Best Day Hikes in New Zealand
New Zealand's landscapes are awe-inspiring and, in our view, best seen on foot. From volcanic landscapes to lush coastal forests and alpine views, here's our pick of New Zealand's best day hikes.
By Walk into Luxury
Known for its Great Walks, New Zealand is full of world-class hiking trails. For the experience-seeker, the iconic landscapes of New Zealand are best explored on foot. If you don’t have time to tackle a multi-day Great Walk of New Zealand, many of the featured wilderness areas can be explored on a day hike if you know where to go.
Here are our tips for incorporating a day hike into your New Zealand adventure.
Hike the Routeburn Track through beech forest, along alpine rivers and through meadows, until you reach the Routeburn Falls; from here that you'll enjoy views over the entire Routeburn Valley. This spectacular Routeburn track day hike is around 8.8 km each way, with the trailhead located about 1 hour drive from Queenstown. The walk features a series of suspension “swing” bridges which, together with the glacier fed crystal-clear rivers, make the water crossings extra special. This is truly one of the best day hikes on New Zealand's South Island.
This Milford Sound day hike covers one of the most beautiful sections of the famous Milford Track as you explore Fiordland’s pristine rainforest and rivers. This day hike on the Milford Track starts with a boat transfer to Sandfly Point, and the walk to the mighty Giant's Gate Waterfall which descends 30 metres. The 11 km return walk follows the picturesque Arthur River and Lake Ada until you reach the swing bridge offering front-row views to the waterfall.
Walk into Luxury’s Milford Track Guided Walk to Giants Gate Waterfall is part of our signature Blanket Bay Walk.
Widely considered one of the best day hikes in New Zealand, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a uniquely memorable full-day walk offering a chance to explore a volcanic alpine landscape. This 19.4 km day hike is day one of the 4-day Tongariro Northern Circuit, one of the Great Walks of New Zealand. Highlights on this full day hike include the South Crater, Red Crater (the highest point of the trail) and the stunning Emerald Lakes.
Walk into Luxury offers a Private Guided Tongariro Alpine Crossing Walk departing from Taupo, which can be tailored to suit fitness levels with alternate walks within Tongariro National Park included.
Hike the first 15 km of the idyllic Queen Charlotte Track with unsurpassed views of the Queen Charlotte Sound on one of the best day hikes in New Zealand. Arrive by boat at Ship Cove after a cruise north from Picton through Queen Charlotte Sound and begin the invigorating climb through native forest towards Tawa Saddle. Impressive views are your reward at the top which you'll enjoy for the rest of your walk as you descend the Queen Charlotte Track into Resolution Bay and Endeavour Inlet. A return boat transfer is available from Furneaux Lodge, where you can enjoy a post-walk refreshment while you wait.
This section of the Queen Charlotte Track is featured in Walk into Luxury’s 4 Day Queen Charlotte Luxury Walk, which isbased out of Bay of Many Coves Lodge located mid-way along the Queen Charlotte Track
The Kepler Track is one of the Great Walks of New Zealand, known for its stunning alpine ridgeline views and lush beech forests. If you’re looking for the best day hike option on the Kepler Track, a heli-hike experience is a great way to go. Departing from Te Anau or Fiordland Lodge - two hours south of Queenstown - your helicopter flight will take you over breath-taking alpine fields and mountains before you land above an an alpine lake. Hike down the mountain with your local guide and arrive at the shores of the lake for your cruise back to Te Anau.
Cape Brett Track, Bay of Islands: Deepwater Cove to Cape Brett Lighthouse
This Bay of Islands day hike is a challenging 9 km out and back trail with undulating terrain for most of the track and several steep sections. Whilst not for the faint hearted, the panoramic coastal views and the ever-growing presence of Cape Brett Lighthouse make this day hike well-worth the effort. This section of the Cape Brett Track is only part of the much longer 30 km trail but is one of the most beautiful parts for those with limited time. Take a water taxi from Oke Bay or Russell/Paihia out to Deep Water Cove and begin your hike up to the Cape Brett Lighthouse. Have a break and some lunch at the lighthouse and then return to Deep Cove for a swim or rest on the beach before returning to your starting point by water taxi.
Abel Tasman Coastal Track: Awaroa Bay to Torrent Bay Day Hike
One of the prettiest sections of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track is the 15.7 km (6-8 hour) one-way hike from Awaroa Bay to Torrent Bay. Take a water taxi from Kaiteriteri Beach to Awaroa Bay and pop into Awaroa Lodge for a coffee and snack before following the signs to the trail. There are plenty of golden sandy beaches on this walk which means lots of opportunities to take a dip in the ocean along the way. Highlights include lush coastal forest, stunning views over Frenchman's Bay and Torrent Bay and a 47 metre long suspension bridge crossing a beautiful inlet. From Torrent Bay you return to Kaiteriteri by water taxi.