Tramping (also known as hiking) is one of the best ways to explore the pristine forests, clear blue lakes, sparkling rivers, fern-filled valleys, and snow-capped peaks of New Zealand. The Department of Conservation (DOC), P.O. Box 10-420, Wellington (® 04/471-0726; fax 04/471-1082;, maintains more than 8,000km (about 5,000 miles) of tracks (trails) and 900 backcountry huts throughout New Zealand's 13 national parks and numerous scenic reserves.

A series of short walks or one big multi-day hike? Both are available, but much will depend on your fitness level and the amount of time you have. Consider whether you want to be a freedom walker (independent) or a guided walker. Independent walkers can sleep in huts with bunk beds, cooking facilities, and toilets, but they must carry their own food, bedding, and cooking utensils. These overnight huts are sometimes staffed, should you need any assistance or advice along the way.

Tramping in New Zealand is best tackled from late November to April, when temperatures are the most moderate. From May to October, alpine tracks can be difficult and often dangerous once snow falls. (See the weather and temperature information in chapter 2 before planning a hiking vacation.) Don't forget to bring broken-in boots, a daypack, water bottles, sunglasses, sunscreen, a flashlight (known as a "torch" in New Zealand), and a hat. Remember: You should

Safety in the Great Outdoors_

You won't find snakes and predatory animals here (at least not the four-legged kind), but anyone venturing out into wilderness areas ought to be prepared with a few common-sense safety hints.

• Emergencies: For emergencies anywhere in the country, dial & 111.

• Getting lost: Trampers must register their intended route and estimated time and date of return with the Department of Conservation (DOC) office closest to where they plan to trek. This is vitally important because, if no one knows you're out there, they're not going to start looking for you if you get lost or injured. Likewise, let DOC know as soon as you're finished so search parties are not set into action—and be aware that you can now be billed hundreds of thousands of dollars for an unnecessary search brought about by your actions and lack of consideration.

• Weather: Although New Zealand has a mild climate, the weather can change rapidly at any time of year, especially in the high country. Always tell people where you are going and when you are due back, and always go prepared with the right all-weather gear (at all times of the year), a sensible survival kit, and a good topographical map that you can read!

• Hypothermia: Hypothermia can kill, and its signs and symptoms should never be ignored. Watch for early warning signs: feeling cold, shivering, tiredness or exhaustion, anxiety, lethargy, lack of interest, clumsiness, slurred speech, difficulty in seeing, a sense of unreality, and irrational behavior. The later signs indicating a serious medical emergency are obvious distress, the cessation of shivering despite the cold, collapse and unconsciousness, and coma. The progress of hypothermia can be very fast, with as little as 30 minutes from the first symptoms to unconsciousness. It is imperative that you stop and never attempt any multi-day hikes without first checking in, paying your fees, and giving DOC staff an idea of your plans; and always be aware of changeable weather conditions and the very real potential for hypothermia—even in summer.

SHORT WALKS There are literally hundreds of fabulous short walks through all sorts of landscapes. From a leisurely stroll along a city promenade to deserted beaches, fern-lined bush walks, forest trails, volcanic wanders—you name it, and you can probably have it. Every region has its hidden treats. Look in the regional chapters that follow for some of the most popular choices and seek advice from any visitor center or Department of Conservation office, most of which have an extensive array of walking brochures.

Short walks tend to range from 45 minutes to a full day. Depending on your interests, don't forget to bring along binoculars, a camera, and a sketchpad or journal. If you're in doubt about the difficulty of a trail, always ask the visitor center staff, or be prepared to turn back if the going gets too tough. Hiking trails in New Zealand are generally very well maintained.

find shelter, prevent further heat loss, assist in rewarming, get the victim into dry clothes, and seek help as quickly as possible.

Hypothermia is caused by cold, wind, wet clothing, lack of food, fatigue, injury and anxiety, and recent illness, especially the flu. Everyone is at risk, even the fit and healthy. It is always best to have four or more people in your party so one can stay with the victim and two can go for help.

• Avalanches: Skiers and snowboarders often start the avalanche that catches them. Most avalanches occur during and immediately after storms, and they are common on slopes steeper than 20 degrees.

• Sun: New Zealand's clear, unpolluted atmosphere produces strong sunlight and high ultraviolet levels. Wear brimmed hats, sunglasses, and lots of SPF 15+ sunscreen if you plan to be outdoors any longer than 15 minutes.

• River levels: Plan your trip around the use of bridges. Avoid river crossings and be aware of rising water levels during heavy rain.

