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Walking the Overland Track FAQs

One of the main takeaways from walking Australia's iconic Overland Track is the sense of accomplishment that comes with it, but it doesn't come without its challenges.

You'll be carrying a 15-20kg pack as you traverse past incredible dolerite peaks and through sublime myrtle-beech rainforest. You'll climb Tasmania's most iconic peaks, persevering in unpredictable highland weather and proving to yourself that with persistence and drive, you can do almost anything. Not a bad by-product from a 6-day trek, right?

If you're keen to walk the Overland Track and explore the Cradle Mountain region, see what to expect on the trail below with our most frequently asked questions, including information about the terrain, campsites, water facilities, phone reception and more.

QUICK LINKS:
THE TRACK
• When is the best time to walk the Overland Track?
• What flora and fauna can I expect to see on the Overland Track?
• What is the terrain like on the Overland Track?
• Are there leeches on the Overland Track?
GEAR & FOOD
• What kind of hiking boots should I wear on the Overland Track?
• What day pack do we need?
• Should I bring trekking poles?
• Do I need water purification tablets on the Overland Track?
• What type of food do we eat on these trips?
FITNESS & PREPARATION
• How fit do I need to be to complete the full track?
• How should I prepare for my Overland trek?
• If I prefer travelling independently, would a self-guided trip be for me?
• Do I need to organise my own permits on the Overland Track?
CAMPSITES, TENTS & FACILITIES
• What are the campsites like on the Overland Track?
• Are single tents available?
• Is there luggage storage?
• What shower facilities are available on the track?
• Can we charge phones and cameras on the Overland Track?
• Will I have phone reception?
• What is the Leave No Trace policy?
 

THE TRACK

When is the best time to walk the Overland Track?

The peak season to walk the Overland Track is in the summer months of December to February. However, trekking in the shoulder seasons and even during Winter can provide a unique and memorable experience that is worth considering. For a detailed guide on when to trek the Overland Track, check out this article when to trek the Overland Track, which details the seasonal nuances for each month.

What flora and fauna can I expect to see on the Overland Track?

The Overland Track is a unique landscape offering a variety of localized climates, with a surprising amount of life that thrives in the National Park. Find out more about the flora and fauna you can expect to see on the trail.

What is the terrain like on the Overland Track?

The terrain is rugged and remote. Tracks may be rough and steep in sections. Over the trip, you will walk along boardwalks, up and down steps, through overgrown forests, through muddy sections and if you choose some of the side trips you will scramble over rocks.

Are there leeches on the Overland Track?

It’s not uncommon to encounter leeches on the Overland Track, particularly in areas with a lot of leaf foliage and tree coverage. Leeches tend to breed in warm moist areas, so can be spotted during the summer months in marshy areas. Leech bites do not hurt, however, if they bother you, we suggest bringing a salt solution to remove them from your skin if you come into contact with them.

GEAR & FOOD

What kind of hiking boots should I wear on the Overland Track?

We highly recommend that you have high cut hiking boots for this trail. There are lots of slippery tree roots in the rainforest areas, so ankle support will be beneficial. Also, you may encounter mud along the way, so if they are waterproof, you will hopefully have nice dry feet at the end of the day.

What day pack do I need?

The day pack that we recommend for the Overland Track should be a small compressible day pack that folds down to as small as your hand if not smaller. This is only to be used when you do side trips, as you will leave your 70-90L backpack at the trailhead and return to it after the side trip. It is not mandatory that you have the day pack, but we find that it is convenient to have one. An example of what we suggest for a daypack is the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack.

Should I bring trekking poles?

Hiking poles can definitely assist you with going up and down the inclines and for stability in mud or slippery tree roots. If you have not used them previously, we recommend that you do some training with them before you head out on the hike.

Do I need water purification tablets on the Overland Track?

Tasmania prides itself on clean pure water and most of the water along the track is safe to drink without purifying. Fresh rainwater tanks supplied by Parks and Wildlife can be found at each of the campsites, and you can also fill up your water bottle at many of the springs along the way.

What type of food do we eat on these trips?

You’d be surprised how much food you’ll eat after a day’s trekking along the Overland Track. Our guides are experienced when it comes to preparing meals along the Overland Track. Thanks to a food drop on day 3, we are able to have fresh produce every night along the trail. Lunches usually consist of vegetable wraps with hams, chicken or salami, while evening meals can vary from curries, stroganoff and pasta.

Deserts include improvised apple pie, and even a chocolate mousse if you’re lucky! Start your day with a hearty porridge or muesli, with snacks throughout the day including fruit and nuts, muesli bars and some fruit.

As this is a full pack adventure, each trekker is required to carry a portion of the group’s food, whether it be a couple of cucumbers, lettuce heads or a bag of pasta. All types of dietary requirements are catered for, including vegetarian, gluten-free, lactose-free and nut-free.

On the Cradle Huts version of the Overland Track, more gourmet meals can be expected, including antipasto platters, minestrone soups and risottos.

 

FITNESS & PREPARATION

How fit do I need to be to complete the full track?

You will need a good level of fitness and must be in good health. You will be carrying a full pack of around 15-20kg and trekking for up to six or seven hours a day. Over the trip you will walk along boardwalks, up and down steps, through overgrown forests and through muddy sections.

The terrain can get rugged and steep with potential variable weather conditions. This trek should not be underestimated as it can be tough and challenging.

How should I prepare for my Overland trek?

We recommend one hour of strenuous exercise 3-4 times per week (this can be cycling, jogging or walking) interspersed with relatively demanding bushwalks carrying a full pack weight (up to 20kg).

At least once a week, you should walk with a weighted day pack (5–7kg) for several hours for leg strengthening and aerobic fitness. The best exercise is multi-day bushwalking involving relatively steep ascents and descents and in variable weather conditions.

If I prefer travelling independently, would a self-guided trip be for me?

Self-guided trips require individuals to use problem-solving skills, be adaptable and have a keen eye. It is recommended that you are comfortable in the outdoors, with map reading, referring to route notes and that you have a good sense of direction (or are willing to work on improving this!). The trail is marked but with variable weather conditions, you need to be adept at route finding and map reading.

Do I need to organise my own permits on the Overland Track?

You are required to have a permit if walking the Overland Track, however, Tasmanian Expeditions takes the hassle of organising this with the permit and National Park Pass costs included in the trip price.

As an operator on the trail, Tasmanian Expeditions secures the National Park passes and associated track passes each year for all their trekkers. It is a process that takes place well in advance before the season commences to ensure when you want to go, they are available as passes are issued in limited supplies.

If opting for a self-guided walk, it is best to book well in advance as permits for these are released from July 1 and tend to sell out during the peak season. Only 60 permits are available a day to trekkers on the track during the season (May – October) to avoid overcrowding and for sustainable management of the track.

CAMPSITES, TENTS & FACILITIES

What are the campsites like on the Overland Track?

If completing the full Overland Track, five nights of the trip will be spent along the track at designated commercial campsite areas. These wilderness areas have timber platforms for tents to be pitched on. There are nearby rainwater tanks and composting toilet facilities.

Tasmanian Expeditions provides strong, 2-person bushwalking tents (twin-share), which provide each occupant with a personal access door and vestibule for individual use. They are high quality 3-4 season tents which have been trialled and tested to withstand all weather conditions that may be encountered in Tassie.

The tents weigh between 2 and 2.5kg and this weight is shared equally by each occupant.

Are single tents available?

Unfortunately, we do not have a single tent supplement on our Overland Track trips. While we can certainly put a request for a single tent on your reservation, this cannot be guaranteed. It depends on the makeup of the group and the number of people booked on the departure. Travellers who have a single tent will also find that a single tent is heavier than carrying half of a 2-man tent.

Is there luggage storage?

If you are flying into Launceston and have excess baggage you do not want to take with you on your trip, we are able to store these at no cost at our Launceston office in Invermay. While there is not a separate secure luggage room, our offices are secure and we have had no issues of missing items in over 40 years of operation. If you would like a secured luggage room, we recommend asking your hotel if this facility is available.

What shower facilities are available?

Unfortunately, there are no shower facilities on the camping expeditions along the Overland Track. For those who are concerned about washing, the closest you’ll come to a bath are the alpine lakes that are accessible each day, where you can have a quick refreshing dip. However, for a real cleanse we recommend you bring baby wipes (remember to take them out with you as well!).

If a hot shower at the end of each day is a ‘make or break’ component for you, consider joining the Cradle Huts version of the Overland Track. This version has hot showers available each night at the cabins.


Can we charge phones and cameras on the Overland Track?

Unfortunately, there are no charging facilities at any of the huts along the Overland Track. We recommend bringing extra batteries or solar chargers for your phones. To conserve battery power on your mobile devices, turn your phones into flight mode.

Will I have phone reception?

As the Overland Track is renowned as being a true wilderness walk, you cannot expect phone reception while on the trail. For trekkers who summit Mount Ossa and Cradle Mountain, there is sometimes sporadic phone reception. However, this cannot be relied upon.

Our guides carry emergency satellite phones which allow them to communicate with our base in Launceston if any emergencies arise. Rest assured you are not completely alone in the wilderness.

What is the Leave No Trace policy?

We strongly adhere to Leave No Trace, Australia's national minimal impact program. As part of this philosophy, we encourage travellers to:

- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimise campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of your hosts and other visitors

Visit our Thoughtful Travel page for more information on how we reduce our environmental impact on the Overland Track.

Ready to see why the Overland Track holds legendary status as one of Australia's finest walks? View our range of guided and self-guided trips >


Fundraising heroes helping Nepal’s Upper Mustang impacted by COVID

Over $21,000 has been raised so far for the Upper Mustang region of Nepal impacted by COVID. Read about the unsung heroes, including Margie Thomas – long-time Nepal supporter and World Expeditions guide, who are supporting the communities affected by the pandemic.

A prolonged absence of work, children withdrawn from school out of fear for their safety, the difficulty of accessing medical supplies as well as limited facilities and staff to address the outbreak of COVID. Many Nepalese people have been mute spectators to the challenges the pandemic has unapologetically swept into their communities. With a second wave storming across Nepal, COVID has now reached the upper highland districts of Mustang.

Despite its isolation, COVID has unfortunately found its way to the borderlands of Tibet and has reached the Chosar village, situated at 3,900 metres above sea level, and the capital of Lo Manthang. Chosar is one of the most isolated villages in Nepal and is more than a week's trek from the small Jomsom airstrip or two hours by horse from the Tibetan border.

View of Lo Manthang from the pass above the medieval walled city. |  <i>Margie Thomas</i>

According to Tikaram Bhandari, the Chief of the District Health Office stated: 'Due to the locals residing in Kathmandu and Pokhara, the district saw a moderate flow of traffic during the rise of the second wave of COVID-19.'

'Also, the flow of workers in various construction projects of roads and bridges in the district have contributed to the spread of the virus to the highlands of the districts.'

Indian pilgrims visiting sacred sites at Muktinath have also unwittingly spread COVID.

According to our sources, there are currently 10 confirmed cases in Upper Mustang as of 28 May 2021, with seven cases in Chosar and three in Lo Manthang.

