15 Ideal Day Hikes in the South Island, New Zealand


The following is a guest post about the ideal hikes in the South Island of New Zealand by Daniel, a complete-time travel blogger who (along with his companion Bailey) runs the weblog Destinationless Travel. More than the final year, they have been exploring New Zealand in there trusty van “Betsy.” Their future plans consist of travelling Myanmar as nicely as Canada, continuing to develop there weblog. You can verify out their adventures right here!

New Zealand’s South Island is one particular of the most spectacular locations on earth. It boasts impressive mountain peaks, picturesque waterfalls, turquoise lakes, and diverse forests. By far the most well known way to discover New Zealand’s South Island is on a road trip.

Having said that, a auto or van just will not get you to the ideal and most stunning spots. Rather, you will have to have to venture out on foot and discover New Zealand’s rugged terrain. Hiking New Zealand’s South Island is undoubtedly the way to get the ideal views, and you do not even have to have to do a multi-day hike, a day stroll in the South Island will do!

From tougher trails that involve a tiny courage to substantially simpler ones suited to all fitness levels, there’s a South Island day stroll for virtually everybody. Beneath are the ideal day hikes on New Zealand’s South Island, handpicked by me just after virtually one particular year exploring this breathtaking location!

Hooker Valley Track (Mount Cook National Park)

Distance: 10km return, three hours return
Difficulty: Uncomplicated

The Hooker Valley is conveniently one particular of New Zealand’s most well known day walks. Not only is it stunningly stunning but the trail is also incredibly nicely maintained and flat. The trail length is 10km return and ends at the Hooker Lake in Mount Cook National Park. What’s so unique about this trail is that at the finish of the lake sits Mount Cook (New Zealand’s tallest mountain.)

Hooker Valley - Best Hikes South Island New Zealand

Lake Marian Track (Fiordland National Park)

Distance: two.4km return, 20 minutes return to the falls and three hours return to the lake
Difficulty: Sophisticated

The Lake Marian Track is a quick three-hour stroll in Fiordland National Park. The trail is a excellent quit on your way to Milford Sound and is one particular of the most picturesque in the national park. The trial entails a two-hour climb by way of the forest prior to you attain the spectacular Lake Marian with the Southern Alps as a backdrop. It is a excellent location for a swim, that is if you can brave the cold glacier fed lake!

Lake Marian - Best Hikes South Island New Zealand

Ben Lomond Track (Queenstown)

Distance:three-four hours to Ben Lomond Saddle, six-eight hours to Ben Lomond Summit
Difficulty: Intermediate (much more difficult towards the summit)

The Ben Lomond trail is yet another well known trail. This trail truly begins in the heart of Queenstown and ends at the summit of Ben Lomond Mountain. If you do go to the summit anticipate an eight hour day, even so, the excellent point about this day stroll is that you can reduce it quick and nevertheless get remarkable views. In truth, the saddle is only a couple of hours return but has incredibly equivalent views to the summit.

Ben Lomond - Best Hikes South Island New Zealand

Hike to Luxmore Hut on Kepler Track (Fiordland National Park)

Distance: 28km return, eight-10 hours return
Difficulty: Intermediate

The Kepler Track is one particular of New Zealand’s Excellent Walks and the complete track requires about three days to comprehensive. Having said that, if your time is quick you can devote the day walking to the most stunning spot along the trail – the Luxmore Hut. At the hut, you get spectacular views of Lake Te Anau and will also most likely see a couple of Kea’s (New Zealand’s friendly Alpine parrot.) 

Moke Lake Loop Track (Queenstown)

Distance: two-three hours
Difficulty: Uncomplicated

Moke Lake is a spectacular lake renowned for its nevertheless water that provides remarkable reflections. Positioned close to Queenstown there are two hikes – one particular about the lake, and the other to a viewpoint. The stroll about the lake is incredibly flat and only requires a couple of hours. The hike to the viewpoint is shorter but goes straight up for 45 minutes prior to you attain the top rated.

Moke Lake - Best Hikes South Island New Zealand

Franz and Fox Glacier Walks (West Coast)

Distance: About one particular hour every
Difficulty: Uncomplicated but with some elevation

The Franz Joseph and Fox Glacier and the most well known and nicely know glaciers in New Zealand. These glaciers are very well known for glacier heli-hikes even so, you do not have to devote a couple of hundred dollars to see them. Rather, you can stroll to one particular or each viewing platforms for cost-free! Every single trail is about 1 hour extended and each are incredibly nicely maintained.

