Art Deco buildings in Napier and powerful westerly winds in the Cook Strait
From the roaring twenties to the roaring forties, New Zealand has an eclectic mix of natural and man-made wonders for every type of traveller.
New Zealand has got to be one of my favourites destinations (said by many I’m sure) and warrants many return visits. Even with my limited funds, which realistically allow me to travel most places just once, I can always find room in my budget for another trip to NZ. And for the passionate perambulator, New Zealand is a walker’s paradise.
Advantages New Zealand has for the avid walker:
*no dangerous animals
*a variety of tracks (usually well-maintained) suitable for all fitness levels
*beautiful scenery, clean air
*relatively uncrowded routes
Our Fitness & Travel series features walking as an ideal way to keep fit on the road. It requires minimal equipment, is suitable for all fitness levels and can be done just about anywhere. We have categorized the walking and travel experience into three categories which will be featured from time to time in destination pieces.
Walk n’ Choc – Where the road less travelled by foot leads to chocolate
Unbeknownst to me (until an inflight magazine on Air New Zealand put me straight), there is a gourmet chocolate scene in New Zealand. Take a day trip to Devonport, a suburb of Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. A 10-minute ferry ride from the CBD (Central Business District or downtown to us North American folks) gets you to Devonport and then a 5 minute-walk gets you to Devonport Chocolates. After climbing to the top of Mount Victoria for city and harbour views, exploring the historic sites on foot and then languishing at one of the many white sandy beaches, head to Devonport Chocolates for some cocoa refreshment. This village also has some restaurants, shops and an artistic vibe you may want to drink in while you’re here. Check out the Devonport visitor’s guide for a suggested one-day itinerary.
Urban Walks & Food Talks – Urban walks for the vegetarian foodie
Major cities in New Zealand often have decent dining options for the vegetarian. Wellington, the country’s capital, is a compact little city and you could probably walk leisurely the entire length of the CBD. Along the way, in between sight-seeing and picture-taking, check out ‘bohemian’ Cuba Street for some vegetarian restaurants.
Peregrinations & Meditations – Nature walks that inspire
The Milford Track is probably the most recognized of New Zealand’s famous walks, or tramps, but there are so many others from which to choose. The Routeburn track (entry sign pictured below) is in the same region and typically less-crowded. But for a real treat, try the challenging Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This area was featured in the Lord of the Rings film series as Mt. Doom and the active volcanoes here may mean a walk in this area could live up to its cinematic role. This is one of the those walks that is particularly weather-sensitive. Plan your trip with the forecast in mind.
“Not all those who wander are lost.” ~J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings series~
Things to know before you go:
- In New Zealand, hiking is known as tramping.
- Popular walks require registration to ensure your spot on the trail. (e.g. The Milford Track)
- Weather can be a bugger. Be flexible, if possible, with your time. Many walks are weather-dependent.
Things to do before you go:
- Come prepared – layers of clothes for weather changes, good footwear, proper nutrition, bug spray, first aid kit and the fitness level you have built-up in preparation for your trip.
- Inform someone (loved ones or an organization such as Adventure Smart) of your planned walk. In case you go missing or get into trouble at least someone knows to come look for you.