Planning your trip and considering where you're going, the track conditions and skill level of your group increases the chances of staying safe while in the outdoors. Involving everyone in the trip planning ensures you are all prepared, and that the group has the right gear, skills, and expectations to have a safe and enjoyable trip. Good outcomes are the result of good planning.
Try our new interactive learning tool: How to plan a trip like a pro
Watch how to plan your trip
Questions to ask when you plan
- Where are you going? Research routes online, talk to experienced friends and experts to find a trip that suits your skills.
- Do you need permission for the area?
- Who are you going with?
- How experienced are the group members? What previous experience and skills can they bring?
- How long will it take? - Each day and total trip time. Think about each day and the total trip, and what an achievable daily distance would be.
- Where will you stay at night? Are there huts along the way? Will you camp?
- Where can you get local knowledge? Visit your local DOC Visitor Centre, talk to locals or research online.
- What are potential hazards? Think about the weather, the season, the local area and understand what hazards could occur along your trip.
Choose a trip that suits you
New Zealand uses a national system to identify the difficulty level of a track, there are six different levels. Remember, the weather has a huge influence on how challenging your trip might be. Even an easy, well-graded track can be difficult in extreme weather. The terrain in New Zealand varies a lot. In a short distance you can walk/hike along flat tracks and then find yourself climbing steep hills. Before you start make sure you know what’s ahead of you and consider whether your fitness is suited to the challenge.
In most parts of NZ you can find multiple trip options, so pick something that’s suited to you and your group and consider each person:
- Fitness level
- Experience level
- What does everyone want from the experience?
- Any health conditions to consider?
- Any kids going?
- Watch and learn about Knowing your Limits
- Find the right level of track on the Department of Conservation (DOC) website here.
Learn about your destination
Get local knowledge about your destination such as the DOC website, Walking Access Commission, TOPO maps, talking to staff at local DOC Visitor Centres and friends to get a good idea of what to expect. From here, it will help you choose what kind of equipment you will need or additional skills that are required for rivers, difficult terrain and exposed ridgelines and hazards.
Set out your plan
Get your whole group involved and take your time to do this. Get a map out, get together and scope it out.
- How will you get there?
- How long it will each section take you?
- What is the terrain like?
- Will your phone work?
Do a break down of the day/each day
- Where will you stay at night?
- Points of interest? Peaks/ ridges/ river crossings?
- How long will it take you each day?
- Where will you have breaks?
- When does it get dark?
- Do you need to book accommodation?
- Have a backup plan.
Ready to go?
- Check yourself – how are you feeling today?
- Check the weather forecast again – is today the day?
- Send your trip plans- let them know you're heading off and when when you are back.
If not – it’s okay! Choose a different trip, take the time to up-skill on outdoor safety techniques, reschedule. Let your trusted contact know you are rescheduling.
What to do next
Continue your preparation with our online resources, there is still plenty to learn to ensure for a safe and enjoyable trip!
Explore our resources
- Plan My Walk app | Use our free planning tool to choose tracks, get alerts, build a gear list and share your plan with others before you go.
- Look at what you will need to take | Supplies section of our website
- Get more skills | Navigation, River Safety and more essentials in our Skills Section
- Read our manuals | Access the NZ Bushcraft Manual and other digitised resources here
- Watch our how-to videos | There are plenty more and useful tips in our video section