Chosar villagers Margie Thomas with Chosar villagers Chosar women in rarely seen traditional dress worn at festival times

The challenge

The majority of the villages in the area, including Chosar, Ghami, Tsarang and Lo Manthang, are without hospitals, with Chosar village (that has a total population of around 620) also without any electricity.

View of the Kali Gandaki river from Kagbeni, gateway to Upper Mustang. |  <i>Margie Thomas</i>

At every ward of respective rural municipalities, there is only one very basic health post: a room with a few beds to isolate in and no medical supplies for those needing treatment. Consequently, with no easy access to medical oxygen and adequate facilities, this means patients need to be sent to Pokhara for further treatment.

Fundraising heroes

Veteran trekker, Margie Thomas has long held a special relationship with the people in Upper Mustang, having led tours in this secluded region of Nepal for many years.

Margie Thomas with students at Lekshey Choeling Nunnery in Tsarang, Upper Mustang |  <i>Walter Wagner</i>

Following advice from local friends in Chosar, Margie liaised with her long-time friend, Tsewang Bista, who is a member of the Mustang Royal family and his wife, Kesang Dika Bista, who is a doctor. They advised that oxygen concentrators and oximeters (which measure blood oxygen saturation) would help in the villages of Chosar, Ghami, Tsarang and Lo Manthang. These units are mobile, can run off a generator and can be taken to the sick if needed – perfect for the inaccessible region.

The equipment will help restrict the movement of people to prevent the spread of infection and avoid the sick from having to travel far and in difficult terrain to seek treatment.

Margie counts the many people in Upper Mustang as her good friends and responded to their urgent call for help by setting up a fundraising page in mid-May 2021, reaching out to her network – many of whom are her past travel companions.

“I did a separate call out to fund this and the money rolled in immediately. I expect more over the next few days, so we enough to cover the immediate costs. We’re over the $21,000 mark now in terms of fundraising,” Margie said.

With Nepal in lockdown, incredibly, Tsewang still managed to swiftly and efficiently source the much-needed equipment from the initial round of donations and arrange its transportation to where it is desperately needed.

Tsewang Bista helped sourced oxygen concentrators and oximeters for Upper Mustang villagers Transporting oxygen concentrators from charity donors to villagers in Upper Mustang Donations in action – oxygen concentrators being transported to the villages in Upper Mustang
 


The oxygen concentrators and oximeters will save lives and also provide psychological comfort to the local villagers. They now know they’re not alone in fighting this virus and have the support of donors worldwide.

“Tsewang has pulled several amazing rabbits out of a rather large hat to perform miracles in getting hold of four units and four oximeters,” Margie said.

"With few medical supplies and support, even without COVID, these machines will be very useful in this remote environment.”
Tsewang Bista's winning smile
 

The World Expeditions Foundation, the not for profit arm of World Expeditions, administered the donation where all proceeds Margie fundraised for this initiative goes directly to purchasing and distributing these much-needed medical supplies as well as supporting the education of local children in these remote areas. Donations are tax-deductible.

“A big hug to the World Expeditions Foundation which makes this possible without taking a cut for admin.”

All of us at World Expeditions love hearing stories about how travel can help the world and this is a great example of this happening.

“It would be great to encourage others to do something similar for a place close to their hearts.”

Support Margie's cause and make a donation today >

UPDATE: Special thanks from the cultural King of Upper Mustang

With the outpouring of support and timely distribution of funds, Jigme Singhi Palbar Bista, the President of Lo Gyalpo Jigme Foundation and the cultural King of Upper Mustang, sang praise to Margie for her fundraising efforts. The letter reads:

Dear Margie la,

On behalf of our foundation and people of Mustang, I want to send you my deepest gratitude for your timely and essential contribution during the COVID pandemic. Your support in providing life-saving oxygen concentrators, oximeters, hospital beds, generator, antigen test kits, and masks have significantly helped in controlling the spread of the virus in upper Mustang.

As you are aware, this year the coronavirus has taken two lives in upper Mustang and many are left infected causing fear and anxiety amongst the people. With limited resources and experience in tackling the virus, our health workers were on the front line helping the sick as much as possible. Your support in making required equipment available has further motivated and equipped our health workers to serve our community efficiently. Your quick response to our request for help and immediate provision of equipment has indeed helped Mustang in tackling with the virus.

We are immensely grateful to you and your friends at World Expeditions for helping Mustang during these difficult and uncertain times. As we continue to tackle with the virus, we are hopeful we will come out of it strong with help from kind friends like you.

Sincerely,
Jigme Singhi Palbar Bista
President, Lo Gyalpo Jigme Foundation

It's not every day you receive a letter from royalty – amazing work, Margie!

Published 31 May 2021. Last updated 19 July 2021.


A tribute to Sue Fear: A lost legend

Remembering Sue Fear, the first Australian-born female to summit Mt Everest, 1963-2006


The 28th of May, 2006, is the day the world lost the adventurous spirit, strength and beauty of Sue Fear, who was an important member of the World Expeditions family for almost two decades.

While it’s been 15 years since Sue very sadly succumbed to a tragic accident on her descent from Mt Manaslu (8,163m) in Nepal – the world’s eighth highest mountain, there is not a day that she is not far from our hearts and thoughts.

We called her ‘Fearless’ for the stoic and relentless passion she had to escape into the wilds to trek, ski and in later years, climb the big mountains.

May 28 marks her tragic passing during her fifth 8,000-metre expedition when a late-season ice bridge gave way to a crevasse in terrible weather conditions and where a rescue was impossible.

Sue is immortalised as a young, vivacious lady with smiling, blue eyes who gave so much to the world.

At home, she was a loving sister to her brothers Graham and John and like a best friend to her father Ron, who was so proud of Sue, not only for her climbs on Mt Everest, Shishapangma, Makalu and Broad Peak, but because she was an inspiration to females of all ages.

She lived a minimalistic lifestyle and yet gave her time generously to all who knew her. Her philanthropic work extended to Nepal, The Fred Hollows Foundation and the Australian Himalayan Foundation, volunteering and providing fundraising support, which was avidly part of her DNA.

Aged just 43 years at the time of her death, she was one of only ten women globally who had successfully reached five 8,000+ metre mountains and was the first Australian-born woman to climb the technically difficult north face of Mount Everest.

There are very few books written by women climbers and Sue’s Fear No Boundary: the road to Everest and beyond is an intriguing read about her journey to become Australia’s most successful female mountaineer.  

Sue made a huge contribution to Australian mountaineering and paved the way for females in the sport, which is traditionally male-dominated.

She used her profile, as one of the world’s leading female mountaineers, to help others and that was synonymous with how Sue chose to live her life.

She also loved to present to student aged girls, championing the messages that as a petite-framed person matching the boys in climbing big mountains, that we should all strive to be the best version of ourselves, to dream big and to achieve big things.

She empowered young people to get out of their comfort zone, to immerse themselves in nature and to meet other cultures. So in 2019 when Barker College in Sydney’s upper North Shore, where Sue had attended the last two years of high school, it was apt that they named a house in her honour with ‘courageous soul’ attached with the house motto.

SUE FEAR’S SUMMIT ACHIEVEMENTS:

  - Mt Kilimanjaro (5,895m) Tanzania
  - Makalu II (7,678m) Nepal
  - Cho Oyu (8,188m) Nepal
  - Shishapangma (8,027m) Tibet
  - Mt Everest (8,848m) Nepal
  - Gasherbrum II (8,034m) Pakistan
  - Mt Manaslu II (8,163m) Nepal

'Climbing is a bit like rolling a dice – sometimes things fall into place and you achieve your aim. Sometimes your number comes up.' – Sue Fear

Her achievements have been recognised in other spheres too, most notably, in 2005 when she was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for her services to mountaineering and work as Ambassador for the Fred Hollows Foundation.

As a passionate advocate of wilderness travel, she was also celebrated as Australian Geographic's Adventurer of the Year in 2003 and in her memory, World Expeditions’ eco campsite beneath Mt Sonder at the western end of the Larapinta Trail, is named after her, Camp Fearless.

As well as guiding internationally, Sue relished taking trekkers on the Northern Territory’s Larapinta Trail, through the West MacDonnell Ranges near Alice Springs, when World Expeditions first pioneered commercial walking on the trail.  

World Expeditions were blessed to have Sue’s professional involvement as a tour guide over 16 years, leading treks around the world, and it was hard not to be in awe of her ardent interest in helping others to achieve their outdoor pursuits.

We often hear from past travellers who regale their memories of Sue Fear as their trek or mountaineering guide, having met her at one of the information nights she’d presented or heard her inspiring keynote speech at an event.

She loved a beer, listening to music, dancing, running, swimming and, of course, going on bushwalks.

Sue was an incredibly accomplished mountaineer, an outstanding guide and a dear friend to us.

As she lays in the abode of the gods on the mountain in her beloved Himalaya, we all remember Sue in our own way and with our own precious memories.

Rest in peace, Fearless, we miss you dearly.

You can read more about her legacy at suefear.org and leave a message for her family who dedicated the website to Sue.

Words by Sue Badyari, CEO of World Expeditions.

Published 24 May 2021


 

New Zealand's Great Walks: highlights & top experiences

Picture this: backcountry tussock fields, wild coastlines, majestic waterfalls, dramatic alpine views and prime walking tracks. New Zealand truly is nature's playground for the outdoor zealot!

And with almost a third of the country comprised of national parks and nature reserves – that's more than 8.6 million hectares, it begs the question: where should you begin? This guide on the official Great Walks of New Zealand is the perfect place to start exploring the country's best walking destinations in both the North Island and South Island (including a kayak/canoe journey).

So whether you call it tramping (like many Kiwis), hiking or bushwalking, lace up your boots, don your pack and start planning your next adventure holiday to New Zealand’s most iconic walking tracks.

How many 'Great Walks' are there in New Zealand?

There are currently 10 official Great Walks of New Zealand, with the Hump Ridge Track set to be the 11th in the premium walking series.

These ‘Great Walks’ are classified by NZ’s Department of Conservation (DOC) and are characterised by well-maintained and easily marked tracks and well-serviced huts. The network was established both as a way to promote hiking in Aotearoa, but also as a means of conserving and managing the most popular tracks which were increasingly being damaged by unrestricted tourism.

When should you hike New Zealand's Great Walks?

The best hiking seasons to take on the Great Walks of New Zealand are during spring, summer and mid-autumn, which is between late October and April. You can experience these inspiring multi-day treks guided or self-guided and we’ve also included some bonus alternative hikes below for when certain Great Walks tracks get busy.

The South Island’s Great Walks

Abel Tasman Coast Track

Golden beach foreshores, rocky granite headlands, azure water, native beech forests and playful kekeno (fur seals), the scenery of Abel Tasman National Park will not disappoint, which is why it’s one of the most popular walking tracks in New Zealand.

Plenty of photo opportunities for the group along the way |  <i>Janet Oldham</i>

Length: 60km; 3-5 days; one way. (Transport needs to be organised at either end as the walk is not a circuit. Shuttles and water taxis can be booked in advance.)

The highlights: Walk across a 47-metre suspension bridge, see the Awaroa Inlet – the largest tidal estuary in the National Park, and visit a nature-made waterslide at Cleopatra's Pool.