• Giardia: In the bush, you should boil, filter, or chemically treat all water from lakes and rivers to avoid contracting this waterborne parasite, which causes diarrhea.

• Sand flies: Small in size, but big in nuisance value, sand flies are found in wet bush areas around rivers, lakes, and streams. They can be effectively controlled with regular use of strong insect repellents. If you get bitten, topical application of hydrocortisone ointment or tea-tree lotion should ease itching.

• Safety brochures: All of the above issues are dealt with in detail in a range of excellent free brochures produced by the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council, P.O. Box 6027, Te Aro, Wellington (& 04/ 385-7162; fax 04/385-7366;, and are available at visitor information and DOC centers.

HIKING SAFARIS Many companies offer combinations of hiking, kayaking, and other adventures in one or more areas. One of the best is New Zealand Nature Safaris in Christchurch (& 025/360-268; fax 03/328-8173;, which offers small group hiking/camping tours of 3 to 10 days throughout the national parks. Bush and Beyond (& and fax 03/528-9054; offers guided 1- to 8-day tramps in Kahurangi National Park; you can also add in photography and wildlife excursions. Absolutely Angling (formerly Wilderness Adventures), in Taupo (& and fax 07/378-4514;, is where you'll find highly qualified guide Ian Ruthven, who can organize multi-day adventures that include tramping, kayaking, canoeing, abseiling, climbing, fishing, and more. Canterbury Trails, in Christchurch (& 03/337-1185; fax 03/337-5085; www.canterbury, offers easy to moderate 9-day "Wilderness South Expeditions" via minivan, which include guided walks and heritage and ecology experiences. It also offers 14-day Natural North'South New Zealand tours in conjunction with Kiwi Dundee Adventures in the Coromandel (see chapter 5). And in the far south, Kiwi Wilderness Walks (& 0800/733-549 in NZ; fax 03/442-8342; offers 3- to 5-day tramping, kayaking, and wildlife experiences in remote areas of Stewart Island, the Waitutu Track, and Dusky Sound. MULTI-DAY WALKS New Zealand has some of the best multi-day walks in the world. The trails are well maintained and take you through unforgettable scenery. Several can also be done as guided walks, which makes them accessible to people of all fitness levels.

Not everyone can agree on which one is the best walk, but the Department of Conservation has identified eight Great Walks in New Zealand: the Waikare-moana, the Tongariro Crossing, and the Ruapehu Circuit on the North Island; the Abel Tasman Coastal Track and the Heaphy, Routeburn, Milford, and Kepler Tracks on the South Island; and the Rakiura Track on Stewart Island.

If you'd like to strike out on your own, contact the Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 10-420, Wellington (& 04/471-0726; fax 04/471-1082; It maintains visitor centers throughout the country. Freedom walkers (independent hikers) need to get hut passes or tickets and register their hiking plans (known as "intentions") before setting out. The Milford and the Routeburn are generally the only two tracks where freedom walkers need to make advance reservations. Facilities along other trails are on a first-come, first-served basis. The DOC advises against children under 10 attempting any of the serious multi-day hikes.

See the individual walks below for information on guided walks. Outfitters will arrange a guide, accommodations, meals, and the carrying of all gear except daypacks, which individual walkers carry themselves.


See the map "Marlborough, Nelson & Beyond," on p. 292, for the tramps in this area.

QUEEN CHARLOTTE WALKWAY This 71km (44-mile) track passes through lush coastal forest, around coves and inlets, and along ridges offering spectacular views of the Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds. (Boating is also popular here.) Stretching from historic Ship Cove to Anakiwa, the track can be walked in 3 to 5 days, and if you want a richer experience, you can add kayaking, mountain biking, diving, fishing, and bird-watching along the way. If you take a guided walk, you'll stay in cabins, rustic lodges, and home stays, and your pack will be carried by boat, meeting you at each overnight stop. If you'd rather not complete the whole 5-day venture, you can take a guided 1-day walk. Access to Ship Cove is by boat or floatplane, and you can start or finish the walk at any point. Duration/Distance: 5 days/71km (44 miles) Start: Ship Cove, Marlborough Sounds End: Anakiwa, Marlborough Sounds

