Guided walks are a great option for those experienced in the outdoors and people looking for a more intense trekking experience. Taking the hassle out of organising food and transport, they also offer the advantage of an experienced escort who can explain local features and wildlife. Maori guides give another level of insight into the spiritual, medicinal and historical aspects of the land, while luxury tours offer the comfort of staying in exclusive lodges and not having to carry a backpack. Walking and hiking operators to look for include:
Abel Tasman Tours & Guided Walks [Nelson]
Banks Peninsula Track [Akaroa]
Encounter Guided Day Walks [Queenstown]
Guided Nature Walks [Queenstown]
Great Walks [Te Anau]
Hollyford Track [Queenstown]
Kahurangi Guided Walks [Takaka]
Mount Taranaki Guided Tours [Taranaki]
Orokonui Ecosanctuary [Dunedin]
Wilderness Guides [Picton]
Walking independently is a great way to explore the stunning scenery at your own pace, tailoring the journey to your personal preferences. It is better suited to those who have hiking experience, however Take care with planning and seek advice before setting out, especially when attempting an overnight walk. Food, water, emergency gear and warm, waterproof clothing should always be carried – the weather can change quickly! Visit a Department of Conservation Information Centre in the area you intend to walk to seek assistance and to register your departure and intentions.
* Get advice on weather conditions – see www.metservice.co.nz for up-to-date forecasts.
* For safety’s sake, don’t go hiking alone.
* Register your plans at a DOC office before you leave.
* Depending on your plans (or just for peace of mind), you may wish to consider carrying a locator beacon or mountain radio in the event you get into difficulties – see www.mountainsafety.org.nz for more information on these.
* Stick to the track to protect fragile plants.
* Wear a good pair of boots that support the ankles.
* Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration – water from streams must be purified by boiling for at least three minutes or by using chemical purifiers.
* Wear sunscreen – the sun can be intense even when the weather is cold.
* Take a first-aid kit containing something to soothe blisters – just in case!
* Carry gear in a backpack that fits comfortably.