Great country, great walks.

Comparable in size to the UK, but with a population of only four million, New Zealand is one of the world's least crowded countries. Even after the huge increase in tourism since that thinly-disguised tourist board promotion known to some people as The Lord of the Rings films. The country's spectacularly beautiful landscapes - mountain ranges, huge lakes, active volcanoes, glacier-carved fjords, sweeping coastlines and pristine forests - were the perfect backdrop to the action in the movies, and often completely stole the show from acting that was occasionally more wooden than the scenery. Sorry, Orlando.

Tramping around

With more than a third of the country protected by National Parks, New Zealand is a playground for action men and women (and elves), with outdoor activities galore such as kayaking, abseiling, rafting, sailing, heli-skiing and climbing on offer. But the best of all the ways to explore might be walking - or tramping as it's known in these parts.

Does what it says on the tin

With that in mind the Kiwis have kindly come up with a series of Great Walks, which do exactly what they say on the tin. In a country with this much dramatic scenery it must have been a difficult meeting when the Department of Conservation sat down to choose exactly which parts of the country would qualify. The nine that made it are dotted around the country and should you have the time and inclination could make for a walking tour of epic proportions, but even most time restricted visitors manage to incorporate at least a section of one or other.

The best bits?

The best bits? Genuinely difficult to choose, but there's a reason the Milford Track through the beautiful Fiordland National Park is known as 'the finest walk in the world.' Elsewhere, the Tongariro Northern Circuit passes through volcanic craters and glacial valleys and there's even a Great Paddle in there - The Whanganui Journey canoe trip from Taumarunui to Pipiriki along the Whanganui River.