Open: Year-round; guided walks conducted November through May only Contact Information: For an independent walk, contact the Department of Conservation, Picton Field Centre, Picton (& 03/575-7582; fax 03/573-8262; Camping costs NZ$5 (US$2.75) per night; lodging is available at various price levels. Transfers are available with the Cougar Line (& 0800/504-090; fax 03/573-7926;, which will drop you off, transfer your pack, and pick you up. Similar services are offered by Endeavour Express (& 03/573-5456; fax 03/573-5434; www.boat

You can arrange a guided walk with the Marlborough Sounds Adventure Company (® 0800/283-283 in NZ or 03/573-6078; fax 03/573-8827; www. Its 4- to 5-day walks include boat transfers, a guide, meals, hot showers, and accommodation in three lodges for around NZ$965 (US$531). There's also a paddle-and-walk option that includes 2 days of sea kayaking and dolphin-watching. Southern Wilderness NZ (& 0800/ 266-266 in NZ or 03/578-4531; fax 03/578-4533; organizes 1- to 5-day guided or independent walks including luggage transfers and hotel-style accommodation from NZ$130 to $1,690 (US$72- $930). Tramp The Track Boat (& 0800/287-267 in NZ; allows you to live aboard boat and tramp or cycle the track for 3 days and 2 nights with a maximum of 10 guests.

ABEL TASMAN COASTAL TRACK Because of the enormous popularity of this stunning walkway through coastal forest and gorgeous beaches, the Department of Conservation has introduced a booking system for overnight huts that is in effect from October 1 to April 30 each year. The four huts have bunks, heat, and water, but no cooking facilities. Access to Marahau, where you begin, is by road or boat. Water taxis make it convenient to do just 1 day of the walk if your time is short. Buses pick you up at the end of the trail. Duration/Distance: 3 to 5 days/52km (32.25 miles) Start: Marahau, Abel Tasman National Park End: Wainui Bay, Abel Tasman National Park Open: Year-round; guided walks available year-round

Contact Information: Independent walkers can contact the Department of Conservation, King Edward and High streets, P.O. Box 97, Motueka (& 03/ 528-1810; fax 03/528.1811). Hut fees are about NZ$14 (US$7.70) per night; camp fees are NZ$7 (US$3.85) per person per night; transfers are extra.

For guided walks, contact Abel Tasman Wilson's Experiences (& 0800/221888 in NZ or 03/528-7801; fax 03/528-6087; Its 3-day package costs about NZ$950 (US$523). It also offers kayaking/trekking combinations.

HEAPHY TRACK This track is known for its beauty and diversity. It crosses a range of landscapes, from the junction of the Brown and Aorere rivers over expansive tussock downs to the lush forests and roaring sea of the West Coast. The seven huts on the track have bunks, heat, water, and cooking facilities (except at two huts), and although you need a hut and camp pass, this does not guarantee a bunk. There are accommodations and transport at each end of the track, but be sure to arrange this before setting out. For transport to the beginning of Heaphy Track, contact Kahurangi Bus Services (& 03/525-9434; fax 03/525-9430; It has scheduled service between Nelson, Abel Tasman National Park, Golden Bay, and Heaphy Track for approximately NZ$30 (US$13). If you're planning to travel to Westport or return to Nelson at the end of the track, make your transport reservations before you leave through the Golden Bay Visitor Information Centre, Willow Street, Takaka (& 03/ 525-9136; [email protected]). Duration/Distance: 4 to 6 days/77km (47.7 miles) Start: Brown Hut, Kahurangi National Park

End: Kohaihai River Mouth, north of Karamea, Kahurangi National Park Open: Year-round; guided walks available year-round

Contact Information: For an independent walk, contact the Department of Conservation, 1 Commercial St., P.O. Box 53, Takaka (& 03/525-8026). Hut fees are around NZ$15 (US$8.25) per night; camping fees are about NZ$10 (US$5.50) per night; transfers are extra.

For guided walks, call Kahurangi Guided Walks (& and fax 03/525-7177;; Bush and Beyond (& and fax 03/528-9054;; or Southern Wilderness NZ (& 03/578-4531; fax 03/578-4533;


KAIKOURA COAST TRACK This popular, dramatic coastal walk takes you through the best of New Zealand's high-country farming territory, with cottage accommodations at three farms along the way. You'll need a reasonable degree of fitness, as the track climbs from the sea to a height of 600m (1,969 ft.), with wonderful views over the Kaikoura Mountains. The track is also suitable for mountain biking. It's located a 1/2-hour drive north of Christchurch and 45

minutes south of Kaikoura.

