Nine Great Walks of New Zealand

Amongst the virtually endless array of walking and hiking tracks in New Zealand, nine have been singled out as being truly special. Designated the nine Great Walks by the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC), they have been recognized for the exceptional beauty of the terrain they pass through.

The tracks of the Nine Walks are kept in top condition to allow walkers to enjoy them to the maximum. All but one are multi-day walks. Three are in the North Island, five are in the South Island and one is on Stewart Island.

All of the walks are located in New Zealand's national parks or reserves, which make up a third of the country. Some have restrictions on numbers and most require booking for the huts which serve as overnight accommodation. The most popular walks (such as the Milford Track) are usually fully booked throughout the summer so it pays to book as far ahead as possible.

For information on bookings for the Great Walks, visit the Department of Conservation (DOC) website here.

Here are the Nine Great Walks of New Zealand, in approximate geographical order from north to south.

  • 01 of 09

    Tongariro Northern Circuit

    Tongariro National Park
    Frans Lemmens/The Image Bank/Getty Images

    Location: Tongariro National Park, North Island
    Distance: 43.1 kilometers/26.8 miles

    Duration: 3-4 days

    A spectacular walk around the active volcanoes of Ngauruhoe and Tongariro in the central North Island, this features glacier-worn valleys and volcanic craters and lakes in an alpine setting.

    Also, nearby is the very popular day walk, the Tongariro Crossing.

  • 02 of 09

    Lake Waikaremoana Track

    Lake Waikaremoana
    Image Courtesy of Tourism Eastland Inc

    Location: Te Urewera National Park, North Island
    Distance: 46 kilometers/28.6 miles

    Duration: 3-4 days

    This walk follows the shoreline of Lake Waikaremoana in the remote eastern part of the central North Island. It passes through some rugged areas of forests, rivers, and streams.

  • 03 of 09

    Whanganui Journey

    Location: Whanganui National Park, North Island
    Distance: 145 kilometers/90 miles

    Duration: 5 days

    Although one of the great "walks", this is, in fact, a journey by canoe or kayak down the Whanganui River. It is situated in the south west of the North Island.


  • 04 of 09

    Abel Tasman Coast Track

    Abel Tasman Coastal Track
    Image Courtesy of Tourism New Zealand/Ian Trafford

    Location: Abel Tasman National Park
    Distance: 54.4 kilometers/33.8 miles
    Duration: 3-5 days

    This lovely walk crosses some of the best beaches in the South Island at the very top of the island. Walking is relatively easy - and take your swimming outfit.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Heaphy Track

    Location: Kahurangi National Park, South Island
    Distance: 78.4 kilometers/48.7
    Duration: 4-6 days

    This is the longest of the Nine Great Walks. It passes through many diverse landscapes, including forests, rivers and the west coast of the South Island.

  • 06 of 09

    Routeburn Track

    Routeburn Track, Otago, New Zealand.
    Image Courtesy of Getty Images/Paul Nevin

    Location: Mt Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park, South Island
    Distance: 39 kilometers/24 miles

    Duration: 2-4 days

    In the south west of the South Island, this covers some of the most beautiful alpine scenery in the world. With the mountains of the Southern Alps as a backdrop, there are lakes, forests, and waterfalls.

  • 07 of 09

    Milford Track

    Boat Returning Trampers from Milford Track
    Image Courtesy of Malene Holm

    Location: Fiordland National Park, South Island
    Distance: 53.5 kilometers/33.3 miles

    Duration: 4 days

    New Zealand's most acclaimed walk and one of the greatest tramps in the world, the Milford Track is located in Fiordland in the bottom south west corner of the South Island.

  • 08 of 09

    Kepler Track

    Looking over Te Anau valley, Kepler Track
    Image Courtesy of Getty Images

    Location: Fiordland National Park, South Island
    Distance: 60 kilometers/37 miles

    Duration: 3-4 days

    This explores the mountainous country between Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri in the Fiordland National Park. It has some steep sections, offering panoramic views.

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Rakiura Track

    Location: Rakiura National Park, Stewart Island/Rakiura
    Distance: 39 kilometers/24 miles

    Duration: 3 days

    Stewart Island/Rakiura is home to New Zealand's newest and most southerly national park and this great walk. Along this walk there are beaches and forests to explore in this part of the 'deep south' of New Zealand.

In a country blessed with so much wonderful scenery, any one of the Nine Walks is truly a highlight. Remember, however, to be well prepared. These can be physically demanding walks and weather conditions can also change rapidly.