The Great Walks are ten walks in New Zealand selected by the Department of Conservation (DOC). They pass through some of the most spectacular scenery and landscapes of New Zealand, and are good places to go tramping in New Zealand.
The Great Walks are selected hikes through particularly attractive New Zealand landscapes. The trails and huts along these tracks are generally better equipped than the rest of New Zealand's trails and some trails require prior booking as the number of hikers is limited. The Great Walks are exclusively multi-day hikes, but some sections can be hiked in a single day.
- 1 Abel Tasman Coast Track – a 51-km (32-mi) long hike that is relatively easy to walk located in the north of the South Island. The trail follows the coast across beaches and through coastal forest. There are only slight gradients to overcome. The track takes three to five days.
- 2 Heaphy Track – The Heaphy Track in Kahurangi National Park is also in the north of the South Island, but is much more challenging than the Abel Tasman Coastal Walk. You should allow four to six days for the 81-kilometre track. The hiking trail leads through a wide variety of landscapes and also leads into the mountains (up to 915 metres).
- 3 Kepler Track – located in Fiordland National Park, the 60-kilometre trail takes about three to four days and not too difficult. The hiking trail leads past lakes, beech forests and a glacial valley.
- 4 Lake Waikaremoana Track – in Te Urewera in the east of the North Island, the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk is 46 kilometres long (three to four days). The trail is not very difficult as it follows the lake shore for most of the time. It leads through picturesque forests and often offers the opportunity to swim or fish.
- 5 Milford Track – the 54 km track leads from Te Anau to Milford Sound and used to be the only way to reach the fiord by land until a road was built in 1952. It runs through alpine valleys carved by glaciers and waterfalls. The Milford Track is always fully booked months in advance during the high season and must therefore be booked very early. The disadvantage is that you have to start walking in without knowing the weather and there is no way to change the date.
- 6 Paparoa Track – the newest Great Walk only having opened in 2020 within Paparoa National Park covering a distance of 55.7 km (34.6 mi)
- 7 Rakiura Track – the Rakiura Track lies on Stewart Island and the 29 km are not very demanding and offer a good insight into the flora and fauna of the island. Three days should be planned for the hiking trail.
- 8 Routeburn Track – connecting the northern end of Lake Waikatipu and the road linking Te Anau and Milford Sound, leads through a spectacular mountain panorama. The track is 32 kilometres long and leads through forested valleys past waterfalls, but also above the tree line. Plan two to three days for this hiking trail in the southwest of the South Island. The route is classified as an alpine mountain hike.
- 9 Tongariro Northern Circuit – the Tongariro Northern Circuit loops around Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe in Tongariro National Park, in the heart of North Island. The two- to three-day 49 km (30 mi) track leads past volcanic craters and glacial valleys.
- 10 Whanganui Journey – unlike the other routes, the Whanganui Journey is not a "walk" because you have to canoe to cover the route. The route covers a total of 145 km (90 mi) taking about five days from Whakahoro to Pipiriki on New Zealand's longest navigable river. The journey leads past countless mountains and valleys towards the Tasman Sea. The river flows in the west of the North Island.