Unmissable highlights on New Zealand’s Great Walks
Every Great Walk has incredible pit stops, where taking a rest can also mean taking in some of the best views and features of the track. Our team share their favourite pit stops on each Great Walk, helping to ensure you get the best out of what each track has to offer.
As part of TourismNZ's 30th Anniversary of the Great Walks, we decided to share some stories to celebrate this incredible aspect of New Zealand's tramping culture. In this story our team at the NZ Mountain Safety Council share some of our top pit-stops on the Great Walks so you can make the most of your adventure.
Header photo: Tama Lakes, Shaun Barnett
The bays south of Anchorage Hut (Apple Tree Bay, Akersten Bay, Observation Beach) are well worth the detour for a picturesque lunch break and to bury your feet in the golden sand. Later in the track, Onetahuti Beach and Cleopatra’s Pool (featuring a natural rockslide) are also worth a stop. On a hot day, take a dip in the ocean for a Great Walk experience like no other.
A side trip to Tama Lakes is a must do with mesmerising views of the two lakes and volcanic craters. See header photo.
A small detour to the Routeburn Flats Hut and campsite for a short break or lunch stop before you begin the climb to Routeburn Falls Lodge is recommended. Wander out onto the river flats and gaze in awe at the mountains up the Routeburn North Branch. Additionally, if the weather is suitable, climb up to Key Summit at the end of the track for expansive views over Fiordland. Photo: Key Summit Track | Amanda Tutton
Due to the topography of the valley there are not many side trips on this world-famous walk, but an underrated side trip to Sutherland Falls is worth allowing extra time for as you can enjoy the highest waterfall in the country. It can make some serious water spray, so make sure to take a rain jacket!
On a clear, calm day and if no snow is present, a short side trip up to Mt Luxmore is a must on your day between Iris Burn and Luxmore Huts, to enjoy panoramic views over Lake Te Anau and Fiordland. Photo: Luxmore Hut | Zhi Yap Yuen
At 915 m, Flanagans Corner is the highest point of the track and a great viewpoint. Take a short side track 30 minutes before Perry Saddle Hut to enjoy it. For something magical, the enchanted forest on Gouland Downs is well worth exploring.
Take in the South Island at Croesus Knob. The turn-off to Croesus Knob is a 30-minute walk beyond Ces Clark Hut. From the main Paparoa Track, a rough route climbs to the top of Croesus Knob (1204 m), where you will be rewarded with spectacular views down to Aoraki Mount Cook and out to Tasman Sea, when the weather is on your side.
If you have made the effort to visit Stewart Island, add a day to experience the thriving wildlife on Ulva Island, it’s well worth it. While it isn’t on the Great Walk, you’ll need to use a tour operator, visiting the island will provide a further glimpse into untouched and wild New Zealand. Photo: Ulva Island Tracks | Jonty Crane
The Bridge to Nowhere is a must stop. This iconic bridge is a short walk once you park your canoe. It is also reachable when cycling the Mountains to Sea cycle trail if you prefer pedalling to paddling. Photo: Bridge to Nowhere Walk | Martyn Davies
Celebrating the Great Walks
As part of TourismNZ's 30th Anniversary of the Great Walks, we decided to share some stories to celebrate this incredible aspect of New Zealand's tramping culture and showcase other incredible options to up-skill and explore. Read the other stories in the series:
- How tramping has changed over 30 years
- 9 Day Walks to challenge yourself
- 5 Short Walks to stretch your legs while road tripping around the South Island
- Alternative 'Off-The-Beaten-Track' walks
Prepare for your adventure
Using the free Plan My Walk app can help you plan and prepare for your next New Zealand walk. Learn about the track and check for any alerts, read other people’s track reviews, check the weather, get help from the suggesting gear list. Download it, or head to the website planmywalk.nz.
Make sure you also check out the Department of Conservation’s website for everything you need to know about the tracks.