For our walks, we use fully catered private lodges with twin-share ensuite rooms, whereas the public DOC/Great Walks huts use multi-share bunk rooms and are self-catering. Our accommodation is a private beachfront eco lodges along the track, each one exuding charm and heritage.

Difficulty: Introductory to moderate. The Abel Tasman Coast Track is a relaxed and well-graded walk.

Nearest towns: Nelson, Motueka, Takaka

Recommended experiences: Walk at your leisure on a self-guided holiday or enjoy the comforts of a guided tour in Abel Tasman National Park, with a knowledgeable guide and freshly prepared meals included – and you only need to carry a daypack!

Alternative hikes: The Abel Tasman is one of the most popular of the Great Walks of New Zealand with the lodges frequently booked out, so a good alternative is the Queen Charlotte Track – although it is also beginning to prove equally as busy! If it’s difficult to choose one over the other, you can combine the highlights of the beautiful Marlborough Sounds with the picturesque Abel Tasman National on this ‘best of’ walk.

In addition, the Nydia Track has also proven to be a popular alternative when both Abel Tasman and Queen Charlotte tracks have been booked out. While it doesn’t visit the beaches of the Abel Tasman, you can experience the remoteness of Marlborough Sounds, especially when spending a night at the serene and secluded eco lodge. There’s even the option to do it as a cruising holiday for something a little bit different; sleeping onboard a vessel at night and exploring the track by day.

Milford Track

Swap serene estuaries and coastlines for epic mountain vistas on one of the most famous and world-renowned trails of the Great Walks series, the Milford Track. Gear up for an enchanting experience through lush rainforests and glacial valleys, across suspension bridges, past majestic waterfalls (including NZ’s tallest, Sutherland Falls) and along alpine and fiord paths.

Mackinnon Pass on the Milford Track |  <i>Julieanne Ly</i>

Described by poet Blanche Baughan as ‘the finest walk in the world’, it arguably still holds true more than a century on.

Length: 53.5km; 4 days; one way.

A highlight: Walking in the shadow of Mount Hart and Mount Elliot to cross Mackinnon Pass, which takes in impressive views from the highest point of the track with numerous alpine lakes en route.

Difficulty: Introductory to moderate, with up to six hours of walking each day.

Nearest towns: Queenstown and Te Anau

Routeburn Track

Walk in the footsteps of early gold miners and take in sweeping views over the beautiful Hollyford Valley as you tramp on zigzag alpine trails, forest tracks and along suspension bridges.

Routeburn Falls |  <i>Eddy Cai</i>

Length: 32km; 2-4 days; one way. It is not a looped track but can be walked from either direction – from Routeburn Shelter (near Glenorchy) or The Divide (near Te Anau).

The highlights: Weaving through open alpine plains and jewel-like lakes, enjoy the Southern Alps in full view, not to mention the prolific birdlife you’ll spot on track (native tomtits, robins, fantails, wood pigeons and bellbirds, as well as the world's only alpine parrot, the cheeky Kea).

With the highest point of the track reaching 1255m above sea level, the Routeburn Track packs a punch when it comes to some of the biggest scenery.

Difficulty: Moderately challenging. While it’s a shorter multi-day hike of the Great Walks of New Zealand series, make sure to pack your walking poles for the steep sections. It is recommended not to walk the track between May and September due to the high risk of avalanches.

Nearest towns: Queenstown, Glenorchy and Te Anau

Recommended experience: Hike sections of the iconic Routeburn Track to Key Summit, which is combined with the Hollyford, Kepler and Rakiura Tracks on this 7-day guided walk: Fiordland, Hollyford and Stewart Island Trails. It combines the classic Great Walk with a remote experience so you can avoid the crowds.

Paparoa Track

A recent addition to the Great Walks of New Zealand network, there’s plenty to love on the Paparoa Track. From the dramatic gorge of the Pororari River moulded from limestone to the open escarpment landforms, to the shifting scenery where the rainforest meets cool climate vegetation.

The incredible natural environment of the Paparoa Track on the West Coast |  <i>Jase Blair</i>

Length: 55.1km; 2-3 days; one way.

The highlights: Crossing the Paparoa range offers unbeatable views of the wild west coast. You’ll also honour the memory of those lost to the Pike River Mine as well as walk an original gold prospector's track to finish on the coast at Punakaiki, famous for its pancake-like rock formations. The panoramic views of the National Park at Moonlight Tops Hut are pretty awesome too.

Difficulty: Moderately challenging, but it should not be underestimated with the possibilities of heavy rainfall which can occur any time of the year. Warm and waterproof gear is essential.

Nearest towns: Greymouth, Westport, Blackball, Punakaiki

Recommended experience: Complete the full track on our self-guided hike with all logistics are covered for you, such as pre-night accommodation, hot drink packs, nutritional meals, a kitchen utensils kit, a personal locator beacon as well as a donation to the Paparoa Wildlife Trust. View the full list of inclusions on the trip page.

Alternative hike: Being the newest Great Walks of New Zealand to date, the Paparoa Track has seen many hitting its trails, especially with the ability to complete it over a weekend and by mountain bike. An alternative option is the Old Ghost Road Hike, which is slightly longer but equally – if not more – spectacular! The huts on this trip include all cooking and eating utensils, whereas the DOC Great Walks huts do not – plus, you have the option to have a private sleep out instead of multi-share bunk rooms.

Heaphy Track

If you’re after varied and changing scenery at every turn, a journey on the Heaphy Track is for you. We’re talking hiking from rugged, high mountain ranges to tussock grasslands and down to palm-fringed surf beaches.

A walker stops to admire the views across the Tussockland |  <i>Mar Knox</i>

Length: 78.4km; 4-5 days; one way.

The highlights: Delivering a motley of landscapes across NZ’s second-largest national park, Kahurangi, each section of the track is anything but boring. Keep an ear out for the sound of the great spotted Kiwi birds that call these parts home, and an eye out for rare wildlife such as Takahe (a flightless bird) and Powelliphanta (a carnivorous snail).

Natural arches, bluffs, sinkholes and regions of marble and limestone marvels, characterize the extravagant cave systems – in fact, the largest of the country.

Difficulty: Moderately challenging. Make sure to break into your hiking boots because the trails are varied with days of up to 6 to 7 hours on foot with a full pack.

Nearest towns: Takaka, Westport, Nelson, Collingwood

Recommended experience: Complete the full track on our self-guided hike with all logistics are covered for you, such as pre-night accommodation, hot drink packs, nutritional meals, a kitchen utensils kit, a personal locator beacon, return transfers and more.

Kepler Track

This dedicated multi-day walking track, specially built to showcase Fiordland’s natural wonderland for hikers, will take you to a spectacular corner of NZ’s alpine landscapes.

Southern Beach Forest track, Kepler Track

Length: 60km; 3-4 days; looped track.

The highlights: The panoramic views from Mt Luxmore, the highest point of the track, will simply take your breath away! There are enough cascading waterfalls, alpine tussock ridgelines, beech forestry, prolific birdlife, expansive mountain landscapes, limestone formations and glacier-carved valleys to keep the soul inspired.

Difficulty: Introductory to moderate. There are several pass crossings with steep and rough sections and, due to the exposed mountainous environment, you should be prepared for adverse weather conditions.

Nearest towns: Te Anau, Queenstown

Recommended experience: If you’re looking to explore the region without engaging in too much trekking at one time, our Fiordland, Hollyford and Stewart Island Trails guided walk encompasses sections of the iconic Kepler, Routeburn and Rakiura Tracks. You’ll also enjoy a magical helicopter ride over Milford Sound to the secluded Martins Bay and indulge in a luxury lodge set in a serene, remote environment.

Rakiura Track

Wilderness beaches, forested ridges, sheltered coastlines and native birdlife are on your doorstep on Stewart Island. It’s the perfect island escape for those looking to wander where the Wi-Fi is weak.

Aerial view over Long Reef and Martin's bay on the Fiordland, Hollyford and Stewart Island Trek |  <i>Hollyford Track</i>

Length: 32km; 3 days; looped track.

The highlights: The welcomed serenity and virgin forests of the island continue to define the area for thousands of years. (Just over 400 people populate it!)

Difficulty: Introductory. Ideal for beginner trampers, it is one of the shorter circuits of the Great Walks. With tracks well-marked, simply revel and relax in the solitude of the area.

Nearest towns: Invercargill, Bluff

Recommended experience: Our Fiordland, Hollyford and Stewart Island Trails walk combines sections of Rakiura with the iconic Kepler and Routeburn Tracks of the Great Walks series. The all-inclusive, guided experience is topped by a scenic helicopter ride over Milford Sound to the secluded Martins Bay and an indulge stay in a luxury lodge.

Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track (set to be the 11th Great Walk)

It could very well be NZ’s ‘stairway to heaven’ and this track is soon to become an official Great Walks of New Zealand (initially announced in July 2019 with parts of the track and hut facilities to be upgraded and set to join the Great Walks series by 2022). You'll want to experience the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track in Fiordland National Park before everyone else finds out about it!

Walkers enjoy the remoteness of the Hump Ridge Track |  <i>Tareen Ellis</i>

Length: 61km; 3 days; looped track.

The highlights: Experience ancient regenerating forest, Maori land and deserted coastlines at your side – it’s an ideal Kiwi blend of wilderness and heritage. At the top of Hump Ridge, you will get panoramic views of Stewart Island, Lake Poteriteri, Lake Hauroko and mountain ranges found deep in Fiordland National Park. And make sure to keep an eye out for the rare Hector's dolphin playing in the surf when crossing Te Waewae Bay!

Difficulty: Moderate to challenging. A good level of fitness is required to complete this walk. Staircase or hill climbing is strongly recommended as on the first day of the walk you climb over 800 metres.

Nearest towns: Queenstown, Invercargill, Te Anau

Recommended experience: At the end of each day, relax with a glass of wine in the superb backcountry lodges and enjoy a hot shower and delicious three-course meals on our guided experience of the track.

The North Island’s Great Walks

Lake Waikaremoana

This track calls the North Island’s largest native forest home, which makes it the perfect hike for backcountry first-timers looking for an off the beaten experience exploring this mountainous area. Considered the “gateway to Te Urewera” and a living treasure of the North Island, it is the ancestral home of the Maori tribe Ngāi Tūhoe, the ‘Children of the Mist’ – a fitting name to the enchanting film that often envelops the area.

Length: 46km; 3-4 days; one way.

The highlights: Pristine and ancient rainforests, isolated beaches, giant podocarp trees and peaks formed by landslides and storms define this sublime destination. Following the shores of the great lake, the lookout from Panekire Bluff is synonymous with splendour and the otherworldly walk to Korokoro Falls will delight your imagination. Melodic birdsongs will add to the prehistoric scenery, which teems with nearly every species of North Island native forest bird.

Difficulty: Moderately challenging. Tracks can get very muddy and you will need to be comfortable walking 4-6 hours a day with a pack of up to 15kg.

