8 Must do multi-day hikes in New Zealand's North Island

New Zealand is a country filled with incredible natural attractions and world-class experiences. While the South Island is credited with having some of the best outdoor activities, the North Island delivers unmatched remote beauty - making it the perfect setting for some of the country's best multi-day hikes and Great Walks.

Whether you are looking for budget-friendly campervan ideas or are an avid hiker looking to experience the very best of New Zealand’s tramping scene, here are eight of the must-do multi-day hikes in New Zealand’s North Island.

1. Lake Waikaremoana Hike 

Location: Te Urewera National Park.

Distance: 44km

Days to complete: 3-4 days

Difficulty level: Intermediate

Lake Waikaremoana is the perfect off-the-beaten-track experience. This four-day tramp is loaded with stunning wilderness, forests, grasslands and spectacular lake views. On this four-day adventure, you can marvel at Korokoro Falls and witness the magnificent views from the Panekire Bluff as well as a host of other scenery that awaits in this ancient mountain range.

This track is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks and will require an online booking. You’ll need to pay fees in advance for huts and campsites.

2. Tongariro Northern Circuit Track 

Image source: TNZ image gallery - Eric Hanson

Location: Starts and ends in Whakapapa Village, Mt Ruapehu

Distance: 44.9km

Days to complete: 3-4 days

Difficulty level: Intermediate

Tongariro Northern Circuit Track is a stunning contrast of glacial pine views and volcanic landscapes. This track takes around three days and offers endless views of the perfect dome of the dormant volcano Mount Ngauruhoe.

As this track is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, it will require an online booking ahead of time. Also, it is worth noting that this area is prone to harsh winter weather, avalanches and short daylight hours outside the great walks season. As such, it is recommended to be explored from late October to April. If you want to explore this area in the winter months, you need to have sufficient mountaineering gear and alpine skills.

3. Pouakai Circuit 

Location: Egmont National Park and North Egmont area, Taranaki

Distance: 25km

Days to complete: 2-3 days

Difficulty level: Advanced

Pouakai Circuit is a stunning mix of sheltered rainforest, alpine swamps and tussock fields, all tucked away within the beauty of Egmont National Park. Along this track, you will witness the beauty of Ahukawakawa Swamp, wander past Mighty Bells Falls as well as witness the iconic reflection of Pouākai Tarn. It is advised that this track is steep and can be muddy & wet at times. So it pays to have backcountry experience and navigational skills to combat spurts of harsh weather. Like many others in the region, a booking is required ahead of time.

4. Aotea Track 

Location: Great Barrier Island, Auckland Region. Will need to be reached by boat (sea link) or plane, and so will need to park your motorhome before departing.

Distance: 25km

Days to complete: 2-3 days

Difficulty level: Advanced

Aotea Track is unique in that it is only accessible by boat. Tucked away on Great Barrier Island, this hike is filled with stunning native bush, forests of kauri, rimu and more, as well as expansive wetlands. This track has some challenging steep climbs with many steps and stairways. As such, it is rated as an advanced trail for those with moderate fitness. The perk? If you can face these challenging climbs, you will be rewarded after a long day’s hike with a soak at the sulphurous Kaitoke Hot Springs surrounded by the delicate umbrella fern.

5. Te Paki Coastal Track 

Location: Aupouri Peninsula, Cape Reinga

Distance: 48km one way

Days to complete: 3-4 days

Difficulty level: Advanced

Te Paki Coastal Track hike offers a variety of spectacular views of the cape region. Winding along the North Eastern Coast and then finishing at the Te Paki

Stream on the West Coast. Enjoy incredible views of the coastline as you pass by the Te Werahi and Twilight beaches and the inland swamps filled with vibrant birdlife.

This track is marked as self-sufficient camping only. Also note that it is vital to bring plenty of drinking water, as streams are known to dry up in the summer months.

6. Mt Holdsworth Jumbo Circuit

Location: Tararua Forest Park, Wellington.

Distance: 24km loop

Days to complete: 2-3 days

Difficulty level: Intermediate

Mt Holdsworth Jumbo Circuit hike begins at the Holdsworth Lodge and follows the Gentle Annie track past the beech-podocarp forest and onto exposed ridge lines with stunning alpine views.

