How to Stay Safe While Hiking in New Zealand

hike nz

Safety’s not as hard as you may think – New Zealand has no snakes, pesky poisonous plants or predators out in the wilderness – all you really need to worry about when you’re hiking in New Zealand is staying on the trail. Saying that, hurting yourself, getting lost and getting caught out by the weather can happen, so you still need to take proper safety precautions when hiking, especially if you are going it alone.

Signing In and Out

Before heading out on a significant day hike, or any overnight track, you are required to register your intentionswith the Department of Conservation (DOC). You can usually do this at any of the local DOC offices, in person or over the phone, or in a book provided at the start of the track. Once you have finished the track, you must always remember to sign out again, otherwise a search may be initiated.

Hut Books

In each hut there is a Hut Book, which you should always complete when you visit a hut, even if you aren't staying there overnight, so in case you go missing, there is some recorded proof of where you had been last. The Hutbooks generally make great reading in any case, as there are comments from everyone who has stayed there, often very amusing.

Emergency Beacons

Many of the larger and more popular backcountry hut have resident wardens, who have access to radios in case of emergencies, but this should not be relied on. Emergency beacons are available to hire throughout New Zealand, especially in the more popular hiking destinations, generally at very reasonable rates. In an emergency, you can trigger the emergency beacon and NZ Search and Rescue services will be notified of your whereabouts by satellite and will organise a team to come and provide assistance – usually by helicopter in the first instance, or by motor vehicle and/or foot if conditions are poor. Once triggered, you should stay put and wait for help. However, these should only be used in case of emergency – if you trigger one because you've run out of Snickers bars, or forgot that the final episode of "Grey's Anatomy" was on television and you wanted to catch it, you will likely be charged for the call-out and helicopters are expensive!

Trip Reviews

  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16212 reviews)

    Kiwi

    We had a great time. New Zealand is beautiful and our tour guides, Koru and Jess, showed it to us to perfection. Great hikes, terrific food, wonderful companions and ideal locations.
    Ellen Dole Review Image
    – Colorado, United States
    Kiwi, March 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16212 reviews)

    Amazing Trip

    This trip was amazing - the hikes took us to beautiful vistas, the guides were knowledgeable and fun, and the food was never in short supply ("Food is Fuel!" as one of our guides kept restating).

    Koru and Kim were great guides throughout and everyone had so much fun! I was traveling solo but 2 of the other 4 on my trip were as well, so nobody was ever left out! Having such a small group made the activities much easier to enjoy.

    The hikes, like I mentioned, were truly unbelievable, though somewhat more difficult than I expected. Everything was talked as 'full-on' or by time, but know that NZ hikes are up mountains then back down, so work on hills more than distance before you go! Even some of the small walks we did (Blue Pools, only 5 minutes from the road & the Chasm, 10 minutes from the road) were breathtaking. Kayaking the Milford Sound was another once in a lifetime experience we got to have on this trip.

    The only thing I would have liked (and got jokingly by the end of the trip) were straight communication prior to the hikes about how long they were updates mid-hike about how much longer/further. There was one day with miscommunications leading me to think the hike would be another 3+ hours uphill (nearly inducing panic) but was really only 30 more minutes.

    Overall, I really loved this trip!
    Taylor Ceithaml Review Image
    – California, United States
    Tui, November 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16212 reviews)

    Rimu—Feb., 2018

    Could not have been happier with our guides, their level of preparation/organization and the stunning scenery of the South Island.
    Tom Townes Review Image
    – North Carolina, United States
    Rimu, February 2018
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16212 reviews)

    Southbound Rimu trip

    After being on a Galapagos trip I thought I knew what to expect! Galapagos was amazing too but this trip was an experience in itself!! Every hike was an adventure and the rewards for getting to the top were a treasure to be seen!! A huge thanks to Rachel and Gary for their knowledge and everything they did to make this trip incredible!
    Kathy Lomeli Review Image
    – Indiana, United States
    Rimu, March 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16212 reviews)

    Rimu Was Extraordinary

    We have been dreaming of visiting New Zealand for a long time, we wanted to see and explore all the best sites in an active way, but doing this on our own would have been overwhelming! Active Adventures was the complete answer. They took us to the best places, sites and beautiful landscapes that we could only have dreamed about. Our group was small which allowed us all to bond, our guides Astrid and Steve could not have been better - fun, knowledgeable, organized and excellent cooks. I got the sense they really enjoyed what they do! I would strongly recommend this tour - a trip of a lifetime that words can’t describe - we will never forget it.
    Colleen Clark Review Image
    – Ontario, Canada
    Rimu, February 2018

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