Nearest towns: Wairoa, Whakatane, Gisborne, Rotorua, Napier

Tongariro Northern Circuit

Check ‘hiking around an active volcano’ from your adventure list when you complete this thrilling and noteworthy trek, which circles the cone of Mount Ngauruhoe. The dramatic circuit encompasses the iconic and world-famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing, so if you’re short on time, a day hike on this trail will give you a taste of the surreal landscape of NZ’s most active (but currently resting) volcano.

Tongariro Crossing, North Island NZ, one of the best one day walks in the world |  <i>Judy Quintal</i>

Length: 43km; 3-4 days; looped track.

The highlights: Trekking on sublime volcanic lands, crossing glacial valleys and weaving through twisted lava formations, before taking in the striking and scenic contrast of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

Difficulty: Introductory to moderate. The track is generally well formed so it is suitable for hikers with limited remote hiking experience.

Nearest towns: Turangi, Ohakune, Taupo, National Park Village, Waiouru

Whanganui Journey

Swap your hiking boots for a paddle as you trace along one of the country’s longest rivers. While this Great Walk is not a hike, there is an opportunity to land onshore for a short side trip to the ‘Bridge of Nowhere’ – a concrete road bridge, which was built in 1936 and spans a deep ravine, and now slumbers in deep isolation of the forest after being abandoned in 1942.

Length: 87-145km; 3-5 days; one way.

The highlights: As you kayak or canoe down the river, you’ll be met with steep-walled canyons dripping with ferns and moss, remote hill backdrops and bush clad valleys – there’s enough nature and adventure to sate the appetite of any outdoor lover.

Difficulty: Moderately challenging. The track is suitable for confident paddlers with a good level of fitness.

Nearest towns: Whanganui, Taumarunui, Ohakune

What's the difference between a walk, hike, trek and tramp?

Is it a walk, hike, trek or tramp? We break down what these words mean to outdoor travellers.

There are many age-old debates still raging around the world. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Vegemite or Marmite? Is Marvel better than DC?  Cycling or walking? Should cereal be eaten with hot milk or cold?

World over, these questions are far and wide and often spark the most interesting of conversations and heated debates. We bet that right now you are thinking about your own answers, but is it the same as your partners, friends or colleagues, or is it a matter of personal opinion and perception?

The debate over whether it is a walk, hike, trek or tramp has been a hotly contested subject in the walking community. So when does a walk become a trek? Is it when the terrain is perhaps rougher and the walk harder going? The definition of a trek is perhaps the easiest to decipher – it’s something that is more remote and longer than a hike. But then what's considered a hike?

Confused yet?! Let’s break it down according to the consensus of our outdoor travellers on what these words might mean. 

Walk: A walk tends to be done on defined tracks and reasonably smooth surfaces without too many obstacles in the way. Walking does not tend to need special equipment apart from a day pack with the essentials and generally walks are around regions where accommodation is readily available. Walks are shorter in duration and able to be enjoyed by any age group with relative fitness.

Hike: A hike tends to be longer and harder walks that are usually on trails through the mountains or trails through bush or countryside terrain. The trails are generally visible trails but not the smooth surfaces of a walk. Hikes tend to be longer than walks and require proper equipment and footwear as terrain and trails are more rugged. Hiking tends to see you move from lower to higher as you progress and are generally more undulating than a walk.  

Trek: A trek is used to define a walk or hike which tends to be multi-day, remote, little in the form of accommodation (generally camp-based) with trails that are either partially visible or not visible at all and where altitude or other rugged terrain and crossings may be encountered. Treks require the most specialised equipment and will see you probably without a shower for days on end. Treks are generally in regions where other forms of transport other than being on foot are not possible and where you tend to carry your own gear and backpack.

The most interesting of all is 'tramping'.  Seems this is something Kiwi’s came up with to define a walk in the bush, whereas Aussie’s would call it 'bushwalking'. 

Tramping: Elsewhere in the world, it would be called backpacking, rambling, hill walking or bushwalking. New Zealander’s, see it as walking over rough terrain often with a backpack and wet-weather gear and needing to carry equipment for cooking and sleeping. Did Kiwi’s not like the word ‘hike’ or did they think this was a ‘walk’ but for intrepid outdoor enthusiasts?  

Well, Kiwi's weren’t the only ones to come up with their own terms. Here are some more quirks from the walking community:

Rambling: Mostly used in the UK, this word is used for walking in the countryside with many rambling clubs and groups, meeting to take part in this outdoor pastime. Rambling was an outdated English expression meantime to walk without purpose, but Ramblers walk with purpose and on defined routes. Hill walking is also commonly used for walking in the mountains and hills in the UK.  

Nordic Walking: Now, we're sure you have seen Nordic walkers around, that is, walkers with sticks! It evolved from a type of ski-training out of the snowy season and seems to not only have stuck but become popular around the world. Specially designed poles give more power and support whilst walking and a great all-body workout.

Pilgrimage: This one is a walk with purpose. Usually, it can be defined as a journey to an unknown or foreign place. A journey of discovery; an inner journey to find meaning in oneself or nature. A pilgrimage tends to be long-distance, challenging the body and the mind at the same time and often leading to personal transformation and development. Some of the most famous ones are Camino de Santiago in Spain and the Kumano Kodo in Japan. Most on a pilgrimage have a reason for taking part and completing it, which stems deeper than simply a love of walking and the outdoors.

The debate between what makes a walk a hike or a hike a tramp will be around for years to come, and while we didn’t set out to answer the question, we wanted to open the discussions next time you think about heading outdoors. Will you walk? Will you trek? Let us know what you call it in the comments below!

Traveller stories: Why we all need to spend time in Nepal

There is something thrillingly unnerving about strapping on your hiking boots and walking out the door to head to a totally foreign country to take on one of the hardest things you’ve ever done. It was the adrenaline behind that thought that drove my split-second decision to make the Everest Base Camp and Kala Pattar trek my honeymoon. Best decision ever.

As an experienced long-distance walker and outdoor lover, I was fascinated by the “what ifs” and the “what the” that would come with planning a trek to Everest Base Camp. What I put a lot less research into, but what endeared me most, was the country and people of Nepal. It is a place that has left me feeling like I gave it my all – yet I fight the urge to return immediately as there is so much more to see and do.

Granted, my three-week journey through Kathmandu and the trek to the foot of Mount Everest was a mere fragment of what this magnificent country and its astounding geographical and social diversity has to offer, but irrespective, I was definitely rewarded and drew a lot from the little time I was there.

Kathmandu; an energetic, dusty, noisy, driven enigma left my new husband and I spellbound. We grew addicted to the buzz of life as we strolled the streets, getting lost in back lanes, dodging traffic to cross main roads and seeking solace from it all when we needed to recharge in one of the many great places to find carbs and a cold beer (we were making the most of our pre-trek bulking!). I had exhausted my quota of street-dog photos before we had even left the city.

The unrelenting bustle of Kathmandu is a striking reminder of the scale of one small life in a city that works more than it plays.

While the potential to overwhelm is looming, the relatability to a community with a never-ending thirst for improvement led me to reflect on my own drive. A drive that has led me to the depths of exhaustion and illness, a drive that forced me into years of rejuvenation and reinvention, a drive that is now subdued by a conscious understanding of the meaning of life for me – to enjoy, to wonder and to live in gratitude.

The sleepy villages dotted throughout Sagarmatha National Park could not have been further from our metropolitan experience.

Friendly teahouse staff; crisp, clean air; the gentle swaying of branches in the Himalayan breeze and the dotting of Rhododendrons as they came into bloom, which accentuated days spent in the wilderness.

Gravel, cobblestone, rock, sand, grass, ice underfoot and the ever-present rhythm of small rapids model the scenery as we weave our way across great rivers again and again while making our way up the valleys.

There is nothing that can replace the restorative nature of time spent in the wilderness with good people, good food, a dose of camping and a friendly battle with Mother Nature herself.

To walk alongside towering peaks and frozen waterfalls whilst keeping an ear out for the next hint of Zokyu or donkey bells – subtle and soothing in sound, yet a minor thrill to make way when on the mountainside of the track. To describe how satisfied I was in every moment would be impossible.

I came to Nepal to test my ability to surrender to the entirety of another environment, to forget the many things that I am at home and the many things that occupy my thoughts; wife, sister, daughter, state manager, cancer survivor, athlete. These things seem to engulf our daily mindset unless we pay great mind to construct our thoughts.

I was amazed at how easily the vastness of this great country swept my thoughts away, endearing me with the mystery of what lay behind every hill, peak, temple and building and engulfing every molecule of my body – demanding my presence in the here and now.

My experience of Nepal was a perfectly timed reminder that just as in travel, in life we will never see, taste, touch or smell everything we yearn to experience.

The wandering souls of us adventurous people will always want to immerse ourselves more but, for now, I am satiated just enough to resist the urge to buy an international flight. Just for now.

Words by Sally Dobromilsky
 

Inspired? View our range of Nepal treks >


Tasmania's 8 toughest treks

There’s no shortage of hiking trails that explore Tasmania’s stunning landscapes and if you like your treks a little more challenging, this list offers you the chance to get out of your comfort zone and really test yourself.

We’ve narrowed down Tasmania’s best and most hardcore hikes, which are tough, long and breathtaking, and not to underestimated. But all your efforts will be rewarded tenfold – from the pristine wilderness and new friendships formed to the supportive guides who will help you tackle the elements on and off the track.

While you don't need an Olympian level of fitness, previous outdoor experience is essential and you will need to train for these trek. So get inspired and start training with our pick of the most challenging trails.

Tasmania’s hardest hiking trails: 8 of the best


South Coast Track

The South Coast Track is undoubtedly one of the last great wilderness treks in Australia and is also known as one of Tassie’s toughest multi-day treks. Crossing the unspoiled wilderness of the island's southernmost shores, this challenging, 9-day trek covers 85 kilometres over a variety of landscapes – from empty beaches, towering rainforests, and alpine heights.

Trekking towards the Ironbound ranges on the South Coast Track in Tasmania |  <i>John Dalton</i>

You can expect to carry a full pack of up to 20kgs, walking 10-15 kilometres each day across remote walking tracks, sometimes across river crossings, muddy moors and steep ascents. The rewards, however, are tenfold. The ever-changing landscape, pristine wilderness and abundance of wildlife make it all worthwhile – not to mention the feeling of elation and pride as you finish the trek!

Expect river crossings when trekking Tasmania's South Coast Track |  <i>John Dalton</i> The vast expanse of Tasmania's South Coast Track |  <i>John Dalton</i> Looking towards South Cape Rivulet from the high clifftops down the coast   |  <i>Phil Wyndham</i> Trekking behind a waterfall on the South Coast Track |  <i>John Dalton</i> Trekking from Little Deadman's Bay to Osmiridium Beach |  <i>Jon Herring</i> Remote trekking from Melaleuca to Cox's Bright |  <i>Jon Herring</i> Vantage point along the South Coast Track |  <i>Steven Trudgeon</i> Tasmania's South Coast Track is one of Australia's most epic bushwalks |  <i>John Dalton</i>

  • TAKE ON THE CHALLENGE: The South Coast Track >

Mount Anne Circuit

The classic Mount Anne Summit is one of Tasmania’s greatest bushwalking challenges, with all of the ingredients that make up an epic wilderness trek. With deep forests, idyllic lakes, sub-alpine crags and exposed scrambles, the iconic hike tackles terrain in areas that are subject to some of Tasmania’s most changeable weather.

