Walking and Hiking in New Zealand

Campervan journeys plus walking and hiking in New Zealand couldn't be better matched. With spectacular scenery and beautiful bush extending as far as the eye can see, walking shoes should definitely make it to the top of your list of things to bring.

Every year, hundreds of Kiwis head into the wilderness and surround themselves with wonderful plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth. Home to giant wetas, tree ferns, unusual waterfalls, kauri trees, natural geothermal springs and unseen species of flora and fauna, New Zealand bush offers you something special. Whether you like awe-inspiring beaches or, cicadas chirping alongside singing native birds, walking in New Zealand will definitely make you smile.

Here are some of our favourite walks in New Zealand’s luscious bush, barren mountains and rugged coastlines:
  • Te Werahi Track

    Te Werahi Track

    Undoubtedly the best day walk in the Far North, this loop track takes you to two golden sands beaches that you are likely to have to yourself, a dune crossing, and a dip in the stream plus an optional leg out to Cap Maria Van Diemen's Lighthouse. The views across the tip of New Zealand are breathtaking.

  • The Pinnacles

    The Pinnacles

    A serious day adventure for those who are willing to climb for magnificient views. You will follow the historic pack horse route used by bushmen in the early 1900s. The few hundred steps were cut into rock to make the journey easier for the horses. You can do the hike in a day or stay overnight in the back country hut (well worth it if time allows).

  • Rainbow Mountain

    Rainbow Mountain

    This track is in the middle of the geothermal wonderland so you can get up close to crater lakes and steaming pools as well as take in sweeping views of at least eight lakes. If the weather conspires against your plans to do the Tongariro Crossing, head to Rainbow Mountain for a taster.

Keeping safe

Our unpredictable climate can quickly turn from scorching heat to torrential rain and plummeting temperatures which makes any adventure a challenge. Make sure you think about this before you arrive and pack your bags accordingly.

You should approach all natural areas with a certain degree of caution - chances are they will be slippery or uneven. Always check for local information and prepare for changeable conditions. Take care not to trample sensitive areas such as moss-covered rock or sand dune vegetation and restrain yourself from driving the campervan after a long hike - you will be tired.

Always tell someone where you are going and sign the intentions book at the Department of Conservation (DOC) Visitor Centre or hut. Make sure you stick to the main tracks and don't use out of date maps - we want to see you again! Before going hiking, read the DOC safety guide.

Essential items to take walking

  • Footwear - Sturdy but comfortable shoes or boots and good quality hiking socks
  • Clothes – Layers are best. Light base layer in the summer plus warm top and light raincoat. Choose quick dry fabrics rather than cotton. A polypro base layer and woollen or fleece top layer plus raincoat in winter.
  • Togs (cossie or swim suit) and light towel if you are planning to pass waterfalls or swimming holes
  • Sun hat plus warm hat or beanie in cooler weather
  • SPF 30+ sunscreen and insect repellent
  • First aid kit
  • Pocket knife and matches
  • Snacks and lots of water
  • Trail maps
  • Camera
  • A flashlight and survival blanket are recommended on longer walks

If you don't want to bring all your hiking gear with you, you can find all that you need here. The Kiwi Camping Co offers a full range of camping equipment including sleeping bags and packs.

National Parks

If it wasn't for the Department of Conservation and its wonderful volunteers, the great outdoors wouldn't be as accessible or as beautiful as it is today. Nearly one third of our land is protected by the Department of Conservation.

There are 14 national parks, hundreds of native animals and more than five million hectares of land cared for in forest parks and reserves. All the parks embody an incredible variety of landscape and vegetation for such a small country. The far north boasts subtropical rainforest and magnificent kauri trees, while the central North Island has dense conifer forest, fast flowing rivers and volcanic landforms.

The northern part of the South Island shares its many historic trails over bush-clad mountains, alongside alpine herb fields, glistening lakes, and hot springs. Deep in the south you will find barren tussock lands, rock formations, gold mining sites, snow covered slopes in winter and plentiful beech forests both inland and on the coast.

The beauty of a campervan holiday is that you can experience it all - at your own leisure. There are places to camp next to the entrance of many walks and hikes and the government have set aside camping areas on conservation land for you to do so. If you plan to go on longer hikes, make sure you book huts in advance as walking is popular among the locals.

Guided walking

Guided walking lets you experience a track with a trained guide who has an intimate knowledge of the walking track, the region, history and wildlife. The guiding company will look after you - operators provide all meals and they will arrange accommodation for you if need be.