What you need to know
This website is designed to help you choose multi-day hikes that best suit your ability, experience and fitness. Even if you have never done any tramping before there are still plenty of trails that are easy enough to tackle with minimal experience, including most of the official Great Walks.
This doesn’t however mean you can can undertake these walks without having some level of fitness. At the end of a day’s tramping you may have covered 20 kilometres, with another 20 to complete the next. It is well worth getting some walking practice in before you start your tramp.
If you have done lots of hiking you may want to consider some options that offer more challenges than a Great Walk. Indeed, if you have strong backcountry skills and plenty of experience in high alpine environments we can help you find something to excite you.
Staying warm and dry is essential. The unpredictability of the New Zealand climate, especially in alpine environments, means you should always be prepared for bad weather. Wearing plenty of layers is the best option allowing you to remove or add clothing depending upon the conditions. Merino wool and synthetics work well to draw moisture from the skin and help keep you warm and dry. Cotton is poor at this and not good for tramping in. You should always pack a waterproof jacket and over-trousers (these in particular can be lifesavers).
The easier, best maintained tracks can usually be completed in modern lightweight boots, but they should still be waterproof and have a plenty of grip on the sole. You may prefer a sturdier leather boot if conditions are muddy or you are contemplating a trickier hike or an alpine route.
Its always good to have a pair of “jandals” (flip-flops or thongs) to wear around the camp site or hut, and keep a pair of dry socks for the evening.
These are becoming more popular in New Zealand. They are very useful for giving an extra push on the ascents, helping with balance and taking some weight off your knees on the downhill sections.
If you are just out for the day, or are lucky enough to have someone else transport your bag for you, a 30 or 40 litre day pack should be fine.
For multi-day tramps, where you are carrying everything you need, there are a multitude of choices from 50 to 90 litres. The required capacity will depend upon the amount of time you are out on the trail, but also what you are prepared to lug around. Put together everything you think you will need and make sure it fits in your pack. Too much weight will wreck your trip so make sure everything you take is necessary. It doesn’t matter how waterproof your pack claims to be, a heavy duty plastic pack liner is essential. Without one your stuff will still get wet if you fall down in a stream or are out in torrential rain all day.