Looking over Lake Judd towards Mount Anne |  <i>Tourism Tasmania & Geoff Murray</i> Views over Lake Judd from Mt Anne, Tasmania |  <i>Roz Barber</i> Looking out from Bechervaise Plateau towards Mt Anne |  <i>Brian Eglinton</i>
 

The four-day itinerary includes a summit of the highest peak in Tasmania's remote southwest, with exhilarating views across most of the southwest of Tasmania.

While it is a demanding bushwalk where you need to be comfortable with carrying a full pack, the support of our experienced wilderness guides will help you tackle the elements on and off the track.

  • TAKE ON THE CHALLENGE: Mount Anne Summit >

Frenchmans Cap Trek

Frenchmans Cap is one of the top walks in Australia and is a 46-kilometre moderately challenging return journey that gives trekkers some of the best views across the entire World Heritage Wilderness area. With extraordinary side trips to high peaks, trek over varying terrain including button grass plains, mossy rainforests, trickling creeks and windy rock faces.

You will be tested as you manage the unpredictable weather, mud and climb a steep 450-metre ascent to the summit of Frenchmans Cap. Recommended for experienced trekkers, each hill climb will be worthwhile as you welcome the panoramic surroundings of Mt. Ossa, the Arthur Range and Macquarie Harbour all from the summit.

You can also combine this epic summit with a rafting expedition of a lifetime along the Franklin River, recognised by many as one of the greatest wilderness experiences on earth.

  • TAKE ON THE CHALLENGE: FRENCHMANS CAP TREK >

Port Davey Track

The Port Davey Track is a winner for those looking to avoid foot traffic and truly immerse in sublime World Heritage wilderness. Enter into the Lost World Plateau and surrounding ancient mountain ranges; walk to rare pockets of rainforest, camp on the banks of the mystical Crossing and Spring Rivers, cross the magical Bathurst Harbour by rowboat and summit Mt Hesperus in the Western Arthur Range.

Approaching Bathurst Narrows on the Port Davey Track |  <i>Stef Gebbie</i> Port Davey Track, Tasmania |  <i>Leon Bedford</i> Trek the remote Port Davey Track |  <i>Tourism Australia & Graham Freeman</i> Views to Mt Rugby, Port Davey Track |  <i>Leon Bedford</i> Walking on the Lost World Plateau |  <i>Stef Gebbie</i>
 

Come open-minded and ready for a wonderful remote experience whatever the weather. You can combine this trek with the South Coast Track for an epic traverse of the entire southwest of Tasmania.

Walls of Jerusalem Circuit

Only accessible by foot, remote alpine herb fields, highland lakes and glacial moraines await! The Walls of Jerusalem hike is a full-pack trek requiring experienced walkers to carry between 15-20 kilograms of their gear on their back – including a portion of the groups food and equipment. You'll hike through a natural fortress of peaks and crags that take you along a biblical theme through Tasmania’s only true alpine National Park, but be warned, Tassie's weather at altitude is known for its unpredictability so come prepared for the unexpected!

 

Despite being next door to the Cradle Mountain National Park, 'The Walls', as it is often referred to, sees much fewer visitors.

  • TAKE ON THE CHALLENGE: WALLS OF JERUSALEM CIRCUIT >

Federation Peak

Federation Peak (1224m) rises dramatically from the heart of the Eastern Arthurs Mountain Range within the wild Southwest National Park. Alongside its close cousin the Western Arthurs, the ascent is described as one of Australia’s toughest bushwalking challenges. The first ascent of Federation Peak was completed by John Bechervaise in 1949 and to this day the exposed and technical mountain offers even the most hardened adventurers a thrilling objective.

Hanging Lake, Federation Peak |  <i>Roz Barber</i>

Counting in multiple contingency days gives maximum opportunity to summit in fine conditions. The extreme undertakings to Federation Peak are considered some of the toughest on the island, so much so that while guided trips can be operated in these locations, it's by special request only and an extreme vetting process is undertaken to ensure trekkers are experienced and capable.

A high level of fitness and technical introductory rock climbing skills are required to take on such an expedition. Ideally, to attempt the Federation Peak ascent people should first complete the Western Arthurs or Mt Anne Circuit or have had extensive unsupported full pack carrying bushwalking experience.

 

Western Arthurs Traverse

There's no denying that Western Arthurs deserve a spot on Tasmania's most challenging hikes list. Located in the remote Southwest of Tasmania the Western Arthurs Traverse presents one of the world's great bushwalking objectives.

The Western Arthurs Traverse is an extremely demanding full pack carrying bushwalk, so contingency and rest days for the full traverse of the range should be included given the region's capricious weather conditions. Trekkers who are confident in difficult geographical and weather situations and with previous hard bushwalking experience is a must.

 

The Great Tasmanian Traverse

Be one of the first to complete Tasmania's ultimate long-distance, multi-activity adventure, which combines five of Tasmania's great adventures via land, sea and air. You'll need plenty of endurance as you cover close to 300 kilometres over 6 weeks, explore the ‘Apple Isle’ of Tasmania from end to end.

The epic expedition will see you walking four of Tasmania's greatest multi-day treks through World Heritage Listed wilderness, including summitting the iconic Cradle Mountain and Tasmania's highest peak, Mt Ossa, and paddling down the mighty Franklin River. But if you can't do it all in 39 days, you can always complete a section.

  • TAKE ON THE CHALLENGE: THE GREAT TASMANIAN TRAVERSE >

Walk past spectacular landscapes on Tasmania's Overland Track |  <i>Mark Whitelock</i>

Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track: New Zealand's next Great Walk

Soon to become an official Great Walk of New Zealand, you'll want to experience the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track in the Fiordland National Park before everyone else finds out about it.

Travel editor, writer and global tour guide, Shane Boocock, shares his walking journey on one of the Southland's most iconic tracks.

As a relatively obscure song alludes to in its opening lines: “Passing seasons all but fade away into misty clouds of autumn grey,” so in Southland, seasons change rapidly as I was about to find out. The weather gods were on our side and the morning mist was soon burning off as we started hiking the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track

The track is administered by a private trust that offers trampers a three-day hike staying two nights en route in their private backcountry lodges. My accommodation for the night before the trip was at the amusingly named, The Wicked Dump near the Hump. This is just outside of Tuatapere, the closest town to the start of the track, on a small rural block where an old dairy shed has been converted into a lovely one bedroom, self-contained cottage. It’s a great place to drink a glass of chardonnay on sunset as the owner’s sheep graze in the next paddock. 

The first part of this journey was a four-minute chopper ride to an isolated spot on the coast near Flat Creek. This in effect reduces the track distance by 10 kilometres. Interestingly, about 85 percent of hikers who attempt the track are, for the most part, Kiwis. Our group consisted of a couple from Tauranga, Lyn and Malcolm and Errol from Dunedin as well as our guide Liz from the West Coast. 

Our first day’s ascent was only 12 kilometres but it was the last five kilometres that would test our stamina and ability to climb from sea level to 1,014 metres at the very top – literally a ‘stairway to heaven.’ 

This is an area with more wilderness and less people than you’ll find on other tramping routes in New Zealand – it’s that remote. From the shoreline of unspoilt beaches we walked along the track experiencing the diversity of our beautiful native bush as it changes dramatically with elevation gain from native podocarp forest to soaring limestone ‘tors’ on the mountaintop.

Group enjoying the well built Tuatapere Hump Ridge trails |  <i>Shane Boocock</i> Home for the night - Okaka Lodge |  <i>Shane Boocock</i> Time for a quick cuppa along the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track |  <i>Shane Boocock</i>


The first couple of hours from Flat Creek are across a fairly level forest track where the sun filtered through the dense canopy into even denser undergrowth. Then the track started getting steeper as our group of five climbed slowly to our first rest stop at Water Bridge. As the name suggests it’s a good place to refill your water bottles by slinging an old billy-pan into the clear stream below and hauling it back up to the bridge with the attached rope.

From now on it was all uphill to our next rest spot, Stag Point, where our lunch was consumed looking out over the Southern Ocean. It’s here you suddenly realise how much wilderness you’ve tramped through as the forest below is laid out like a giant jade green carpet stretching to the ocean.

Finally we reached the summit where a wooden walkway loops around a landscape of alpine plants, such as the Mount Cook Daisy and giant ‘tors’, with views at one point extending west out over the beauty that is Fiordland National Park.

Dinner at Okaka Lodge was sumptuous. Starters were garlic and chilli prawns on a fragrant bed of shaved cucumber and coriander, followed by a ribeye steak with blackcurrant and onion glaze and kumara mash with seasonal green vegetables. For dessert we were offered the most sinful chocolate mousse ever served! This really was heaven.

The start of another day: it was 8.40 am. From the warmth of Okaka Lodge it was time to head along the Hump Ridge itself to a spot known as Luncheon Rock, a slab of stone that juts out into thin air off the ridge. However, during the night it had rained heavily and we woke to fine misty rain and winds blowing at what felt like gale force. 

Liz our tour guide blurted out, “It’s a claggy sort of day isn’t it, you can’t see bugger all really.” How right she was. Everyone donned thermal layers, leggings, gaiters, beanie-hats and rain jackets – weather in this part of New Zealand can change dramatically in minutes, so carrying all-weather gear is encouraged even in summer.

Not a bad place for a photo - sweeping views of the Southern New Zealand coastline |  <i>Shane Boocock</i> Look over there - stunning views across Fiordland National Park |  <i>Shane Boocock</i> Where all good boots go to retire on the Hump Ridge Track |  <i>Shane Boocock</i>
 

Once we reached Luncheon Rock it was downhill all the way... over 3,000 steps or more it was later divulged. The boardwalks and steps are all handmade especially on the steeper sections but more so in places where the fragile alpine environment needs protecting.

Emerging from the track we found ourselves on an old bush tramline. The single line ran from Port Craig (once known as Mussel Beach) to the Wairaurahiri River for 14.6 kilometres where a steam locomotive once hauled logs from the bush workings to the new sawmill that had been established in 1916.

Walking this section gives you the opportunity to cross the historic wooden Edwin Burn Viaduct and the Sand Hill Viaduct. Unfortunately DOC have closed access to the largest viaduct in the Southern Hemisphere, the Percy Burn Viaduct which is 35 metres high and 125 metres long, as they deem the structure to be too dangerous. (Since writing this there is new funding in place to strengthen the whole structure and to reopen it in the future)

Sadly the original owners of the Port Craig sawmill and operations had under-estimated the cost of working in such an isolated region and over-estimated the volume of timber that could be extracted. By 1928 with the approach of the Great Depression, a decision to close the mill and the tramline was inevitable.

Today all that remains is an old school house (now a DOC hut), the walls of the old Boiler House and relics of a bygone era strewn around the area. This is also where the Port Craig Lodge is situated and after hiking 20 kilometres that day it was a welcome sight for our weary group.

