Kiwis like to see themselves as A Good Keen Man (even if more than half of us aren't). We love the great outdoors, but with bags to pack, boots to break in, tracks to research and meals to plan, we can't all be Barry Crump or Keri Hulme.
It's not always easy to experience the best of the Aotearoa wilderness. So let someone else do the hard work and go bush the easy way - take guided walks, bike rides or kayaking trips on private tracks or little-seen waterways, with top-quality dining back at the hut or glamping site.
Our forests, ranges, coasts and high country are rightly world-famous. And though it's a pity the rest of the planet can't enjoy them at the moment, it means there's all the more space for us.
If Waitangi Weekend and the Ruapekapeka commemorations piqued your interest in the far north, Northland Experiences' Cape to Cove tour takes in the stunning Cape Brett track, hiking on the Bay of Islands' islands and around Whangaroa Harbour. They do the hard yards - organising accommodation and activities and shuttling walkers between hikes.
For the less strenuously inclined, Mangawhai Adventures packages three great walks, a wine-tasting trail, accommodation and yep, that one of our Best Beaches; Piwakawaka Tours offers a Sunday day trip walking the gorgeous Whananaki coast – Matapouri/Sandy Bay was in our top 10 too - finishing with a fresh-cooked al fresco meal before the trip back to Whangārei.
Hate to break bad news but we haven't got all that many summer weekends left. Best to get out on the Hauraki Gulf while you can (warning: watch out for flying, foiling yachts on the starboard bow). On Great Barrier, the Aotea Track is a 25km, 2-3 day hike through the heart of the island. It's a mountainous motu so expect stiff climbs among easy flat walks, stairways and swing bridges. It's well-signposted, well-maintained and has a couple of scenic and comfortable huts.
On Waiheke, Terra & Tide offers a range of guided walks from all-inclusive day trips to multi-day packages with accommodation and meals, suitable for the beginner or the more adventurous. For a more leisurely tour, there's the island's art walk.
On the mainland, escape the city at Duder Regional Park, Clevedon Coast. This 148ha park provides 360-degree views over the gulf from Rangitoto to the Coromandel Peninsula. A guided full-day tour visits the site of Whakakaiwhara Pā, ancient kauri trees and a picnic at a stunning spot overlooking unspoilt coast, with insight into 800 years of history, traditional harvesting, gathering and fishing practices as well as its significance in two world wars.
For a taste of nature, art and food, the one-hour, 2km Brick Bay Sculpture Trail in Matakana is set among native trees and fields overlooking the Brick Bay Vineyard.
Waikato and Coromandel
It's a simple concept: you walk, you get hungry and thirsty, you eat and drink. Nature and Nosh organise a bunch of "gourmet hiking escapes" in heartland and peninsula beauty spots from pristine coasts to rugged green landscapes, staying in out-of-the-way boutique accommodation, savouring kaimoana, seasonal produce and local drops. We like that they're all "pack-free".
They've been welcoming tourists here longer than just about anywhere else in Aotearoa so it's not surprising they get so many things right. Like the Redwoods Treewalk, nature the easy way, a 700m walk through the forest canopy on suspension bridges and platforms, or a guided tour of Hamurana Springs' natural and cultural sites.
Two tips: Real Rotorua's evening tour through darkened native forest to see thousands of glowworms lit up like the night sky, and Kaitiaki Adventures' guided Mt Tarawera crater hike to the site of the 1886 eruption that destroyed the legendary Pink and White Terraces and created Waimangu, the world's youngest geothermal valley. Suitable for all ages.
Central North Island
This one is special. Correction, this one is very, very special. Think major anniversary, birthday with a zero, Lotto win with a lot of zeros. Among the world's top 10 fly-fishing and wilderness experiences, Poronui Lodge is the ultimate luxury sporting and wilderness retreat in the Kaimanawa Ranges, 45 minutes from Taupō. The estate has gobsmacking trails and packages include guided walks and accommodation in the lodge or their glamping Safari Camp. All include gourmet meals.
Also special, Whanganui River Canoes' guided tours of the Great Walk – and paddle – along some of our most historic and sacred waters, and Adrift Tongariro's three-day guided tour of the Tongariro Northern Circuit with transport from base, meals, hut and camping passes in the Unesco World Heritage Site.
Expect to encounter native bush, trout streams, mountaintops, river and lowland trails and thermal hot springs when Afoot Guided Walks provides personal guides for individually designed tramping trips throughout the Bay. Choose from their multi-day routes or design your own trek with your guide.
