5 New Zealand bucket list walks

Trekking above Marlborough Sounds | Ross Daubney
Trekking above Marlborough Sounds | Ross Daubney

5 New Zealand Bucket List Walks

Perhaps you’re looking to escape to the wilderness for a holiday? Or maybe you’re seeking a life changing, personal journey. Either way there’s plenty of Bucket List walks in Aotearoa. Whether you want multi-day treks or shorter local hikes, you’ll encounter awe-inspiring landscapes on premier walking tracks.

Magical native forests, lakes, rivers, rugged mountain peaks, deep gorges and vast valleys place you in the very heart of Lord of the Rings landscapes. Most of the tracks are well formed, easy to follow, and are accessible from major towns with excellent accommodation and transport.

Here’s 5 of our favourite New Zealand Walks for you to knock off your list.


The Abel Tasman Coast Track

The Abel Tasman Coast Track is located in the Abel Tasman National Park in the top of the South Island. With its temperate climate, golden beaches and lush coastal native bush, this spectacularly beautiful location resembles a tropical paradise.

The 60km track takes 3-5 days to walk and is graded Easy - Intermediate. You can walk it in either direction, take a water taxi, or kayak between Bays. The walk is not a circuit track, so transport needs to be organised. Campsites along the track must also be booked in advance.

 
Kaiteriteri Beach |  <i>Mikey Owens</i>
 

With so much on offer in the Park, it’s a must to stay a few extra days either before or after your walk. Explore the crystal clear bays with their impressive rock formations and wildlife, and the vibrant city of Nelson is just a short 40 minute drive away.

Explore this trail on our Queen Charlotte and Abel Tasman Hike or Nelson Bike Hike and Sail.


Queen Charlotte Track

The iconic Queen Charlotte Track is located in Marlborough, 60 minutes from Picton in the top of the South Island. Known for its stunning coastline and native bush, the track offers panoramic ocean views and encounters with Weka, Fantail, Wood Pigeon and seals.

The 70km track takes 3-5 days to walk and is graded Easy - Intermediate. The track stretches from historic Ship Cove to Anakiwa in the Queen Charlotte Sound. Offering a rich history, incredible scenery and the freedom to walk without heavy packs with a network of water taxi transfers available.

 
Enjoy wonderful views of Marlborough Sound from the Queen Charlotte Track |  <i>Ross Daubney</i>

As well as backpackers, campsites and holiday houses, visitors can opt for a little luxury. With water’s edge resorts and lodges you can make the most of discovering the beautiful historic bays in extra comfort.

Explore this trail on our Queen Charlotte and Abel Tasman Hike.


Kepler Track

Unlike many other multi-day walks, the Kepler Track was custom built for pleasure, rather than necessity. This jaw dropping track showcases the very best features Fiordland has to offer. Huge mountains, native forest, cascading waterfalls and glacier-carved valleys.

The 60km track takes 4 days to walk and is graded Intermediate. Vast tussock-covered ridge-lines and spectacular alpine vistas contrast with lakeside moss-draped beech forest in this wilderness adventure. The best time to walk is late October to late April.

 
Southern Beach Forest track, Kepler Track
 

There are three huts and two campsites provided by the Department of Conservation (DOC) at points along the track. Manapouri and Te Anau are handy entry/exit points for the Track. Both towns have great restaurants, quality accommodation and quintessential alpine lake scenery.

Explore this trail on our Fiordland Hollyford and Stewart Island Trails.


Hollyford Track

Hollyford Valley has extensive vegetation, native birdlife and a variety of stunning vistas. Beginning among the sheer rock walls of the Darran Mountains in Fiordland National Park, the track follows the Hollyford River/Whakatipu Kā Tuka to Martins Bay, on to the wild West Coast.

The 56km track takes 4-5 days to walk and is graded Advanced. With no alpine sections the track is rarely cut off by snow, allowing for all season walking. For families, or those wanting just a taste of the track, the first section offers a great overnight option.

 
Crossing a swing bridge on the Hollyford Track |  <i>David Pittuck</i>
 

The Track has excellent huts and a good track, but is a backcountry experience in Fiordland National Park. On the West Coast you may encounter fur seals, penguins, herons, and occasionally dolphins. Other possible local activities include climbing, trout fishing, deer hunting and kayaking.

Explore this trail on our Fiordland, Hollyford and Stewart Island Trails.


Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track

This track is renowned for epic adventuring, with a true Kiwi blend of nature and heritage. Traversing some of New Zealand’s wildest landscapes, the walk passes through Fiordland National Park, ancient regenerating forest, Maori land and deserted coastlines.

The 61km Loop track takes 3 days to walk and is graded Intermediate. The track requires a good level of fitness, with long walking days and some steep and rugged sections. Two private backcountry lodges are available on the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track.

 
Views towards the Southern Alps on the Hump Ridge track

The highlight is the loop track at the top of the Hump Ridge range, winding around soaring limestone tors, offering panoramic views of south-west Fiordland, the Southern Ocean, and Stewart Island.

Explore this trail on the Tuatapere and Hump Ridge Track trip.



Choosing the right hike can separate the extraordinary from the everyday tourist experience. Adventure South has unrivalled knowledge and offers highlights of all of the above walks. Get in touch with us and benefit from our experience. We’ll help you choose the right Track option, so you can join one of our walking trips that is sure to challenge and delight.

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