Tramping & Hiking in NZ
The Tramping/Hiking opportunities in New Zealand are huge with over 30% of the country in conservation estates. Check out our Tramping Map which detail over 900 Department of Conservation backcountry huts,campsites and thousands of kilometers of tracks of varying standards. These make New Zealand the envy of trampers elsewhere in the world, lets get out there and utilise these fabulous resources and justify the effort it takes to maintain them.
Interested in getting to know an area, the best way is to go out with the local tramping club. Many clubs have day trips every weekend and monthly overnight trips. Check out the Federated Mountain Club's website for club details in your area and contact the trip leader.
The following links also provide information about tramping and maybe helpful when researching a tramping trip.
Department of Conservation (DoC) The DoC site has a huge amount of information on National Parks, Forest Parks and the hut network around New Zealand. Many of the regions also supply excellent information on individual back-country tracks and multi-day tramp options.
Federated Mountain Clubs Federated Mountain Clubs (FMC) celebrates outdoor recreation, cherishes our backcountry and acts to protect both for future generations. Our 20,000 members, from all corners of New Zealand, explore our wild places.
Wilderlife Wilderlife is an online space for New Zealand’s Outdoor Community. Wilderlife brings together the opportunity to find out what’s on in the backcountry, with news, views and “how-tos”, on all things outdoors.
Te Araroa, New Zealand's Trail Taking in spectacular New Zealand landscapes from beaches to volcanoes to forests to cities. The 3000km route stretching from Cape Reinga in the North of New Zealand to Bluff in the South was officially opened December 3rd, 2011 by the Governor-General of New Zealand, Sir Jerry Mateparae.
New Zealand Tramper This is a community-oriented information site about walking and tramping in NZ.
Tramping New Zealand Information about Tramping in NZ.
Tramping Tracks Details Walking tracks, tramping, walks & hiking around beautiful, breathtaking New Zealand.
Remote Huts Westland This site profiles 61 high-country huts and bivouacs located on the western side of New Zealand's Southern Alps.
Wilderness Magazine A selection of trips by regions.
NZ Walking Access Mapping System Identifies land in New Zealand open to recreational access on foot.
Guides and Commercial Tourism Providers Find businesses who are DOC-approved to provide activities and services in conservation areas.
Backcountry New Zealand Backcountry New Zealand Hikes unfolds awesome opportunities for adventure travel, hikes, hiking, tramping and walking, trekking, backpacking backcountry tracks, backcountry trails, hiking trails, photography in spectacular scenery in our national parks.
NZ Route Guides Wiki In the tradition of Moir's Guide and Tararua Footprints route guides are not complete trips in themselves: they describe the route from one point to another, be it the ascent of a peak, the crossing of a mountain pass, the descent of a river catchment, or that saturday morning stroll in from the roadend to your favourite hut.
Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand Provides information on Tramping in NZ.
Backcountry Trust The Backcountry Trust funds and supports volunteers to maintain huts and build tracks for outdoor enthusiasts including trampers, deerstalkers and mountain bikers.
New Zealand tramping, clubs and culture
Click to view NZ Tramping Clubs
Trampers vs planners
Trampers and climbers played a big part in setting aside land for conservation. This verse, sung in the 1960s to the tune of God defend New Zealand, was aimed at government dam builders:
Flood the Wilkin,damn the Rees,
Will their planning never cease?
We must learn where danger lurks,
Vandals of the public works.
Tramping is the New Zealand term for hiking, trekking, rambling or bush-walking, and was common in print and speech by the 1920s. It is seen as a typically New Zealand activity – even though many cultures have much longer traditions of hill walking. Enthusiasts walk along, or off, tracks in back-country settings, carrying food and gear in a backpack. Unlike mountaineering and hunting, the journey is at the centre of the tramping experience. Most trampers stay in huts, while some carry tents. A typical trip, or tramp, lasts two to five days, with some lasting over a week. A tramp not involving an overnight stay is referred to as a ‘day trip’.
Māori were the country’s first trampers, although they made trips mainly for food-gathering, trade in pounamu (greenstone or New Zealand jade), and warfare. They wore woven flax sandals, and carried backpacks of woven flax with wooden frames and wide shoulder straps. The first Europeans to take to the back country were explorers, missionaries, surveyors, botanists, geologists and prospectors. In many places they followed Māori paths. European pioneers who wanted to get somewhere would often walk, especially in rough terrain that horses could not traverse. It is difficult to say when this was first seen as recreation. Romantic notions of sublime nature, popular in England in the 1800s, are common in the journals of these early travellers, and this love of wild landscapes gave rise to many tramping clubs. <p">The introduction of deer and trout in the late 1800s attracted hunters and anglers to the hills, and mountaineers began to look to the high peaks. For others, the experience of being in the hills was enough, and friends would band together for excursions.
It was natural that tramping clubs soon formed. The first was the Tararua Tramping Club, established in 1919 in Wellington. Others sprang up. Members would build huts, cut tracks and organise group trips. The groups also fostered leadership and camaraderie, and taught skills such as navigating, putting up tents and making fires. A few people in one club occasionally tramped naked. Some clubs were also political, lobbying for access to wild lands and the conservation of land. <p">The golden age of tramping clubs lasted from the 1940s to the 1970s. By the 2000s many had ageing and declining memberships. Increasing numbers of tourists were taking to the bush, especially on the well-known tracks.
Tramping has its own words, including:
scroggin – a mix usually of nuts, raisins and chocolate, for an energy boost. The term is also used by Australian bush walkers
the tops – the land above the bushline
billy – a light pot for cooking over an open fire or cooker.
Taking time off
Tramping needs plenty of time. A trip lasting a week or more can be referred to as an ‘epic’ if it is difficult, dangerous, or requires endurance. Traditionally Christmas and Easter offered the chance of extended trips. North Islanders have for decades used the term ‘Christmas trip’ for a South Island sojourn of 10–16 days (using statutory holidays and annual leave). With flexible work patterns, and many jobs offering more annual leave, in the 2000s people can make longer trips at any time of the year. <p">Weekend trips are available to those who live close enough to the hills. Before cars were affordable, Aucklanders mainly tramped in the Waitakeres. Wellingtonians headed for the Tararuas, Cantabrians for Arthur’s Pass and Dunedinites for the Silver Peaks. While they are still popular destinations, today people are willing to drive many hours before they start tramping. <p">Spending time in the bush offers a counterpoint to everyday urban life, and an escape from work, phones, and emails. Seeing new landscapes or revisiting old haunts is revitalising, and for some it is a spiritual or philosophical experience. Trampers return better able to deal with the world and its worries, which seemed trivial where the preoccupations are primary – food, shelter and warmth. And for those interested in the landscape and natural history, tramping is the only way to see vast swathes of New Zealand’s back country.
(extracted from: TeAra.govt.nz)