Duration/Distance: 3 days/43km (26.7 miles)

Start & End: "Hawkswood" historic sheep station, Kaikoura

Open: October through April

Contact Information: Contact Sally and David Handyside (& 03/319-2715;

fax 03/319-2724; The track costs about NZ$135 (US$74) per person; groups are limited to 10 people. A 2-day mountain bike option is available for NZ$70 (US$39) per person. Public transport is available in the form of shuttle buses and the InterCity coach service, both of which run between Christchurch, Kaikoura, and Blenheim. Shuttles leave from the Christchurch visitor center, which can provide details on the service. The cost of a shuttle to the track beginning at The Staging Post (on SH1) is around NZ$25 (US$14).

BANKS PENINSULA TRACK This private Canterbury track crosses farmland, Hinewai Reserve, and volcanic coastline. You'll experience sandy beaches, safe swimming, waterfalls, cliff faces, beech forest, penguins, seals, dolphins, and rich birdlife. The track twice rises to over 600m (1,968 ft.) and features rugged exposed headlands, requiring a reasonable level of fitness. Children must be accompanied at all times. Accommodations are supplied in four farm cottages, two of which have a small shop for purchasing basics. Duration/Distance: 4 days/35km (21.7 miles) Start & End: Akaroa Village, 80km (50 miles) from Christchurch Open: October 1 to April 30

Contact Information: Call Banks Peninsula Track Ltd. (& 03/304-7612;

fax 03/304-7738; The 4-day tramp costs NZ$180 (US$99) per person; the 2-day tramps costs NZ$120 (US$66).


Independent walkers must have a reservation for walking the Milford and Route-burn tracks discussed below. Contact the Department of Conservation, Great Walks Booking Desk, Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre, P.O. Box 29, Te Anau (& 03/249-8514 or fax 03/249-8515 outside NZ; 03/249-7924 or fax 03/ 249-7613 inside NZ; The number of people allowed on the tracks is limited and the demand great, especially from mid-December through January, so reserve as early as possible—6 months ahead is sometimes necessary. Remember those safety rules and warnings about hypothermia (see "Safety in the Great Outdoors," above)—they hold particularly true here. In this region, unpredictable weather can occur at any time, in any season, and you should always carry appropriate clothing for the worst weather conditions.

ROUTEBURN TRACK $ The Routeburn is a moderate track that links Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks via the Harris Saddle. In summer, it is one of the most popular tracks, but in winter, it's extremely hazardous and impassable with high avalanche danger. It takes you into the heart of unspoiled forests, along river valleys, and across mountain passes, and requires a good level of fitness. Bus transfers are available to the start of the track and from the finish for about NZ$40 (US$22) one-way; the DOC can furnish you with a list of all transport options. Remember that the Routeburn is not a circuit track and there are over 350km (217 miles) of road transport required between both ends of the track. Transport may cost you up to NZ$100 (US$55) if you need to return to your starting point.

Duration/Distance: 2 to 3 days/39km (24.2 miles)

Start & End: The Routeburn Shelter, 75km (46.5 miles) from Queenstown via Glenorchy, or The Divide Shelter, 80km (49.6 miles) from Te Anau on the Milford Road. The Routeburn can be walked in either direction. Open: Late October to mid-April

Contact Information: For independent walks, contact the Department of Conservation, Great Walks Booking Desk, Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre, P.O. Box 29, Te Anau (& 03/249-8514; fax 03/249-8515; greatwalks [email protected]). Hut fees are about NZ$45 (US$25) per night, camping fees NZ$15 (US$8.25) per night. Transfer costs are extra; advance track reservations are required.

For guided walks, call Routeburn Walk Limited (& 0800/768-832 in NZ or 03/442-8200; fax 03/442-6072; It offers a 3-day package that begins in Queenstown. A coach will take you to "The Divide" (on Milford Rd.); you'll walk to Lake McKenzie, across the Harris Saddle, and past the Routeburn Falls. A coach will return you to Queenstown. Comfortable lodges are provided. The cost is from NZ$950 (US$523) for adults and NZ$850 (US$468) for children ages 10 to 15. Rates include transport, meals, and accommodations. Tours depart regularly from November through April, but you should reserve as far in advance as possible. Richard Bryant of Guided Walks New Zealand (& 03/442-7126; fax 03/442-7128; also offers a 1-day option on the Routeburn.

For a 6-day excursion, called The Grand Traverse, combine the Routeburn and Greenstone Valley (see below) tracks. With Routeburn Walks Limited, this will cost from NZ$1,325 (US$729) per adult and includes transport, meals, and accommodation.

