> Skip to content

Article  •  4 September 2018

 

Choosing the right track

A guide to choosing the right Great Walk for you and your group, from New Zealand's Great Walks.

Which track to do

If this is your first Great Walk and you are not particularly experienced at tramping, perhaps choose an easier track like the Abel Tasman. There are no big hill climbs and the terrain will let you test your fitness and finetune your outdoor skills before you try one of the more mountainous tracks. The Abel Tasman is also child-friendly, with lots of camping choices spaced all the way along the track.

Fitness

For the uninitiated, carrying a heavy pack (especially uphill) can be physically draining. If possible, do some training in the hills around home (yes, wearing a fully laden pack) before you venture on to the track. If there are no hills nearby, any form of aerobic training that uses your legs and core is worthwhile. Even an elevated walking machine at a gym will help; you might get funny looks from the other gym users if you are wearing a pack, but it’s worth it. Being fitter and stronger will make your Great Walk experience that much more manageable and enjoyable.

Skill level

Although the Great Walks are well maintained and have lots of facilities, learning the correct skills for travelling in the outdoors is still a good idea. Things like pitching a tent, reading a map, lighting a cooker, dealing with (or, better yet, preventing) blisters, managing more serious first-aid situations, and understanding the changes in weather in the mountains are fundamental to a safe trip in the back country. See if there is a walking or tramping club nearby to where you live and enquire if it runs basic outdoor courses. Find out if any of your family or friends are experienced trampers and, if so, get them to show you what they have learnt. Staying safe in the outdoors should always be your main priority.

Season

Some of the Great Walks are open only during certain times of the year, usually because of the threat of avalanches in the higher mountain sections. Other tracks are open all year round and, while colder during the winter months, they are likely to be less crowded. The weather in New Zealand is very changeable and sometimes quite unpredictable (see more in the Weather section on page 27), and you may experience poor conditions during any time of the year. Check the DOC website (www.doc.govt.nz) for updates, such as whether the open season for a particular walk has changed.

Booking

You will need to book your bed or campsite online with DOC well before you decide to do the trip. The online process is easy, but don’t delay: some of the Great Walks become booked out very quickly, especially during the more popular summer months.

This is also a good time to consider what transport you will require getting to and from each end of the track (the chapters on each of the Great Walks will spell out any transport requirements and options). You may need to book this well in advance also.


New Zealand's Great Walks: The Complete Guide Paul Hersey, Shelley Hersey

The ultimate guide to exploring New Zealand’s Great Walks, fully revised and updated.

Buy now
Buy now

More features

See all
Article
Kia Kaha profile - Hirini Melbourne

Hirini never thought he would become a musician. He couldn't read music, but he was good at listening and very dedicated, so he taught himself.

Article
Kia Kaha profile - Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia

Meri worked and worked and worked. ‘I’ll never give up,’ she vowed. She could see a better future for Māori women, and knew they deserved it.

Article
4 epic new YA reads from Penguin Books

Secrets, thrills, heartbreak, and adventure. . . we bet we've got your favourite new read covered!

Article
The 2021 Booker Prize shortlist revealed

The shortlist for the 2021 Booker Prize has been announced, with four Penguin Random House novels named.

Article
Te Wiki o te Reo Māori catalogue 2021

Kōrerotia te reo this Māori Language Week 2021 with our selection of Māori Language books.

Article
Kath Irvine's 5 favourite spring crops

The author of The Edible Backyard shares five of her favourite spring crops, why they're so fantastic and tips on how you can enjoy them too!

Article
Real Readers Review: Coastwatcher

Looking for your kid's next great read? Let our Puffin Ambassadors tell you why you should pick up Coastwatcher, a thrilling adventure novel for 9+ readers.

Article
Real Readers Review: The Memory Thief

Former British children's laureate, Chris Riddell, has said The Memory Thief is "Intriguing, exciting, everything about this story captured my imagination." But what do our Puffin Ambassadors think? Read on to find out!

Article
Supercharge your savings

Victoria Devine's top five tips to help you reach your savings goals sooner.

Article
10 must read books for children under 5!

Filled with adventure, inspiration and humour, these books are sure to take little readers and their imaginations to new and fantastic places!

Article
So you want to get published? The publishing team at Penguin Random House New Zealand share their top tips.

Why do I even need a publisher? How do I write for kids? What are publishers looking for right now? Should I send a sample chapter? Do you accept science fiction books?

Article
An important note from Megan Dunn

An unbiased promotional letter from the author of Things I Learned at Art School on why you should definitely pick up a copy—or two—today (without delay).

Looking for more articles?

See all articles