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New Zealand Great walks 

Although I deeply love oceans, deserts and other wild landscapes, it is only mountains that beckon me with that sort of painful magnetic pull to walk deeper and deeper into their beauty . They keep me continuously wanting to know more, feel more, see more. – Victoria Erickson

If words can’t describe what I feel when I’m on a hike, surrounded by mountains, Victoria Erickson got pretty close to it with this quote. It all started on my trip to Kauai, HI in 2016. Me and my best friend were traveling around the island for two weeks, going on hikes here and there. I don’t know exactly why or when it happened, but I just fell in love with hiking.

The following summer, I was literally obsessed with it. Once a week, I had to be close to mountains, walk for hours in the wilderness. As crazy as it sounds, it felt so safe. From there on, I decided I had to go to New Zealand.

When I started my research on New Zealand, it was all I could think about. The pictures of the  treks looked unreal and I can assure you that after seeing those places with my own eyes, I can say that the pictures are far from doing them justice.

On the 4th of January, I landed in Auckland and began my journey in New Zealand. I could spend hours writing about this beautiful country and the amazing people I met there, but I’ll just cut to the chase and talk to you about the real subject of this post : the Great walks of New Zealand.

The Great walks are a set of the most popular multi-day hiking trails on both islands. One of the most amazing thing about New Zealand National parks is that they are all TOTALLY FREE. You will only have to pay for your transport to the trails and for your accommodation, which should be booked way in advance in high season, if you plan on doing a multi-day tramp.

Out of the 9 great walks, I had planned to hike 4 and due to special circumstances, I only got the chance to walk 3.

The Tongariro crossing

Length: 19,4 km

Difficulty: Intermediate

Situation: Tongariro National park, center of the North island

Price: Around 30$ for the shuttle

To be fair, the actual great walk is the Tongariro northern circuit and takes 3 to 4 days to complete, but with only 3 weeks and a half in New Zealand, I decided to only do a part of it.

On the crossing, you will walk by the active volcanoes Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom) who are famous to be one of Lord of the Rings filming locations, Mordor. It is possible to get to the summit of both volcanos, adding a couple of kilometers to your hike, but volcanic rock is really slippery and you should not attempt the climb in bad weather.

The Tongariro crossing can easily be done in a day if you are fairly in shape. The first half will be the hardest as you gain altitude pretty fast, but once you reach the Emerald lakes, the steep climb is all worth it. On a beautiful day, sun will make the three volcanic lakes change colour and it simply feels like you are on another planet.

If you are planning on doing the hike, the best place to base yourself would be Ohakune or National Park which are two towns close by that both offer shuttle services to the trail head. If you have your own car, keep in mind that the crossing is not a circuit and you will have to arrange a shuttle to get back to the beginning of the trail.

The Abel Tasman coast track

Length : 60 km (3-5 days)

Difficulty : Easy to intermediate

Situation: Abel Tasman National park, south of the South Island

Price: Starting at at 15$ for 2 days/1 night on the trail

Out of all the national parks in New Zealand, Abel Tasman is the smallest but certainly the most visited one. This is probably due to the beautiful crystal clear water and the numerous golden beaches that are found in the park. The trail runs along the coast so you will always have amazing sight on the ocean. This track is definitely family friendly as it is mostly flat and there’s plenty of beaches and picnic area to stop along the way.

Another really popular thing to do in the national park is kayaking. As the tramp is, once again, not a circuit, loads of people will kayak one way and come back by the trail. There is also sea shuttle that can drop you off or pick you up at quite a few beaches along the way.

Once again, by lack of time, I decided to spent only two days on the trail. For the accommodation, I decided to camp at one of the designated camp site (15$ per night) and I walked back the next day. There is also many huts available along the path where you can rent a bed from 32$ per night in low season and 38$ in high season,  but remember to book it well in advance especially in the summer.

If you plan on visiting the Abel Tasman National park, you will probably be arriving in Nelson which is an hour and a half from Kaiteriteri. You can get there by shuttle, but it only leaves from Nelson once a day in the morning. Your other option would be to grab a taxi (REALLY EXPENSIVE) or you could also hitchhike (FREE), like I did! For any of you that are sceptical about the whole hitchhiking thing, I will invite you to read my next blog where I will talk about my experiences while hitchhiking !

The Routeburn track

Difficulty : Intermediate

Situation:  Mt Aspiring National park/ Fiordland National park, west-center of the South Island

Price: Starting at 40$ for 3 days/2 nights if you camp (Not including the transport)

Looking back on all of my hikes in New Zealand, the Routeburn is definitely my favorite for many reasons. The famous trail wind through meadows and offers spectacular vista over the Southern Alps. For anyone that know me well, you now that just the mountain part already would have won me over, but most importantly, the Routeburn was my first challenge and that’s what made it so special. I never walked for three straight days before and even less, with all of my camping gear packed on my back.

The hike was a huge success and I can hardly describe how amazing it felt when I reached the end of the trail. I first had plan to camp while tramping, but because of the really bad weather, I decided to stay in a hut. You can get a bed in the hut from 65$ per night and camp for 20$ per night. It is pretty expensive, but it is absolutely worth every penny!

The last hike that I was suppose to do was the Kepler track in the Fiordland National park. I made it to Te Anau after my trip to Milford Sound and was all ready to go, but the bad weather made me cancel my plans as I was suppose to camp during my four days on the trail and this wasn’t gonna happen. The Kepler would have been an amazing experience and I’m definitely planning on coming back to the South Island to do it.

After reading this post, I hope you feel the same urge that i felt to get to New Zealand and explore the beautiful National parks. This is truly the most beautiful country I ever visited.


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