The Pouakai Crossing is one of our premier one-day tramps, an amazing walk that traverses Taranaki Maunga, its ancient forests, plant life and volcanic landscapes and especially the breathtaking reflections of the Pouakai tarns. Check out Top Guides for guiding and support services.
Discover Taranaki can customise full or half-day outdoor experiences from a mountain walk to a farm visit or guided walk that will have you nestled in a boutique hotel or lodge enjoying fine wine and dining by sunset, while Nau Mai Tours offer comfortable minibus tours around the province's backyard with locals who share personal stories and background knowledge.
Ridge Top Farm combines tranquil glamping with a Kiwi farm experience. The 600ha sheep and beef farm at Tapuae, halfway between Wellington and Taupō, has panoramic views from Kāpiti Island to Taranaki Maunga and Ruapehu. Take a catered private walking adventure over the farm and you'll be rewarded with panoramic views from the mountains to the Tasman Sea, with birdsong, fresh country air and friendly farm animals at no extra charge.
Nelson and Marlborough
One doesn't like to brag but your guide through this quick run-down of Kiwi tramping earned several Boys' Brigade expedition badges on a trip to the Marlborough Sounds' Queen Charlotte Track and, no, you don't need to ask how many decades ago. The 72km track from Ship Cove to Anakiwa is neatly described as "a journey from past to present" - ocean views, native bush, encounters with weka, piwakawaka, kererū and seals. See marlboroughnz.com for guides, accommodation and how to use water taxis to carry your heavy gear to the next inn so you can enjoy your walk or bike ride during the day.
Walk Pelorus will take you through the Nydia Track and other secret beauties in Pelorus Sound, routes selected to showcase ancient forests away from the well-worn Great Walks.
Across the island, Wilsons Abel Tasman offer all-inclusive guided and self-guided (but supported) holidays in the much-loved national park. They have thought of everything so all you need to do is relax and enjoy the 3-5 day walking and kayaking holidays – door to door transfers, meals, guides, luggage transfers, cruise, and accommodation at their beachfront lodges.
Abel Tasman Guides' guided or unguided walks in the park run from one to four days, with similar deals including boutique B&B or lodge accommodation in or around the park or in a deluxe glamping tent in Anchorage.
There's so much to see, eat and drink around here that Southern Wilderness turn on gourmet guided walks in all three national parks - Kahurangi, Nelson Lakes and Abel Tasman. Sample a gourmet three-day sailing experience on a yacht in Abel Tasman, head into the wilderness on the Mt Angelus Alpine Experience or see all three in three days.
Simply Wild Journeys take it up a notch with guided luxury adventures and private, premium holidays - three days hiking and heli-hiking the Heaphy Track and Abel Tasman Coast Track Great Walks, a private hiking and sea kayaking adventure in the national park, or two days cycling the region's gourmet Great Taste Trail.
Biking is big here, and Wheelie Fantastic peddle bespoke single and multi-day rides to suit all abilities and budgets. They will design a custom itinerary based on your interests – guided or self-guided, with boutique or luxury accommodation. You can add kayaking, sailing, wine tours. So too Kiwi Journeys, whose fully guided 5-day, 5-night Great Taste Trail package includes boutique accommodation, cafe, lodge and winery lunches, restaurant dinners, wine tastings and a cruise.
Tekapo Adventures' friendly, knowledgeable guides take you on a 4WD trip with exclusive access to high country stations to get up close to remote parts of our country. In the Waitaki, Sole to Soul offers tailored walking experiences, also through private land, which can include yoga and meditation to disconnect and reconnect on every level.
From Fiordland's icy mountains to Rakiura's forest floors, there's an ancient world to see in these parts. Explore alpine peaks and untouched forests, staying in luxurious private lodges on a guided multi-day tramp across two of our iconic Great Walks, the Routeburn or Milford Tracks with Ultimate Hikes, the exclusive provider.
Welcome Rock is a hand-built, private track on a high-country station just 45 minutes from Queenstown, created for cross-country mountain biking and hiking with accommodation along the way. At Tuatapere, the Hump Ridge Guided Walk is a 3-day, 3-night tour with lodge accommodation, catering and heli-pack options.
As far south as you can go, Ruggedy Range Rakiura Great Walk is a relatively easy 3-day walk, mainly through Stewart Island's regenerating native forest and coastal sections; accommodation, food (local seafood where possible) and kiwi-spotting. Nothing says "Pacific's triple star" better than that.