Great Walker? Check out our 14 top Great Walks
Keen to strap on a few necessities and hit the tracks through some of New Zealand's native forests, lakes, rivers, mountain peaks, and valleys? Discover our perfectly-located Great Walks hostels.
YHA offers great pre- and post-walk accommodation ideally suited to Great Walkers who need to recharge with a comfy bed and hot shower. With over 35 hostels nationwide you can relax and into your choice of dorms rooms, ensuite private rooms, doubles, and twins. It's the perfect choice for people of all ages, small groups and families.
The three North Island Great Walks offer distinct landscapes from one other and they each offer a variety of challenges for the keen great walker.
Tongariro Northern Circuit
The Tongariro Northern Circuit is a 4 day, 43 km (26 mile) loop track that starts and finishes at the foot of Mt Ruapehu. Discover this active volcanic region with its brilliant blue lakes, unique lava formations, tussock grassland, fumaroles and geysers, and green mineral lakes. Pack clothing for all conditions as the wind picks up over Mt Tongariro and around Mt Ngauruhoe. Due to the altitude conditions and climate, this walk is best done from late November to March. Watch DOC's video on the Tongariro Northern Circuit.
YHA National Park is well equipped for walkers ready to conquer the Tongaririo Northern Circuit. The hostel provides a drying room, plenty of storage for gear, a wood fire in the kitchen and an outdoor shop 700m away. Hostel transport offered for a fee. 30-45 mins to the track.
YHA Taupo is a great place to kick up your boots before or after your walk. Gear storage is available and staff can arrange transport. Pre-walk, Taupo offers truckloads of outdoor equipment shops; post-walk, free hot springs are a short 15 minute walk away. 1.5 hrs to the track.
The Whanganui Journey is a 5 day, 145 km (90 mile) river journey from Taumarunui to Pipiriki. Although deemed a 'Great Walk' the Whanganui Journey, located in the Whanganui National Park, is actually a kayak or canoe journey down the winding Whanganui River. Pack your canoe or kayak and head down river through lush hills and bush clad valleys and discover New Zealand's early history. The Whanganui River was an important route for early Maori and later became important during the early European settlement days as it transformed into a steamboat highway. A shorter journey from Whakahoro to Pipiriki is also possible which takes 3 days. Watch DOC's videos on the Whanganui Journey.
YHA National Park provides a drying room and plenty of storage for gear. There's a wood fire in the kitchen and an outdoor shop 700m away. Transport to the track can be arranged. 30 mins to Taumarunui, 1 hr to Pipiriki.
YHA Whanganui is adjacent to the Whanganui River. Hop on multiple points of this Great Walk by hitching a ride with the Mail Run (picks up from the hostel). Games, cards, and beautiful gardens await when you're ready to recharge after your paddle, too. 1 hr 40 mins to Pipiriki.
Located in one of the North Island's most remote regions, Lake Waikaremoana is a 4-5 day, 46km (28 miles) track that follows the lakeshore for most of its length. Located east of the central volcanic plateau, this Great Walk traverses a range of terrain with a variety of vegetation. Aside from one day climbing a steep bluff, the walk is a leisurely path through dense rainforest. There is also beech forest of the Panekire Bluffs and podocarp mixed broadleaf forest. Birdlife is abundant with plenty of scenery and opportunities for swimming and fishing. Watch DOC's videos on Lake Waikaremoana
The beautiful south is blessed with an abundance of Great Walks and we've got accommodation near most of them!
Abel Tasman Coast Track
Located in Abel Tasman National Park on the South Island’s northern shores, the Abel Tasman Coast Track is a 3 - 5 day, 54.4 km (33 mile) route lined with kilometres of golden beaches. Pack light walking shoes and start the track from either end. Walk into the park from the carparks, catch a water taxi to one of the many beaches along the track or load up a kayak and kayak along the coast. There are some tidal crossings that can only be crossed during the few hours on either side of low tide - yes, you will get wet feet! Accommodation along the track is a combination of huts and campsites (fees apply). Watch DOC's videos about the Abel Tasman Track
YHA Golden Bay is a small comfortable hostel and an ideal launching pad for the walk or relaxing point at the end. Gear storage is available and a supermarket for your last minute foodie supplies is a 1 minute walk away. Transport to the track can be arranged. 30 mins to Wainui Bay.