Accompanied by bottle of Otago red, what Lynda described as, “Lunatic Soup,” dinner at the lodge was whitebait fritters for the entree, smoked salmon with a sweet chilli and citrus salsa with citrus and poppy seed rice and seasonal green salad for the main and a pavlova nest with fresh whipped cream and central Otago summer fruits... not a bad way to end a 20 kilometres day I reckon.

Walking along the southern coastline of the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track |  <i>Shane Boocock</i>


On day three we departed at 9.15 am along the coastal track from Port Craig, ‘the timber town that pushed boundaries’ heading for Blowholes Beach, which by the way, no longer blows.

Breakfast that morning had been bacon and scrambled eggs, what Malcolm referred to as, “Crackle Berries.” However when there was some left over bacon, Lynda the lodge manager proffered it to Malcolm who gladly accepted it. Sliding the rashers onto his plate she said, “Here you go, a heart attack on a plate.”

Immediately we were under a dense canopy where light hardly penetrated, stepping over corduroy pungas in muddy patches as we slowly made our way back to Flat Creek. 

The trail was through more podocarp forests of rata, red and white pine hanging like an umbrella above a shag pile floor of ferns, unidentified plants, epiphytes, moss, lichen, vines, decaying trees, bamboo orchids and even a small Prince Charles fern (so named as it’s considered flouncy – go figure). 

Bouncing over wooden bridges spanning bourbon-stained streams, uphill over and around headlands towards Track Burn, and onto Stony Creek and then finally across the swing bridge that straddles the Waikoau River where a couple of whitebait fisherman had left nets out.

Smack on 4.00 pm we arrived at the end of the Hump Ridge Track at the Rarakau car park. My neck and shoulders ached, one of my knees felt like a hot skewer was passing through the joint as I climbed the last few steps. My left foot was in pain with a bloodied toenail and I could’ve killed a cold beer and soaked my body in a hot tub right there and then – but all that would have to wait.

These are just a few of the things you should expect after hiking 52 kilometres in three days. But make no mistake as I dragged my aching limbs, tired muscles and sore body for 17 kilometres on that last day, I wouldn’t have missed ‘Hiking the ‘Hump’ for all the whitebait in Southland.

Words by Shane Boocock, Editor of Let's Travel.
 

 

Where to go stargazing in Australia: best camping destinations

Look to the heavens at these top stargazing spots across Australia. These wilderness camping destinations, located in Australia's spectacular and iconic National Parks, offer the best chances to see the Milky Way galaxy in all its starry glory on a clear, dark night.

Here are our top stargazing spots to see Australia's night sky at its best.

Australia's best stargazing spots
 

1. Warrumbungles National Park, NSW

The night sky filled with bright stars over Australia's only Dark Sky Park in the Warrumbungles. |  <i>Destination NSW</i>

Nowhere else in Australia is there a place where the stars easily reveal themselves with the Milky Way and Magellanic Clouds at the centre of the light show – and all visible with the naked eye on a clear night. As Australia's only Dark Sky Park, Warrumbungle National Park is the best place in Australia for stargazing as light pollution is not an issue, meaning that you can encounter the starriest of skies, which makes an incredible backdrop when camping in the Warrumbungles. 

• CAMP HERE: Warrumbungle Summits >

2. West MacDonnell National Park (Tyurretye), NT

The stars of the desert sky are a stunning backdrop to our unique Semi-Permanent Campsites |  <i>Graham Michael Freeman</i>


Get familiar with the constellations along the Larapinta Trail deep in the heart of the West MacDonnell Ranges. After a day's trek through ancient landscapes, relax at exclusive eco-campsites awarded for its sustainability and outback comfort and gather by the campfire as the sky dresses up in cosmic illuminations. You can even take your swag outside your tent and sleep under the stars if you're after that real outback experience. 

• CAMP HERE: Larapinta walks >

3. Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, TAS

A rare light show colours the sky over Cradle Mountain |  <i>Pierre Destribats</i>

Go on an astronomical quest in Tasmania's most iconic national park and World Heritage-listed area. Ending each day at scenic campsites with delicious meals prepared by your guides, the peace and wonder that descends upon the Overland Track at night is truly magical. Surrounded by true alpine wilderness, the starry night sky adds to the enchanting experience.

• CAMP HERE: Overland Track & Cradle Mountain walks >

4. Purnululu National Park (Bungle Bungles), WA

Spend your evenings stargazing at our wilderness campsites |  <i>Tourism Western Australia</i>

Fly to a maze of ancient landforms and experience true outback solitude that will keep you inspired every step of the way. Sleep in swag style with uninterrupted views of the stars whilst surrounded by the red cliffs of the Bungles at Piccaninny Gorge, one of the world's most remote wilderness areas.

• CAMP HERE: Bungle Bungles & Piccaninny Gorge Trek >

Have a spot that deserves to be on the list? Let us know in the comments.
 

Discover the heart and soul of Australia – view our range of outback walks >


18 wildlife photos that will make you smile

These animal photos will make you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside others, we hope, will make you laugh out loud.

Find a fun selection of images taken by our travellers, staff and photography pros, such as Richard I'Anson and Alex Cearns – who lead special tours that show you how to capture the world’s most stunning destinations on camera.

Share this post with a friend and spread some happiness (and adorableness!). And remember: the best animal encounter is a wild one.

1. When you've almost made it to the bedroom but you settle for the couch


Emperor penguin and chicks in Antarctica |  <i>Kyle Super</i>

2. Don't you just hate it when you have an itch you just can't scratch...  


A zebra in the Ngorongoro crater in Tanzania |  <i>David Lazar</i>

3. We all have a friend that's just the right size to prop on  


Wild elephants in Kaudulla National Park, Sri Lanka |  <i>Scott Pinnegar</i>

4. Because we all need a friend to lean on  


A King Penguin keeps a close eye on it's chick |  <i>Richard I'Anson</i>

5. When the dentist compliments you on how well you've maintained your teeth
 

Young lion cub in Chobe National Park, Botswana |  <i>Jez Hollinshead</i>

6. The special moment when you make a new friend on a hike


Meeting a llama on the Inca Trail |  <i>Bette Andrews</i>

7. Or when you capture a tender moment on a wildlife safari


Lion family in Chobe National Park, Botswana |  <i>Jez Hollinshead</i>

8. It helps to see the funny side of life

Leopard seal humour in Antarctica |  <i>Eve Ollington</i>

9. Hmmm, that doesn't smell right...


Zebra love in Etosha National Park, Namibia |  <i>Peter Walton</i>

10. I think this sea lion can smell it too...


A sea lion in the Galapagos Islands |  <i>Alex Cearns | Houndstooth Studios</i>

11. Finding out your favourite TV series is getting cancelled


Mountain gorilla family in Rwanda |  <i>Gesine Cheung</i>

12. Taking a nap to recover from your food coma


Sea lions resting on the Galapagos Islands |  <i>Ian Cooper</i>

13. Getting caught with your hands in the cookie jar


Snow monkey in Jigokudani Monkey Park, Japan |  <i>Felipe Romero Beltran</i>

14. When you tell yourself you can do a pull-up but get stuck halfway


Sloth in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica |  <i>Sophie Panton</i>

15. If this doesn't make you go awwwww, I'm not sure what will


King penguin and her baby in South Georgia |  <i>Peter Walton</i>

16. That one friend that's been waiting behind the bathroom door to scare you  


A young bear tentatively peeks around a wall to see what's happening |  <i>Alex Cearns</i>

17. I'm not lazy, I'm just on "energy saver mode"


Galapagos sea lion playing on the waters edge |  <i>Alex Cearns | Houndstooth Studios</i>

18. Elephant advice: Friendship is the glue that will hold the world together


Orphan baby elephants in Udawalawe, Sri Lanka |  <i>Houndstooth Studio by Alex Cearns</i>

Have a photo worth sharing? Tag @worldexpeditions on Facebook or Instagram, or submit your photos to [email protected].

Inspired to see animals in the wild and take your own photos? View our wildlife safari adventures >>

Honeymoon experience for adventurous couples: trekking in Nepal review

Read about how a couple made their honeymoon into a bucket list experience in Nepal's Himalayas.

When Ben and I decided to make our Everest Base Camp and Kala Pattar Trek with World Expeditions our honeymoon we knew we were putting our adventurous faith in this company to give us the experience of a lifetime.

We were looking for an adventure to match our marriage in magnitude and spirit.

From the moment we arrived in Kathmandu and were greeted by the first of many exceptional World Expeditions staff we knew we had made the right decision. Every single staff member that we met was refreshingly positive, so incredibly knowledgeable (a good thing when you find yourself in an exotically unfamiliar country), and clearly have our enjoyment and safety at the heart of all that they did.

The beauty of Pashupatinath in Kathmandu |  <i>Sally Dobromilsky</i>

Highlights From a Honeymooner’s Perspective: Travelling with World Expeditions Review

The comfort and luxury of the Raddison Hotel was an indulgent escape from the chaos of the local streets. Ben and I thrilled in the vibrancy of life around Thamel by day, retreating to the Raddison’s rooftop garden terrace for carb loading and honeymoon beers as a short-lived post-wedding celebration prior to the mind-blowing flight that is the transfer from Kathmandu to the trekking region.

Landing in Lukla, alongside other groups of trekkers, it was immediately apparent that we were with a top-end travel company.

The service that World Expeditions provides ensures that their clients are comfortable, satisfied and can focus on the adventure at hand as we knew our needs would be well and truly thought of.

Nepali guides, porters and staff

Our guide, with over 30 years of trekking experience, instilled in us the same quiet confidence that he had already forged in our ability to enjoy our trek. Manzoor was the perfect coach for this adventure, striking the right balance of providing the facts and technical prep that we needed for every section of the trek, while also generously encouraging our individual journeys – personal challenges and all.

No baggage (literally or figuratively) seemed too unwieldy for this man of the wild, who expertly helped each member of our small group navigate the glorious intensity of this mental and physical epic. The same can be said for the team that trekked with us; our Sherpa Dinesh, Sarder Padam, the kitchen crew and porters.

Their warm humour, hospitality and general legendary natures have imprinted in my mind the camaraderie that is unique to those drawn to the Himalayas, and which I feel so privileged to have witnessed.

Travelling with like-minded travellers

While we were a small group, our chatter was mighty, and as we made our way through Sagarmatha National Park toward Mount Everest, we struck conversations with dozens of trekkers, comparing stories and sharing encouragement.

Trekking with a dream team to Everest Base Camp |  <i>Sally Dobromilsky</i>

Staying in private eco campsites in the Everest region

While most folks thought we were crazy to be camping in tents most of the way, we were not so quietly confident that we were hands-down having the best experience.

Arriving at camp at the end of a rewarding day on the track to a warm tent, with a bowl of hot water to wash the day away, a cup of tea and cosy dining rooms to sit and banter in was bliss.

Himalaya grade sleeping bags and comfortable beds gave all of us revitalising sleep night after night; let the chorus of impressive snoring be testament to the fact that we were all warm and snug.

 

As we reached the highest altitudes toward the top of our trek, we took on the once-in-a-lifetime experience of sleeping in the tea houses. Let’s just say we were all so glad to return to camping again on descent!