Sealy Tarns Track (Mount Cook National Park)

Distance: three-four hours
Difficulty: Intermediate (steep and 2200 methods)

The Sealy Tarns Trail is not so substantially a stroll as it is a climb. Having said that, alternatively of a path, it entails stairs – 2000 of them! It sounds like a lot and it is, but this trail is so worth it! As soon as at the top rated you have possibly the ideal views of Mount Cook National Park. If you are feeling adventurous you can truly continue on to hike to the Mueller Hut which is yet another two-hour climb.

Sealy Tarns - Best Hikes South Island New Zealand

Roys Peak (Wanaka)

Distance: 16km return, five-six hours return
Difficulty: Intermediate (steep track)

Roys Peak is by far my favourite day stroll in New Zealand. This is also the hardest hike on this list in my opinion. While it is only 8km one particular way you are faced with a 1100m elevation climb. Having said that, as soon as at the peak, you are rewarded with the ideal views of Lake Wanaka that most likely exist. The trail begins only five minutes from Wanaka and is ideal hiked at sunrise to prevent the significant crowds.

Thanks largely in portion to Instagram, the track has turn out to be incredibly busy in the final couple of years. You now have to have to spend $two to stroll it and there is generally a line of men and women waiting to capture one particular of the most well known images of it. You can take into consideration nearby Isthmus Peak track as a equivalent option.

Roys Peak - Best Hikes South Island New Zealand

Waipohatu Waterfall Track (Southland)

Distance: six.5km loop, two hours
Difficulty: Uncomplicated

The Waipohatu Track is a rather one of a kind trail to this list for the reason that alternatively of looking for glorious mountain views or spectacular lakes you alternatively search for mesmerizing waterfalls! This trail requires about two hours to comprehensive and along the way you can stop by two remarkable waterfalls. The trail also has a couple of river crossings by way of bridges and is normally uncrowded and peaceful.

Queenstown Hill (Queenstown)

Distance: 1.five-two.five hours based on selected route
Difficulty: Uncomplicated (even though uphill)

Queenstown Hill is yet another trail that starts virtually proper in the centre Queenstown. This trail is substantially simpler than its neighbour Ben Lomond and is undoubtedly one particular of the ideal items to do in Queenstown. Reaching the top rated only requires about an hour and as soon as there you can appear down at the stunning Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu!

Queenstown Hill - Best Hikes South Island New Zealand

Tasman Lake Stroll (Mount Cook National Park)

Distance: two.6km return, 20-40 minutes return to Blue Lakes and Tasman Glacier View, 1 hour to Tasman Glacier Lake 
Difficulty: Uncomplicated

The Tasman Lake stroll is the shortest stroll on this list. The round trip only requires 20 minutes to comprehensive, even though the Division of Conservation recommends about 40 minutes, and is incredibly flat. As soon as you attain the Tasman Lake edge you can stare out at the Tasman Glacier and love the picturesque view. It is also not uncommon to see icebergs floating in the lake!

Tasman Glacier - Best Hikes South Island New Zealand

Truman Track (West Coast)

Distance: 1.4km return, 30 minutes return
Difficulty: Uncomplicated

The Truman Track is a coastal walk that leads to a secluded beach in New Zealand’s north western coast. This trail is only about 30 minutes extended but is a excellent location to attempt and spot Blue Penguins. The viewing platform is also the best location to watch the sunset more than the ocean! The trail begins just outdoors the town of Punakaiki – a well known tourist location.

Blue Pools (West Coast)

Distance: 1.5km return, 1 hour return
Difficulty: Easy 

The Blue Pools are situated on New Zealand’s West Coast. Surrounded by lush forest the Blue Pools is truly a river that pools in a smaller location generating it best for swimming. At the pools, there are a couple of trails to discover as nicely as two suspension bridges. In the summer season months, this location is generally busy with these wanting to cool off, just be warned although, the water is blue for the reason that its glacier fed and for that reason it is freezing!

