Hey, I'm travelling to NZ in February and was hoping to try one of the trails. The trails I was looking at are Able Tasman Coast Track, Milford Track, or the Routeburn Track. I was wondering which trail might be best for February and what's the best way to plan the trip? I found some group trips, but noticed they cost up to $3000 for 5 days... Is there a cheaper way to do these trails?
I guess what I'd like to know is, if you plan the trip on your own without going with a tour group:
- Where do you stay each night (so I know which places to book)?
- How do you get to the track (i.e. which location for naked bus)?
- Which trail is worth it (or your favourite if you like them all )?
Thanks for any help, tips, or suggestions!
These are all Great Walks. These are the most popular walks in New Zealand, and during high season (which February falls very much within) need booking many weeks (and frequently many months) in advance for the huts (which frequently are the only place to stay at night; though some tracks allow camping as well). The Department of Conservation (DOC) site I linked to above has very extensive information about how to get there, and what to book, though you'll need to click through quite a few times to get to each bit of information. For example, here's the hut information for the Milford track, costs for those huts, information on how to get there, and a tool to look up hut availability (only one spot available in all of February at this time, on the 17th - I suspect someone had to cancel very recently, as the next available option is the 13th of March).
For the Milford track, I know there's also a very few private huts on the track, but those are only accessible with one of those very expensive group tours you mentioned - and there's no camping on this track.
Anyway, the Milford Track is probably the most popular and hard to get onto of the bunch - Routeburn and Abel Tasman still have plenty of spaces at this time - but this'll hopefully help you find your way around the DOC site a bit. These multi-day hikes are things you have to plan pretty thoroughly, and well in advance. (If that's not your thing, but still want to do a multi-day hike, the Queen Charlotte Track might be something to look into; due to the water, there's pack transport from overnight stop to overnight stop, and those are more regular guesthouses (of varying quality) along the track to stay in, rather than just a DOC hut. And of course New Zealand also has a gazillion worthwhile dayhikes; head to the edge of any town anywhere, and you'll find some DOC signs pointing out tracks to go explore; they might not all be quite as superlative as the Great Walks, but most of them are still very, very worthwhile.
Thank you very much Sander, that helps a lot! I do plan to have my entire New Zealand trip booked by the end of the month, so hopefully that's early enough for one of the two tracks that still have spaces.