This trek is for adventurous souls who want to revel in playing with Mother Nature’s limits; however travelling with a company such as World Expeditions ensures that the challenges of the trek remain in the battle with body, mind and wilderness, not logistics.

Magical Himalayan landscape on the Everest Base Camp Trek |  <i>Sally Dobromilsky</i>

Words by Sally and Ben Dobromilsky

10 luxe eco-friendly stays in Australia

Love the idea of capping off your day on the trail with sunset cliff-top drinks, or maybe kicking off your hiking shoes whilst your own personal cook preps your dinner? You can still enjoy a walking or cycling adventure without having to completely "rough it out" in the Australian wilderness. 

These beautiful, sustainable escapes are not only glamorous but leave a small environmental footprint too, so you can best explore the many Great Walks of Australia without sparing on your comfort.

Best Australian eco-friendly accommodations for walkers and cyclists

  1. Larapinta Trail Eco Campsites, Northern Territory 
  2. Spicers Vineyard Estate, Hunter Valley NSW 
  3. Maria Island Bush Cabin, Tasmania 
  4. Spicers Retreats, Main Range National Park, Queensland
  5. Bay of Fires Lodge, Tasmania 
  6. Arkaba Homestead, South Australia 
  7. Cradle Huts, Tasmania 
  8. Injidup Spa Retreat, Margaret River, South Australia 
  9. Friendly Beach Lodge, Tasmania 
  10. River Murrays Houseboats, South Australia
 

Larapinta Trail Eco Campsites, Northern Territory 

Multi award-winning outback comfort in the Red Centre 

 

Incorporating new sustainable technologies, glamp in safari-style tents in an incredible desert setting. Easily wash off the trail dust with a hot shower before tucking into three-course meals freshly prepared by the guides. 

These campsites continue to set the standard, having won three times at the Northern Territory Tourism Brolga Award for Ecotourism (in 2016, 2017 and 2019).

Facilities at our eco camps |  <i>#cathyfinchphotography</i> Relaxing in front of our spacious Larapinta In Comfort tents |  <i>#cathyfinchphotography</i> Spacious and comfortable sleeping tents at Fearless Camp. They are 2.2 metres high so you are able to stand up in them. |  <i>Ayla Rowe</i> Enjoy a campfire on our Larapinta Trail walks |  <i>#cathyfinchphotography</i> The stars of the desert sky are a stunning backdrop to our unique Semi-Permanent Campsites |  <i>Graham Michael Freeman</i>
 

• STAY HERE ON: The Classic Larapinta Trek In Comfort >

Spicers Vineyard Estate in the Hunter Valley, NSW 

Deluxe vineyard accommodation 

Our deluxe accommodation in the Hunter Valley |  <i>Spicers</i>

Enjoy your own luxurious private ensuite with a spa, open fireplace and king-size bed topped with a private vineyard view and mountain backdrop. It's the perfect retreat after a day's cycle with a well-deserved glass of fine wine in hand! 

• STAY HERE ON: Hunter Valley Deluxe Self Guided Cycle trips > 

Maria Island Bush Cabin, Tasmania 

Premium wilderness stays on Maria Island, Tasmania 

Maria Island accommodation

Tucked away in beautiful forest surrounds and it's only a stone's throw away from stunning beaches! Fall asleep in eco-friendly cabin comfort, but not before savouring a gourmet dinner and watching the beach sunset with a glass of wine. 

Specially designed to have a small environmental footprint with bush showers and clean composting toilets, glamp here on the first two nights of the 4-day Maria Island Walk. 

• STAY HERE ON: The Maria Island Walk >

Spicers Retreats in Main Range National Park, Queensland 

Gourmet walking experience on the Scenic Rim 

Tent accommodation at Spicers Canopy

From Spicers' Luxury Canopy Tents to its Timber Getters eco-cabins, each accommodation on the Scenic Rim Trail walk is decked out for the active traveller who deserves a bit of indulgence. 

Escape from the every day to a world of luxury, whilst still enjoying a sense of adventure in a region with more than 30,000 hectares of ancient rainforest, escarpments, stunning mountains and volcanic plateaus. 

• STAY HERE ON: The Scenic Rim Walks > 

Bay of Fires Lodge, Tasmania 

Award-winning comfort to your eco-experience 

Bay of Fires Lodge |  <i>Great Walks of Australia</i>

Set on a hilltop, 40 metres above the pounding sea with arresting coastal views, experience the very best of the Bay of Fires wilderness in comfort on an idyllic short escape crowned with delicious meals prepared with the freshest local produce and accompanied by fine Tasmanian wine and beer. 

In an area of great significance to the Aboriginal community, the lodge is in gentle communion with the wilderness for maximum connection to the landscape with minimum impact on the environment. Solar-powered, an open fire, large timber deck with glass pavilions, hot showers and comfortable beds add a touch of luxury at the end of each day’s activities. 

• STAY HERE ON: The Bay of Fires Lodge Walk > 

Arkaba Homestead, South Australia 

Bush luxury in the Flinders Ranges 

Camping in a swag under the outback skies

Immerse in the story of the land with exclusive creature comforts on the Arkaba Walk. Enjoy two nights camping in deluxe swags on the signature star beds open to views of the countryside and above, a canopy of stars. 

The final nights are in the 1850s Arkaba Homestead for the added outback luxury at the end of your walk. Wildly beautiful, wake up to panoramas of Wilpena Pound and the Elder Range with all its en-suite room built with French door openings onto the deep homestead veranda. You can also extend this experience with the Murray River Walk staying on a premium houseboat.

• STAY HERE ON: The Arkaba Walk >

Cradle Huts, Tasmania 

Private eco-hut stays on the Overland Track 

Enjoy a glass of wine after a day's trek along the Overland Track |  <i>Great Walks of Australia</i>

Kick off your hiking shoes and put your feet up in one of five ecological and sustainable private huts nestled away in the World Heritage-listed Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park. 

A haven to retreat to at the end of the day on the Overland Track, you’ll indulge in fresh-baked afternoon tea, fine wine and hearty meals prepared fresh. Not to mention, you'll enjoy a hot shower, the joy of a potbelly heater and comfy beds. 

• STAY HERE ON: Cradle Huts Overland Track >

Injidup Spa Retreat, South Australia 

Relax & rejuvenate in the Margaret River region 

Cooling off in Injidup Spa Retreat private pool villa

Stay in oceanfront luxury and pamper your senses when walking along the best sections of the Cape to Cape Track. The intimate coastal retreat is nestled above one of the most beautiful beaches for spectacular ocean views and the tranquillity and privacy many dream of. 

End the day with sunset cliff-top drinks, a dip in your private pool villa and world-class food. Don’t forget to treat yourself with a lovely massage or spa treatment. 

• STAY HERE ON: The Cape to Cape in Luxury walk >

Friendly Beach Lodge, Tasmania 

'Off the grid' escape in Freycinet National Park 

Friendly Beaches Lodge

Explore world-class coastal scenery by day, before retiring in award-winning eco-luxury at night. Nestled in a 130-hectare private sanctuary, the lodge is sustainably built and completely ‘off the grid’ with solar power, waterless toilets and rainwater tanks to maintain its pristine surrounds. 

Sleeping lodges contain a lounge area with a fireplace, a shared bathroom with a claw foot bath, a separate shower room and two composting toilets. 

• STAY HERE ON: The Freycinet Experience Walk >

River Murrays Houseboats, South Australia 

Stay on an exclusive floating house

Houseboat Lounge

Combine your trip with the Murray River Walk onboard a comfortable houseboat and dine from a menu designed by a renowned native food pioneer.

Enjoy a back to nature experience that has the comfort of a luxury holiday as you walk through the ancient red gum forests of the great Murray River, before retreating to your own modern double room with hot showers and a hot spa on the top deck. 

• STAY HERE ON: The Murray River Walk >

View our range of ‘In Comfort’ adventures or check out more unique accommodation stays from around the world.


New Zealand backcountry hiking: why visit Ben Lomond Station

Don't you just love it when you head out for a hike and find a stunning spot all to yourself? Located just a short drive from Queenstown, Ben Lomond Station is one of the few remaining high country stations owned and operated by New Zealanders, which means you'll enjoy your sweet dose of uninterrupted wild adventure.

Not to be confused with Ben Lomond Track, which is owned by NZ's Department of Conservation and has public access, Ben Lomond Station is private land filled with old gold mining pack tracks, diverse landscapes and exclusive comfortable lodges. It makes the perfect place for hiking, relaxing and appreciating New Zealand's stunning beauty.

Here are 5 reasons to hike on Ben Lomond Station.

1. You'll be the only ones here

Ben Lomond Station is privately owned so there are no big crowds making it a truly rare and exclusive outdoor experience.

No better place to take a break and admire the view than on Ben Lomond Saddle |  <i>Janet Oldham</i>

2. The endless rugged landscapes

There's no denying the landscapes are one of the main drawcards to this 33,000-acre station. Where else can you experience expansive views of snow-capped ranges, sweeping tussock lands and beautiful beech forest all in one place?

Walk along tussock ridgelines high above the Shotover River, heli-hike along the sub-alpine flanks of Ben Lomond (1748m) and explore abandoned gold mining relics, water races, razorback ridges and river valleys right until the finish.

The walking tracks are graded moderate to challenging and are best fit for experienced hikers. You'll follow sheep tracks and the trails of hardy miners who preferred to take the straight line route instead of switchbacks!
 

Moonlight Station (MSQ) |  <i>Colin Monteath</i>

  

3. The Foster Family


True, local kiwi hospitality can be hard to come by when travelling in New Zealand these days but there's no shortage of it here. John and Ginny Foster are the proud owners and managers of Ben Lomond Station. Originally farming a small coastal property in Golden Bay, they moved to the high country in 1987.

 
John and Ginny from Ben Lomond Station |  <i>Colin Monteath</i> Forgotten gold mining machinery from the 1800s gold rush. |  <i>Colin Monteath</i> Vast tussock lands of Ben Lomond Station |  <i>Colin Monteath</i>


4. The history

Reading about the mining history on the Moonlight Track |  <i>Colin Monteath</i>


Ben Lomond Station has been a key part of Queenstown's history for over 150 years. The station was part of a run that was over 200,000 acres and included all the land in this area east of Lake Wakatipu. The original run holder William Rees reportedly flipped a coin with early pioneer, Nicholas von Tunzelmann, to decide who got which side of the lake.

Follow the tracks of historic gold mining water races built 150 years ago passing through beech forest and tussock lands. During your walk, you'll learn about the stations history and gold mining by the foster family themselves.

Fun fact: Over 3000 people lived in the Moke and Moonlight valleys during the gold rush. These rivers were some of the richest in the world.

 

5. Private Moonlight Lodge: uninterrupted views from your window

Moonlight Lodge easily makes the list as one of New Zealand's most comfortable and secluded backcountry lodges. Located deep in the Moonlight Valley, a 14km walk from the Shotover Valley will bring you to the comfort of the lodge. Fit with double/twin ensuite rooms, a spacious lounge, dining area with a licenced bar, large stone fireplace and commanding views of the peaks that surround, you'll feel relaxed in no time.

To top things off, you'll experience true local hospitality with a delicious meal prepared by station owners, John and Ginny.

