I’m a tourist interested in doing some outdoor activities in New Zealand bush. What are the options?
To find out what’s available in the area you’re in or want to travel to, see the Department of Conservation (DOC) outdoors activity finder or visit the nearest i-SITE Visitor Centre.
If you’re interested in walking, hiking, or tramping, the DOC website offers advice and information about the great walking tracks in New Zealand. To read about some of the walking tracks open to the public, visit the DOC webpage on Tracks and Walks. If you’re more interested in simply seeing some of the spectacular sights of New Zealand, rather than necessarily going for long treks, visit the Places to Visit webpage for stories, photos, and descriptions of some of New Zealand’s magnificent scenery, and how to get those places.
Where can we go camping in New Zealand?
The Department of Conservation (DOC) manages more than 250 campsites on conservation land New Zealand-wide, and these are particularly good if you are touring New Zealand’s national parks. If you need to find a DOC campground, see the DOC Campsites website.
There are also campgrounds in almost all towns in New Zealand where you can stay if you feel like basing yourself in town and going out for day walks or just having a shower when you return from a period of time in the outdoors. It’s good to plan ahead when travelling, and if you need to find out about available campgrounds in the area you are travelling to, you should consult an i-Site visitor information centre. They are open during business hours, they can give you information about the areaand can also make bookings for you. i-Sites are located New Zealand wide.
I like hiking and the outdoors, but hate staying in tents. Are there other options?
If you don’t like tents, there are plenty of other options. You could stay in a cosy hut in the back country, or if you’re with a big group, you could stay in a lodge. This could be a good option if you don’t have the proper gear to be able to cope with extreme weather when tenting, or if you just want to relax with a group of friends. Before you stay in a DOC hut, you will need to buy hut tickets from your nearest sports store, DOC office, or visitor’s centre. DOC offers a list of North Island huts and South Island huts including fees and other important information.
What are ‘hut tickets’ and where can I get them from?
Hut tickets are used to help pay for the maintenance and upgrading of Department of Conservation (DOC) huts. If you stay in a bush hut, you’ll be expected to buy hut tickets. For a list of huts and the amount you’ll have to pay check this DOC Brochure.
Where can I find out about national parks?
The Department of Conservation manages all national parks. If you’d like to find out about the features of a particular national park, see their national parks website.
What do I need to be aware of if I am planning to spend some time in the bush?
The New Zealand bush is beautiful, but there can be dangers such as harsh and very unpredictable weather, fatigue, and other hazards. It’s advisable to be well informed and well prepared for any trip you plan to take into the bush or mountains or any remote area. Some preparations you should take include:
Get skilled in bushcraft. Assuming you (and the people accompanying you) have the right level of physical fitness to complete the trip comfortably, it will useful if you know how to: read a map and use a compass; cook with a camp stove; cross a river; build a temporary shelter; tell whether someone is suffering from hypothermia, and what to do if they are. If you or your group don’t have these skills, it might be a good idea to join a tramping club or a trip organised by a specialist outdoors organisation.
Making a plan. Know exactly where you’re going, how long it should take, how much food you’re going to need, and what equipment is a must. Make sure everyone in your group knows the plan, otherwise annoying and time consuming arguments can arise.
Having a backup plan. It’s always wise to have a backup plan in case you don’t make it to your planned destination or something goes wrong, for instance if you are stopped by a flooded stream or someone breaks their ankle. This could involve planning where you might sleep, how long it’s going to take to get help, and who is going to do what.
Bringing the right equipment. You should always take proper equipment whether you’re going out for a day or a week. This includes wet weather gear, extra food, water, a map of the area (ensure it is protected from getting wet), a first aid kit, and proper footwear (not jandals). Tramping New Zealand provides a full checklist of equipment you might need when tramping. Make a copy of the checklist and give it to everyone in your group a couple of days before you leave so that they can prepare the equipment they’ll need.
Checking the weather. If there’s going to be extreme weather such as a storm, you may want to reconsider your trip. This also includes extreme hot weather as there may be no drinking water available. Always ensure you are ready for all weather conditions – the weather can change very suddenly and unexpectedly in New Zealand, and this catches out a lot of people, especially those who are less familiar with the environment. Don’t expect that the weather will stay warm and calm if you are doing your trip during the middle of the New Zealand Summer – this is especially the case if you are going up into the mountains.
Tell someone where you’re going and when you’re coming back. If you’re going into the bush, you should always inform someone. It’s usually best to inform parents or relatives as well as your local DOC official.