5 ways to explore New Zealand on foot

Date Posted: 27/03/2014

Groups can now explore New Zealand on foot

If you’re looking to organise a group trip to explore New Zealand on foot, we’ve rounded up some of the best new walking trails and packages available.

New Zealand has thousands of kilometres of walks to suit every level with one of the world’s longest inter-connecting trails in the form of Te Araroa – The Long Pathway running the length of both islands.

Groups can choose from nine multi-day ‘Great Walks’ including the Milford Track, which celebrated its 100 year anniversary last year and Stewart Island’s lesser known Rakiura Track, which allows walkers to see some of New Zealand’s most awe inspiring scenery; or day walks such as the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

1. The Tarawera Trail to Hot Water Beach

The 15km Tarawera Trail is the first of a proposed network involving the Department of Conservation and Maori private landowners to connect the 14 Te Arawa lakes in the area.

The one-day walk (expected to take around five hours) leads to the popular Hot Water Beach of Te Rata Bay, making the geo-thermal beach on the edge of Lake Tarawera accessible for walkers and hikers for the first time.

Highlights of the trail include waterfalls, native New Zealand forest, wildlife and free flowing streams, as groups will make their way through Katukutuku Bay, Hawaiki Bay and Te Hinau Bay.

The lookout point at Rotomahana allows visitors to take in the beauty of the geothermal area, before descending into Te Rata Bay where boiling natural waters trickle down a small stream and into the lake and man-made rock pools, which allow visitors to bathe.

2. New multi-day walk on Auckland’s islands

Launched in January, the Haerenga (a ‘Journey through Sacred Islands’) multi-day walking trail now offers the chance to explore Auckland's largest and most diverse island sanctuaries of Rangitoto and Motutapu in the Hauraki Gulf –over a three-day adventure.

A crater in New Zealand.

Day one of the Haerenga will take in the summit of Rangitoto and explore the 600-year old volcanic landscapes. Day two will explore the completely contrasting cultural significance and ancient landscapes of Motutapu, the sacred island.

Day three will give the opportunity to learn about the restoration of Motutapu, stroll through regenerating forest and support conservation work.

The islands are home to many rare species (including Kiwis) and walkers can opt to kayak back towards the city lights for an alternative end to their trip.

3. High country hiking tours in Queenstown

One of New Zealand’s most famous and historic backcountry farms - Mt Nicholas High Country Station (Mt Nic) near Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakitipu - is now open for visitors with the launch of a series of tours by operator Southern Discoveries, including new hiking experiences.

The half-day high country walk explores the station including the landmarks of Lovers Leap, the Von River mouth, native forest and the original homestead site.

Walkers on a group trip will follow the lake shore to the old bake house and walk up into the foothills of Mt Nicholas Station where they will be rewarded with uninterrupted views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

4. Heli-hike tour to ‘Middle Earth

Leading Queenstown helicopter company Heliworks and luxury private guiding company, Alpine Adventures has launched a Middle Earth Waterfalls heli-hike adventure.

The only operators permitted access to the Earnslaw Burn area, the hike offers access to one of the most dramatic locations featured in the feature film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Local guide Mark Dewsbery will meet small groups at their accommodation in the morning and escort them by private vehicle to the Heliworks hangar at Queenstown airport to embark on the outback adventure.

The flight takes them across Lake Wakatipu to the start of the bushline where the five-kilometre hike through rolling high-country farm and golden tussock fields begins.

The Mount Roy Trail.

The trip winds its way to the lake at the bottom of a steep valley where a hanging glacier on Mt Earnslaw, known as Earnslaw Burn, looms overhead.

5. And for those for whom walking is not enough…

One of New Zealand’s most picturesque regions, Queenstown is set to play host to an international marathon on 22nd November.

Full, half, ten kilometre and three kilometre events will form the ‘festival of running’, all set against the backdrop of the world-renowned Crown and Remarkable mountain ranges.

Runners will take in a route that covers the Queenstown lakes, historic gold mining area of Arrowtown and the Arrow River track as well as Lake Hayes, the fast-flowing 75 kilometre-long Shotover River and Lake Wakatipu, the longest lake in New Zealand, before ending in the buzzing resort of Queenstown.

These five group travel ideas were compiled by Tourism New Zealand. Group travel organisers arranging a group holiday to New Zealand should visit the official tourist board website for assistance and planning.

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