Hiking in New Zealand: These 7 Most Beautiful Day Hikes

If there’s one thing you can do best in New Zealand, it’s hiking, or as the Kiwis say, ‘nomadic’. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking to stretch your legs, you’ll find something for everyone in this country. You can find hikes almost anywhere in New Zealand, which naturally offers plenty of choice. In this blog, we’ll guide you on your way to the most beautiful day hikes you can take in New Zealand’s South Island, from mountaintop views to golden beaches along the coast.

Before starting your hike, it is important to be well prepared. We have personally experienced that the weather in New Zealand is very changeable. You often pass several altimeters on these walks, so where it’s often hot at the beginning, it’s suddenly very cold at the top. Here are some things to keep in mind as you go Nomads In New Zealand:

  • Water and something to eat
  • Sun cream
  • Raincoat
  • cap or cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Optional: Walking sticks

Seven of the most beautiful day hikes in the South Island

#1 Hooker Valley Track

Level: Easy – Distance: 10.6 km – Duration: 3 hours – Height: 191 m

The Hooker Valley Track is one of New Zealand’s best day hikes, and for good reason. This 3 hour 10 km walk takes you to Hooker Lake with the backdrop of Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain. You pass through a beautiful landscape surrounded by mountains and the Hooker River is always nearby. The walk is relatively flat and goes over three suspension bridges, offering beautiful views. Because the walk is so popular, it often gets busy with walkers. That’s why we recommend starting this walk early or waiting an hour before sunset. So the reflections in the water are perfect, which guarantees beautiful photos!

#2 Mueller Hut

Level: Difficult – Distance: 9.3 km – Duration: 7 to 8 hours – Altitude: 1038 m

With this walk we stay close to Mount Cook. The first part of the walk consists of more than 1800 (!) stairs and takes you to the first sight: the Seeley Tarns. Here you can take a breather and enjoy the view of Hooker Lake with Mount Cook in the background. If this is still not high enough, continue the walk towards Muller Hut. You walk vertically up to the edge of the hill to get to the other side. There you will come back to the red Müller cottage surrounded by beautiful scenery.

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If you wish, you can also spend the night here and return the next day. If you go in spring (October to early December in New Zealand), there will still be snow on this walk. Be prepared for this by stopping at the Visitor Center in Mount Cook Village. They can help you with the necessary equipment (eg crampons) and advise you on whether or not to walk.

Mueller Cottage

#3 Tasman Glacier Trail

Level: Easy – Distance: 1.2 km – Duration: 30 min to 1 hour – Height: 78 m

This day hike is the shortest on our list, but it’s certainly not inferior to the other hikes. Again we are in Mount Cook National Park, but this time on the other side of Mount Cook. During this short hike you walk back and forth to the edge of Tasman Lake. The lake originates from New Zealand’s largest glacier, behind it: the Tasman Glacier. The length of this glacier is not less than 23 km, but it was once very large, especially if you know that before 1983 there was no Tasman Lake.

It is best to go for this walk early in the morning so you have this beautiful place to yourself and you can enjoy the beautiful reflections of the mountains in the water at sunrise. Afterwards, you can choose to walk up to the top for a different view of the Tasman Glacier, but you’ll have to climb 300 steps first (it’s definitely worth it).

Tasman Glacier Lake is one of the South Island's favorite day hikes

#4 Gertrude Saddle Track

Level: Difficult – Distance: 8.2 km – Duration: 4 to 6 hours – Height: 648 m

The Gertrude Saddle Track is located in Fiordland National Park between Te Anau and Milford Sound. This 8.2 km walk is definitely not an easy walk. The first part of the hike is where you walk through the valley, after which you begin a steep climb. You climb over rocks until you reach Gertrude Saddle (Ledge). Walk a short distance until you reach your final destination: Black Lake.

Although the walk is only 4 km, it should not be underestimated. This walk is only recommended in good weather, otherwise it can be very slippery. Be prepared for snow at the top, especially if you go from October to early December. Still determined to make this hike? Good! Your efforts are sure to be rewarded with consistently beautiful views.

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Gertrude Saddle Track is one of the most beautiful day hikes

#5 Roy’s Peak Track

Level: Intermediate – Distance: 16.3 km – Duration: 6 to 7 hours – Altitude: 1305 m

The walk is located on Lake Wanaka, an hour’s drive from Queenstown. The walk is not too physically challenging, a flat path through sheep pastures. Mentally, this walk can be a challenge because despite the smooth path, this walk only goes uphill. At a distance of 8 km you will gain an altitude of 1305 meters with an almost identical view all around you. So why take this walk? Because like everything else, the best is saved for last! The last part of the walk is at the top of this hill and gives you a 360° view, with Lake Wanaka in the foreground, its blue waters meandering through the green mountain landscape. A challenging hike you will never forget!

Roy's Supreme Path

#6 Ben Lomond Track

Level: Difficult – Distance: 13.4 km – Duration: 7 to 8 hours – Altitude: 1347 m

We are in the heart of Queenstown with this walk. This is another tough walk, where a lot of altimeters are captured. The first part of the walk begins at the Skyline Gondola base station. Here you go up the tiki trail and walk to the end of the gondola. This part of the trail is very steep and mainly through trees. If you prefer, you can skip this section by taking the gondola up. A round trip gondola ride costs $46 NZD.

You continue your journey along the Ben Lomond track at the terminal of the Skyline Gondola. You walk up to the saddle of Ben Lomond. Once on the ledge, it’s a mile up. This section is the most challenging part of the whole hike and is very cold and windy here. But once at the top, a 360° view of Queenstown and the adjacent Lake Wakatipu on one side and the remarkable mountain ranges on the other await you.

I Lomond track

#7 Abel Tasman Coastal Trail

Level: Easy – Distance: You decide

With this walk we are no longer between the mountains, but on the Gold Coast of New Zealand. The Abel Tasman Coastal Trail is one of New Zealand’s best walking trails. However, you can do this walk as a day walk where you decide how many kilometers you want to cover. The walk departs from Marahau, where you can park your car and book a water taxi (prices start from $48 NZD per person). We took the water taxi to Park Bay, one of the highlights of the walk, but you are completely free to choose which walk you want to embark on.

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From a self-determined starting point you can walk back to your car where you left it at Marahau at your own pace. This walk is considered the easiest big walk in New Zealand and is not too bad in terms of altitude. We walked 24 km in one day and it took about 6 hours. It is a very easy walk and meanwhile takes you to the beautiful beaches of the bay.

Abel Tasman Coastal Trail

Not out yet?

Aren’t you tired after walking so much? Or are you looking for a bigger challenge? Then the big walks might be for you. In addition to day hikes, you can also do multi-day trips in New Zealand where you can sleep in huts or bring your own tent. There are a total of ten of these great walks spread across the North and South Island. through the website Defense Department New Zealand (DOC) where you can find all walks and book overnight stays in cottages. Be on time because these walks always sell out months in advance! Can’t find a seat in the cabins? Don’t worry, you can always make part of the walk a day walk, as we did on the Abel Tasman Coastal Path. I wish you a lot of walking pleasure!

Hooker Valley

Iris & Gert

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