New Zealand is truly a hiker’s paradise. No matter whether you are in the North or South Island, the trails to choose from are so numerous that you basically could do a different hike every day for a long time. However, most of us are limited on time so we made a small overview of our favorite day hikes.
Key Summit (South Island – Fiordland)
This beautiful day hike starts as part of the popular Routeburn Track. The Routeburn and the Milford Track are part of the Great Walks and very popular. For us, the problem was that they’re not loops so you have to organize your transport and we found only options that were ridiculously expensive and out of our budget. So we decided to do the 3 hours up and 2 hours down Key Summit track. It was absolutely beautiful, the first part leads through a lush forest before it turns into an Alpine hike on the top with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains.
Roys Peak (South Island – Otago)
Start early in the morning or do this hike in the night to enjoy the sunrise from the top. If you are in regular shape you will need about three hours to make the – very steep – hike up. The view is amazing all along the way, however, there is no shade so if it’s a sunny day you will need to bring a lot of water and be prepared to hike up in the heat. It’s worth the effort when you enjoy the view from the top over Lake Wanaka and the surrounding mountains.
Archer Track (South Island – Marlborough)
Still a hidden gem in the North part of the South Island. Where most tourists choose the Queen Charlotte Trail or the Nydia Track, this hike is popular amongst the locals. So when you go during the week you’ll have the trail pretty much to yourself. Start from Penzance Bay and follow the track along the Tennyson Inlet and enjoy the view over the water basically the whole way. The trail ends at Elaine Bay where you will find a cheap campsite next to the water. Here you can have a dip from the jetty and spend the night before heading back the next day.
Tongariro Crossing (North Island – Manawatu-Wanganui)
One of the most popular day hikes known for being the location of Mt. Doom from the Lord of the Rings movies. This 19 km track is so known for a reason, the landscape is absolutely breathtaking. You will walk through the volcanic landscape, hike up to massive craters, pass several lakes including the famous Emerald Lakes and then back down with beautiful views of the distant Lake Taupo.
Mount Maunganui (North Island – Tauranga)
This short walk on the coast of the Bay of Plenty is very popular amongst tourists and locals. It will only take you about 30 minutes to get up, but there are some steep parts so don’t underestimate the hike. From the top, you can enjoy the view of the coastline, the surfers in the water and Matakana Island on the other side.