Best treks in New Zealand: multi-day hikes
Trekking in New Zealand, multi-day hiking or backpacking trips into the backcountry, is commonly known as tramping. For keen hikers, there are all kinds of opportunities for trekking in New Zealand – be it on a fully-guided trek, or by carrying your own backpack and staying in the Department of Conservation (DOC) huts or in tents. The length of the treks available varies from just overnight or up to seven nights and many of the treks are close enough to string together into a much longer hiking trip. Remember though, unlike treks elsewhere in the world, when in New Zealand’s National Parks, there are no hostels, refuges, tea houses or shops along the way, so you have to carry all you need for the duration of the trek (unless you opt for one of the few, and more expensive 'Guided Walks' - see below).
The New Zealand Great Walks are our nine most popular and well-known multi-day hikes – including the Milford Track – each worthy of the title. Access to these trails is strictly regulated during peak season, with limited spaces in each of the huts which need to be booked in advance.
Trekking and guided walks
The concept of trekking as seen in destinations like the Himalayas doesn't totally apply to New Zealand. Nowhere in New Zealand do you have the option of hiring porters to carry your gear, and there are no tea houses to book into overnight to avoid carrying sleeping bags, tents and stoves. The closest match to trekking as experienced overseas are probably the guided walks – companies running fully-guided hikes along some of the Great Walks (Milford and Routeburn Tracks), and other Department of Conservation and private tracks (Hollyford, Hump Ridge and Banks Peninsula Tracks). These companies have their own private huts, with much better facilities – proper beds, hot showers, and cooked three course meals – though of course you have to pay for the privilege of these home comforts – currently over NZ$2000 for the 5-day Milford Track. The advantage is of course that you need only carry essentials with you in a day-pack, so they are a lot less daunting than a self-guided trek.
Popular New Zealand treks
Apart from the well-established multi-day treks above, a few of which can be experienced as a guided trip, the majority of treks in New Zealand are self-guided missions, staying in backcountry huts or camping in tents overnight. Here is a selection of them - which will grow as we keep writing up more of our favourite tramps!