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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

Ride Rotorua, North Island
Flowy. That’s the word locals use to describe the mountain biking in Whakarewarewa Forest. One-way singletrack careens through trees, with banked turns and well-marked drops that let you float through the landscape, barely pushing your pedals. Rent a bike in town, then hop a shuttle or ride fire roads to more than 50 miles of trails. Info

Vineyard Side Trip, South Island
Want proof that New Zealand produces world-class chardonnays? After your QCT trek, stop at one of Marlborough Sounds’ climate-blessed vineyards and sample the crisp, fruity evidence. Allan Scott Winery ( also serves meals and packages bottles for shipping to the U.S.

Paddle Abel Tasman, South Island
Contrarian advice: Other mags lavish praise on the Abel Tasman Coast as a multiday trekking and kayaking destination, but we recommend a guided daylong paddle instead (Kaiteriteri Kayaks, $180NZ, You’ll cruise within feet of seals, see thousands of shorebirds, and get a splendid sampling of the area’s famous arches and aquamarine coves—without the crowds of campers and sand fleas.

Mt. Cook, South Island
Schedule some downtime at the DOC Visitor Center in Mount Cook National Park: It houses a fascinating adventure archive and the Old Mountaineers Café, which serves tasty organic sandwiches, beer, and hot drinks.

Canyoning the Routeburn, South Island
Think of it like a cross between bungee jumping and whitewater kayaking—without the rope or boat—as you swim/slide/jump/rappel down a slot canyon. This is Kiwi crazy at its finest—squeeze it in before or after the Rees-Dart Track. From $210NZ;

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Reader Rating: -


Mar 23, 2012

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

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.

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.

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

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.
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.


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