than hiking up to the hanging glaciers beneath the 2644 metre-high Rob Roy Peak. The hike takes roughly 5-6 hours return and includes a challenging 1300-metre climb – but it's totally worth it. You'll be treated to panoramic views of Mount Aspiring National Park, glistening lakes, waterfalls and snowfields which may take your breath away more than the exercise will! Make sure you watch and listen out for any shifting glacier movements from the viewing platform.

Nelson Lakes National Park in New Zealand

Hike in Nelson Lakes National Park

It might be just a one-hour drive from Nelson city centre, but Nelson Lakes National Park is the gateway to the stunning Southern Alps of New Zealand. This natural playground is filled with rugged peaks, alpine lakes and heaps of native wildlife waiting for you to explore. There are trails for all fitness levels whether you fancy a pleasant day stroll through a moss-covered forest or you want to tackle one of the multi-day backcountry tramping trails. No trip to Nelson is complete without visiting this stunning national park.

A traveller drinking wine in Gibbston Valley in New Zealand

Sample the local wine

Thanks to fertile soils and a cool, maritime climate with plenty of sunshine, New Zealand is home to a range of wine varieties that are loved by wine lovers around the globe. Whether you're beginning your trip in Marlborough or wrapping up in Nelson, you'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to boutique vineyards and award-winning wineries where the views are almost as delicious as the wine. Wet the whistle after a day of hiking with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or sip on a refreshing Chardonnay with a grazing platter.

Falls River in Abel Tasman

Swim in Falls River

If you work up a sweat while hiking Abel Tasman's Coast Track, but don't fancy getting sandy, there's no better way to cool down than a dip in one of the swimming holes along Falls River. This tree-fringed watercourse is one of the most idyllic spots for a swim and the freshwater is guaranteed to cool you right down. Continue exploring this enchanting forest by walking along the 47-metre suspension bridge across the river and boulder-hopping your way to more cascades.

Hiking tour & walking holiday reviews

Hiking in New Zealand FAQs

Trips on or before 31 December 2022

If your Intrepid trip starts on or before 31 December 2022, you must provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19.

If you are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons, you may apply for an exemption. Exemptions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. To apply, you must provide a medical certificate from a medical professional. 

Children under 18 are exempt. Children aged between 5 and 17 years old must provide proof of either vaccination, recovery or a negative COVID-19 test.

Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards

From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).

However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.

Learn more about Intrepid’s COVID-19 policy

The most pleasant time for walking and hiking in New Zealand is during the summer (December to February) when the weather is mild and sunny; however, this is also the busiest period, especially during school holidays (late December to late January). Winter can get very cold throughout the North and South Islands with frequent snowfall, but this is the perfect time to travel if you want to see oh-so scenic views of snow-topped mountains or if you’re looking to tie a bit of skiing or snowboarding into your holiday, particularly on the South Island. Spring is a wonderful time of year when life starts waking up after the winter chill, and the trails are also much quieter than in summer. Autumn is another great time of year when the days are still warm and the autumnal colours turn the landscapes fabulous shades of orange and gold. 

Learn more about the best time to do a walking holiday in New Zealand

Most of our New Zealand walking adventures include overnight stays at comfy lodges and hotels so you'll still have most of your creature comforts. What to pack depends on how difficult the walks you'll be doing are but generally you'll want to bring the following items:

  • Small day bag 
  • Comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots
  • Hiking socks
  • Sunhat 
  • Sunscreen 
  • Walking poles
  • Reusable drink bottle 
  • Camera
  • Lightweight rain jacket 

Check out our New Zealand packing guide

The main international airports in New Zealand are Christchurch and Queenstown on the South Island, and Auckland on the North Island. There are daily flights between different North and South Island domestic airports, as well as a daily ferry service between Wellington on the North Island and Picton on the South Island which takes around three-and-a-half hours.  

Internet access is widely available in most parts of New Zealand, with internet cafes and Wi-Fi hot spots commonly found in urban areas. Access to Wi-Fi and mobile phone data may be limited or patchy when you're out on the hiking trails in more remote areas, but it should work whenever you reach a town or village. 

Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to our Travel Insurance hub.

Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. However, we’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.

Learn more about Accessible Travel with Intrepid

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