10 of the best hikes in New Zealand

Walking in nature is great for our bodies and minds, so here’s some inspiration to get going.

AIA Vitality NZ

AIA Vitality NZ

AIA Vitality Staff writer

Is there any better way to get your limbs moving and endorphins flowing than by hiking through nature? We don’t think so, and science is on our side.

As well as being a low-impact cardiovascular workout, past studies have shown that hiking in the great outdoors can boost creativity, help those struggling with mental health issues, and reduce negative thought patterns.

If you’re inspired to strap on your hiking boots, here are 10 of the best nature walks in New Zealand to tick off your list. Just don’t forget a hat, sunscreen, drinking water and sturdy shoes.

Twilight – Te Werahi Loop Track, Northland

Distance: 16 km loop

Time: 5 hours

From powerful seas, to rugged headlands, shifting sands, and ever-changing light, this far north walk offers a glimpse of the region’s wild, natural drama. The varied terrain is a mix of vast beaches, coastal forest, sand dunes, and fields. The Twilight – Te Werahi Loop Track is mostly flat and easy going allowing you to take in the dramatic and varied scenery.

Rangitoto Island Summit Walk, Auckland

Distance: 7 km return

Time: 2 hours return

In a city that is literally built on volcanoes, there is every opportunity to get out and explore a little bit of Auckland’s unique geographical makeup. Rangitoto may be the youngest volcano in the region, but it’s also the largest, and is home to spectacular lava fields plus the worlds largest pohutukawa forest. Take the ferry from Queens Wharf and make a day of it by packing a picnic and adding on the short detour to the lava caves and tunnels.

Coast to Coast Walkway, Auckland

Distance: 16km one way

Time: 4-5 hours (or 9-10 hours return)

This is a walk that comes with some serious bragging rights. How many people do you know that can say they walked from one side of New Zealand to the other? More of an urban hike than a nature trail, the Coast to Coast Walkway runs from downtown Auckland to the Manukau Harbour. Along the way you’ll take in five volcanic sites, suburban streets, and places of Maōri and colonial history.

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Te Henga Walkway, Auckland

Distance: 10.3 km one way

Time: 3-4 hours (or 7-8 hours return)

For a taste of true, rugged West Coast adventure the Te Henga walkway offers panoramic views, wild oceans and wind-whipped cliff faces. It’s a walk that will blow away the cobwebs from the city that’s barely an hour’s drive away.

Hunua Ranges, Auckland

Distance: Varies

Time: Varies

An hour from the city centre sits the largest area of native forest in Auckland. The Hunua Ranges Regional Park offers not just one track, but many, each with different grades and durations. From pristine native forest, to tumbling waterfalls, and scenic picnic areas, each adventure to the park can be different from the last.

Coromandel Walkway, Coromandel

Distance: 20 km return

Time: 7 hours return

Hugging the coast line, this spectacular walk offers the chance to take in the solitude and immense beauty of the upper Coromandel Peninsula. The glittering Stoney and Fletcher bays at each end of the track are stunning in their own right, and worth stopping at for a picnic and a swim. If mountain biking is more your speed, there is an alternative 8km mountain biking trail that runs between the two bays.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Tongariro National Park

Distance: 19.4 km one way

Time: 7-8 hours one way

No list of amazing New Zealand hikes is complete without the inclusion of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing – often described as the country’s greatest day walk. Passing lava flows, an active crater, steam vents, emerald lakes, and surrounded by magnificent views, this challenging hike is worth the effort.

Hooker Valley Track, Canterbury

Distance: 10 km return

Time: 3 hours return

Head out early to catch the first rays of sun creeping over Aoraki/Mount Cook and enjoy the early morning serenity. This track begins with suspension bridges over the Hooker River before winding through the mountains, past alpine streams, and glaciers.

Key Summit, Fiordland

Distance: 7 km return

Time: 4 hours return

Fiordland hikes are famous for good reason, featuring jagged mountains, mirror lakes, waterfalls, and towering beech forests. Each corner you turn reveals another scene straight out of a Tolkien novel. The Key Summit trail allows you to sample this stunning scenery without committing to a multi-day hike. With several side trails, you can spend as long as you like exploring – and with the captivating views on offer, you’ll want to stay all day.

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Otago

Distance: 10 km return

Time: 4 hours return

Through beech forest, ferns and mosey undergrowth, the Rob Roy Glacier Track leads you into Mount Aspiring National Park – an amazing world of mountains, glaciers, river valleys and alpine lakes. The glaciers in this region are active, from a safe viewing platform you can often see and hear avalanches and falling chunks of glacial ice. It may only be a short walk, but with only the sound of the streams, the occasional crash of falling glacier, and the call of the local Kea, you’ll feel like you’re a million miles away.

AIA Vitality NZ

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