GREENSTONE VALLEY TRACK This walk follows an ancient Maori trail used by tribes to access the rich greenstone lodes near Lake Wakatipu. The trail you'll walk, however, was cut in the late 1800s by Europeans, who created a route between Lake Wakatipu and Martins Bay on the Fiordland coast. You'll pass Lake Howden and Lake McKellar, and follow the Greenstone River through deep gorges and open valley to Lake Wakatipu. Boat transfers are available to and from Elfin Bay. The Greenstone track can be walked in either direction, or can be linked to the Routeburn or Caples tracks for a 4- to 5-day round-trip (see "The Grand Traverse," below). Duration/Distance: 2 days/40km (24.8 miles)

Start & End: Elfin Bay, Lake Wakatipu, 86km (53.3 miles) from Queenstown via Glenorchy

Alternative Start & End: Lake Howden near "The Divide" Shelter, 80km (49.6 miles) from Te Anau on the Milford Road Open: November through April

Contact Information: For independent walks, contact the Department of Conservation, Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre, Lakefront Drive, P.O. Box 29, Te Anau (& 03/249-7924; fax 03/249-7613). There is a hut fee of about NZ$12 (US$6.60) per night, plus transfers.

For guided walks, call Routeburn Walk Limited (& 03/442-8200; fax 03/ 442-6072;, which provides accommodations and knowledgeable guides. The 3-day walk costs from NZ$1,100 (US$605) for adults, NZ$850 (US$468) for children ages 10 to 15. (Children under 10 not allowed.) THE GRAND TRAVERSE This is a 6-day excursion that follows the Route-burn Track northbound for 3 days and then crosses into the Greenstone Valley Track for 3 days; available between November and April each year. The guided walk costs around NZ$1,600 (US$880) for adults and NZ$1,300 (US$715) for children ages 10 to 15. Make arrangements through Routeburn Walk Limited (& 03/442-8200; fax 03/442-6072; HOLLYFORD TRACK This relatively flat track follows the Hollyford River out to the coast at Martins Bay. You can walk it as a round-trip or as a one-way with a fly-out from Martins Bay. You can also jet-boat the "Demon Trail" section of the track. Because there are no alpine crossings, this is one of the few Fiordland tracks that can be done year-round. Duration/Distance: 4 days/56km (34.7 miles) one-way Start: Hollyford Camp, 9km (5.6 miles) off Milford Road End: Martins Bay (walk back or fly out)

Open: Year-round; guided walks available October through April only Contact Information: For independent walks, contact the Department of Conservation, Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre, P.O. Box 29, Te Anau (& 03/249-7924; fax 03/249-7613). There is a hut fee of about NZ$10 (US$5.50) per night. The jet boat, flight out, and bus transfer are extra.

For guided walks, contact Hollyford Valley Guided Walk (& 0800/832-226 in NZ, or 03/442-3760; fax 03/442-3761; It offers stays in a comfortable lodge with hot showers. The 3- to 4-day package costs from NZ$1,860 (US$1,023), including pre-tour accommodations in Te Anau. KEPLER TRACK This 4-day tramp starts and ends at the Lake Te Anau outlet control gates. You'll pass through beech forests and a U-shaped glacial valley, and walk along the edges of Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri. This is a challenging hike with a lot of altitude variations. The track zigzags up 800m (2,624 ft.) and drops 1,000m (3,280 ft.)—the single most useful thing you can take is a walking pole. Access is provided by shuttle bus and boat transfer. Duration/Distance: 3 to 4 days/67km (41.5 miles) Start & End: Te Anau Control Gates Open: Late October to mid-April

Contact Information: For independent walks, contact the Department of Conservation, Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre, P.O. Box 29, Te Anau (& 03/249-7924; fax 03/249-7613). Hut fees are about NZ$25 (US$14) per night, or NZ$40 (US$22) if you don't reserve in advance; the night camping fee is NZ$15 (US$8.25). Transfers are extra. Early bookings are essential.

