New Zealand Hiking and Tramping Etiquette

follow trail etiquette

New Zealand trail etiquette is pretty much the same as other countries, but it does have a few unique trail etiquette rules. On popular hikes like the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, you will find that many hikers are not aware of trail etiquette.

1. Stay to the left

Act like you are driving a car when you are hiking, and the trail is the road. Walk on the left-hand side of the track. Pass slow hikers on the right-hand side of the track.

2. Uphill has the right of way

It is traditionally harder to lose momentum and restart. The uphill hiker has the right of way because of this. Sometimes the uphill hiker will stop and use the break as a chance to catch their breath, but do not assume they will or make them.

long line of hikers on Tongariro Crossing

3. Give way to faster hikers

If the trail is narrow, slow hikers should move aside for faster hikers. If the path is wide, slower hikers should walk on the left with enough room for faster hikers to pass on the right.

4. Yielding: mountain bikers to hikers, everyone to horses

Mountain bikers should dismount and yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should move aside for horses. It is common courtesy to ask the horseback rider where they want you to avoid startling the horse.

There is etiquette on yielding

5. Listen to music with headphones

If you’re going to listen to music on the trail, listen to it so that no one else needs to hear it by using headphones. Do not use speakers while on the trail.

6. Step out of trail when taking a break

Do not take a break in the center of the path. Step to the side so other hikers can pass you without moving from the trail.

7. Do not take shortcuts

The DoC does a fantastic job keeping New Zealand’s trails in good condition. Shortcuts often increase erosion and cause human impact on a larger area. In some regions leaving the track can increase the spread of Kauri dieback disease. Stick to the trails.

move aside on your trail

8. Remove your rubbish

Take all of your rubbish including organic materials like apple cores, orange skins, and banana peels with you.


What are your experiences with New Zealand Trail Etiquette?  Check out our guide on avoiding crowds on popular tracks.

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