Best Hiking in New Zealand's snowy Volcanoes and Golden Beaches
One of New Zealand's Great Tracks (Hikes)
The Great Walks of New Zealand
New Zealand has hundreds of good hikes and also nine main "Great Walks" / "Great Tracks". These Great Walks are managed by the New Zealand Department of Conservation " DOC" and that department books the hikes and provides maps and information. The hikes can be done for a few or for several days depending on where you start and finish. Therre is organised transportation to the starts and ends of the hikes. The trails are incredibly scenic and well laid out. The hikers walk hut to hut or carry their tents and gear and camp in designated campgrounds. For these "Great Walk" pre booking and pre payment is necessary for overnighting in huts or campgrounds.
Some of the more popular Great Hikes:
1)The Tongariro Northern Circuit on the North Island.
VOLCANOES OF TONGARIRO CIRCUIT
This is a four day hike over volcanic landscape. It is a rugged landscape above the treeline. The vegetation is mainly grasses and there are interesting live volcanic areas with steam vents, hot mud and other rock formations.
A much shorter crossing of this area can be done in one long day by fit hikers. Companies will drive hikers to the start of the hike and pick you up at the end of the day. This hike is VERY POPULAR.
We were in this area during some windy cloudy rainy days and decided to do an in and out day hike of about 5 hours starting at the Whakapaka ski area. It was spectacular. I took the pictures in this section mainly from the North Island Tongariro area.
SOUTH ISLAND TRECKING
2)The Milbourn Track on the south Island is a 54 kilometer hike in the rugged scenic mountains of the fiordland area. Pre booking is necessary for this very popular hike.
3)The Routeburn Track 40 kilometer three days of moderate difficulty.on the South Island.
4)The Able Tasman Coastal Track is an easy three day walk. It is most popular and needs prior booking as do most of the popular hikes.
The Able Tasman Hike
This Great Walk is described as an easy walk along the Northern Coast of the South Island. It is 51 kilometers long. It follows the coast and has many side paths down to beautiful beaches and bays in Able Tasman National Park. It costs about $20 per day for sleeping in the huts and less for the tenting areas. Since it is so poular you need to book in advance.
This hike can be done as a 3-4 day back pack overnight hike. Or parts of the hike can be done as a day trip coming in and out by water taxi. There is also the option of going on a guided kyak trip to part of this coast, or even as a delux trip coming in by water taxi and sleeping on a well equiped hotel boat.
We decided to bus from the inter island ferry dock to Nelson on "The Naked Bus" because that company seems to be the only budget bus option. Its a good bus company but you need to book ahead on the internet. We had a bit of trouble booking in some small towns because we tried to use the internet in the public library and the word naked was banned by the computer sensors.Also I dont know how well they clean the Naked Bus. My partner dropped her swiss army knife on one leg of our bus trip. A few days later we rode the same bus and were happy to find the lost knife under the same seat where it fell a few days before.
After a night at the friendly but grotty Nelson Hostel we took a local bus to the Marahau trailhead. The hike started on a boardwalk over an estuary full of birds, then passed through a park and up over hills and down to beaches that looked picture perfect, like they were right out of the tourist brochures.
The hike to Anchorage Hut is supposed to take 3-4 hours. I think it took us about 6 hours. However we loved it and stopped a lot to stare at the tree ferns, explore the lush regenerating forest and enjoy the beautiful beaches. We saw many kyakers enjoying their guided tours.
We had booked two nights at Anchorage hut and this was wonderful. The Anchorage site grassy and well laid out with a tenting area, cooking areas, and a sleeping hut with mattresses all laid out side to side. It is right on a beautiful beach with rocky headlands and caves. And in the caves at night were GLOW WORMS. The glow worms are moth larvea which look like tiny threads in the light, but shine brilliantly to attract insects in the dark. They thrive in undisturbed damp areas of caves and forests. I explored the cliff and cave area in the daytime so I would know where to go that night. After dinner when it was dark we returned to find the caves and rock crevacess alive with glowing lights. Entering the caves was like walking out into the depths of the universe. Later on our trip we went to some commercial glow worm caves, but these sea side caves were just as exciting.
The next day we were up early and continued our hike. We had to pass some tidal areas so did this part while the tide was out.
Anchorage Hut area and Beyond
We had to be up early to cross the bay while the tide was out early in the morning. Rock and stick markers showed the way to follow the interesting hike across mainly dry tidal mud flats. There were a few places where it was wet especially at the end, and we had to take off our shoes. Then there were piles of sharp shells so we had to put our shoes back on. Then there was deep sticky mud.By the time we had crossed the bay our feet and legs and other body parts were very muddy. Luckily there was a nice boat dock . We clambered up and found a hose where we could wash up.
There is a small resort town here with mainly private homes, some nicely decorated with old tires, interesting logs, and lovely flower gardens.
Back on the track we hiked quite high and had good views. We took a side hike to an interesting stream and waterfall area. There were supposed to be some types of eels or water creatures-but we didn't see them. On the way back we had to take the long way since the tide had come in and filled the bay. We visited some more lovely beaches.
That night I was very tired and wanted to go to sleep early, but I couldn't resist a second trip to the glow worm cave.
There are more hikes and more cabins further up the Track-Anchorage to Bark Bay Hut is a 3-4 hours walk. Bark Bay to Awaroa Hut is another 3-4 hours. Awaroa Hut to Totaranui is another 2 hours. The water taxis come in to these huts so people can take a water taxi in and hike out, or take a water taxi in and out.
This is a spectacular hiking area. We went in November which is the New Zealand spring. It was sunny t shirt weather every day.
New Zealand Hikes
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