to take a hike:
Best weather: Oct, Nov, Feb, March
OK but busy: Dec, Jan
Avoid: May-Sept (cold and wet, esp. South Island, impassable tracks)
The weather is unpredictable at any time so take rain gear whatever
month you go.
A fairly strenuous mountain hike in the South Island
The New Zealand Department of Conservation (DoC) can be found across
the country, providing excellent information on all aspects of 'tramping',
whether it's a one day hike or a week long great walk.
Guided walks are an option for many
of the big tracks - including cooking and accommodation - if you
want the company of an expert or prefer a bit of comfort along the
Independent walkers need to book well in advance for Milford or
Routeburn tracks from late Oct - late April as numbers are restricted
to keep human impact to the minimum. Other walks might need it too,
so book online ahead of time.
You can either rough it in tents, or sleep in more than 1,000 communal
huts throughout New Zealand. These are usually about 4 hours walk
apart and contain bunks, a water supply and sometimes cooking facilities.
Some are free, others cost a small amount. To be sure, these need
to be booked as well as the walk.
tracks can be walked year round, especially if you don't mind a
chilly drizzle, but some high altitude tracks in the South Island
get snowed under in winter (June-Sept).
Mt. Cook Track, Aoraki, South Island.
On a track of Moderate difficulty you will need to be able to walk
for six to nine hours, carrying your own gear over rough ground,
climbing and descending for up to 18 km (11 miles) a day - tho'
not usually this much.
Don't even ask about the 'Challenging' tracks, just get fit and
practice serious walking!
Unpredictable weather, including snow, is possible throughout the
you don't have the time or inclination to do a multi-day trek there
are thousands of shorter, much easier walks in New Zealand's various
national parks and conservation areas.
For great walks in New Zealand's South Island, no matter how warm
it is when you set off, DoC says that regular
jeans, T shirts and sweatshirts are unsuitable. Plan and prepare! Clothing in quick
drying propylene is best.
You will need at least one set of clothes to walk in and another
dry set to change into at night. Drying clothes in huts is not possible.
Suggested items to carry, which you can usually hire or buy in your
base town, are:
broken in and comfortable
Socks: wool/propylene, 2 pairs
Undershirt/T shirt: wool/propylene
Trousers/long johns: wool/propylene
Raincoat, windproof with hood
Extra socks, underwear, shirt
clothes in a waterproof bag/bin liner.
Also take a good quality sleeping bag, a lighter, first aid kit,
drinking bottle, a torch with spare batteries, all the other usual
camping gear and light shoes for use in the huts.
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