New Zealand's tracks less-travelled
The Milford Track gets all the press - and consequently has the most expensive license - but there's plenty of other wondrous ways through New Zealand's wilderness.
The Hollyford track takes you through beech forest into the true Deep South of New Zealand and onto the West Coast beaches, remote and wild . It was one of my first tramps I took with my Dad, so it's special to me. I had new boots and didn't load my pack correctly so I got blisters all over my feet. But the smell of the beech forests, the untamed West Coast beaches and the amazing clear air of the Deep South - it's got to be the best in the world - made it all worthwhile.
I also loved doing the Able Tasman at the tip of the South Island, which is easier then the Hollyford. There are plenty of good huts, the beaches are wonderful, and the walking isn't hard. You can also kayak alongside the route of the track as the sea is generally calm all year long.
In New Zealand we call it tramping rather than hiking, and most New Zealanders do it by themselves rather than going on guided tramps. However, on the Hollyford it pays to go guided as it's a hard tramp and you need to organise getting to it and out again. Or you can do as I did and go with someone who knows about tramping. The Abel Tasman's a very accessible hike: if you have a reasonable fitness level you'll be fine.
The best time of the year to go tramping is in late spring and summer - that way you'll avoid the worst of the rain and mud (some parts of the Hollyford can get bogged down in winter) and you'll be able to swim the beaches along the Abel Tasman (the West Coast beaches along the Hollyford, however, are pretty wild and woolly even in summer!).