The LFTO guide to New Zealand

Aotearoa, the Maori name for New Zealand meaning ‘land of the long white cloud’, is almost as enchanting as the place itself...

When to go...
The Best Walks...
Best locations...
Must do...
Talk NZ in our Travel Advice forum

Introduction

Ask any well-travelled walker to list their top walking destinations, and it’s a safe bet that New Zealand will rank among them. There’s good reason: Down Under, tramping (that’s hiking to you) is a way of life. There’s so much to do, and once you leave the beaten track there is no busy season. Let’s face it, the population level is so low that there are plenty of places with no people at all.

Apart from the famous Kiwi welcome, one of the best things about New Zealand is the choice. You can spend hours, days or weeks walking along sandy beaches, through volcanic moonscapes, among dense native bush, across alpine passes. You can be guided, independent, lightweight or under full camping load.

This skinny country is bigger than you think, so be generous with that holiday ration. Allow for the vagaries of weather, for being side-tracked into people’s lives, for exploring unconsidered corners of this Pacific jewel. Take your time, feel at home and remember: you’ll be right, mate.

Mount Cook


When to go...
The Best Walks...
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Must do...
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When to go

June-September: This is the New Zealand winter, and those looking for serious skiing or stunning, rough winter mountaineering won’t be disappointed by the snow on the Alpine peaks of South Island during these months.

October – May: the mountains are less hostile (though still of summer Alpine-level snow cover) and the pleasant climate is never  unbearable, though December – January is the local vacation season and is best avoided.

Beach Camping... ahhh....

When to go...
The Best Walks...
Best locations...
Must do...
Talk NZ in our Travel Advice forum

Best locations for special interests

Novice walk: Banks Peninsula

New Zealand’s first privately-owned track, this is a four-day romp around the Banks Peninsula coastline. Huts are quirky (outdoor hot tubs!), fresh food is available and booking is essential.

www.bankstrack.co.nz

Family walk: Lake Waikaremoana

A popular track in central North Island, this easy, four-day tramp follows the undulating shoreline of beautiful Lake Waikaremoana. Guidebook: Tramping in New Zealand, Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com), www.doc.govt.nz/greatwalks

Snow and ice: Aspiring

A serious undertaking for alpinists, Mt Aspiring (3027m) involves a three-day walk-in through rain forest followed by a technical ascent via a crevassed glacier.

Guidebook: The Mt Aspiring Region by Graham Bishop (pub: New Zealand Alpine Club)

Multi-activity: Queenstown

Queenstown is the adrenaline centre of New Zealand. Pump up with white water rafting, bungee jumping, skiing, tandem parachuting... the Milford and Routeburn Tracks kick off from here, while Ben Lomond (1748m) makes for a hefty day-walk. www.queenstown-nz.co.nz

Wild camping: Nelson Lakes

The Nelson Lakes National Park is where Kiwis escape the crowds. It’s riddled with tracks, huts and superb wild camping: soft grass, plenty of water, no neighbours. Try the six-day Travers-Sabine circuit or the three-day route over Mt Cedric.

Guidebook: Tramping in New Zealand (Lonely Planet, www.lonelyplanet.com)

More…

Diving: Pahia, Bay of Islands

Mountain biking: Wellington, Auckland, Rotorua, Hanmer

Canoeing/tubing: Whanganui River, Waiohine River

Sea kayaking: Marlborough Sound, Stewart Island, Fiordland, Great Barrier Island

White water rafting: Buller River, Shotover River

Whale watching, dolphin and seal swimming: Kaikoura

Caving: Waitomo

Rock-climbing: Wanaka, Mt Eden

Parapenting: Port Hills (Christchurch), Te Mata Peak (Hastings, Hawkes

Bay)

Ski touring: Mt Cook, Mt Ruapehu

Bungey jumping: Queenstown, Taupo

When to go...
The Best Walks...
Best locations...
Must do...
Talk NZ in our Travel Advice forum

