What to know about climbing NZ’s mountains

Do you know the best places to escape into NZ's mountain ranges?

New Zealand is known for its beaches. As well as its sheep, native bush and adorable flightless birds. However, one thing that's never left off the list of what its famous for… is its landscapes. How better to see these than from the mountaintops? 

Grab your hire car from Auckland airport, chuck on your hiking boots and get ready for a taste of the great outdoors. Here's what you need to know about climbing NZ's mountains.

Keeping safe in New Zealand's mountain ranges

New Zealand may lack pretty much every type of dangerous animal there is, but that doesn't mean you should take its mountain ranges lightly. 

Weather conditions and environment are a real risk, especially to anyone not ready for them. Preparation is vital. Before contemplating any mountain walk do research on what to expect, and the gear you should take with you. Take a look at sites such as:

  • The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council.
  • Department of Conservation.
  • New Zealand Alpine Club.

These will give you the in-depth knowledge you need to stride out confidently along New Zealand's incredible trails. 

Choosing which tracks to tackle might not be so simple though. To help you decide, we've gathered some of our favourite NZ mountain hikes together for you. 

Roy's Peak

Along with 'that Wanaka tree', you'll find that this part of the South Island offers views you can't scoff at. The hike to Roy's Peak takes full advantage of them. 

Mostly heading up the eastern side of the mountain, the track is fully exposed. While this gives you non-stop views to distract you from burning calf muscles, it also means that you need to come prepared. Pack sunscreen, wind-proof clothes and plenty of water.

The Pinnacles Lookout

You might have heard about the beaches in the Coromandel, but have you looked beyond the sands to the mountains on the horizon?

The Pinnacles is a challenging day hike. At approximately 16km length it's not so much the distance as the steepness of the track that will get your heart rate up. You even get to clamber up ladders at one point.

While the track itself weaves through thick native forest, it's well-maintained. At the end it opens up, revealing a vista that will have you inhaling a deep breath for other reasons than tiredness. 

Mueller Hut

Though the rumour that Led Zepellin wrote their famous song 'The Stairway to Heaven' about the climb to Muller Hut is likely just that… We think we know what fanned the flames. The toughest hike on this list, you'll need some courage to face the 1800 or so stairs that await. As you might have guessed from the name, at the top you can stay at Mueller Hut. Doing so means you get to experience sunrise, star gazing and sunset, all with mountain and glacier views.

If you're wanting to take on the challenge, be aware that you're not the only one. Book well in advance. This hut isn't often empty. 

Mount Maunganui Summit

If you're looking for a short, but rewarding hike, the North Island has you covered. Mount Maunganui Summit is a round trip of approximately two hours. It might take you longer to learn how to say its name correctly!

This one is great for sunrise. With the ocean and a long stretch of sand curving out below you, you'll wonder why you haven't yet moved to this incredible country. 

The Ben Lomond Summit

Just add this hike to all that Queenstown has to offer travellers.

Not many tracks offer full 360 degree views like you'll find at this summit. Think the Remarkables, Walter and Cecil Peak, and Lake Wakatipu. Is it really possible that one spot gives access to so many views that will blow your mind? 

Additionally, you get to choose the difficulty level for this hike. It's possible to shorten the 6-8 hour hike by a couple of hours if you opt in for the Queenstown Gondola. 

Tongariro Crossing/ Northern Circuit Great Walk

Often affectionately referred to as 'The Crossing', this day hike takes in two of New Zealand's mountains – Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe. It's highly popular for a reason. From the emerald green lakes and multiple landmarks to look out for, the Tongariro Crossing is a relatively easy hike that delivers the goods. Just make sure you know what the weather's doing and you've planned a way back to your Auckland hire car!

If you're after something more challenging and a way to escape the crowds, choose the Northern Circuit route instead. Make sure you've got your hiking boots tied tight though – this trail stretches an impressive 44 km and is no day walk. 

Rocky Mountain

Not all of the hikes in the South Island are intense, though we can't say the same for the views they offer. Rocky Mountain is one of the shorter offerings you'll find. Taking approximately an hour and a half to reach the top, the route is well-maintained. The only issue you might find with it is that it contains quite a few steps… 

Getting up early is worth it if you're interested in seeing sunrise dawn across Lake Wanaka stretched out below you. Which, just in case you were wondering, you really should be interested in.

If jumping in your hire car to go climbing New Zealand's mountains sounds like the ideal holiday for you, book your vehicle today

About the Author

Chester is a foodie and loves to explore the great land of Australia. He is currently blogging for East Coast Car Rentals.

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