New Zealand's best 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!
New Zealand Adventure Tours that include a multi-day trek
Rimu Ultimate South Island Adventure
- 14 Days
- US$4,999 + tax
This is our signature adventure and a great, outdoorsy way to see New Zealand. We’ve been fine-tuning this perennial favourite since 1996 and it’s simply an awesome trip. You’ll explore the most beautiful, famous and little-known places in the South Island – up close and personal – with legendary hospitality and our unsurpassed attention to detail. For a great way to see the North Island too, combine this trip with our 11-day 'Kauri' (5-day 'Kauri' options available).
Activity level: The ‘Rimu’ is one of our more adventurous trips, but has options to suit a wide range of ages and outdoor experience. Typically, hikes on the ‘Rimu’ trip range between two and five hours to complete, with longer hikes available on the multi-day option. If you think you’d prefer a more relaxed pace and shorter one to three hour hikes, we recommend checking out our ‘Kiwi’ trip. Please get in touch with us if you’d like to chat about the various options.
Manuka Milford Hiking Adventure
- 14 Days
- US$5,899 + tax
If you wish to concentrate on hiking the iconic tracks of New Zealand and like your creature comforts, we’ve crafted this trip just for you. It has a strong focus on New Zealand’s natural history. Our guides have plenty of time to interpret the flora and fauna and explain the geological and social history of the areas you’ll visit. You also have the choice of a selection of the best day hikes Fiordland National Park has to offer, along with an overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound, or hiking the famous Milford Track in its entirety. The ‘Manuka’ really is hiking New Zealand in style!
Activity level: The 'Manuka' is an active hiking trip, but has options to suit a wide range of fitness levels and outdoor experience. Typically hikes on the 'Manuka' trip range between three and six hours to complete, with longer hikes on the Milford Track Guided Walk option.
Tui Essence of the South Island
- 8 Days
- US$3,799 + tax
This is an action-packed adventure where you’ll explore some of New Zealand’s most iconic and remote wilderness. It works well if your vacation time is limited, since you can fly from North America on a Friday evening, sleep on the plane, and be back at work ten days later to share your photos and stories on Monday morning. For a great way to see the North Island too, combine this trip with our 11-day 'Kauri' (5-day 'Kauri' options available).
Activity level: The ‘Tui’ suits people of a wide range of fitness levels and outdoor experience, particularly if you enjoy a variety of activities. Typically hikes on the ‘Tui’ trip range between two and six hours to complete.
Winter Rimu New Zealand Winter Adventure
- 14 Days
- US$4,399 + tax
May to September is one of the best times to explore New Zealand. Our maritime climate ensures we have relatively mild winters, we’ll almost always have the tracks to ourselves and the snow-capped mountains make an even more dramatic backdrop than in summer – and usually you can get a great deal on flights! Years ago, we adapted our signature Rimu trip to suit the cooler conditions by adding skiing and snowboarding options, along with some of the South Island’s best hikes. This adventure is the perfect excuse to escape the heat!
Activity level: This is one of our more adventurous trips, but has options to suit a range of fitness levels and outdoor experience. Typically hikes on the ‘Winter Rimu’ range between three and six hours to complete, with a longer more challenging hike on the Copland Track.
Kea New Zealand Family Adventure
- 13 Days
- Adult: US$4,399 + tax, Child (15 & under): US$3,599 + tax
Let us take care of every detail so that you and your family can enjoy exploring New Zealand’s iconic places on a fun outdoorsy adventure. The ‘Kea’ is the perfect opportunity for everyone in the family to try some new activities together while our guides encourage, entertain, serve up delicious meals and ensure you make the most of your precious vacation time. You’ll be amazed how much everyone learns along the way and our guides will have you laughing as much as the kids! For a great way to see the North Island too, combine this trip with our 11-day 'Kauri' (5-day 'Kauri' options available).
Activity level: This trip has been designed to be fun and gently challenging for the young, and the young at heart. The pace is flexible and most hikes range between two and four hours to complete.