Hiking in Hiker Paradise: Tramping Kiwi-Style

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What if you were asked to create a hiker's paradise?

You'd put in mountains, of course. But not just any old bumps on the landscape.

You'd sculpt them into long ridges of snow-capped peaks, with shimmering glaciated summits and precipitous fiords that plummet down to clear, deep waters. And you'd throw in a couple of volcanoes, recently exploded, just to keep things interesting.

And for a change of pace—think of it as hiker R & R—you might include a couple of easy walks along picture-perfect beaches lapped by water the color of jade and turquoise and emeralds and sapphires.

You might also consider adding some amenities. Huts, for instance, for those who prefer not to lug around all of their camping gear. But you'd also put in plenty of tent sites for those who prefer sleeping under the stars. You'd mark the trails well, and there would be local offices where you could get current information about maps, permits, and conditions.

And you wouldn't forget logistics: Buses would include trailheads and park headquarters in their schedules. Backpacker-friendly hotels would offer reasonable rates. And outfitting stores would be found in virtually any large town, so that you could pick up the odd piece of gear for your next "tramp."

And if you did all of this, and did it well, you'd find that you'd created a place just like New Zealand, perhaps the best backpacking destination in the world.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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