One of the best things about New Zealand is the great outdoors. This place is stunningly beautiful, with incredible lush forests, towering mountains, stunning coastline, and eye-catching birds. And one of the best and very much the cheapest way to see it is to get out and walk!
Tramping is a very big deal here. There is an entire industry built around making sure you are safe, warm and comfortable on those days (or weeks!) that you might spend walking between huts or campsites way out in the mountains.
The thing is, overnight tramps aren’t for everyone.
Maybe you don’t want to carry 15 kilos of stuff on your back for several days. Perhaps you don’t have appropriate gear for such an endeavour and buying a whole lot of expensive new equipment just isn’t in your budget.
Or you’re terrified of spending a night shivering in the cold, wishing you were in a cozy hostel instead of in a hut high in the mountains, and dreading spending the next day walking up and down hills after not getting any sleep. Maybe you want a hot shower, a delicious restaurant meal and an icy cold beer at the end of your day.
It’s possible that you’re recovering from an injury, or you’re really out of shape and your body can’t handle day upon day of hiking.
Perhaps you don’t have time to take a 3-4 day Great Walk.
Or maybe it all just sounds like too much.
Thankfully, there are plenty of shorter walks available. Anything from twenty minutes to an entire day can see you in multiple landscapes, atop hills looking down at the amazing views, admiring gorgeous scenery, and strolling through luxuriant green forests of tree ferns or dark spindly manukas.
There is plenty of time for photos. You can set up your tripod and take a bunch of selfies. You can sit on a log and wait for the birds to come to you, and then spend hours trying to get that perfect shot of a wood pigeon.
So here’s a new series on Jenny Far Away: New Zealand Walks for Wimps.
If you want to do any of the Great Walks you can google the name and you’ll find a ton of info about it. There’s everything from the DOC website or a site specifically for that walk to Tripadvisor reviews and personal blog posts about peoples’ experiences. You don’t even have to do the walk yourself, you can just do it vicariously through other people.
But what if you want to know about a shorter hike, such as the Big Totara Walk? All you can find is the most bare-bones info. That’s where I come in.
Maybe you don’t need to know as much. After all, you don’t need to be nearly as prepared for a three hour hike as you do for a three day one. But still, info can be helpful and there have been times that I’ve wished I’d been told things beforehand, so I’m going to tell you all you need to know about these walks. At least the ones I’ve done.
I’ll tell you the distance (if known), official time the walk is supposed to take, as well as my own time. Keep in mind that I do go slowly, and often stop to admire a view, have lunch, take pictures, and look at birds. So for any walk where the official time is more than about half an hour, my time is always longer. Sometimes a lot longer!
I’ll also give a description of the track, any tricky details of getting there, and anything else I think you might need to know.
As I go through all the info I have, I’ve realized just how many I missed along the way, but would’ve liked to do. Excuse me, New Zealand, but please can I have another year?
Anyway, why are these Walks for Wimps?
They do not involve carrying any extra gear. No tent, sleeping bag, gas cooking stove, pots and pans will need to be in your backpack. You will not require ropes, chains or other climbing gear, and certainly not crampons or an ice axe. At most you will need a hat, sunscreen, water, and food. And this is New Zealand, so maybe a rain jacket too!
They do not require excessive reserves of energy or a high level of fitness. The average person can do these hikes.
They are not long and steep. Maybe one or the other, but not both. I will not send you on an entire morning of hiking straight up, only to come sliding back down again, busting your knees all afternoon. And they are not dangerous. You will not feel as if you might fall off a mountain!
And if you’re not a wimp? Well, that’s ok. You can come too. We won’t begrudge you your strength and fitness, speed and agility, or high-quality gear and superhuman resistance to cold. Much.
So check out the map and the tabs on the right to see Jenny Far Away’s New Zealand Walks for Wimps!