A Backpacker’s Guide: Must do things in New Zealand
Travel hungry? Planning your bucket list? Try New Zealand!
1. Traverse the extreme landscapes of Tongariro National Park: Northern Circuit
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New Zealand is known for its most extreme and dramatic landscapes, from active volcanoes to Maori religious sites and expansive beech forests. Stock up on food and get your hiking poles ready as this National park is part of the southern end of a range of volcanoes. The ground will be uneven but will bring with it serene views that plaster the background.
Our recommendation for any aspiring adventurer out there is to take the Northern Circuit of the National park. Though sharing a stretch with the famed Tongariro Alpine crossing, the Northern Circuit is longer and considered one of New Zealand’s 9 Great Walks. There are 3 huts or camping grounds that travellers can book to stay on their journey. The trail crosses between Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe, the latter of which was the famed mount doom in the Lord of the Rings series.
Free up your weekend today and take a trip across one of New Zealand’s 9 Great Walks.
2. Follow the shoreline of remote beaches at Lake Waikaremoana
Another one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, the Lake Waikaremoana trail will take you past grasslands, multiple forest types and over mountains. While still regularly maintained, you’ll find this trail as more of an off the beaten track experience and will take you into the stunning natural wilderness that New Zealand has to offer.
We recommend potential hikers to book their accommodation months in advance especially if you plan on hiking during New Zealand’s peak hiking season between November to late March. The first day of the hike covers over 17 kilometres of wilderness so we advise hikers to be well prepared especially for the first day. With that said the trek will take you past one of the most beautiful lakes in New Zealand, Waikaremoana Lake, so there’ll be plenty of views to take in while on your journey.
If you’re looking for a trek off the beaten path, be sure to plan your trip across the Lake Waikaremoana Lake!
3. Visit Wakana and its tree in the middle of a lake
With its iconic tree in the middle of a lake, this ski and summer resort town has a variety of activities for you to enjoy. Snap that Instagram photo with a hike up Roy’s peak or climb Mt. Iron and admire the views of the Southern Alps. There’s plenty to do with ski resorts for the winter, horseback riding tours for the summer or take a skydiving tour if you so dare!
Should you wish to plan your next resort trip to Wakana, we recommend visiting right before the scorching summer months of June and August. The best time would be between October and April where the weather is warm but not hot, perfect for hiking and biking.
Wakana has plenty of things to see and do with its plethora of tracks, trails and tours, just be sure to avoid those sweltering summer months!
4. Witness the world’s steepest and fastest moving glacier at Franz Josef Glacier
One of New Zealand’s steepest and most awe-inspiring glaciers based on a Maori love story. The Maori name for the glacier is “The tears of Hine Hukatere'', based on a Maori oral tradition of Hine Hukatere, an avid climber who lost her lover while climbing the mountain together. It is said that the glaciers are her tears which flowed down the mountain and were frozen by the gods who took pity on her.
Hiking the Franz Josef Glacier will take you past spectacular ice formations and sceneries. If you fancy a break after your hike, there’s plenty of other natural attractions in close proximity to Franz Josef Glacier Village. From rainforests, to waterfalls and lakes, you’ll find plenty of things to do around the area besides hiking. Lake Mapourika has pristine waters that will tempt any adventurer to rent a kayak or paddle boat to venture across.
From the extreme glaciers of Franz Josef to the calming waters of Lake Mapourika, the area of Franz Josef Glacier has plenty of things to do for any avid nature lover!
5. Visit the iconic fjords of Milford Sound
Milford Sound is a river valley flanked by sheer rock faces and majestic peaks, a result of the remnants of erosion by ancient glaciers. Plenty of powerful waterfalls populate the Milford Sound which is further amplified by the huge amount of rain that the area receives each year. The average rainfall in the area is almost 7000mm per year which is close to 4 times the average of New Zealand!
While there is an easy option of a river cruise, our recommendation for enjoying the Milford Sound is to walk the Milford Track. It will take you across suspension bridges, pristine lakes, sky-scraping mountain peaks and enormous valley views. Best of all, it will also cross past the misty breath of Sutherland Falls, the tallest waterfall in New Zealand. This track is one of New Zealand’s most iconic trails and has been dubbed by many as the finest walk in the world.
If you’re looking for any one thing to do in New Zealand, the iconic fjords of Milford Sound is a must have for any bucket list!
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