World Expeditions' Moonlight Valley and Ben Lomond Backcountry Hike and Ben Lomond Backcountry Explorer includes stays at Moonlight Lodge. 

 
Private Moonlight Lodge accommodation |  <i>Colin Monteath</i> A cup of tea and a biscuit is the perfect way to end a days walking! |  <i>Colin Monteath</i> Cosy accommodation at Moonlight Lodge |  <i>Hamish Foster</i>
 


Summer trekking guide in the Indian Himalaya

The mountains of the Himalaya go beyond the borders of Nepal – and with the summer trekking season upon us from June to September, below are five unique ways to experience the Indian Himalayas on foot.

Traverse the dramatic region of Zanskar

It would be hard to surpass this challenging Trans Himalayan circuit of Ladakh which travels over high passes via ancient trails. Trek through isolated Buddhist villages to reach the secluded Himalayan kingdom of Zanskar.

This part of the Indian Himalaya is known for its rust coloured mountains and dramatic deep gorges, and villages which are cut off from the outside world for much of the year. Eventually, you will complete your circuit through the Indus Valley for an all-encompassing Himalayan adventure. This Zanskar to Indus Traverse is definitely one to add on your adventure list.

Best time to travel: September

Zanskar in India Himalaya - World Expeditions

 

Capture the spirit of trekking in Ladakh

What better introduction to the visually stunning and culturally rich region of Ladakh than trekking through hidden valleys. A land of high passes on the borderlands of Tibet, Ladakh offers timeless landscapes and vistas of spectacular scenery. This is where the snow leopard seeks out the highest ridges at the margins of the season.

The rugged region of Ladakh is characterised by remarkable Buddhist monasteries and ancient forts. Think of the striking Tikse Monastery and the historic Stok Palace just to name a few.

Best time to travel: late June and July

Capture the spirit of trekking in Ladakh with World ExpeditionsYou can camp underneath the stars and alongside the vast waters of the stunning Tso Morari Lake in the spectacular Rupshu Valley.

Go Beyond the Markha Valley

Also known as ‘Little Tibet’, this ancient Buddhist enclave on India’s northern border is the highest plateau in the state of Kashmir. Explore on foot the Ladakh heartland, where the flutter of prayer flags and the ancient mani walls reflect the deep seated Buddhist heritage, and follow established trails linking whitewashed settlements and tiny monasteries, with spectacular views of the Zanskar Range stretching to the borderlands of the Tibetan Plateau.

Best time to travel: early July and late August to early September

Beyond the Markha Valley - summer trekking in India

Step into the world of mountaineering

Keen to extend your mountaineering CV? On a high-altitude foray in Ladakh you can get ideal (albeit challenging!) introduction to Himalayan climbing.

Within relatively easy distance from each other are the twin peaks of Ladakh: Stok Kangri (6,153m) and Kangyaze Peak (6,400m). You can ascend both of them in one mountaineering holiday and be welcomed by stunning views of the beautiful Markha Valley from their summits.

The region around these peaks offers some fantastic mountaineering activities as there are plenty of high passes to cross. It is home to the world’s highest road of ‘Khardung La’, and it is filled with trails linking tiny whitewashed settlements and traditional Buddhist monasteries.

Best time to travel: August

The surreal beauty of the Indian Himalaya |  <i>Brigitte Najjar</i>Photo: Brigitte Najjar

Remote Ladakh with Garry Weare

If you’re an intrepid traveller who loves to explore the most beautiful, little visited corners of the Indian subcontinent, join Lonely Planet author Garry Weare to take you there!

Whether this is a first time trek in Ladakh or an ideal follow up this new trek from the Nubra to Indus valleys will surpass expectations. The trek winds through remote Buddhist settlements and summer grazing camps that afford the opportunity to explore side valleys as we gradually make our way to the base of the Lasermo La. Unparalelled views and rich Buddhist culture of Alchi, Lamayuru and Likir monasteries complete this journey.

This trip will be led by adventurer and trekking legend Garry Weare who has been involved with World Expeditions since its inception in the mid-1970s and over the years he has devised a number of itineraries across the most beautiful corners of the Indian Himalaya.

Best time to travel: September

Diskit Monastery in Nubra Valley, Ladakh |  <i>Garry Weare</i>

If these five different ways to experience this corner of the Indian Himalaya got you hungry for more, with World Expeditions you can choose from a range of travel options to experience trekking in Ladakh. If you like the trips a little different, we can help you build your own adventure.

Have you travelled to the Indian Himalaya? Share your experience below.

Cape to Cape Track: Hiking and cycling training tips

Deciding where to travel is not always the biggest dilemma. Often, the crux is how to do it. Do you like the idea of blending cycling and hiking into one trip? On my visit to Western Australia, I chose to do just that as part of my exploration of the Cape to Cape Track.

Whether or not you plan to take on this iconic coastal trail, these training tips will help you best prepare for your next multi-day, coastal adventure on foot or by bike.

Why hike and bike?

If you choose to ride, you’ll benefit from covering long distances and no doubt seeing further, faster; but hiking can often take you to areas inaccessible by other means at a slower pace.

This was the very question I asked myself ahead of my trip to Western Australia. I’d been invited to take part in the 10th anniversary of the Cape to Cape mountain bike race, a four-day event based at Margaret River. For the first time, the race would not trace the traditional linear route from Luuewin Lighthouse to Dunsborough township. Instead, they’d chosen to loop around the local vineyards and popular single-track trails.

Keen not to miss the incredible coastal views and a chance to spot migrating whales in the distance, I decided to pack the trail shoes and extended my trip to include a three-day hike along the famous Cape to Cape Track.

A cosy beach corner along WA's Cape to Cape Track |  <i>Catriona Sutherland</i>

My trip down under was limited to 10 days – an ambitious timeframe coming from the UK! To make the most of it, I joined a team to wander the well-known route, covering close to 60 kilometres of coastal terrain. Quite the post-ride warm up! With a day to rest, I switched my hiking shoes for the saddle; this time to ride 230 kilometres of sensational singletrack.

So how did I prepare for this multi-day, multi-discipline adventure? If you’re considering a hike and ride combination, then read on for my top training and preparation tips.

Prepare for the terrain

The Cape to Cape track is coastal and whilst it doesn’t gain much elevation, the terrain can be tough on your body, particularly your feet!

Day after day, you’ll be tackling sandy tracks and long sections of beach, so you’ll want to condition yourself for the endurance required. Distances can reach 25 kilometres per stage, so you’ll need to be ready for multiple hours on the move.

Be beach-ready

The ideal way to condition yourself for the impending sand is, of course, to mirror this in your training hikes. Find a local beach if you live near to the coast, a lakeshore, or muddy ground, to emulate the sticky nature of the sand. If you stick to tarmac or hard-pack trails, you’ll gain miles but your muscles won’t be accustomed to the drag. Make sure to do long-distance efforts on this type of terrain to gain muscle memory and to be mentally ready too.

Dare to bare?

Enjoying a barefoot walk along the beaches on the Cape to Cape Track |  <i>Catriona Sutherland</i>

You might prefer to shed the shoes and walk barefoot on the beach? I hiked a six-kilometre stretch with my boots dangling from my pack. Doing so is a great way to improve balance and posture – but I’d recommend making sure you’re prepared for the abrasion from sand.

Take shorter strolls by the seaside or get used to barefoot on grass, or simply walking around the house. I found this a great method to toughen up the soles of my feet too.

Be bike prepared

When it comes to riding, preparation is also key. For the Cape to Cape, I researched the right tyre choice – your wheels are the contact point with the trail, so you have to be sure you’ve got the best tools for the job. Trails around the Cape to Cape are often dry, rocky and very sandy! Hiring a quality bike will make all the difference, and if you want to luggage transfers taken care of as well, turning to a trusted company like Australian Cycle Tours will take the hassle out of planning.

Take your bike for a spin at your local beach if you have coastal access in order to get used to cycling on varying conditions. If this isn’t an option, cycling on wet mud and slicker conditions offer a similar feel and will help you to find the balance needed.

Bike training for the Cape to Cape Track |  <i>Catriona Sutherland</i>

Carry your gear

Whilst the guided routes on the Cape to Cape don’t require you to lug tents and sleeping bags, you’ll certainly be carrying a backpack with extra clothes, food and plenty of drinking water.

During my hike, the storms set in, so don’t underestimate the amount you’ll choose to take with you – it might even include a swimsuit if the water’s not too cold! Ideally, you’ll be able to train outdoors, but if you’re adding mileage at the gym, consider wearing your pack during the session too. Step machines or treadmills can be a great way to squeeze in sessions around a busy work life.

If you prefer carrying a lighter pack, opting for a guided tour on the Cape to Cape Track with a professional guide and support staff allows you to get an in-depth cultural exploration of the region with extra comforts.

Resting at a beach along WA's Cape to Cape Track |  <i>Catriona Sutherland</i>

Know your kit

Fitness is one element, but you won't go far by bike or foot if you’re uncomfortable in your kit. Whether it’s a new saddle, pack or shoes – be sure to log time with them so you don’t discover any unwanted discomfort on the trail. Equally, be sure to read the recommended kit list or research blogs from those with experience of the area.

Hiking kit
Simulating the actual event is the best way to train – load up your pack and take it on your training hikes or even walks to and from work. Practice using a bottle or bladder for drinking and find out how easy it is to access your camera or snacks. This may seem mundane, but when you’re trekking day after day for multiple hours, you want to make tasks as simple as possible.

As tiredness sets in, it can be easy to not eat or drink as much as you should, so being sure it’s of minimal effort to do so will help you as the days stack up.

When it comes to hiking footwear, the Cape to Cape is ideally suited to a lightweight pair of outdoor shoes as well as gators – a truly useful aid to combat the infiltration of sand! Practice using these and don’t just throw them on the first day of the trek. Also, take a spare pair of socks. There are times on the path when your feet may get wet, so being armed with a dry set will help to avoid the onset of blisters.

Cycling kit
For the bike, the same applies. You’ll be sweating from the heat and effort, so if you’re not used to wearing a pack on the bike, make sure to train with one. Another skill to perfect is eating on the move. When you’re riding long days in the saddle, a top tube feed bag is also a useful addition, so you don’t have to stop to eat or try and dig awkwardly into your back pockets.

Clock the kilometres: mileage munching

Clocking up the kilometres is the best way to prepare for endurance, but many of us have busy lives and have to save the big days for the weekend. Consider if you can walk to work? Perhaps you can get off the bus or train earlier and add some distance to your legs mid-week? Could you walk to work one day, then bike home? Trying to combine walking and cycling equally within your week will ensure you’re not focusing on just one area.

Repetition reaps reward

The key to multi-day is to replicate this repetition as part of your training sessions. If you only have one day to add in the big distances, consider splitting the time between the bike and the trail shoes. Find an off-road route that you can ride, rest, then hike. If you have more time, ride one day and hike the next. Getting your body used to waking up tired and having to go again, is as much a physical training exercise as a mental one.

Good luck on the trail!

Words by Catriona Sutherland, a UK writer and athlete who travelled on the Cape to Cape Track in Western Australia. Read more cross training tips from her >
 


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