ActivitiesNew Zealand

Hiking in New Zealand: 10 of the best and most beautiful hikes

This page may contain affiliate links.
Learn more in our disclaimer.

New Zealand is known for its stunning nature. From snowcapped mountains to beautiful beaches, from the biggest glaciers to the bluest lakes, New Zealand has them all. A road trip is a great way to explore New Zealand, but to get to the real good parts you’ll have to hike.

Now you know you’ll be hiking in New Zealand, you’re probably asking yourself where you should do so. Well, New Zealand is covered with awesome hikes, ranging from 5 minute walks to multi-day tramps. The Department of Conservation or DOC maintains most of them, and the their website is filled with information on all those hikes. Another great source of inspiration for us was the NZ Frenzy guidebook, with lively and funny explanations on tons of hikes and sights in New Zealand.

Did you know?
Tramping is another word for hiking in New Zealand.

Now, without further ado: 10 of the best and most beautiful hikes in New Zealand!

The Lake Matheson Walk

The Lake Matheson WalkThe Lake Matheson Walk

Duration: 1 – 1.5 hours
Difficulty: Easy, pretty flat
Decor: Stunning mountain reflections in lake

Lake Matheson is known for its perfect reflections of New Zealand’s highest mountains: Mount Cook and Mount Tasman. To marvel at this jaw-dropping sight, you’ll have to walk the  Lake Matheson Walk, either partly or entirely. Be prepared for tons of tourists though, it’s not surprisingly one of the most popular hikes on the South Island of New Zealand.


The Mount Iron Track

The Mount Iron TrackThe Mount Iron Track

Duration: 1 – 1.5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate, steady climb to the top
Decor: Beautiful 360° views over Wanaka and the surrounding countryside

Whereas locals seem to use the Mount Iron Track for jogging, I got sweaty from just walking up to the summit. The views are absolutely worth the effort though. Who doesn’t like to be rewarded with 360° panoramic views over a cute little city and a blue lake against a stunning backdrop of mountain ranges?


The Key Summit Track

The Key Summit TrackThe Key Summit Track

Duration: 2.5 – 3 hours
Difficulty: Moderate, gradual ascent to the top with steeper parts
Decor: Impressive 360° views over mountains and valleys

Fiordland National Park is New Zealand’s largest national park and one of the most visited. That’s mainly because of Milford Sound though, not because of the Key Summit Track. Nevertheless, it’s a beautiful hike (and a great workout for your butt). The 360° panoramic views at the summit won’t disappoint, I promise!


The Fox Glacier Valley Walk

The Fox Glacier Valley WalkThe Fox Glacier Valley Walk

Duration: 1 hour
Difficulty: Moderate, pretty steep slope, cross some sidestreams
Decor: Glacier in a rocky valley

The scenery at the Fox Glacier Valley Walk is fascinating, but also confronting and a little sad at the same time. You’ll be walking in an open riverbed, covered in moraine left behind by the retreating Fox Glacier. The atmosphere is a little weird, almost ominous. Might have to do with all the signs warning about quickly changing weather and track conditions. That’s part of the beauty of hiking in New Zealand though, crossing all kinds of landscapes.


The Lake Tekapo Peninsula Walkway

The Lake Tekapo Peninsula WalkwayThe Lake Tekapo Peninsula Walkway

Duration: 1.5 – 2 hours
Difficulty: Pretty easy, no clear path
Decor: Open fields on the shores of Lake Tekapo

The Lake Tekapo Peninsula was our first hike in New Zealand, and we were immediately blown away by its beauty. Lake Tekapo was the bluest lake we’d ever seen, and the surrounding scenery is jaw-dropping. We loved that there was no clear path to stick to, just orange markers to follow. At a certain point we wandered off the track (on purpose) to find the white bluffs that were described in the NZ Frenzy guidebook. Gorgeous. Thanks NZ Frenzy for leading us here!


The Sandymount Loop Track

The Sandymount Loop TrackThe Sandymount Loop Track

Duration: 40 minutes – 1 hour
Difficulty: Pretty easy if you go counterclockwise
Decor: Awesome views along the coastline of the Otago Peninsula

We accidentally walked the  Sandymount Loop Track in clockwise direction, opposite of what’s recommended. This meant that we had to climb the steep sand path you otherwise descend. Apart from this little hiccup, we loved this hike! The views along the coastline are breathtaking, and there’s hardly anyone else on the track. Just some sheep.


The Rob Roy Glacier Track

The Rob Roy Glacier TrackThe Rob Roy Glacier Track

Duration: 3-4 hours
Difficulty: Moderate, with pretty steep parts
Decor: Impressive view of the Rob Roy Glacier

We’d seen some adventure and some great views even before we made it to the car park of the Rob Roy Glacier Track. The hike itself is awesome too though, taking you over the roaring West Marukituki River, through a beech forest, to admire the Rob Roy Glacier. Our legs were jelly, but it was definitely worth it!


The Mahinepua Peninsula Track

The Mahinepua Peninsula TrackThe Mahinepua Peninsula Track

Duration: 1.5 – 2 hours
Difficulty: Pretty easy, with some hills to conquer
Decor: Outstanding coastal views

The Mahinepua Peninsula Track is a pretty off the beaten track hike. Chances are you won’t have to share these outstanding coastal views with any other hikers. As if the views weren’t enough, there are a couple of sheltered bays as well, where you can have a swim. This spot is definitely top-notch when it comes to hiking in New Zealand!


The Hooker Valley Track

The Hooker Valley TrackThe Hooker Valley Track

Duration: 3 hours
Difficulty: Easy, pretty flat
Decor: Breathtaking mountain views

The Hooker Valley Track in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is definitely one of our favourite hikes in New Zealand. You’ll be walking through the Hooker Valley towards a backdrop of stunning snowcapped mountains, ending at the Hooker Glacier Lake. The terrain is pretty easy, there’s just one short steep slope. It’s a pretty popular hike, but we know about a “secret” path leading to a more private spot at the Hooker Glacier Lake.


The Tongariro Alpine Crossing

The Tongariro Alpine CrossingThe Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Duration: 6-8 hours
Difficulty: Difficult, steep slopes, hard terrain, tricky weather
Decor: Volcanic terrain, craters, emerald lakes, unique landscape

And last but not least, our longest hike in New Zealand: the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. It took us 6 hours to complete this one way hike over volcanic land. It’s a popular, but demanding, hike with steep slopes, strong winds and a rough terrain. Read up on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing beforehand and go prepared!


There’s no doubt about it: New Zealand is a hiker’s Mecca. The country has so much unspoilt nature, and they seem to be doing a great job keeping it that way. While hiking in New Zealand, enjoying the most stunning views (for free!), we should do our part too. It’s a small effort to take our garbage with us, heed all signs, and keep to the track at all times, but it goes a long way for nature. Keep it green!

Have you been hiking in New Zealand yet? What’s your favourite NZ hike? We would love to read about your experiences in the comments!


Like it? Pin it!
Did you find this post helpful? Help us spread the word by sharing this post or pinning the following image.

Hiking in New Zealand: 10 of the best and most beautiful hikesHiking in New Zealand: 10 of the best and most beautiful hikes