MILFORD TRACK £ Many consider the famous Milford Track the finest anywhere in the world. Known for its glacially carved valleys, alpine flowers, and waterfalls, the 4-day walk is closely regulated by DOC staff, both for the safety of hikers and for the preservation of the wilderness region. You'll walk from Glade Jetty at Lake Te Anau's northern end to Sandfly Point on the western bank of Milford Sound. The track follows the Clinton and Arthur valleys and crosses MacKinnon Pass, the one steep and more difficult stretch that takes about 2 hours to ascend. From here, at 1,073m (3,519 ft.), it's all downhill to Sandfly Point, where you'll be ferried across Milford Sound. You can spend the night at Milford or return to Te Anau, but reservations must be made for either option. Duration/Distance: 4 days/54km (33.5 miles) Start: Lake Te Anau (Te Anau Downs) End: Sandfly Point near Milford Sound Open: Late October to mid-April

Contact Information: For independent walks, contact the Department of Conservation, Great Walks Booking Desk, Fiordland National Park Visitor Centre, P.O. Box 29, Te Anau (& 03/249-8514; fax 03/249-8515; greatwalks [email protected]). Reservations are accepted from early November to mid-April for the following tramping season, which runs from mid-October to mid-April. No more than 24 people can start the walk on any given day. The cost is around NZ$225 (US$124), which includes huts and transportation.

Milford Track Guided Walk (& 0800/659-255 in NZ, or 03/441-1138; fax 03/441-1124; provides coach transport to Te Anau via Queenstown and allows walkers greater flexibility in making international flight connections. It also has a Te Anau office (& 03/249-7411, ext. 8063; fax 03/ 249-7590). Prices include guides, meals at overnight lodges, and accommodations at each end of the trek. Walkers carry their own daypacks. From December 1 to March 13, fees run from NZ$1,700 (US$935) for adults and NZ$850 (US$468) for children ages 10 to 15 for a 6-day package (beginning and ending in Te Anau). From November 1 to 30 and from March 14 to April 4 (dates vary slightly each year), the package costs slightly less.

The highly rated Trips 'n' Tramps (& 03/249-7081; fax 03/249-7089; offers a 1-day option, with one guide for a maximum of 12 people. The package includes a scenic Lake Te Anau cruise, up to 5 hours on the Milford Track, easy walking (no hills), and a lunch stop (bring your own) at Clinton Hut. The cost is around NZ$150 (US$83); it's available November through March.


This is New Zealand's third-biggest island and a veritable nature paradise overlooked by most of the world—including the rest of New Zealand. But it is a spot for some astounding multi-day treks and hundreds of delightful short walks. For information on the island, see chapter 15.

RAKIURA TRACK This is one of New Zealand's Great Walks and is suitable for anyone of moderate fitness. It takes trampers through bush and along beaches and open coast, and much of it is boardwalked. There are two huts and three designated campsites.

Duration/Distance: 3 days/36km (22 miles)

Start & End: Half Moon Bay, Oban

Open: Year-round

Contact Information: For independent walks, contact the Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 3, Stewart Island (& 03/219-0002; fax 03/219-0003; [email protected]). You must purchase a date-stamped Great Walks Pass or campsite pass (NZ$10/US$5.50-per-night hut fee) before taking this walk. Conservation staff may be on the track, and they will impose a surcharge on trampers using accommodation facilities without a pass, which must be displayed on packs at all times. Nightly campsite fees are NZ$6 (US$3.30) per adult, NZ$3 (US$1.65) per student.

NORTH WEST CIRCUIT fjp This track is designed for well-equipped, experienced trampers who will take 10 to 12 days working their way around the island's northwest arm. Nature is at its best in clean beaches, birds, and bush, but mud is widespread and often knee-deep on the track. You'll get great views and complete solitude.

Duration/Distance: 8 to 12 days/125km (77.5 miles) Start & End: Half Moon Bay, Oban Open: Year-round

Contact Information: For independent walks, contact the Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 3, Stewart Island (& 03/219-1130; fax 03/219-1555; [email protected]. The North West Circuit Pass costs NZ$45 (US$25). A Great Walks Pass (NZ$10/US$5.50 per night) is required for Port William and North Arm huts, which are part of the Rakiura Track. This also applies to campgrounds at Port William, Maori Beach, and Sawdust Bay. All other huts require hut tickets. Huts are equipped with running water, mattresses, toilets, and wood-fired stoves. Before undertaking this walk, it might be a good idea to watch the excellent video of the track at the Department of Conservation office in Oban village, Half Moon Bay.

Kiwi Wilderness Walks, 90 Fitzpatrick Rd., Queenstown (& 0800/733-549 in NZ or 021/359-592; fax 03/442-8342;, offers a 5-day tour in Stewart Island National Park, which includes kiwi-spotting at Mason Bay, a visit to Ulva Island, and sea kayaking in Paterson Inlet for around NZ$1,495 (US$822) per adult, NZ$1,295 (US$712) per child ages 10 to 15.

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