Best locations for special interests

Novice walk: Banks Peninsula

New Zealand’s first privately-owned track, this is a four-day romp around the Banks Peninsula coastline. Huts are quirky (outdoor hot tubs!), fresh food is available and booking is essential.

www.bankstrack.co.nz

Family walk: Lake Waikaremoana

A popular track in central North Island, this easy, four-day tramp follows the undulating shoreline of beautiful Lake Waikaremoana. Guidebook: Tramping in New Zealand, Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com), www.doc.govt.nz/greatwalks

Snow and ice: Aspiring

A serious undertaking for alpinists, Mt Aspiring (3027m) involves a three-day walk-in through rain forest followed by a technical ascent via a crevassed glacier.

Guidebook: The Mt Aspiring Region by Graham Bishop (pub: New Zealand Alpine Club)

Multi-activity: Queenstown

Queenstown is the adrenaline centre of New Zealand. Pump up with white water rafting, bungee jumping, skiing, tandem parachuting... the Milford and Routeburn Tracks kick off from here, while Ben Lomond (1748m) makes for a hefty day-walk. www.queenstown-nz.co.nz

Wild camping: Nelson Lakes

The Nelson Lakes National Park is where Kiwis escape the crowds. It’s riddled with tracks, huts and superb wild camping: soft grass, plenty of water, no neighbours. Try the six-day Travers-Sabine circuit or the three-day route over Mt Cedric.

Guidebook: Tramping in New Zealand (Lonely Planet, www.lonelyplanet.com)

More…

Diving: Pahia, Bay of Islands

Mountain biking: Wellington, Auckland, Rotorua, Hanmer

Canoeing/tubing: Whanganui River, Waiohine River

Sea kayaking: Marlborough Sound, Stewart Island, Fiordland, Great Barrier Island

White water rafting: Buller River, Shotover River

Whale watching, dolphin and seal swimming: Kaikoura

Caving: Waitomo

Rock-climbing: Wanaka, Mt Eden

Parapenting: Port Hills (Christchurch), Te Mata Peak (Hastings, Hawkes

Bay)

Ski touring: Mt Cook, Mt Ruapehu

Bungey jumping: Queenstown, Taupo

When to go...
The Best Walks...
Best locations...
Must do...
Talk NZ in our Travel Advice forum

Must do

·      Have a hangi

A traditional Maori meal cooked in the traditional way is an ideal way to touch base with the rich culture of the island. See the method at www.maorifood.com/hangi

·      Visit hot water beach

Dig a sand pit and when the tide is halfway out it will fill with warm spring water and create your own personal spa.

·      Downhill bike Ben Cruachan

Another Scottish transplant, this 2000m monster is home to some amazing singletrack for mountain bikers which – like Ben Nevis – is  accessible from Queenstown.

Visit www.experiencequeenstown.co.nz.

Inside info

The fastest way to get to New Zealand is via Singapore (cheap stopovers are worth a punt), with the option of landing in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch. Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand code-share. To get cheap air fares in December or January, book as early as May. October, November or February, March are the best times to visit, as New Zealand school holidays run through December and January.

The best general guidebooks are Lonely Planet’s New Zealand, and Tramping in New Zealand (www.lonelyplanet.com). For multi-activity info, a must-buy is Classic New Zealand Adventures published in the UK by Compass Star Publications Ltd. It’s written by four wickedly funny Kiwis and covers everything from bizarre sports to a comprehensive club listing.

Accommodation in New Zealand is a breeze. Backpackers hostels are the way to go (290 at last count, www.backpack.co.nz), and you can often find cheap cabins, sometimes quite luxurious, on campsites.

The key to all things Tramping is the Department of Conservation (DOC). Check out their website at www.doc.govt.nz, and their excellent visitor centres which are mainly in national parks. Remember that access is a privilege, not a right, in New Zealand: national parks are fair game but if you have to cross private land for any reason, ask for permission first.

When to go...
The Best Walks...
Best locations...
Must do...
Talk NZ in our Travel Advice forum