The Grand Traverse – South Island, New Zealand
Superb Walks on the Routeburn and Greenstone
In a country where nature is king, it is no surprise that tramping is the national pastime – and what remarkable scenery there is to tramp through. Together, the Routeburn (which trekking connoisseurs compare favorably with the fabled Milford Track) and the Greenstone Valley Walk become the Grand Traverse, New Zealand’s premier trek.
The 24-mile Routeburn Track crosses the Southern Alps by means of the breathtaking Harris Saddle Pass at 3,900 feet and descends through a world of abundant forest, ferns, mountain streams, lakes, and waterfalls within the appropriately named Mount Aspiring National Park. Following an ancient Maori trail through Fiordland National Park, the 25-mile Greenstone Valley Walk crosses the main divide of the Southern Alps, within a beautiful river valley encircled by towering mountains. The six-day trek is not strenuous; the only thing that takes your breath away is the scenery.
Guided treks offer a number of obvious advantages, not least being the use of huts with hot running water. Solo hikers stay in more rudimentary accommodations and must register with the local authorities. The number of hikers is strictly controlled, accompanied or not, so book well in advance.