In a country of great walking and hiking trails, some of the best of all are in Fiordland in the South Island, This remote area in the south western corner of the island is largely made up of the Fiordland National Park, one of the largest national parks in the world and the largest in New Zealand.
There are more than 500 kilometers/310 miles of walking tracks in the Fiordland National Park. Although there are numerous shorter walks, the best way to gain an appreciation of the area is on a multi-day hike. These are all well maintained, with huts and other accommodation along the routes for overnight stays.
Here are some of the best walks and hikes in the Fiordland region.
Length: 53.5 kilometers/33.3 miles
Duration: 4 days
This is one of the Nine Great Walks of New Zealand and is rated one of the finest walks in the world. The path is well formed and offers a spectacular variety of scenery and terrain through native beech forests, mountain passes and rivers.
Also See: Guide to the Milford Track
Length: 60 kilometers/37 miles
Duration: 3-4 days
The Kepler Track is another New Zealand Great Walk. Less visited than the Milford Track, it nevertheless offers wonderful scenery. It has the added advantage of being a loop track, starting and finishing in the same place, close to the township of Te Anau.
Hollyford Track: Luxury Tramping in Fiordland
Length: 56 kilometers/34.8 miles
Duration: 4-5 days
This follows the Hollyford River, starting near the road to Milford Sound, and ending on the west coast. Most of the walk is relatively flat (there are no mountain crossings) making it suitable for all fitness levels and good walking at all times of the year.
There is also a 'luxury' guided three- day walk of the Hollyford Track which features cooked meals and comfortable lodge-style accommodation each night - along with jet boat and helicopter rides.
Read: Guide to the Hollyford Track Walk
Length: 39 kilometers/24 miles
Duration: 2-3 days
Another of New Zealand's Nine Great Walks, the Routeburn crosses both the Fiordland National Park and the Mt Aspiring National Park. Both of these parks are part of Te Wahipounamu, one of the three World Heritage areas in New Zealand.
The track crosses scenic and remote alpine areas in the Southern Alps. Guided walks are available that offer private lodges for accommodation. Alternatively, there are a number of public huts.
Length: 84 kilometers/52 miles
Duration: 10 days
This is one of the most demanding hikes in the Fiordland region and should only be attempted by experienced trampers. It covers a route between Lake Hauroko (New Zealand's deepest lake) to the western arm of Lake Manapouri. It can be started from either end and water transport is also required at both start and finish. For those with the time and experience, this is very rewarding, crossing two alpine passes and some rugged and beautiful country.
Walking and Hiking in Fiordland National Park
The walks in Fiordland are justifiably very popular for their unmatched scenery. At certain times they can be relatively crowded so it is recommended to book the huts in advance. Also remember to carry insect repellant with you as the sandflies are legendary in this part of New Zealand.