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New Zealand's Great Walks

The "Great Walks" are generally regarded as New Zealand's premier multi-day hikes. They have been afforded special status in order to better regulate the numbers of hikers on the trails to enhance the experience of those people, and to eliminate or minimize overcrowding and erosion issues. The number of hikers is regulated by requiring pre-booking of beds in the backcountry huts along these tracks. During the main season, the cost for staying in these huts is considerably higher than for a normal backcountry hut, which helps subsidies the extra management required, but at the same time, the facilities are far better, with solar-powered lighting, gas stoves and flush toilets.

The hiking trails that make up the nine Great Walks in New Zealand:

North Island

  • Lake Waikaremoana Track - one of the more gentle Great Walks, this 46km track circumnavigates the picturesque Lake Waikaremoana over the course of 3 or 4 days, with plenty of opportunities for fishing and swimming.
  • Tongariro Northern Circuit, part of which is the Tongariro Crossing. This 3-4 day track traverses up and around some of the most stunning volcanic scenery that New Zealand has to offer.
  • Whanganui Journey - not strictly a great walk - this is an odd-one-out as it is actually a kayak trip - 145km down the Whanganui River, from Taumarunui to Pipiriki, which takes around 5 days, though it can be turned into a shorter 3-day trip with an exit at Pipiriki. This is an awesome adventure, visiting places only accessible by river, as it was in the early days of exploration and colonization, by both Maori and Europeans.

South Island

  • The Milford Track is the jewel in New Zealand's hiking crown, an extremely popular 4-day track through Fiordland, from Lake Te Anau to the stunning Milford Sound.
  • The Routeburn Track is a 32km, 3-day tramp between Glenorchy and The Divide, crossing through Mt Aspiring and Fiordland National parks.
  • The Kepler Track, at 60km, is possibly the most challenging of the Great Walks, taking 3-4 days to complete. It is also the course for the Kepler Challenge - an 'ultra-marathon' trail running race of the entire track, which takes the winners around 5 hours to complete!
  • The Abel Tasman Coastal Track is one of the most popular tramps for visitors to the country as it runs along the coastline of the sunniest part of the South Island, featuring some stunning beaches of golden sand and crystal-clear water.
  • The Heaphy Track is another hike in the northern South Island and at 79km (4-6 days) is the longest of the Great Walks, with some of the most diverse scenery, from the forests of the Kahurangi National Park to scenic West Coast beaches. It is also unique in that it is open to mountain bikers during the Winter Season.

Stewart Island

  • The Rakiura Track is a 2-3 day, 30-37km track with a great mix of beach and forest scenery.

If these Great Walks sound like your cup of tea then our Manuka trip is the ultimate choice – as part of the two week tour of the South Island, you’re able to customise days seven to eleven. You can either choose to hike the entire Milford Track and then rest the legs with a cruise on Milford Sound or take on our Great Walks Discovery, hiking sections of the Milford, Routeburn and Kepler Tracks before finishing with a wilderness cruise in Doubtful Sound.

Our following New Zealand walking tours take in some of the Great Walks of New Zealand

  • Manuka Milford Hiking Adventure

    • 14 Days
    • US$5,899 + tax

    4.41 out of 5 (from 839 reviews)


    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.

  • Rimu Ultimate South Island Adventure

    • 14 Days
    • US$4,999 + tax

    4.51 out of 5 (from 4618 reviews)


    Nat Geo Logo 2015This 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.

  • Tui Essence of the South Island

    • 8 Days
    • US$3,799 + tax

    4.58 out of 5 (from 1692 reviews)


    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.

  • Kiwi South Island Explorer

    • 14 Days
    • US$5,299 + tax

    4.65 out of 5 (from 195 reviews)


    New to adventure vacations or not quite ready to hang up your hiking boots just yet? On this South Island walking tour you'll experience beautiful, famous and little-known places – taking plenty of time to explore along the way! 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 ‘Kiwi’ suits anyone who enjoys walking and likes to give things a go. The pace is flexible and relaxed with most hikes taking one to three hours to complete on well-formed tracks with some undulations.

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Why travel with Active Adventures?

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