SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on Backpacker.com


Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – March 2012

Died and Gone to New Zealand

Hiker heaven, redefined, is a month-long hike/paddle/camp in Adventureland.

by: Jonathan Dorn and Michael Lanza

Whanganui River, North Island (Michael Lanza)
Whanganui River, North Island (Michael Lanza)
Mountain biking in Whakarewarewa Forest, North Island (Katie Herrell)
Mountain biking in Whakarewarewa Forest, North Island (Katie Herrell)
Narnia Track, South Island (Jonathan Dorn)
Narnia Track, South Island (Jonathan Dorn)
Queen Charlotte Track, South Island (Scott Bischke)
Queen Charlotte Track, South Island (Scott Bischke)
Doubtful Sound, South Island (Michael Lanza)
Doubtful Sound, South Island (Michael Lanza)
Rees-Dart Track, South Island (James Kay)
Rees-Dart Track, South Island (James Kay)
Abel Tasman Coast (David Wall)
Abel Tasman Coast (David Wall)

Online Exclusive
View interactive maps of these routes at backpacker.com/nz12.
Not that we’re complaining, but it seems almost unfair that one country could have so much world-class terrain—mountains, beaches, fjords, volcanoes—packed into a landmass the size of Colorado. Yes, the adventure capital of the world has it all—including, unfortunately, hordes of trekkers seeking to tick the Routeburn and Milford Tracks off their bucket lists. But you can escape the crowds without missing the iconic scenery. We scoured both islands, consulted locals and guides, and sent two scouts into the field to create the perfect Kiwi vacation—a month’s worth of adventures, no reservations required.

(Note: Daily cost per person in U.S. dollars based on double occupancy: $ <$50 $$ 50-100 $$$ 100-150 $$$$ 150-200 $$$$$ >200. See Kiwi Quick Start for more planning resources.
)


THE WHANGANUI RIVER, NORTH ISLAND
Discover a local favorite: paddling through the heart of a Maori historic homeland.

Launch a canoe into the green waters of the Whanganui River and you’ll understand why the native Maori believe that every bend in this stunning waterway had a mauri, or “life force.” All along the 54-mile stretch from Whakahoro to Pipiriki— mostly within Whanganui National Park—sandstone and mudstone cliffs soar hundreds of feet out of the water, creating a nearly unbroken gorge of sheer walls draped with ribbon waterfalls and a jungle of foliage. Life force, indeed. You’ll explore side slot canyons like Mangaio Stream, and well-preserved Maori villages like Tieke Marae—a cluster of huts with an ornately carved totem pole scowling over the grounds. The route also passes the infamous Bridge to Nowhere, a span built across a deep gorge after World War II to provide access to the river for Kiwi settlers—who eventually abandoned the remote outpost. At night, camp riverside (budget) or stay in a hut or lodge (luxe); either way you’ll go to sleep with the sounds of exotic birds like the brown kiwi echoing through the trees. The class I-II river is straightforward for experienced paddlers, but some rapids are challenging in high flows. The last major rapid before Pipiriki is notorious for swamping canoes, although it’s an easy-to-swim wave train (and can usually be avoided to river right). Got extra time? Paddle the entire Whanganui River Journey, a 90-mile, five-day trip from Taumarunui to Pipiriki; it’s the only water-based adventure listed among New Zealand’s vaunted Great Walks.

Do it The three-day trip begins at Whakahoro and ends at Pipiriki. Spend night one at John Coull Hut (inside or camp) at mile 23, and night two at Bridge to Nowhere Lodge (campsites are adjacent and across the river at mile 41). Guide/gear rental canoesafaris.co.nz and whanganuirivercanoes.co.nz. Guidebook/map Guide to the Whanganui River, $9NZ Info/huts/campsites doc.govt.nz Cost $$*




Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -

READERS COMMENTS

Niky
Mar 23, 2012

oh my god...i must go there..it's fantastic...=O

Sara
Feb 27, 2012

Just got back from the south island, and we brought along this artciel to hike the Narnia Track. Initially, when we stopped by Flock Hill, they told us that only guests staying there were allowed to hike it! After some persuading, they agreed to let us do it (we had to fill out permit-like paperwork and keep it with us). While the scenery was gorgeous and we're glad we did it, we got horrible directions on how to do the hike and didn't receive any map. So, we ended up just kind of wandering around the area and after a few hours of walking came across a sign that said "narnia track", but we still weren't really sure where the actual track was. The area is a working ranch, so we kept wandering off on different vehicle tracks, only to have them peter out to nothing in a grassy field. So, we enjoyed the scenery and everything, but it was kind of a confusing wandering kind of a day rather than an actual route.

Honora
Feb 17, 2012

Does it cost anything to hike on Flock Hill station. I'm sure if it doesn't, they're be so thrilled that you've publicised them to this extent.

SuJi
Feb 16, 2012

Better yet...have spent over 6 months there on 2 diffeerent occasions visiting this paradise for hikers....have purchased older (Mitsubishi)vehicles on both occasions and then sold them for exactly what we had paid for them...costing nothing except the insurance and gas

Tony
Feb 16, 2012

The Queen Charlotte is an excellent track which can be walked or mountain biked at certain times of the year. Highly recomended!

Dingo (New Zealand)
Feb 16, 2012

New Zealand certainly has the wow factor when it comes to hiking regardless if you are visiting the North Island or the South Island. It reallly is the outdoor playground of the world.

jacksukow@hotmail.com
Feb 16, 2012

A much better option than 180 dollars a day to rent a camper van
which you will have to pay another fee to park , is to rent a car from
a local rental agency for only $30 a day, and camp or stay at hostels
for ten to sixty dollars per night.

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

The Political Arena
Am I missing something here?
Posted On: Apr 23, 2014
Submitted By: hbfa
Trailhead Register
Group Size
Posted On: Apr 23, 2014
Submitted By: TDale
Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions