New Zealand - a middle-aged guy goes hiking...

In late March I had the glorious opportunity to spend two weeks in New Zealand hiking (mostly on the South island). New Zealand has a long list of great walks well managed by their Department of Conservation. Despite being neither young nor particularly fit, I was always intrigued by the prospect of trying this. My family had no interest in this sort of thing, so I had to go alone. Given the Euro-focused nature of this site, I will only provide the barest of descriptions below. But if you would like a day-by-day account, including a lot of very lush photos, just send me a quick "Personal Message" and I will be glad to share my travel blog address...

Posted by Randy
Minneapolis, MN, USA
1507 posts

I flew Air Pacific from LA to Auckland because I found a really good sale in October. On arrival, I rented a car from Apex and drove to the center of the North Island to try the Tongariro Crossing - a one day, 12-mile hike among volcanos. Unfortunately, that day was pretty wet and cloudy and only partly successful. After that I drove to Wellington, took the ferry to the South island, and continued on to the Abel Tasman Coastal Track - a 2-day, 25-mile walk in a seaside rainforest. The night in between was spent in one of the DOC-provided communal huts. This was followed by a week spent in or near Queenstown and the Fiordland National Park in the far Southwest. There I saw Milford Sound by boat, hiked the Gertrude Saddle one day, and did the entire 31-mile Kepler Track in three days and two nights (again in huts). The trails were a bit of a beating for this inexperienced middle-aged hiker, but worth it for both the views and the incredible experience. This was my second visit to New Zealand, but the first was in June, 2011 and early winter there. Temps were in the 50's F and perpetually rainy and wet. March was a much better time of year to be there. Aside from a couple of days of rain out of 12, the weather was pretty close to perfect. PM me for my blog address where you will get all the details and eye-candy.