YHA Nelson is a convenient base to explore the Abel Tasman. There's plenty of space to stash your gear and there's a sauna, foosball, air hockey, and a huge DVD collection to help you unwind post tramp. Heaps of outdoor gear shops are within walking distance as well as a supermarket that's open till late. 1 hr to Marahau.
Located in the Kahurangi National Park at the north-west corner of the South Island, the Heaphy Track is a 4 - 6 day, 78.4 km (48 mile) route, the longest of the Great Walks. The track passes through beech forest, red tussock grasslands, lush forests, alpine herbs fields, nikau palm-lined beaches and roaring seas. The gradient is undemanding and the track is accessible year round. But bring on a coat if you're travelling in winter! Winter snows can make the higher sections quite chilly. Watch DOC's videos on the Heaphy Track
YHA Golden Bay is a small comfortable hostel and an ideal launching pad for the Heaphy Track if you're heading from North to South. Gear storage is available and a supermarket for your last minute foodie supplies is a 1 minute walk away. Transport to the track can be arranged by the hostel. 1 hour to Brown Hut.
YHA Westport is a historic homestead with comfortable facilities and a great place to relax pre or post tramp. Two supermarkets and an outdoor gear shop are a quick 2 minute walk away. Free gear storage is available and guests are welcome to leave their car in the hostel's free carpark during their tramp. 1 hour 45 mins to Kohaihai.
The Routeburn Track overlaps two National Parks – the Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks with the Harris Saddle being the border. The 2 - 4 day, 32 km (19 mile) track has some of the most diverse scenery as the track weaves through alpine flora and lakes, waterfalls, rivers and panoramic views from the mountain pass. This Great Walk offers a high standard track and comfortable, serviced huts as well as camping opportunities. Watch DOC's videos on the Routeburn Track
YHA Kinloch, Glenorchy is the perfect place for tramping enthusiasts to gear up or wind down at the start or end of their tramps. The lakeside wilderness lodge has a fully catered restaurant and an onsite shop selling tramping supplies. Paid transport from the lodge to the start of the track is available. 30 mins to track.
The track begins and ends at the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre in Te Anau and is a 3 - 4 day, 60 km (37 mile) loop track. The track begins along the beech-forested shores of lakes Te Anau and Manapouri and traverses from a gentle gradient to the tussock alpine tops and Mt Luxmore. After the challenging climb, enjoy a long section above the bushline with views of the Kepler Mountains, rivers, lakes and valleys. This track is of a high standard and offers comfortable, serviced huts as well as camping opportunities. Watch DOC's videos on the Kepler Track.
Located in New Zealand's largest national park – Fiordland – the Milford Track is the most famous of the Great Walks. It is a 4 day, 53.5 km (33 mile) track that follows a historic Maori route through forest-covered valleys and ice-carved valleys, a mountain pass, mountain rivers and waterfalls from Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound. Bookings are necessary well in advance for this high demand Great Walk. The track is of high standard track with comfortable serviced huts. Watch DOC's videos on the Milford Track.
YHA National Park
A backpacker hostel for the volcano fanatics, YHA National Park is an ideal hub to explore the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing as well as skiing Mt Ruapehu.
This charming heritage backpacker hostel offers an opportunity to experience the luxury of early New Zealand, combined with well-kept, modern facilities.
YHA Nelson is a comfortable, central backpacker hostel next to the popular Nelson Markets. Enjoy our garden, BBQ area, and well-equipped communal areas.
YHA Westport TripInn Hostel is a unique backpacker hostel due to its history as a stately gentlemen's residence. The architecture and friendly staff create an atmosphere not seen in many hostels.
YHA Kinloch, Glenorchy
Relax and restore yourself at YHA Kinloch, Glenorchy. This lakeside lodge with its stunning views is a great base for a getaway, or a pre- or post-hike stay.
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