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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 4979 reviews)

Trip of a Lifetime!

I am still basking in the glow from this remarkable trip! I admit that I was a bit nervous at first as I was the oldest person in our group and not as fit (for hiking) as some in the group, so I worried about 'keeping up' on the hikes - especially the steeper climbs. Ben and Lauren were very reassuring and encouraging and I felt that I was able to 'hold my own'. In fact, while the hiking was probably the most challenging I've done in at least 7 years, it was the most rewarding/exhilarating part for me. I loved our group - a very positive, health-conscious and fun group of people from all walks of life. It was also wonderful that we were only 12 people - it helped to create a much more intimate and personal atmosphere. I felt we bonded together well - again, thanks to Ben and Lauren's great skills with ice-breaking, fun games, and ability to set and maintain a positive atmosphere from the beginning.
From the moment we set off from the airport to the emotional farewells back at the airport at the end of the trip, this was a top notch adventure. Our transportation was comfortable, our accommodations were always different and unique and very comfortable - I loved that they weren't all in your standard hotel and that some of them were really off the beaten track. The food was amazing - from the snack basket in the van, loaded fresh every day with fruit and other snacks, to the amazing meals that Lauren and Ben created and the breakfasts and dinners that we had at various restaurants - there was a lot of variety, special dietary considerations were accounted for and there was lots of it!
I did the kayak option and it was outstanding. The B&B and our hosts were wonderful (the hot tub at the end of the day was most appealing!) and our kayak guide, Nick was terrific - very accommodating, skilled and he made it all very interesting and fun!
I cannot say enough about our incredible guides - Ben and Lauren - they truly moved the bar for me from a great trip to one that will go down in history for me as the trip of a lifetime. They were so knowledgeable about the island - I loved listening to the legends/folklore and learning more about the vegetation, birds, etc. Ben was a terrific driver - I always felt safe. Lauren was terrific with her cooking and meal presentations - meals looked fantastic and tasted even better! Both Ben and Lauren added those special touches from decorating the bus for the Christmas season, organizing our Secret Santa, making a fantastic Christmas morning breakfast, complete with Christmas crackers and special hats, managing extra logistics like re-booking the paragliding for us, setting up the helicopter tour, taking the time and effort to help reconnect people with items they had left behind either in our accommodations or on a hike/kayak. They even had the perfect music for when we went through the Homer Tunnel and down into Milford Sound - the combination of the music and the scenery was so moving it had several of us in tears! They really ensured that they got to know each person and took a genuine interest in each person. Their positive energy and enthusiasm was infectious. They took kindness and customer service to a new level! The scenery was breathtaking everywhere we went. It would be hard for me to say what the favourite part was or favourite view as the South Island is simply spectacular. I felt that the trip was organized in such a way that I really got a good feel and appreciation for the South Island. Truly New Zealand is one of the most beautiful places (both 'inside and out') that I have ever visited (and I've visited over 20 other countries around the world). I really loved the more laid-back way of life and the local people we met were so welcoming and kind. I would love to come back again and see the North Island but also re-visit the South Island!
I highly recommend this trip and have already suggested it to a number of my friends. It really was transformational for me on so many levels! My heartfelt thanks to Ben and Lauren and everyone at Active Adventures!
Sue Hazell Review Image
– Ontario, Canada
Rimu, January 2018
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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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