The 18+ Best Day Hikes in New Zealand

It’s no secret that New Zealand offers some of the best hikes in the world.

But, many people fear that the country’s trails are all immense journeys through the rigorous wilderness where the average nature enthusiast stands no chance of finishing them in one day. 

However, luckily, there are plenty of hikes in New Zealand that most people can complete in a couple of hours.

From Robert’s Point Track and Pinnacles Track Loop to Mangorei Track and Lake Matheson Loop, you can complete all the hikes on this list in just a few hours. 

18 Top-Rated Day Hikes in New Zealand 

1. Bark Bay to Marahau on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track 

Located in Abel Tasman National Park on New Zealand’s South Island, the Abel Tasman Coastal Track is a vast trail that is about 37 miles long and takes about five days to complete. However, if you are looking for a shorter hike, many people favor the part of the trail that goes from Bark Bay to Marahau. 

On this trek, you’ll take a water taxi from Marahau to Bark Bay, where your hike will begin. Then, you’ll take a seven-mile trail to Anchorage and then another seven-mile path back down to Marahau. 

Overall, this trip takes about eight hours, so you’ll need quite a bit of stamina to complete this hike. 

2. Tongariro Crossing 

An extremely popular day hike on New Zealand’s North Island, Tongariro Crossing, also called the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, spans about 12 miles over a volcanic plateau. The top sites that you will find here are Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngauruhoe, the Red Crater, the Emerald Lakes, and the Devil’s Staircase. 

And, of course, this New Zealand trip is the first choice for Lord of the Ring’s fans because Mount Ngauruhoe is the real-life Mount Doom that appeared in the trilogy. 

Tongariro National Park, where the trail cuts through, is also a great place to see wild bird species, like kiwi, tui, and parakeet. 

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3. Hooker Valley Track 

The most famous day hike on South Island, you will find that the Hooker Valley Track is one of the best hikes in New Zealand. This trail, which runs through Mount Cook National Park, allows you to come close to some of the world’s most gorgeous scenery, including Hooker Valley and Mount Cook. 

At the endpoint of this trail, you can even watch icebergs float on Hooker Lake under the snow-capped peaks of Mount Cook. 

Just make sure that before you attempt this hike, you check with the DOC center in Mount Cook Village to ensure that the trail is safe from dangerous high winds. If they give you the okay, you can start your journey at the car park near White Horse Hill Campground on Hooker Valley Road. 

4. Key Summit 

Key Summit is one part of the Routeburn Track, a 19.9 mile trail and one out of New Zealand’s Great Walks. However, the much shorter Key Summit hike on South Island is only 2.1 miles and takes about three hours to complete. 

Located within the stunning Fiordland National Park, you can see amazing landscapes such as shrubland, beech forests, and bogs, all while standing atop one of the great mountains of New Zealand. 

5. Rob Roy Glacier Track 

The Rob Roy Glacier Track is a moderate 6.4-mile trail in Mount Aspiring National Park. Here, you can take in the area’s cliffs, meadows, waterfalls, and, of course, glaciers. 

On this New Zealand day hike, you will be able to explore the Southern Alps and maybe even get to encounter a kea (mountain parrot). 

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6. Tiki Trail 

The Tiki Trail in Queenstown is a non-challenging hike, and almost anyone can travel this path since the entire hike is only a little over a mile long. However, you should be aware that the trail can get rather steep in places. 

The majority of this trail is through the forest, but once you reach the top, you will not be disappointed. All of your exertions will come to an abrupt end once you reach Bob’s Peak and suddenly get a marvelous view of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains. 

It would be best if you began this hike at the Skyline gondola so that you don’t need to walk the whole seven hours to the top. You can easily find the gondola from the town center. 

7. Avalanche Peak 

Avalanche Peak is one of the most demanding day trails in New Zealand, so only experienced hikers should attempt this climb. But, once they’ve made it to the top, they will not be disappointed. 

Those who climb the 3,600-foot vertical ascent will find themselves high up in the snowy mountains, where they’ll feel as though they are on top of the world. 

This track begins behind the Arthur’s Pass Village visitor center, where you should also ask about the conditions before venturing out on one of the most dangerous New Zealand trails. 

