New Zealand’s North Island is home to some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes. From snowy mountains and alpine lakes to volcanic craters, lush forests and miles of rugged coastline, it’s a land of extraordinary natural beauty. And one of the best ways to experience it is on foot, on either a scenic walking trail along coastal cliffs or a challenging hike to the summit. Here we’ve compiled a list of some of the North Island’s best hiking trails.
The best hikes in Auckland
Duration: 2 hours return
The Rangitoto Summit Track is undoubtedly one of the best hikes around Auckland. Located just off the coast on the dormant volcanic Rangitoto Island, the trail begins as soon as you step off the ferry at Rangitoto Wharf. The track climbs through ancient lava fields and the world’s largest pōhutukawa forest to the summit. Circle the rim of the crater and be rewarded with panoramic views of Auckland and the nearby Hauraki Gulf islands. Make sure to bring a torch and explore the lava caves track on your return walk.
Wenderholm Perimeter Path
Duration: 90 mins
A nice, long track that is a short drive from Auckland CBD, the Wenderholm Perimeter Track makes for the perfect day trip from the city. Take a lengthy walk along the beaches while gazing up at the magnificent Puhoi Valley in the distance. This path isn’t challenging, it’s more about slowing things down to appreciate your new surroundings.
Distance: 16 kms
Duration: 4-5 hours
Enjoy the unique experience of walking from one side of New Zealand to the other in a single day. The Coast to Coast Walkway is a meandering trail through historic sites, volcanoes and fascinating Auckland landmarks. Start at the ferry terminal on the shores of the Waitemata Harbour and wind your way through bustling downtown to Manukau Harbour on the other side. Enjoy sweeping views from the volcanic craters of Maungakiekie and Maunga-whau along the way.
Where to stay
The Quality Hotel Lincoln Green in West Auckland offers spacious accommodation within easy reach of the city centre as well as the beautiful west coast beaches.
Hiking tracks in Wellington
Distance: 7 kms
Duration: 4 hours return
One for the family, the Makara Track is a coastal loop trail just 30 mins from New Zealand’s capital, Wellington. The walk begins and ends at Makara Beach and winds through rolling farmland, climbing to vantage points for WWII gun emplacements along the cliffs at historic Fort Opau. Enjoy sweeping views of Mana, Kapiti and the South Island.
Distance: 4 kms
Duration: 40 minutes return
An easy day trip from Wellington, Matiu/Somes Island is a scientific reserve with a fascinating history as a quarantine facility and military defence point. Catch a ferry from Wellington and explore the island’s family-friendly loop track with beautiful views across Wellington Harbour to the city. Keep an eye out for abundant wildlife and native birds.
Where to stay
Relax in well-appointed rooms overlooking manicured gardens at the Quality Hotel The Angus in picturesque Lower Hutt, a short drive from Wellington.
Lake Taupō walking tracks
Distance: 19 kms
Duration: 8 hours
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand is an unforgettable trail through a volcanic wonderland. Discover lava flows, active craters, steam vents and the brilliant Emerald Lakes along with spectacular views. Lauded as New Zealand’s greatest day hike, the challenging trail can be walked in either direction, starting from Mangatepopo Valley near Whakapapa or from the Ketetahi end.
Distance: Various walks
Duration: 1 – 5 hours
Lake Taupō is a huge crater lake inside the caldera of the Taupō volcano. With its sparkling clear waters and rugged mountain scenery, it’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Stroll the Great Lake Pathway, perfect for families with picnic spots and playgrounds along the way, while the longer Great Lake Trails showcase breathtaking views across the lake of snow-capped Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Ruapehu in the distance.