New Zealand's two main islands lie around 1900 km east of Australia, out in the Pacific Ocean. This isolated location has restricted the number of people moving to live there, so that although the country is slightly larger in area than the United Kingdom, it only has a population around 7% that of the UK. A third of that is concentrated in the Auckland area and most of the rest in other towns and cities, so the countryside is very sparsely populated.
With half the land taken up by pastures and farmland, a quarter under forest, and 13% classed as alpine, this is a country to visit for peaceful walks in the countryside and remote mountain treks. There is quite a contrast between the volcanic peaks in the centre of the North Island and the long chain of alpine mountains stretching down the South Island towards the south-west corner where the Fjordland scenery resembles that of Norway. (See this tourism site for a short overview of the scenery).
The first New Zealand walking story on the site illustrates the historical struggle between the first British settlers and the native Maori people.
Another fascinating story appeared in the New York Times on 18 January 2009. It features the 33.5 mile trek along the Milford Track in the Fjordland, a beautiful region dominated by water and mountains. Apparently during the peak season of December-March numbers are restricted to 90 per day, 40 of them independent. They are expected to take 4 days to complete the route, staying at lodges overnight, and with optional side-excursions along the way. The other 50 walkers go with the guide company Ultimate Hikes New Zealand, and the NYT article describes one such trip, by Robert D Hershey Jr. It seems the weather can be very wet down in this region, with rain every other day even during the peak season. Hershey was fortunate to enjoy the walk and the scenery in dry weather.
Have YOU walked in New Zealand? Why not submit YOUR STORY to Walking Stories?
(To order the stories by name, date, country or type click on the appropriate heading)
|New Zealand Wars - Highway One South walk||New Zealand||Longer Walks and Treks||18/09/2006|