The Best Tramps

For complete details about tramping in New Zealand, see "Tramping" in chapter 3.

• Tongariro Crossing: Often described as one of the best 1-day walks in New Zealand, this high-altitude hike across volcanic terrain will give you cold mountain springs, lava flows, an active crater, emerald-colored crater lakes, and unforgettable views. Be fit and enthusiastic. See "Ton-gariro National Park" in 7.

• The Abel Tasman Coastal Track: This is another easy 3- to 5-day walk where the guided option gives you the choice of ditching those hefty packs. From start to finish, 51km (32 miles) later, it winds in and out of gorgeous sheltered coves, golden beaches, superlatives. It is the ultimate must-see. See "Te Anau" in chapter 14.

• The Catlins Coast: This is wild, natural New Zealand at its unspoiled best. From unique fossil forests to all manner of seabirds and mammals, native bush, waterfalls, wild beaches, unforgettable tangles of driftwood, and a frus-tratingly changeable climate—the area takes a lot of beating, but the resulting dramatic impact is unforgettable. See "Dunedin" in chapter 15.

• Ulva Island: Tucked into Stewart Island's Paterson Inlet, tiny Ulva Island will leave you speechless with its incredible native bird life. It's wall-to-wall feathers here— and what's more, they're not afraid of humans. Don't go without your camera; you'll need evidence once you start telling friends back home about it! See "Stewart Island" in chapter 15.

rocky headlands, and natural unspoiled bush. See "Abel Tasman National Park & Golden Bay" in chapter 11.

• The Heaphy Track: No softie-guided options here: You go it alone for 4 to 6 days from the junction of the Brown and Aorora rivers, across tussock-covered flats to the wild seas of Karamea on the West Coast. See "Westport & Karamea" in chapter 13.

• The Milford Track: The mother of them all, the Milford is one of the world's best and most loved multi-day tramps. Stretching through the best of Fiordland, this 54km (33-mile) trail follows the Clinton and Arthur valleys and crosses McKinnon Pass with views you'll never forget. See "Te Anau" in chapter 14.

The Routeburn Track: Like the Milford and the Hollyford before it, this track makes its way into virgin rainforest and the sort of wild fairyland scenery where you'd expect to see elves and gnomes prancing around. See "Te Anau" in chapter 14.

The North West Circuit: This is a real test for experienced trampers who think they can face 10 to 12 days walking 125km (78 miles) through bird-filled native bush, big beaches, and long stretches knee-deep in mud. I'm told the rewards are plenty. See "Stewart Island" in chapter 15.

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