Blue Pools - Best Hikes South Island New Zealand

Slope Point Stroll (Southland)

Distance: 40 minutes return
Difficulty: Uncomplicated

Slope Point is the southernmost point of New Zealand’s South Island. Right here you can virtually see the Antarctic…well, not rather but it is nevertheless a actually stunning location to stop by! Along the stroll, you can watch the violent seas of the south crash against the cliffs and get a image with the sign marking the most southern point – just so you can prove you went!

Note, no public access in the course of lambing season from September – November.

Important Summit Track (Fiordland)

Distance: six.8km return, three hours return
Difficulty: Intermediate

A lot of men and women take the road to Milford Sound from Te Anau with couple of stops, aiming to attain the finish and return inside one particular day. Having said that, if you give oneself sufficient time or intend to keep overnight in Milford then you there are lots of excellent walks along the way. Important Summit Track is an uphill slog but the views at the top rated are nicely worth it.

You comply with the Routeburn Track for the initially portion of the stroll prior to splitting off towards Important Summit. From there you will have panoramic views more than Fiordland National Park. The initially portion of the trail is in the bush and the rest is exposed, so be certain to put on sunscreen and take a hat to shield oneself from the sun!

Key Summit Track - Best Hikes South Island New Zealand

Other South Island day hikes worth a mention

It is not possible to mention all of the ideal hikes in the South Island of New Zealand for the reason that there are just so lots of! Having said that, a couple of other’s that you could take into consideration if you love walking but do not want to do something as well hard are under:

Scott’s Beach, Heaphy Track – This two-hour return track is thought of an simpler stroll, leaving from the Kohaihai campsite and ending at the beach. Just to note the beach is not encouraged for swimming although.

Mount Robert Circuit, Nelson Lakes National Park – This four-hour loop track is one particular of the most well known day walks in the Nelson Lakes National Park. It is rather exposed so be certain to take lots of water and seek out shade for resting when you can.

Devil’s Punchbowl Waterfall – A quick 1-hour return from Arthur’s Pass, but uphill with lots of stairs. You can also see the waterfall see them from the substantially longer Scott’s Track and Avalanche Peak walks.

For these searching for much more of a challenge (believe uphill trudging and six-eight hour day hikes) then you can take into consideration Mount Fyffe close to Kaikoura, Alex Knob which has excellent views more than Franz Josef Glacier, and Mueller Hutt in Mount Cook National Park, which can be split more than two days with a keep in the backcountry hut.

Day Walks South Island New Zealand

Multi-Day Hikes in the South Island

New Zealand’s Excellent Walks are designated premier tracks that are nicely maintained and effortless to navigate, but also need you to book your accommodation nicely in advance thanks to their recognition. 5 of the Excellent Walks are in the South Island.

Kepler Track – A circular track about Fiordland National Park, close to Te Anau. Stroll by way of valleys of Beech trees, and more than ridgelines of tussock. The trail is 60km and requires three-four days. 

Abel Tasman Coast Track – Stroll along golden sand beaches and by way of native rainforest at the top rated of the South Island, close to Nelson. The trail is 60km and requires three-five days. You could also stroll portion of the trail as a day trip, by taking a water taxi in/out. 

Milford Track – Fiordland is one particular of the most spectacular regions in New Zealand, and the Milford Track will take you along 53.5km by way of ancient rainforest, ending at the stunning Milford Sound. Ideal undertaken from late October to the finish of April, this track will take you four days to comprehensive. 

Heaphy Track – It requires four-six days to stroll the 78.4km Heaphy Track, but you can also mountain bike it in two – three days from May well till November. You may possibly even spot Kiwi or Takahe on this South Island hike!

Routeburn Track – With spectacular alpine views, the Routeburn Track is yet another well known South Island hiking trail. 

New walks, the Paparoa Track and Pike29 Memorial Track will be opening some time in 2019.

New Zealand Walks South Island

Outdoors of the Excellent Walks, there are lots of other remarkable multi-day South Island hiking trails. Contemplate the Hollyford Track which is two-eight days in Fiordland National Park, the three day Inland Track at Abel Tasman, the three-four day Pelorus Track involving Nelson and Picton, and a well known option to Abel Tasman, the Queen Charlotte Track (three-five days).

New Zealand’s South Island is an explorer’s paradise, filled with spectacular walks that venture higher and low. The above day walks are some of the ideal, and my private favourites. Ticking them all off would take some time but think me they are all so worth it! I hope you enjoyed this short article and hope it helped shape your trip to New Zealand’s south island into an epic one particular!

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