New Zealand is renowned for its stunning hiking trails and treks. From day walks to multi-day treks, there is something here for everyone!
North and South Island hikers alike will find some incredible trails. While some are more challenging than others, some require extra preparation before embarking on your adventure.
1. Mount Cook
Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain, is one of the country’s most beloved hiking destinations. Climbing to its summit may not be easy even for experienced climbers, but what an incredible experience that awaits you at the top!
Mount Cook National Park in New Zealand is a must-visit for anyone traveling there, offering breathtaking views, breathtaking terrain and the chance to view New Zealand’s majestic glaciers. This UNESCO World Heritage site also has plenty of hikes that will keep visitors coming back year after year.
Hiking to the summit of Mount Cook is no small feat; you’ll need to be fit, prepared and have a strong desire to conquer such an alpine peak. But with proper preparation and plenty of patience, you too can conquer this formidable mountain.
The main route up to Mount Cook’s summit is the Linda Glacier route. Climbers take in stunning valleys and traverse over the iconic Linda Glacier on this challenging climb that presents a high level of objective hazard. Even experienced mountaineers may find this ascent quite challenging!
Another popular climb is Sealy Tarns, a steep and switchbacking hike leading to stunning mountain tarns. These vibrant blue pools perch high atop the high alpine plateau will surely capture your attention, plus you’ll get stunning views across Aoraki/Mount Cook, Lake Pukaki and beyond.
If you’re not quite up for the full hike up Mount Cook, why not take a more relaxed approach and explore its base with an easy trail? This short trail winds through lush forest as you take in all of nature’s splendor.
Visitors to Mount Cook should also stop at the iconic Church of the Good Shepard, a must-visit destination. Situated in Lake Tekapo, just two hours away from Mount Cook Village, this picturesque church is an ideal resting spot after a day hiking in the mountains.
2. Mount Aspiring
Mount Aspiring National Park is a vast wilderness area in New Zealand’s North Island, offering stunning views of glaciated peaks, picturesque river valleys and remote wilderness areas that will captivate hikers and mountaineers alike. With its diverse terrain of glaciated peaks, lush river valleys and remote wilderness areas, this region makes Mount Aspiring an ideal destination for nature-lovers to explore.
Te Wahipounamu – Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area includes Te Wahipounamu National Park and boasts one of New Zealand’s highest peaks, Mount Aspiring. This breathtaking backdrop provides plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventurers to enjoy hiking, peakbagging and canyoning activities in stunning beauty.
Mountaineering can be a true test of your skills and stamina, so it’s best to hire a guide for assistance. With ample training, preparation, and experience under your belt, you may just reach the summit!
Mt Aspiring is a well-known climbing destination and one of New Zealand’s most sought after mountains. Often referred to as “The Matterhorn of the South”, this mountain offers numerous challenging routes for climbers to tackle.
Climbing this breathtaking mountain can be done year-round, depending on weather conditions. But before heading out on any hike, be sure to check the forecast first.
Aspiring can be hazardous during winter or spring, so it’s essential to get a weather report from the Department of Conservation before you venture outside. If it’s too cold outside, snow may freeze and become hazardous.
For further details on Mount Aspiring, you can visit the DOC website. There you’ll find detailed info about the mountain and a list of huts to stay at before and after your climb.
At 1780m, the Colin Todd Hut offers breathtaking views of Bonar Glacier. There are 12 bunks available but they fill up quickly – it’s therefore important to arrive early to guarantee yourself a spot in this hut!
Bring a raincoat or warm hat, as well as pack an extra pair of shoes. Additionally, it is wise to apply suncream or insect repellent while on the mountain for added protection.
Along the trail, you’ll come across plenty of stunning native plants such as New Zealand’s iconic keas. These friendly parrots don’t fear humans and make for an impressive sight – who knows, maybe even some glimpses while hiking!
3. Ben Lomond
For an amazing hike that rewards you with breathtaking views, Ben Lomond is the ideal option. It’s simple to get started from your hotel and you can finish the entire trail in just one day without needing transport or hiring a guide!
Hiking to the top of Ben Lomond offers breathtaking views of Queenstown’s picturesque landscape as well as snow-capped mountains that dominate this region. However, be aware that this hike requires a full day’s effort so make sure you are fit and prepared for this challenging adventure!
The route begins from the Ben Lomond Track and climbs through a pine forest before entering an open field of tussock grass. At the saddle point, views of Lake Wakatipu begin to open up as you head towards the summit of Ben Lomond.
After reaching the saddle, it’s time to leave behind the trees and tackle some challenging dirt tracks that are quite uneven. Although this can be challenging at times, soon you’ll be rewarded with some stunning views as you near the summit!
At the summit of Ben Lomond, take some time to admire the view and maybe spot a cheeky Kea or two! If you’re lucky, you might even spot some friendly deer!
It’s essential to be prepared for mountain weather conditions by checking the DOC website. Don’t forget to pack warm clothing, water and sunblock for your safety and comfort when hiking in the mountains.
Once you reach the summit of Mount Aspiring National Park, you will be rewarded with stunning views of its surrounding area and surrounding mountains. This hike is truly one of New Zealand’s most rewarding experiences and one of its most unforgettable hikes.
Queenstown’s signature landmark, Ben Lomond Summit is one of New Zealand’s highest peaks at 1748 meters! A visit to its summit should not be missed by anyone visiting Queenstown and it makes for an excellent day’s hike with stunning views to enjoy.
4. Mount Cook National Park
Mount Cook is one of New Zealand’s highest peaks and situated within Aoraki-Mount Cook National Park – a popular hiking destination due to its breathtaking views and challenging trails.
This park boasts 108 named mountains, most of which rise above 3,000 meters (9,842 feet). Situated on the southern portion of New Zealand’s main island, this range has become a magnet for climbers from around the globe.
If you’re new to New Zealand, Mount Cook is an ideal starting point. Not only is it an incredible hiking destination, but there are also plenty of other activities for families or groups to enjoy as well.
Hiking offers a range of difficulties to suit every ability level, from the most straightforward to the most difficult. Many hikes can be completed within one day while others require longer mountain treks that could take up to eight hours to complete.
My favorite hike in Mount Cook is the Red Tarns Trail. This trail is well-traveled and relatively short with just a few elevation changes that provide stunning views of the mountain peaks.
On this hike you’ll pass through a variety of native vegetation including silver beech/tawai trees. Additionally, this area boasts many wild flowers including the world’s largest buttercup. Plus, look out for fantail and kea birds which are native to this area.
Another great hike in Mount Cook is the Bowen Bush Walk. This trail winds its way through a forest of beech trees with plenty of wildlife to observe. It’s only about 45 minutes long and takes place entirely within one afternoon.
This walk is one of Mount Cook’s most popular and scenic hikes, beginning right from the public shelter or Aoraki/Mt Cook village. This easy-to-access trek provides a wonderful introduction to the park before embarking on longer expeditions.
This hike may be more challenging than others, taking up to 8 hours to complete, but it’s still an amazing way to reach Mount Cook and take in breathtaking views of scenery in the national park. Additionally, families with young children will love this trail since it’s a loop so families can easily do it all at once.