How to Choose the Right Great Walk

17th May 2024|3 min

The Great Walks booking season is about to open, giving you the chance to secure a spot on one of the country’s premier tramping tracks. With 10 outstanding options, it can be hard to know how to choose. Here are a few top tips to get you started.

Have fun researching

Became an armchair traveller and research the different walks on offer. Which one takes your fancy? You want to choose a walk that’s within your capabilities, so weigh up the length of the track as well as the suggested walking times for each day. These will vary depending on the difficulty of each section of the track, including the elevation gain, the track and the terrain, so consider these things too.

Essential resources for your research include NZ Mountain Safety Council’s NZ Hiking + Tramping Video Series, Plan My Walk and the Department of Conservation (DOC) website, which has a comparison of the key details of all the walks.

Ask around

Find out about other people’s experiences of the walk. Plan My Walk is a good place to start. You'll find plenty of detailed track reviews, which include a track rating along with other useful information and little gems, like the best lunch spot! Also check out tramping groups on social media. If you’ve still got questions, phone the local DOC Visitor Centre and speak to a ranger – they have a wealth of local knowledge.

Skill check-in

Think about the ability and needs of everyone in your group. Does anyone have underlaying health conditions or injuries that could impact their enjoyment of the walk? Will everyone be able to carry a pack for the full length of the track? Are they going to enjoy the tramp you’ve chosen or do you need an easier option?

If you’ve got children in your group, make sure the walk is suitable for them. The Milford Track, for example, isn’t recommended for children under 10, due to the exposed mountainous environment and often adverse weather.

Logistics matter

Many of the Great Walks are off the beaten track, which is a big part of their appeal. That means getting to the start of the track and back again may involve some organisation. Factor this into your overall trip planning, including the cost and time you’ll need to take off work. An extra day at the end of the walk is always a good idea, too, so you have time to explore the area.

Kepler Track

Get online to book

You can book all Great Walks on the DOC website here.
Here are booking details:

May 28 at 9.30am: Milford Track and Lake Waikaremoana
May 30 at 9.30am: Abel Tasman Coast Track, Rakiura Track and Whanganui Journey.
June 5 at 9.30am: Routeburn Track and Paparoa Track.
June 6 at 9.30am: Kepler Track, Heaphy Track and Tongariro Northern Circuit.

If you miss out on a spot this time, there are heaps of other summer tramping options to discover around the motu.

Plan My Walk is a great way to get ideas as well as plan your trip.

Remember to always follow the NZ Land Safety Code when exploring our great outdoors:
  1. Choose the right trip for you – learn about the route and make sure you have the skills for it.
  2. Understand the weather – it can change fast. Check the forecast and change your plans if needed.
  3. Pack warm clothes and extra food – prepare for bad weather and an unexpected night out.
  4. Share your plans and take ways to get help – telling a trusted person your trip details and taking a distress beacon can save your life.
  5. Take care of yourself and each other – eat, drink and rest, stick with your group, and make decisions together.