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How to Stay Safe While Hiking in New Zealand

hike nz

Safety’s not as hard as you may think – New Zealand has no snakes, pesky poisonous plants or predators out in the wilderness – all you really need to worry about when you’re hiking in New Zealand is staying on the trail. Saying that, hurting yourself, getting lost and getting caught out by the weather can happen, so you still need to take proper safety precautions when hiking, especially if you are going it alone.

Signing In and Out

Before heading out on a significant day hike, or any overnight track, you are required to register your intentionswith the Department of Conservation (DOC). You can usually do this at any of the local DOC offices, in person or over the phone, or in a book provided at the start of the track. Once you have finished the track, you must always remember to sign out again, otherwise a search may be initiated.

Hut Books

In each hut there is a Hut Book, which you should always complete when you visit a hut, even if you aren't staying there overnight, so in case you go missing, there is some recorded proof of where you had been last. The Hutbooks generally make great reading in any case, as there are comments from everyone who has stayed there, often very amusing.

Emergency Beacons

Many of the larger and more popular backcountry hut have resident wardens, who have access to radios in case of emergencies, but this should not be relied on. Emergency beacons are available to hire throughout New Zealand, especially in the more popular hiking destinations, generally at very reasonable rates. In an emergency, you can trigger the emergency beacon and NZ Search and Rescue services will be notified of your whereabouts by satellite and will organise a team to come and provide assistance – usually by helicopter in the first instance, or by motor vehicle and/or foot if conditions are poor. Once triggered, you should stay put and wait for help. However, these should only be used in case of emergency – if you trigger one because you've run out of Snickers bars, or forgot that the final episode of "Grey's Anatomy" was on television and you wanted to catch it, you will likely be charged for the call-out and helicopters are expensive!

Trip Reviews

  •   4.60 out of 5 (from 1887 reviews)

    Wonderful Choice!

    A trip to New Zealand was on my "bucket list" and my husband chose this trip for the south island. I think this is a wonderful way to see the outstanding scenery of the south island. We will be back!
    Lissa Jackson Review Image
    – Tennessee, United States
    Tui, April 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4983 reviews)

    The Most Beautiful Place in the World

    Thank you to Active Adventures for a most spectacular trip. I traveled with my daughter, to celebrate her college graduation, and my brother. The Kiwi people are the friendliest people on the planet. Our guides were extremely helpful, cooked awesome meals, and taught us so much about New Zealand. They took care of everything. All we had to do was sit back and enjoy the ride. The locations for the lodging were probably the best views in all the country. We stayed right in the center of Queenstown, next to a remote area of a lake with views of Mt. Cook, in a small towns next to the ocean. They were all very clean and neat, always with a pot of tea ready, and cookies for a snack. There was always an excess of food. No one ever went hungry. In fact, I don't think I ever ate so much on holiday. The activities were fun and varied, relaxing at times, strenuous on occasion but with awesome views as payback. I am recommending this trip to all my friends, and already planning the next one.
    Terri Donati Review Image
    – Colorado, United States
    Rimu, December 2017
  •   4.38 out of 5 (from 1211 reviews)

    This trip exceeded every expectation. Every activity was more exciting than the last, never was there a dull moment. The hikes, especially the hike to Cape Brett and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, were absolutely incredible. Andy and Jo were the perfect team. Andy always kept us occupied with good stories and always had a backup plan if we weren't able to do something on the itinerary. He took the time on hikes to stop and point out unique things that otherwise would have been missed. "Mama Jo" really looked after us and made sure we all had the most amazing time. I have no idea where she found the energy to always be the one running back up the mountain to help carry the backpacks of tired hikers and then get back to the accommodations and cook everybody a delicious dinner. They were more than just tour guides, they were our family. I highly recommend this trip!
    Cassidy Anderson Review Image
    – Vermont, United States
    Kauri, November 2016
  •   4.38 out of 5 (from 1211 reviews)

    North Island - Kauri

    From the first day to the last, I have enjoyed travelling through the North Island with our fantastic guides Jo and Andy. Rain or shine there was always an interesting hike to go to, or a point of view worth stopping at and they know them all. The landscaping of NZ is fabulous in many areas and I liked the fact that we went out of the major tourist attraction points. Andy, excellent driver, is also an encyclopedia of information and such a good narrator he makes the long road trips fill shorter and very pleasant. Jo the mermaid is an excellent cook who enjoyed preparing meals for kings even in restrictive facilities. I enjoyed the fact that we could participate in a good variety of activities as we were hoping to. We felt secure at all times, we learned a lot about the Maori nation and their influence on the actual NZ.
    A very informative and pleasant trip overall, with excellent guides who adapt easily to any group of people or situations they have to deal with. Two tums up, I will definitely recommend this adventure to anyone who enjoys nature and culture out of their comfort zone.
    Claude Remy Review Image
    – Ontario, Canada
    Kauri, December 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4983 reviews)

    Rimu Was Extraordinary

    We have been dreaming of visiting New Zealand for a long time, we wanted to see and explore all the best sites in an active way, but doing this on our own would have been overwhelming! Active Adventures was the complete answer. They took us to the best places, sites and beautiful landscapes that we could only have dreamed about. Our group was small which allowed us all to bond, our guides Astrid and Steve could not have been better - fun, knowledgeable, organized and excellent cooks. I got the sense they really enjoyed what they do! I would strongly recommend this tour - a trip of a lifetime that words can’t describe - we will never forget it.
    Colleen Clark Review Image
    – Ontario, Canada
    Rimu, February 2018

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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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