#1 Tongariro Northern Circuit – Red Crater Summit
(43.1km, 3-4 Days, Seasonal Booking)
The Red Crater summit has the highest point of any NZ Great Walk and on a clear day it boasts incredible views! You have to work to reach these views, with a tough climb to a 1,868 metre summit and a cliff side descent into the red crater with steaming explosion pits of emerald lakes just beyond. Just when you thought the view can’t get any better you turn around and see the giant symmetrical cone Mt Ngauruhoe (2,287m) standing beside you and if in luck, scan across the lowlands to see the distant shape of Mt Taranaki (2,518m) out west. In our opinion, far as NZ Great Walk summits go … this one is pretty fantastic!
#2 Routeburn Track – Conical Hill
(33.1km, 2-4 Days, Seasonal Booking)
The forest walk up the Routeburn Valley past the 176 metre Routeburn Falls is a great entrée. Second course is consumed when one passes through the sub-alpine meadows with flowering herb fields, ice cold tarns and a squeeze between giant towering rock monoliths. However, the third course is the delish! Reaching Harris Saddle (1,255m) the hillside drops away. It makes you feel that you are about to glide out like a karearea falcon from this tight glacier carved valley take flight into wide trough of the Hollyford Valley. For the best vantage point clamber up a side route to Conical Hill. The 360-degree view from the hill (who names a 1,515m mountain peak a hill?) on a clear day takes in hundreds of the rippling ridges of the Fiordland National Park. Before descending cast your eye to follow the meanders of the Hollyford River to its outlet into the glistening waters of the Tasman Sea.
#3 Milford Track – Mackinnon Pass
(53.5km, 4 Days, Seasonal Booking)
Milford Track’s Mackinnon Pass just had to make into this top list as it certainly makes the grade. Yet it’s a steep grade to climb up to the 1,069-metre-high pass to reach the summit’s stone memorial to its first European explorer. The final few metres of the tussock path leaves the Clinton River catchment behind and marks the headwaters of the Arthur River; a tributary that feeds Milford Sound. From this point the size of the glacier carved mountains are on a truly massive on a scale unlike any other NZ Great Walk. From here you can see the two days of walking of where you have come and the next two days of track ahead. This is truly a remarkable summit for sheer mass of mountains irrespective of whether you arrive in hail, rain, or sunshine.
#4 Lake Waikaremoana - Bald Knob
(46km, 3-4 days, All Year Booking)
One of the more isolated Great Walks offers one of the most satisfying viewpoints. Day one of Climbing up Panekire Bluff on a hot summer with a full pack could make you feel as though it should be called ‘Panekire Puff’. Yet reaching the vertical cliff at the Bald Knob (1,161m) viewpoint is well worth the effort. From this point the tentacles arms of Lake Waikaremoana extend 500 metres below you. Lake Waikaremoana is the North Islands deepest lake and is surrounded by untouched forest. Being one of the lesser-known Great Walks, you will be spoilt with incredible views and pristine wildlife. is one of the least known Great Walks.
#5 Kepler Track – Mt Luxmore
(60km, 3-4 days, Seasonal Booking)
The sub-alpine tops of the Kepler Track offer one of the best NZ Great Walk ridgelines walks. The high point is actually on a short side track over a boulder field that leads to the summit of Mt Luxmore (1,472m). Here you are greeted by curious keas and an incredible view east of the rural flats of civilisation and Te Anau and the flip side out west is of forested wilderness of the Fiordland National Park. It’s a crazy landcover juxtaposition. It’s easy to linger here to watch clouds, walkers and time passing by if you can handle the elements on this harsh, windy, and cold peak of the deep south.
What is the Great Hikes App?
It is the only mobile app designed for the NZ Great Walks, it also has a sister app for cycling of the Great Rides App. We have partnered the app because 60% of our holiday parks are nearby at least one of NZ Great Walks or Great Rides of the NZ Cycle Trail. Download the apps as they are free, work offline, offer GPS mapping and have over 2,000+ pages of rich content to help you on your next outdoor adventure.