Part 3 of the Series: The Best Hiking Trails Around the World
Best Hiking in Australia and New Zealand explores some of the best hiking trails in the Southern Hemisphere.
Take a hike with some of the best new outdoor travel writers as they hit the trail in search of the best hiking in the world.
As with the other parts in this series, we have asked some experts in hiking to share their favorite trails on their home turf.
We’re sure you’ll agree, this is some of the best hiking in Australia and New Zealand, if not the best in the world.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand
by Tom & Zi from Craving Adventure
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand is often labelled as the world’s greatest day hike, and it is hard not to agree with that statement.
This 19.4 kilometer long hike takes you on or past three active volcanoes, through steamy thermal fields, over foggy swamps, past colourful sulfuric lakes, up steep mountain slopes to peek into volcano craters and over peaceful tussock fields with endless dramatic views back down into the rainforest.
The hike is very popular and tends to get quite crowded in peak season, but with this amount of diversity in absolutely breath-taking sights it is worth every single step and it should be part of every New Zealand North Island itinerary!
Don’t let its popularity fool you into thinking that the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is an easy hike though. It is seriously steep, can get scorching hot in the sun and takes six to eight hours to complete so the right equipment and preparation is required.
Make sure you wear proper hiking shoes, wear the right clothing and take plenty of water and some high-energy snacks with you.
When you do prepare well, it turns out that contrary to what Boromir says in the first Lord of the Rings movie, one does simply walk into Mordor.
Don’t get that reference straight away? Tongariro National Park, which is the area this hike crosses through, was used to portray Mordor in the Lord of the Rings movies. If you’re a fan of the movies you’ll easily recognize Mt. Ngauruhoe as Mt. Doom as you pass it.
And if you still feel full of energy when that happens you can even hike to its top as a two-hour side-track. Whether you’re a fan of the movies or not, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is guaranteed to be a hike you won’t forget!
-Tom & Zi
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The Grand Canyon in the Blue Mountains
by Raksha from SoloPassport
Opened to the public in 1907, the hike to Grand Canyon has been an immensely popular hike among the locals and Sydneysiders.
With dramatic sceneries of the mountains, this hike must be on a bucket list when visiting the Blue Mountains region of Australia. The best time to hike to the Grand Canyon is throughout the year. However, be prepared to get slippery tracks during the rainy season.
The total distance is around 6.3 kilometres and is a loop from one car park to the other. The track goes into the Grand Canyon with a descent of at least 240 metres elevation.
The bottom of the canyon is the best part of the hike as it provides stunning views of the rocks and the cliffs from down below. The track then becomes a steep set of stairs that provides a way to climb up from the canyon. It is undoubtedly one of the most challenging hikes in the Blue Mountains, especially towards the end.
Even though the hike is graded as Moderate to Hard, this hike is truly a rewarding hike with spectacular views throughout. It passes through canyons, cliffs, and waterfalls and if one is lucky, then they may spot rainbows at the waterfalls.
A few sections of the hike are magical and mystical as they pass through the lush green bushes and the rocks. Beware to watch out for unique wildlife and listen to the birds chirping.
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Roys Peak Wanaka, New Zealand
by Jennifer Parkes from Backyard Travel Family
Roys Peak in Wanaka is one of the most incredible hikes in New Zealand. With sensational mountain and lake views and an iconic Instagram viewpoint, it’s worth the slog to make it here. Easily one of the best things to do in Wanaka, it should be top of your New Zealand list.
You will find Roys Peak in the Southern Lakes area in the South Island of New Zealand. Wanaka is a popular holiday spot for swimming and boating in summer and snow sports during the winter. Just a 15 minute drive from Wanaka town, will lead you to Roys Peak.
The Roys Peak hike is a 16km return journey to the Mt Roy Summit. The track is open and exposed, making it extremely susceptible to inclement weather. Crampons are required during winter as there is regular snowfall on the summit.
With around 1228m of elevation gain over 8km, this is a steep uphill hike. It will take 5-6 hours to complete the entire hike, so allow plenty of time. It’s a popular hike for sunrise or sunset, so bring a head torch if it is likely to get dark. Don’t forget your camera as these are some of the best hiking views in the world.
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The Heysen Trail, South Australia
by Zoe Amy from Breastfeeding Mama
The Heysen trail consists of 1200 kilometres of walking tracks in South Australia, from Parachilna Gorge in the North all the way to Cape Jervis in the South. The entire trek takes 50-60 days for an experienced hiker and includes many places to refill water and camp overnight.
Featuring stunning scenery taking in rugged coastlines to stunning gorges, vinyards, historic towns, and even pine forests, the Heysen Trail has something for everyone. While the entire trail is only suitable for the most serious of hikers, there are sections that are perfect for day walkers and even short sections which are great for parents with children.
While a lot of the sections of the trail are rated hard, there are some that are perfect for a daytime stroll, such as Tanunda in the Barossa Vally where you can stop in at local wineries nearby to the trail.
You’ll be able to spot Australian native wildlife in their habitat, such as koalas, echidnas and kangaroos, as well as whales and dolphins from the coastal lookouts.
One of the most beautiful spots, and most accessible for visitors, is the section of the Heyson trail that is located in Belair National Park. A few kilometres from the city, this short section of the trail, called ‘Microcarpa’ weaves through Belair national park and the whispering wall.
The trail is open from April to October, due to bush fire restrictions in South Australia. If you plan to attempt the trail in winter, be warned that while snow is unlikely, it does get extremely cold.
I’m sure you would agree that these are some of the best hikes in Australia and New Zealand. And you can see why it belongs in this series of the best hiking in the world.
We want to thank each of the writers for their contribution to this post. Not only are they some tough hikers with a love for the outdoors, they are skilled writers that are keen to sharing their journey with others.
Be sure to check out more of their adventures by following the links to their websites.
More Outdoor Reading
But before you go, be sure to read the other recommended hikes in this series. You can start with any of them, but why not The Best Hiking In Asia?
And for our personal touch, we hiked the Cliffs of Moher and share a funny adventure reminiscent of an 80’s movie. See if you can make the comparison.
Besides hiking, we cover in depth the best camping the world. I would recommend starting with Bucket List Camping Around the World. It kicks off the series with some truly awe-inspiring campsites that just had to be on their own post.
But some of our favorite camping was in Iceland. We outline the best campsites we stayed in with our Best Campsites in Iceland post.