We use four levels of ‘difficulty’ to classify the walks we list at Peak Bagging New Zealand.
These categories are based on a number of factors, and include such things as:
- the level of fitness required
- the track conditions
- route length & time
- track steepness
- typical weather conditions
- what navigation skills are required
- amount of equipment you would need
- and the level of experience required
These difficulty gradings are somewhat subjective and are also subject to change (suggestions welcome!).
These difficulty classifications are based on fine weather, summertime conditions! For example, if you attempt a peak in high winds, mist, or cold rains, many ‘easy’ walks will become ‘medium’, and ‘hard’ or ‘very hard’ walks might just go off the scale!
Similarly, you should also consult the Seasons Explained classifications, as peaks under snow or ice automatically become mountaineering expeditions, and are outside the scope of our list.
These are typically ‘walks’. That is, they are along well marked and maintain paths or tracks, and usually can be completed within a day. These are suitable for people of all ages and abilities, and a basic level of equipment is necessary. Most of these walks can be completed in good walking shoes, as opposed to tramping boots.
Remember however, that even an ‘easy’ peak bagging expedition is going to require some upwards movement (sometimes steep), and the weather can and will change when you least expect it! A rolled ankle, losing your footing, or ‘walking arrogance’ can quickly turn an ‘easy’ walk into a search and rescue emergency.
These are good walks for entry-level trampers with minimal experience. They are often day walks, along well maintained and marked tracks. The grade of the journey will be relatively gentle, and these peaks could be attempted by those with only a moderate level of fitness. You would generally need tramping boots for these trips, and a good assortment of layered clothing. These walks may cross a few streams, or over suspension bridges, and may also involve short sections of scrambling.
A ‘hard’ walk will require a pretty good level of fitness, as these are often multiple day tramping expeditions, and you will need to carry a pack. These tramps are also likely to include some long walking days, steep sections, and/or some longer scrambles over mountain terrain. The peak may be in area notorious for bad weather, or there may be substantial amount of stream/river crossings. Peaks classified as ‘hard’ might also present some navigational challenges, with overgrown tracks through bush, or dangerous drops in misty conditions. Sometimes, these tramps may only be day walks, but their high altitude makes them dangerous in changeable weather.
Peaks classified as ‘very hard’ are usually multi-day tramps into the wilderness. A high level of fitness is required, as you would typically be carrying a lot of gear, and the terrain and tracks will be tough going.
‘Very hard’ routes require a good level of experience in navigation and routefinding through New Zealand’s backcountry and mountains, as the way will often be unmarked. You will also often need to be skilled at crossing rivers, have a good head for heights, and have no aversion to scrambling.
It is recommended that you attempt these peaks with an experienced tramper.