A photo by Lacey Raper. unsplash.com/photos/ey1Obz7I2fw
Planning your summer holidays? Instead of the usual sun, sea and sand holiday, have you considered tackling one of the Great N.Z Walks? NZ has some of the world’s most spectacular walkways and tracks, offering a variety of unspoilt landscapes to enjoy. From glacier-covered valleys and mountain passes, to lush tropical rainforests or golden beaches, New Zealand has it covered. So why not get your hiking boots on this summer and experience one of the world-renowned Great Walks. There are nine to choose from in both the North and South Islands.

1. Tongariro Northern Circuit
Starting and finishing at the base of Mount Ruapheu, this loop track will take 3-4 days. The track will take you through the dramatic volcanic landscape used as the backdrop to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. You can expect to see active geysers, beautiful mineral lakes and incredible lava formations. The Tongariro Northern Circuit or the shorter day walk, the Tongariro Crossing, are best tackled from late November to March.

2. Lake Waikaremoana Track
The 44 km Lake Waikaremoana Track in the central North Island encircles the lake and takes 4-5 days to complete. With a backdrop of beautiful native forest and an abundance of birdlife, you will see some stunning views of the lake in this very remote location. The track is accessible all-year round.

3. Whanganui Journey
This Great Walk is in fact a 145 km kayak or canoe journey down the Whanganui River. The winding and scenic Whanganui River has played a crucial part in the history of New Zealand being an important route for Māori and early European settlers. Best traversed during October-March, the Whanganui Journey takes about five days.

4. Milford Track
The Milford Track is perhaps our most famous Great Walk and as such is very popular so you will need to book in advance. Situated in Fiordland, this route is truly spectacular with forest covered valleys, mountains and fiords. Do this Great Walk at least once and it takes about four days. Don’t attempt to do it though in the winter months when adverse weather can make it a dangerous challenge.

5. Routeburn Track
Covering 39 km, this track will take about three days to complete. With the Southern Alps as the background, you can expect to see a diverse range of scenery with alpine flora, lakes, waterfalls and spectacular views. The spring and summer months are the best time to do the tramp.

6. Kepler Track
Following a loop from the Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre, the track encompasses the forest shorelines of lakes Te Anau and Manapouri, and offers spectacular alpine panoramas as you walk along the mountain tops. It takes four days to complete and the best time to do so is in the spring and summer.

7. Rakiura Track
Situated on Stewart Island, the Rakiura Track is arguably the wildest and most remote walk of all. Offering a peaceful landscape of birds, bush and lake, the Rakiura Track is suitable for all fitness levels and is accessible all-year round.

8. Heaphy Track
With pristine, unspoilt mountain scenery and the backdrop of the Tasman Sea, the Heaphy Track is a very popular Great Walk. Taking about five days, the track is accessible throughout the year, but it can be very chilly during the winter months.

9. Abel Tasman Coastal Track
Beach lovers will particularly enjoy this track which is situated at the top of the South Island. Covering miles of golden beaches, the track offers opportunities for swimming, snorkelling and kayaking as well as the possibility of spotting some fur seals. Suitable for all fitness levels, the track is open all year.

So why not try something different this summer. Feed your soul by hiking one of the Great Walks that make New Zealand the envy of the world.