Despite its stunning vistas, this area is known for experiencing frequent strong winds, thick mist, and freezing temperatures. The route between Powell and Jumbo Huts can become very dangerous in these conditions. As such, it's important to plan ahead and prepare for bad weather and pack weather-appropriate gear.

7. Round the Mountain Track 

Location: Tongariro National Park, Central North Island

Distance: 66.2km loop

Days to complete: 4-6 days.

Difficulty level: Advanced

Round the Mountain Track hike is a wild and volcanic landscape to be reckoned with. Here you will tramp through the Rangipo Desert, along volcanic rocks, past mountain beech forest, through tussock country, glacial river gorges and gushing waterfalls. This track leads right around Mount Ruapehu and holds cultural significance to the Maori people in this region.

As with many of these tracks, the Waihohonu Hut and Campsite require advance booking in the Great Walks season. In addition, you’ll need to learn about river safety and how to cross rivers safely. Be prepared for harsh weather conditions and pack accordingly.

8. Mount Hikurangi Summit 

Location: Raukumara Conservation Park in the East Coast region

Distance: 21.2km

Days to complete: 2 days

Difficulty level: Expert

Mount Hikurangi trek is a challenging summit climb winding its way through farmland and mountainscapes to the peak of the highest non-volcanic mountain in the North Island. Along this track, you can witness the nine whakairo (Māori carvings), views of the Raukumara Ranges and the peaks of Whanakao, Taitai, Aorangi and Wharekai, and the sea on both sides of the Cape. A truly spectacular sight. Be aware that the huts at Mount Hikurangi require bookings beforehand, so be sure to look for availability before booking your trip. In addition, due to the challenging nature of this trail, It is only safe to walk during the daytime. A high level of experience in backcountry navigation and survival is also required.


What you should consider bringing on a multi-day hike in the North Island 

Depending on the track you choose, the essentials you need to bring will differ. Overall, it's important to bring a variety of gear that will keep you protected against the varied climates of the North Island. Here is an initial checklist to get you started for packing for multi-day tramping trips:

  • Hut or campsite booking: A lot of multi-day hikes require hut or campsite bookings in advance. So be sure to secure your spot ahead of time.
  • Tent: If the track requires you to be self-sufficient, you’ll need to make sure you bring a tent and any other sleeping equipment.
  • Sleeping bag: This is an excellent way to ensure you enjoy a warm night's rest, so you are ready and refreshed for the next stretch of your hike in the morning.
  • Cooker, Fuel, and Utensils: Huts often do not provide this, so make sure to bring your own to enjoy a warm meal after a long day of tramping.
  • Appropriate clothing: Depending on the weather, you should consider packing a waterproof jacket, warm clothing, a warm hat and gloves. Alternatively, if you are hiking in the summer months, you will want to pack a hat, sunscreen and so on.
  • Sturdy footwear: Regardless of the track you choose, sturdy footwear will keep your feet protected and help with grip and comfort levels on difficult, long tracks.
  • Day Pack: You’ll need a big, sturdy daypack to carry all your gear.
  • Emergency equipment: When embarking on a multi-day hike, it's important to have some emergency equipment such as an emergency shelter, first aid kit, emergency communication devices, whistle and so on.

Headtorch: Ultimately, you don’t want to get caught hiking in the dark. However, if you misjudge your timings, a head torch is a must.


Ready to experience some epic multi-day hikes in the North Island? 

If you are looking for reasons to take a New Zealand campervan trip with friends, wonder no more! Renting a campervan to experience some of the most epic multi-day hikes on the North Island is a great, cost-effective way to experience the beauty of this stunning island with your favourite people by your side. Looking for some more budget-friendly campervan inspiration? Check out our 15-day budget-friendly North Island road trip as well as our guide to how much it costs to travel in a campervan.

Ready to experience some epic multi-day hikes in the North Island? Book your Mighty NZ campervan online today and then pick it up from the most suitable branch when you’re ready to embark on your northern adventure.