New Zealand has 10 Great Walks. All can be done as multiple day backpacking trips and some have small sections that can be done as individual day trips. When I originally came to New Zealand, I knew nothing of these walks but I knew New Zealand was an ideal place to be if you are an outdoorsy person. Since finding out about the Great Walks, I have made it a personal goal to get to as many of them as I possibly could in my time here. This is because New Zealand is such a beautiful place and if these walks are determined to be great then they must be truly spectacular.
The walks are Lake Walkaremoana, Tongariro Northern Circuit, Whanganui Journey, Abel Tasman Costal Track, Heaphy Track, Kepler Track, Milford Track, the Routeburn Track, Rakiura Track and Paparoa Track.
I have been lucky enough to see a number of these, and recently I added a few more on a trip back to the South Island. In the beginning of the semester, I did the Tongariro Northern Circuit, and as discussed in my previous blog, this track stunned me with amazing volcanic views and views of the bright blue and green sulfur pools. Additionally, I was able to complete one entire great walk when I hiked the Abel Tasman on my first venture down to the South Island. This had drastically different views of sandy beaches that led to forests and back down to beaches.
Recently, I was able to hike a small section of the Kepler Track. I went from the trailhead at Rainbow Reach to Shallow Bay. This walk was shorter and different from the other trails because it was not leading up to anything. It was entirely mossy forest. The walk through the forest without an end goal allowed me to just enjoy the scenery. I went later in the day so as the sun set it came through the trees and reflected off the green moss. It was so peaceful.
I was also able to see some of the Routeburn Track. I hiked the Key Summit Trail on a sunny day. This was a walk with an end goal, to get to the top. The way up was repeated switchbacks, but it was worth it for the view at the top. The top was like being at a park in another world. The entire area was flat and surrounded by mountains. Since it is now winter here, there were snowcapped mountains in every direction. There was a nature walk at the top that took us past little ponds and other views. It was covered in snow as well and the views were amazing.
As it was winter, the Milford Track was not an option. However I was able to take a boat tour of the Milford Sound. This was one of those places that I had heard about throughout this whole semester, so my expectations were pretty high. I had seen pictures, however nothing compared to actually being there. The advertisements for it using words like “Quiet Sound” could not have been more appropriate. The mountains came out of nowhere in the water. Being there was unreal. I hope one day I can make it back and hike the Milford Track.
I have seen four of the ten and one day I plan to travel back to New Zealand to see the rest. Each is so unique and I have never been disappointed by the views.
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<p>I am a biomedical engineering major and a studio art minor. I play field hockey for the University of Rochester and I love to exercise and be outdoors. If I'm not playing field hockey my exercise of choice is running, Crossfit, waterskiing, wakeboarding, skiing, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, and anything else that gets me outside.</p>