Here we’d like to tell you about some of our favourite New Zealand trails. Nearly 30% of New Zealand’s land mass is in public ownership with some level of environmental protection, including 12 National Parks covering more than 30,000 square kilometres. Criss crossing these protected areas are wonderful single and multi-day hiking trails catering to all ability levels. Whilst New Zealand’s hiking trails have been world-renowned for decades, there are emerging biking trails now, offering cyclists the chance to tour New Zealand 100% off-road.
New Zealand Biking Trails – Freshly Built:
West Coast Wilderness Trail
This trail has it all, ancient rainforest, glacial rivers, reflective lakes and vibrant wetlands. The full trail starts in Greymouth on the West Coast of the South Island and finishes in Ross further down the coast (but with a significant detour inland). It’s possible to do the trail in stages, so for example on our ‘Weka’ trip, we start in Kumara and head inland past the Kapitea Reservoir towards the Southern Alps before descending back down to a replica wild west town called Cowboy Paradise.
Alps 2 Ocean Trail
This is another fantastic ride that features as part of our New Zealand Biking and Hiking Adventure ‘Weka’ trip. The full trail is 301 kilometres from Aoraki Mt Cook to Oamaru, but again it’s easy to do this in stages, with most people typically taking 4-6 days to complete. There are loads of highlights including shimmering milky blue lakes and golden tussock landscapes (as pictured below), Maori rock art, clay cliffs, vineyards, blue penguins and more.
Old Ghost Trail
One of the newest tracks to open, the Old Ghost Trail is 80 km and takes 2-3 days to complete. It definitely offers more of a challenge, but if you’re confident with single track you’ll have no problems and you’ll be able to enjoy the constantly changing environment. There’s plenty of heritage with this trail following a long-forgotten gold miners’ road connecting the Upper Buller Gorge with the raging Mokihinui River to the north.
Twin Coast Cycle Trail
This trail, in the Far North of New Zealand, connects the East and West coasts. There’s a lot of great history to learn, as the track tells the story of an emerging nation, capturing the heritage of both Māori and pioneer settlers. You’ll cycle (or walk) across unspoilt private land – through old railway tunnels, over bridges, around lakes and rivers, and through historic towns. This ride is great for all abilities!
New Zealand Hiking Trails – Local’s Picks:
Sam Summers Track
Now we’re a bit biased on this one as it’s in our backyard. The Active Adventures HQ is of course in Queenstown and this wonderful Sam Summers loop track is just out of town on the way to Glenorchy. You’ll find yourself in beautiful old beech forest making your way up towards Sam Summers’ hut, an old stone shack loaded with character. On the return section of the track you’ll be rewarded with views down to Lake Wakatipu and across to Walter Peak Station (where the Earnslaw steam ship travels each day).
The hike to Lake Crucible and really the entire experience from Makarora is very special. On our Active ‘Tui‘ trip we take a small fixed wing plane into the Siberia Valley and land near the Siberia Hut, a beautiful backcountry hut nestled near the beech forest. The hike up to Lake Crucible the next day is not for the faint hearted, it’s a challenge, but the views are just awesome. This is a true wilderness area. The next day you’ll take a jetboat down the Wilkin River and back to Makarora, capping off a memorable few days.
The Copland Track is one of those fantastic hiking trails that’s managed to escape the international limelight and is largely only known to New Zealanders. It probably deserves the status of ‘Great Walk’, like the Milford and Routeburn tracks, but for now it remains relatively quiet – perfect when you want to stretch out in the thermal hot pools at the end of a great hike! You can read more about the natural hot springs here.
Inland Pack Track
This great New Zealand trail has a lot of heritage, as it was originally built way back in 1867 during the gold rush. The track is now protected within New Zealand’s newest National Park, Paparoa NP. This area is rich with vegetation and stunning limestone cliffs, making you feel as if you’re walking through a jurassic landscape. It’s also worth checking out the pancake rocks and blowholes in Punakaiki.
So there you have it. There are some amazing New Zealand trails to discover and we’ve only touched the surface here! What do you think, is there a bike ride or hike you’d like us to cover? Feel free to comment below.
Our Awesome Tui trip with Active Adventures
“We spent seven amazing days with the most hard working and attentive guides we have ever had on an adventure trip. We were looked after every step of the way and shown the best of what the South Island of New Zealand has to offer. When there were times I felt challenged such as crossing the ice cold rivers, but Katie, our guide, always showed patience and encouragement. The food, when prepared by our guides was delicious and healthy. A million thanks and gratitude to both Katie and Laura for giving us a wonderful vacation and to the rest of our group with whom we experienced this adventure together!” Dominique Parsons – Texas, United States