Top Trail Runs in New Zealand
New Zealand is a wonderland of trail running and hiking opportunities. There are no large predators to jump out at you, no snakes, and limited poisonous spiders. Your biggest concern will be vehicles, cyclists, hydration, and the harsh kiwi sun, so don’t forget your hat.
The quickie: Huka Falls, Taupo. Pop out for a quick 3km from the Spa Thermal car park and make your way to Huka Falls via free hot springs and exciting thermal activity. Once you make it to the famed Huka Falls you have the choice to enjoy the majesty of Mother Nature or keep going to discover the wonder at Aratiatia Rapids.
The coastal: Wellington Bays. The winding topography of the capital makes for some great coastlines to explore. Central City Frank Kitts Park to Scorching Bay return gives a solid half marathon distance, with the ability to shorten or lengthen to suit your preference. Enjoy glittering ocean mixed with dense residential housing perched across the hillside.
The urban: West Auckland. Aucklanders are spoilt for choice with the volume of Waitakere coastal running tracks available the public. From the popular Kitekite waterfall track at Piha to the more challenging Karamatura track near Huia, taking you to Mount Donald McLean. We recommend checking the status of each track before you head out. Some severe weather events in early 2023 closed some routes for repairs and maintenance.
The destination run: Milford track, Southland. Before you set out you’ll first need approval from DOC. Departing Te Anau it’s a 1 hour 30 minute boat ride to the start. If you’re looking for a once in a lifetime run with awe-inspiring views you cannot beat Sutherland Falls, New Zealand’s tallest waterfall, and the surrounding glacier-carved fiords.
Tickets for the four-day hike usually sell out like lightning, and DOC will need evidence that you’re capable of running the track in just one day. It’ll take a lot of time and planning to get there, but you’ll definitely be rewarded for your efforts.
Make sure to follow standard trail running/bush safety practices when out running in New Zealand. This includes letting someone know where you will be and when you’re likely to return. New Zealand weather is changeable so carry layers, wear great socks, and prepare for the location. Wear a hat with UPF50+ protection. We recommend the Flash Cap or Ultra Trail Cap for comfort and versatility.