Routeburn Track, Fiordland
Great views on the Routeburn Track

Am I fit enough for a Great Walk? When do I start training for a Great Walk? How do I prepare for a Great Walk?

We get asked these questions often.  Many people are not regular hikers but would like to include a Fiordland Great Walk in their New Zealand holiday itineraries. 

If you are new to hiking, have not hiked in New Zealand before, or are just wondering how you can make the most of your hike, there are a few tips to prepare for a Great Walk and enjoy your experience hiking in Fiordland.

Planning is KEY when preparing for a Great Walk!

You need to have the hike details sorted. What food and gear will you take? What transport do you need? How do I get the most out of this experience?

It pays to have your transport sorted early – especially if you are walking the Routeburn Track which you should work into your itinerary due to the travel times required and start/finish locations. (Easyhike specialize in car relocation – the convenient option.)

We can make walking the Milford, Kepler or Routeburn Tracks easy for you by keeping your backpack light. (We deliver high quality food and gear to your accommodation before you go!)  We can also arrange your transport and answer your questions about the hike prior to the day you set out. 

Routeburn Track Easyhike
Hollyford Face, Routeburn Track, Fiordland

Your part in all of this is preparing your body.  The more prepared you are with your personal fitness, the more you will enjoy your hike and that is the key to getting the most out of your Great Walk.

TIP: If panning gear, food and transport is in the too hard basket or you just don’t have the time – choose our Premium Package and we will make it easy.

Where to start? Jump in, boots and all!

Start at the bottom! Well – at your feet!  Having happy feet makes all the difference.  Decent quality hiking boots with good quality ankle support is where you start. 

‘Wear them in’ on training walks well before your hiking holiday so any potential rub spots or blisters can be addressed early on.  Boots should fit well and feel comfortable.  Pull them on and start your training!  All your walking should be done in the footwear you choose to bring for your Great Walk.

TIP: Here is our video on how to choose boots for hiking in New Zealand.

Starting your training early

To achieve a level of fitness required for a Great Walk, you should start regular walking at least 3 months before your hike.

Second Day on the Kepler Track
Second Day on the Kepler Track between Luxmore Hut and Irisburn Hut

Aim to get out and about, in your hiking footwear two to three times a week for at least 30 minutes at a time. Also, do your best to fit in one long distance hike once a week – perhaps between 10 and 20 kms and over a variety of terrain to prepare for a great walk.

TIP: Plan your long walks with friends and family to get out and visit new places. Why not take a picnic?

Build up your stamina

All three of the Great Walks in Fiordland have Alpine Passes – there will be steep sections!  The tracks here are a combination of flat and undulating bush walking, steep hills (with steep descents) and high alpine rocky trails.

Start your training slowly.  Build up to include stairs and hill work on longer walks.  Stair climbing is one of the best types of training you can do to prepare your legs for walking in New Zealand. 

TIP: Working on a mixture of terrains and building up your walks over time will pay dividends when you get out into the Fiordland National Park. 

Wear a backpack to prepare for a Great Walk

Carry a backpack with you while you hike so that you become accustomed to the changes it can present with weight and balance.  Start with just a few Kilograms in the pack and over time, increase the weight you are carrying (just add more water bottles!) so that you are trail ready! 

Routeburn Track – Alpine Section

If you work up towards 10 or 15 kgs during your training – you should be well prepared for your Great Walk.  The food and gear Easyhike deliver is usually about 7-8 kg’s.  On top of this you would just add a few clothes and personal belongings and often our client’s backpacks are around 10kgs when ready for the trail.

TIP: Keep your backpack light for the Great Walk! I mean… why not? There is no need to carry that entire tube of toothpaste or a large bar of soap. Get creative!

Go out in all weather

Milford Winter Walking
Milford Track on a rainy day

Fiordland can be wet so why not get out and train in the rain? It can be very therapeutic hearing the rain on the hood of your rain jacket while out walking.

So pull on those boots and get out there in the wet. It is likely you will hike at least one day of your multi day walk in wet weather, so you might as well embrace the weather and walk regardless of blue skies or pouring rain. (Remember it is also important you look after yourself!)

TIP: Invest in a good quality shell rain jacket with a rating of at least 10,000mm. This will be light to carry, and keep you dry longer.

Take Care of yourself

This is most important – do not ignore aches and pains.  Don’t push yourself too hard too soon, and start sooner rather than later to build up your training and strength gradually.  Then you can take time off to recover if you experience any injuries.

Drink and eat regularly to keep yourself going and remember that hiking is FUN. Get out to new places, make new friends and reconnect with loves ones.

The Great Walks provide us all an opportunity to experience spectacular landscapes and breathe fresh air.  They are also a great way to reconnect with ourselves and nature to create the best kind of holiday memories!  

Questions? Comments? Get in touch! We are helpful, friendly and want you to have a great experience hiking in Fiordland. If you feel like it’s all just a bit too hard, reach out to us and we can help you get there. Email us