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TRAVEL & LEISURE

Five of New Zealand's Great Walks That You Can Book in for Summer

Explore secluded golden sand beaches, giant podocarp rainforest and rugged alpine terrain.
By Stephen Heard
August 19, 2020
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Five of New Zealand's Great Walks That You Can Book in for Summer

Explore secluded golden sand beaches, giant podocarp rainforest and rugged alpine terrain.
By Stephen Heard
August 19, 2020
  shares

New Zealand's Great Walks open up some of the country's most spectacular landscapes, allowing keen explorers to stretch their legs on secluded golden sand beaches, through giant podocarp rainforest and across rugged alpine terrain. The ten walks, which are beautifully maintained by the Department of Conservation, range from 32 kilometres to 82 kilometres and on average take between three and six days to complete. With borders currently closed to international travellers there's no better time to get out and explore your backyard. From the North Island's central plateau to the deep south, here are five stunning walks you can book in for summer.

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Paul Abbitt.

TONGARIRO NORTHERN CIRCUIT

The Tongariro National Park is one of the most accessible and popular destinations for keen local explorers and international visitors alike. The dramatic volcanic landscape of the UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place of extremes and surprises, dishing up stark glacial valleys, stunning alpine views from Lake Taupo to Mount Taranaki, native beech forest, alpine meadows and emerald lakes. The 43-kilometre loop track winds its way past the namesake Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe, with the full walking and tramping route taking between three to four days to complete. Of course, you don't need to conquer the full trek. If the full slog sounds intimidating, a range of day and overnight trips can be planned for the entire family.

Bookings are open for trips from 23 October, 2020 to 30 April, 2021.

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Chris McLennan.

WHANGANUI JOURNEY

Despite being listed as one of New Zealand's Great Walks, this one will test the arms more than the legs. The Whanganui Journey is a 145-kilometre river journey from Taumarunui to Pīpīriki and takes around five days to complete by canoe or kayak. Here, you can paddle up or drift down the Whanganui River — with the bonus of being able to cool off on a hot day. The route meanders through bush-covered hills and valleys, while the scenic middle section will take you past whirlpool rapids and a large overhanging cave. If a break from the water is required, there's a short 40-minute walk to the Bridge to Nowhere, a WWI-era concrete bridge. There's a one-day mountain biking trail, too. A unique cultural stay can also be had at the 20-bunk Tīeke Kāinga marae — visitors may be expected to participate in a powhiri if whanau are present.

Bookings are open for trips from 1 October, 2020 to 30 April, 2021.

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Miles Holden.

ABEL TASMAN COAST TRACK

A 60-kilometre one-way journey might seem like a long way to trek, but when you can set your pack down and rest on secluded golden sand beaches, it's well worth it. Found within the Abel Tasman National Park at the top of the South Island, this coastal track bypasses stunning shoreline and lush native bush between summer hot spots Marahau and Wainui. On the way you'll discover Cleopatra's Pool — a natural rock pool with a moss-lined waterslide — negotiate tidal crossings, walk across a suspension bridge and encounter a seal colony. There are several bookable huts and campsites along the way if you're walking the entire three to five-day walk, or you can take a water taxi or kayak between different locations. The track is accessible and open year-round.

Bookings are open for trips from 1 July, 2020 to 30 June, 2021.

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Tourism New Zealand.

KEPLER TRACK

For a taste of the stunning Fiordland National Park, try the Kepler Track. The 60-kilometre loop takes between three to four days to conquer — over which time you'll navigate tussock grasslands, soak up views of Lake Te Anau, walk through tall mossy forests and squelch through fragile wetland. The track begins with a lake-side stroll through beech forest before a steep incline eventually leads to the first overnight stop. From there, the track climbs further to Luxmore Saddle before making its way back to the lake. Make sure you bring insect repellant in the summer months.

Bookings are open for trips from 27 October, 2020 to 30 April, 2021.

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Matt Crawford.

RAKIURA TRACK

The deep south is home to this island adventure. Found on Stewart Island, the Rakiura Track circuit can be walked in either direction from just outside of the Oban village. The 32-kilometre loop can be completed in three days. It follows the coastline passing small inlets, large bays and mudflats, before crossing inland to dense forest which offers the unique opportunity to spot the southern brown kiwi (or at least hear its call) and other native wildlife up close. There are two huts and three campsites on the track.

Bookings are open for trips from 1 July, 2020 to 30 June, 2021.

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When planning your trip, the Department of Conservation advises to make sure you are properly equipped and well prepared. The five simple rules of the Outdoor Safety Code include planning your trip, telling someone where you're going to be, being aware of the weather, knowing your limits, and taking sufficient supplies.

For more information about New Zealand's Great Walks, visit the Department of Conservation website.

Top image: Graeme Murray.

Published on August 19, 2020 by Stephen Heard

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