8. Roy’s Peak Track

Roy’s Peak Track, which begins right outside of Wanaka, is an unimpeded 10-mile trek that takes you up to the summit of Roy’s Peak. Once you’ve made it to the top, you will find an amazing view of Lake Wanaka, and you’ll be able to see Mount Aspiring not far off. 

9. Mount Robert Circuit 

Mount Robert Circuit in Nelson Lakes National Park is one of the most advanced day hikes in New Zealand through the complete wilderness. However, this track, which is about 5.5 miles long, only takes about five hours to complete. 

Just make sure that you take some precautions before setting out on this trip. The most important of which is to bring warm and waterproof clothing since the temperature can drop quite low at any time of the year. 

You should also stay alert of wasps and biting sandflies while you venture into the heart of the trail. Furthermore, you’ll want to refrain from leaving valuables in your vehicle because thieves are known to frequent the car park because they know that people will be gone for extended periods. 

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10. Pororari River Track 

The Pororari River Track is one of the best hikes for those who want to see the New Zealand rainforest. Just a four-mile track that most can complete in about an hour, the short walk leads past impressive limestone cliffs as well as a subtropical forest. 

11. Robert’s Point Track 

On the west coast of South Island, you can take a 7.5-mile track through the rainforest and across the Waiho River. Most amazingly, this day hike gives you magnificent views of both Franz Josef and Fox glaciers. 

Robert’s Point is an excellent trail for adrenaline junkies, in particular, since you have to make several river crossings across swaying swing bridges before you can finish your adventure. 

12. Lake Matheson Loop Track 

One of the shortest day hikes on South Island, you’ll only walk 1.6 miles on the Lake Matheson Loop Track. Additionally, you won’t only get to see Fox Glacier here, but also Mount Tasman and Mount Cook. 

13. Mount Maunganui Summit 

If you want to see some of the most beautiful views on North Island while exerting little effort, then try the Mount Maunganui Summit. On this day hike, you can stand above the clouds after a climb that only takes about 45 minutes. 

14. Mangorei Track 

If you are looking for interesting day hikes, you won’t have to look any further than the Mangorei Track in Egmont National Park. This short hike takes you three miles up a steady climb to Pouakai Hut. 

You can even stay in the 16 bunk mountain hut, which offers excellent views of the Ahukawakawa Swamp. Mountain huts are also a great place to refill your water bottle if you run out on your trek. 

15. Routeburn Shelter to Lake Harris on the Routeburn Track

Routeburn Track is definitely one of the best overnight hikes in New Zealand, but if you want to try out a shorter 15.5-mile trail that isn’t a multi-day trek, you can attempt the Routeburn Shelter to Lake Harris trek. 

The trail begins, of course, at the Routeburn Shelter, and you will then travel along the route until you reach stunning Lake Harris, which lies at the base of the mountains. 

16. Awaroa/Godley Head Loop Track 

Most adventurers prefer the mountains in western New Zealand for their hikes, but you shouldn’t forget about the east coast hiking opportunities either. And, Awaroa/Godley is a favorite on this side of the country. 

On this trek, you can get great views of the rocky coastline as well as spot cliff dwellings and WWII gun platforms. 

17. Pinnacles Track Loop

Although not located in one of the high-altitude national parks, Pinnacles Track Loop on the south coast of North Island is a moderate 2.9-mile walk in Wellington. On this loop, you can see the beautiful pinnacle formations as well as walk through a palm grove. 

18. Sealy Tarns Track 

A 6.5-mile track in Mount Cook National Park, Sealy Tarns Track ends with Mueller Hut. Here, you can see a majestic panorama that includes ice cliffs and glaciers. 

Honorable Mentions 

Although the hikes above are the ones that appear on most people’s New Zealand bucket list, there are still even more great trails that the country has to offer. 

  • Skyline Ridge Track 
  • Lake Rotoiti Circuit 
  • Kepler Track 
  • Inland Pack Track 
  • Mount Taranaki Summit 

Conclusion 

Overall, New Zealand has countless day hikes, ranging from extremely dangerous and difficult to leisurely walks where you can easily bring your kids and dogs. However, wherever you hike, make sure that you check the weather beforehand, follow local laws, and be careful not to end up on private land. 

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