From visiting vineyards to exploring gorgeous cityscapes, New Zealand offers a wide range of activities for the average tourist to experience. When visiting the South Island, though, expect to be dazzled by the wide array of mountains, lakes, forests, and fjords — all ideal for the avid hiker. This place is a dream come true for people who love being outdoors, and especially as a New Zealand family holiday option for those who enjoy hiking, or as New Zealanders call it, trekking. Here are the top five great hiking spots to check out on the South Island.
Five Incredible Hikes to Explore on New Zealand’s South Island
At around 10 kilometers, Hooker Valley is generally considered an easy hike and takes roughly two hours to complete. And make sure to start the trail about an hour before the sun rises, so you don’t miss your chance to see this incredible sunrise the trail is famous for as it hits the face of the Aoraki/Mount Cook.
Mueller hike is not the faint of heart. It’s considered an advanced route that can take up to 8 hours to complete the total of 10.4 km return. It’s located on the alpine and has bunk beds for up to 28 people, although you can also choose to spend the night outdoors in which case there is a campground next door. The hiking route is steep but offers breathtakingly beautiful views of the South Island landscape. It’s advisable to plan ahead for this one and book your cabin in advance, either online or at the DOC office in the nearest town.
Although completing the Roys Peak trail may take 5-6 hours, the 16km return hike can be too much for novices — not to mention the 4,029 feet of elevation! But if you can make it to the top, the view across Lake Wanaka and its islands is one you will soon not forget.
This 7 km trail will take the advanced hiker up to four hours to complete. Be warned that although the route is as rewarding as the views are breathtaking, you may be crossing rivers and steep rock slabs. You may even require steel cables to access and navigate the alpine lakes. It’s located in Fiordland National Park, one of the wettest places in New Zealand, so prepare to get wet and dress accordingly. Grippy boots for this trail are a must. It’s not a good idea to try this route’s exposed rock when wet, so make sure to check out the weather forecast before taking it on.
Besides Gertrude Saddle, Fiordland National Park also offers an easy hiking route for beginners. With an elevation of 1312 feet, the Chasm is a hiking trail that’s ideal for hikers seeking relaxation rather than a challenge. The whole trail can be completed in less than 20 minutes and it offers views of the surrounding rainforest as well as the numerous waterfalls. And with various species of mosses and ferns to check out, it’s an ideal hiking destination for anyone looking to learn more about the flora and fauna inhabiting the area. You might even get to see the famous kea birds lurking around!