It’s official – New Zealand is now home to the one of the world’s longest and most spectacular walking trails.

Spanning from Cape Reinga at the top of the North Island to Bluff at the bottom of the South Island, the newly opened Te Araroa (Long Pathway) walking trail is just over 3000 kilometers long and passes through more than 60 towns, six cities, including Wellington (the capital city), and some of New Zealand’s most historic, scenic, and spiritual locations.

Intrepid hikers have calculated that it would take up to three months to complete the journey from top to bottom. But not everyone has the time or the energy to walk the entire trail. Thankfully, the trail is formed from a patchwork of regional pathways that allow shorter treks that will please both leisure and serious walkers.

Many of New Zealand’s already well-known walkways, such as the central North Island’s Tongariro Crossing (featured in the Lord of the Rings trilogy), are part of the Te Araroa trail.

Geoff Chapple, the man who first envisioned the trail over two decades ago and has remained the main driving force behind its creation, has released a walking guidebook to Te Araroa to coincide with the opening of the trail.

(Image of Tongariro Crossing from flickr shardin1n)