It can get a bit overwhelming when you’re trying to search the web for a new trail to explore or booking the right overnight accommodation in the outdoors and you don't even know where to start. I have some great resources that I use to plan my hikes, here are my recommendations that will help you do the same!
Always check the weather and route alerts before you explore the outdoors and be prepared for the conditions. Tell someone where you’re going and when to expect you back. Respect New Zealand’s environment, wildlife and land owners by following the Tiaki Promise. Leave only footprints, take only photos.
Department of Conservation Website (DOC)
You can trust the DOC website for the most up-to-date information and alerts for specific trail conditions and expected weather that may affect the trails. If you’re wanting to search for a walking trail it gives the filter options of Region, Difficulty and Duration (pretty standard) and also lets you select whether you need wheelchair or pram access which is a great feature. Once you’ve found a trail, the website will give you the difficulty and description of the whole track as well as detailed timestamps for specific sections of the track. It gives brief directions to the trailhead which I wouldn’t completely rely on, better to take note of the road name and use Google Maps to get there. If the trail head is hiding from you once you’ve arrived, check back to the DOC instructions on how to find it. A great thing is that on a trail’s page it gives the contact info for the relevant Visitor’s Center and links to book the right DOC huts or campsites along the trail so you don’t have to go on a seperate internet investigation to find the correct hut.
Overall, the search function has fairly limited search filters so the DOC website is better to gather more information on a trail you already know of and want to complete.
AllTrails is a massive website that has an international database of trails. When you’re looking for new trails this website has a wide range of filter options including country/region, difficulty, length (in km), elevation gain, rating and keyword/tag search. You can create your own login to save walks for later on your profile, review trails and record your walks on a personal map. On a trail’s information page you can print the map directly and get directions to the start point. A great feature is that you can read firsthand and up-to-date reviews from fellow walkers about the track which provides small but significant insights eg. The trail is very slippery in the rain, a mudslide on the track has just occurred, fitness required. Most of this information and the reviews are still available on the website without creating your own profile.
Overall, AllTrails gives a great selection of walks with large amounts of information and allows you to narrow your options to trails that suit you perfectly. The ability to read recent reviews on the trails is very helpful to understand the current conditions and provisions of the tracks to be better prepared for your walk.
Epic Little Missions
I have been using this website for a while now to find Auckland trails and also love their instagram (@epiclittlemissions) for regional walking inspiration. You can scroll through all of the walks to see which ones catch your eye or search based on short walks (0-2hrs), long walks (2+ hrs) or dog friendly. They also have a separate page detailing exploring Auckland’s islands offshore. It will give you the length of the trail (kms and time), a brief description of what to expect and a basic map attached.
Overall, Epic Little Missions is great if you’re in the Auckland area wanting to discover new and interesting walks based on your duration preference. Just be mindful that this website is slightly out of date so follow up your search with the DOC website for the best information!
FreeWalks covers many regions of New Zealand but is missing some well known tracks and tends to have shorter walks of easier difficulty. As well as the common search features shared with other websites it also has information such as cell phone reception, toilets in the area and if your feet get wet while walking which are really helpful details! It also has links to activities in the area and books about NZ walks which is a cool bonus for tourists.
Overall, this website is good to look for easier trails and has handy information but combine it with another trail search engine so you don’t miss out on seeing all the options!
Any Weather Website!
Always check the weather before you head out on whatever trusty climate website you like. Knowing the expected rainfall and temperature can allow you to plan your walk accordingly or pack the right gear. Even if you’re just walking for the day, no one enjoys soggy feet and being cold!
Hopefully these links provide useful information and clear up any confusion when you’re planning! If you have your own resources you swear-by to find or research trails, let me know on my Instagram.