Tramping in New Zealand

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Tramping in New Zealand

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Tramping (known in other countries as hiking, trekking or bushwalking) is a popular way to see New Zealand. Most national parks in New Zealand are administered by the Department of Conservation. The DOC offices and web site are very useful sources of information.


Tramping the New Zealand bush (forests) can be extremely dangerous if you are not properly prepared and equipped. The weather can change without warning. If you don't have the right equipment you may die from hypothermia. NZ Mountain Safety Council has some information online but it is recommended that you visit a DOC office before setting out on a trip.

Hut System

Many of the national parks have basic accommodation called huts, which range from a basic roof over your head with large bunk spaces and a "long drop" toilet, to the deluxe huts on the Milford Track with individual bunks and flush toilets (one of which has electric lighting).

There are two classes of huts. Back country huts and great walks huts. The back country huts are very basic but also very cheap. Back country huts range in price from $0 to $15 per person per night and you can get an annual back country hut pass for $65. The great walks huts range in price from $10 up to $35 per person per night.

Back country huts are often maintained by tramping clubs on a volunteer basis whereas DOC tend to maintain most of the great walks huts. Please treat the huts with respect as they are offered to enable people to access the national parks and no-one is paid to clean up after you.


Some people feel inclined to bring a tent. There are tent sites in some of the low lying areas but most people will find that the hut system is roughing it enough. A tent is great if you want to camp next to your car but it's not really what you want for tramping.

Great Walks

New Zealand has a number of 'Great Walks', which are very well maintained, cover some of the most beautiful scenery, and in the peak season, can be quite busy, requiring bookings with DOC well in advance. More information is available at The DOC great walks website.

The great walks are:

  • The Milford Track, (about 4 days) which runs from Lake Te Anau through the McKinnon pass in the Southern Alps, leading out to Milford Sound. This is often considered one of the most spectacular walks in the world.
  • The RouteBurn Track, (about 3 days) which starts at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu near Queenstown, coming out at The Divide on the road to Milford.
  • The Heaphy Track, on the northern tip of the South Island. This runs through some rain forest on the west coast, through beech forest, to tussock in the higher altitudes.
  • The Kepler Track
  • The Rakiura Track, on Stewart Island
  • The Abel Tasman Coast Track
  • Whanganui River Journey
  • Tongariro Northern Circuit, which passes through the central North Island's volcanic plateau.
  • Waikaremoana Track

External links

New Zealand Tramper Department of Conservation