Our Favorite New Zealand Hikes

New Zealand is an amazing place for hiking, and Kiwis are hard core trampers. We spent six months between the North and South Islands and did a lot of hiking, along beaches, up volcanoes, and to wineries and glaciers. Here are some of our favorite New Zealand hikes.

Hiking Volcanoes in New Zealand

Since New Zealand is known for its volcanoes, we had to walk some of them! It means a lot of vertical walking, but there’s usually a payoff of a good view. The North Island has nine active volcanoes, and much of the land features like in Rotorua, are results of volcanic activity.

Here are some of the volcanoes we hiked in New Zealand’s North Island:

Maungawhau/mount eden, auckland

Mount Eden is a great hike to do when you spend a couple of days in Auckland. It’s conveniently located to downtown, and an easy walk to do without any hiking gear. As a result, it’s popular and can be mobbed with tourists on a nice day. Still, it offers nice views and there’s good restaurants and bars to reward yourself after the volcano hike!

hiking Mount Eden NZ
Lots of people on the footpath at Mount Eden
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Boating The Bay of Islands

New Zealand’s Bay of Islands is renowned as a summer destination. The North Island’s water wonderland, we spent a month boating The Bay of Islands. We loved anchoring in cozy bays, hiking uninhabited islands, and visiting historic towns. It’s a great place to visit by sailboat.

About New Zealand’s Bay of Islands

New Zealand’s Bay of Islands is both beautiful and an important historical area. Captain Cook stopped here on his South Pacific voyages and gave it it’s name. Also, the Bay of Islands was the first part of the country to be inhabited by Europeans. Maybe more importantly, it’s the site of the signing of the 1840 Treaty of Waitingi between the British and Maoris.

beach, Boating the Bay of islands
Beach at Urupukapuka Island

Currently, The Bay of Islands is known for beautiful beaches, clear water, and gorgeous scenery. The entire region is called “The Winterless North” because the weather never gets freezing like in other parts of the country. It’s New Zealand’s top cruising ground in the summer. We visited in autumn and fell in love with the region.

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Hiking in New Zealand

They call it “tramping” here, but whatever you call it, hiking in New Zealand is a way of life. If you like to hike, New Zealand is paradise. It’s one of the best places we’ve been for hiking. Everywhere we visited on both North and South islands had nice hiking trails, thousands of them.

New Zealand Is a Hiking Paradise

One of our favorite ways to see a new place is by hiking. Especially after days on the boat, it’s a great way to stretch your legs and get fresh air. Sometimes you get to commune with local wildlife and people too!

hiking trail Greymouth South Island
An inviting trail in Greymouth, South Island

Some of our favorite places for hiking are The Marquesas and Curaçao, thanks to a variety of beautiful trails. New Zealand hiking is even better for variety and quality. The sheer number of well laid out trails means you can pretty much go hiking anywhere. It’s practically impossible to get lost because they are so maintained and marked.

Let's go Tramping sign
A well marked New Zealand trail

Brian and I marvel at the work that went into building these trails and then maintaining them. Someone has to bring loads of lumber into the forests to erect the stairs! Someone else carried in steel to build a bridge to cross the river. We are impressed at New Zealand’s trail infrastructure and reaped the benefits.

Pelorus swing Bridge
We hiked across this swing bridge on the South Island

Add to that the lack of dangerous animals and a temperate climate, and hiking in New Zealand is nearly perfect.

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New Zealand Road Trip Route

Our two month campervan road trip of New Zealand is over and we had a great time. The New Zealand road trip route took us from Tauranga, North Island to Fiordland in the South and back. We drove over 6200km and saw countless beautiful sights.

Freedom camping near the beach in Hawkes Bay
Freedom camping near Napier, Hawkes Bay

Planning Our New Zealand Road Trip Route

Small as New Zealand is – equivalent to Colorado – there’s a lot to see and do. Before we hopped in the van, we didn’t have much of a plan besides seeing as much as we could. We bookmarked Lonely Planet, read people’s blogs, and used Google Maps to decide where to go and what to do.

Once we started driving, we only knew where we were going next. Then, as the days progressed, we booked two things weeks in advance: the Doubtful Sound overnight cruise, and the Kaikoura Coastal Walk. Everything else we booked a day or two in advance or last minute.

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Sailing Around Auckland

Auckland is known as The City of Sails. So many boats sail and anchor in the waters around New Zealand’s biggest city. The islands and bays near Auckland are some great cruising grounds. We enjoyed sailing around Auckland.

Auckland city from the water
Auckland city from the water

Getting to Auckland by Boat

We sailed from Fiji to Whangarei, New Zealand in November, and spent a few months in the marina there. With friends on board in late December, we took our catamaran to several anchorages before berthing in Auckland for a couple of nights.

The anchorages were varied except for a few things: they were all beautiful, very busy with mostly Kiwi boats, and had good holding. Finding a place to anchor is easy. Being a liveaboard is relatively painless when you’re sailing around Auckland.

sailing around Auckland map
The waterways between Whangarei and around Auckland

We spent most of our time motoring or motor sailing around Auckland. The winds were not strong, but they were mostly with us, at least. We chose not to sail further south because the winds get a lot stronger, and further south there are nowhere near as many places to anchor.

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