The mesmerizing scenery you’ve seen in The Lord of the Rings is no less breathtaking in real life. On the contrary, it’s even more of all those Middle Earthen adjectives that cross your mind when you think of New Zealand, and they come alive as soon as you step on the endless meadows and intact natural reserves that dominate the landscape.
It’s no wonder that most first-time, as well as return visitors choose to trek all over New Zealand, because there’s no better way to soak in all the beauty it hides in its emerald nooks. To make the most of your hiking trip, the following are the essentials of what you need to know for your journey there and back again!
Choose your track
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” And for starters, you should learn as much as possible about all available hikes in order to choose the one that best suits your endurance levels, available time, and of course, love for the outdoors.
For instance, the North Island is a mystifying blend of the Maori culture, dramatic volcano craters, kayaking via the streams of Whanganui, and rainforest-laden scenery beyond your wildest dreams. On the other hand, the South Island also abounds in stunning landscape – Abel Tasman National Park alone is enough to keep you occupied, while the famous Milford track will take you through valleys overshadowed by misty mountain peaks, rivers, fjords with glaciers and the tallest New Zealand waterfalls.
As tempting as it is to pack your backpack and head to the airport instantly, despite the remoteness of the country, these walking tours are often fully booked for a few months in advance. Make sure to visit the website of the Department of Conservation as soon as reservations are open in the first days of July, to book your spot and then prepare all the gear you need for the hike of your choice.
Beyond that, New Zealand has enabled its hikers to join well-organized branches of huts, cottages and campsites, which allow different levels of comfort. You can stay the night in a dreamy cottage; you have the option to share accommodation with other hikers, or you can go up close and personal with the wilderness and sleep in your own tent on a campsite! Also, you can choose between self-guided and guided tours, and the latter is always the best choice for a tramping newbie.
First-timers will be tempted to focus solely on the experience, finding the right outfits based on the weather conditions, and possibly hanging on to your photography equipment for dear life. However, hiking can be strenuous even on the fittest among you, as it will take a few days of continuous walking through rough terrain, and possibly in difficult conditions such as pouring rain or passing over snowy mountain ranges. With that said – what will your menu consist of?
You’ll need plenty of sustenance in the form of protein-packed meals that will give you energy and the feeling of fullness won’t fade away all that quickly like with sugary foods. There are practical, but pricey options such as ziplocked meals, paired with some hot water, and you can also pack dried fruits for regular snacks, oatmeal packs and sandwiches to mix it up. Your main goal is to keep it light, unable to spoil and easy to prepare!
New Zealand is a dream-come-true destination for the lovers of untamed nature, and as such, it deserves to be experienced first-hand, by hiking over its gorgeous plains and peaks. Put on a pair of your most durable boots, get ready to fall in love with the landscapes of the country, and fire up your wanderlust because as J.R.R. Tolkien put it – not all those who wander are lost.
Marie Nieves is a travel blogger who loves unusual trips, active holidays, gadgets and creative ideas. Her favourite writer is Tracy Chevalier and she always carries one of her books in her bag.
Most of her free time at home she spends walking her Labrador Retriever named Max. She is an avid lover of photography who loves to talk about her experiences.