A Great Walk

New Zealand’s premier activity is walking. The country is essentially just a giant theme park for hiking enthusiasts. Though every region boasts stunning opportunities for treks, not all walks are created equal. In particular, the Department of Conservation has designated nine official ‘Great Walks’, considered the cream of New Zealand’s walking track crop.

All of these walks are multi-day experiences, with campsites and backcountry huts available for overnight stops en route. In high season (approximately November to April), a booking system is used to control numbers and ensure sufficient accommodation. The nine different ‘walks’ run the gamut of New Zealand’s landscapes, including the Whanganui Journey, which isn’t actually a walk at all, but a five day kayak/canoe trip. Elsewhere, there’s the Tongariro Northern Circuit, that passes through the rich volcanic region of the central North Island, and the Rakiura Track, that traverses the wilderness of Stewart Island. The walks are graded by difficulty to ensure that hikers know what they’re letting themselves into, although inevitably over-confident and under-prepared tourists end up in trouble every year.

In total, there are three walks on the North Island and five on the South Island (with one on Stewart Island to make up the nine). Though I haven’t completed any of them (I don’t have the equipment), I’ve walked along parts of a few, including a hike along the Routeburn Track in Fiordland to Key Summit. While living in Nelson in December, I also had the opportunity to undertake a free day trip to Abel Tasman National Park as part of my job as a hostel manager. The Abel Tasman Coast Track is the most popular of New Zealand’s nine great walks, partly because it’s an easy grade and partly because of its stunning scenery, a beguiling mix of sloping jungle, secluded beaches and azure bays that’s considered amongst New Zealand’s best.

Though I visited Abel Tasman (named after the Dutch explorer who discovered New Zealand) in December, I never got around to writing about it (BECAUSE MY LIFE WAS TOO AWESOME AND I HAD NO SPARE BLOG ENTRIES). While sorting through my pictures the other week, I came across photos from the trip, and realised I’d never shared them.

So here you go. Just seven months late, here are some photos of the warm, slightly overcast summer’s day I spent in one of New Zealand’s most gorgeous national parks.

Snapshots of NZ

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