The 5 Best Day Hikes in New Zealand
Just a short ferry ride from Central Auckland stands Rangitoto Island. The island is actually a volcano, one of over a hundred that lie above and below ground in the Auckland region. The island has a great trail system that leads to the top with expansive views of several nearby islands and downtown Auckland itself. There’s a small detour to some caves that are well worth the extra trip. The ferry from Auckland goes a few times a day, it’s just a matter of getting back. You don’t want to be left on the island!
The Pinnacles are located on the Coromandel Peninsula on the North Island of New Zealand. They are the second highest point on the peninsula and offer the best hiking trail around the area. The hike itself is a massive one. Starting from the car park to the summit and back is a good eight hours, but it’s completely worth it. You cross streams, hanging bridges, steps carved from stone and wood, and go from easy to hard in less than a minute. But the best is at the end where you have to climb a few metal stairs that were bolted to the boulders to hoist yourself up to the top. From there, you can see everywhere and you’ll thank yourself for climbing hundreds of stairs to get to this point.
This is by far the most popular day hike in the entire country. Partially famous due to it’s fame in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy at Mt. Doom, Mt. Ruapehu also houses the best day hike. It’s a gruelling one, covering nearly eight hours of your time, but if you’re in killer shape and hike fast, I’ve known some to finish in six. If you’re needing a kick in the butt, here’s your best friend. Thousands of stairs get your legs burning on this trail. If it were only stairs to do and see, it wouldn’t be worth it. It’s the summit that makes this hike so special. You literally hike on this volcano past incredible turquoise pools that make you feel like you’ve travelled to the land of Jurassic Park. It’s so high up, when you look around it’s as if you are ‘The Eye’ (in the trilogy) yourself. Sir Peter Jackson knew what he was doing when he chose Tongariro Crossing as a main player in his movies. It’s unbelievably breathtaking.
Ben Lommond has long been a favourite hike for locals in Queenstown, as many tourists didn’t know about it, nor wanted to take the time to hike it. Ben Lommond stands behind the quaint yet buzzing lakeside town of Queenstown, offering hikers the best and cheapest view around the area. There are several starting points and you can even shave off an hour of your time by taking the gondola up to the Skyline view, and then venture on from there. But this big 6-7 hike is worth every minute. The start is a shaded in a forest as you increase in elevation for a little over an hour and then there’s no shade after that. Start early if you’re going in the summer as the sun can definitely beat you down. Once you reach the precipice of the hill, you have the choice of going left or right. Right takes you around another hill and brings you out by the Shotover River. Go left and you’ll see the hike ahead of you to the top of Ben Lommond. Scrambling over rocks and keeping your breath is part of the fun, but once you get to the top, you’ll be so happy you kept on. The 360-degree view of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, Mt. Aspiring National Park, and beyond takes your breath away more than the hike did!
Roys Peak is another must-do in New Zealand. The peak has become extremely famous over the last few years as a go-to photo opportunity for big-named photographers. It’s view from the summit is one-of-a-kind and the thousands of photos in circulation prove that it’s a popular choice with just about everyone who visits Wanaka in the South Island. This 5-6-hour hike is wonderful from beginning to end. Just don’t forget your camera or smartphone because you’ll want to add this to your Instagram immediately when you get back in to town. With an expansive view of Lake Wanaka and several islands within it, you’ll spend more time at the top gazing out at the view than you did hiking up.
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