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The most beautiful running trails of New Zealand

Adrian Pirlet is a 20 year old Swiss Instagrammer and Graphic Designer with a passion for fitness. Born in the heart of the Alps, he is no stranger to beautiful landscapes, and so with the On Cloudventure and his camera, Adrian headed to New Zealand to discover these legendary trails for himself.

As a country much like Switzerland in many ways, New Zealand is constantly held-up by trail runners - and in fact, runners of all kind – as home to some of the most stunning running routes in the world. Sprawling mountain ways, pristine forest paths, sea-side roads and snow covered tracks – often all that you can experience along the same run. Alongside that, reports from the World Health Organization list New Zealand as having amongst the cleanest air in the world, adding to the already long list of reasons to head there and find out.


The below photos were all captured over two weeks exploring local running and trail routes. Names of places and specific running routes are featured below each image.

Tropical rain-forest near the famous Franz-Joseph Glacier gave us a glance of dense canopy and humidity. To think this is so close to the mountains, open roads and sea-side routes shows the diversity of this incredible land.
A long, lonely road in Omarama, heading towards it’s well-known rock formation the Clay Cliffs. Running along this dusty road in the changing light as the seasons - reminiscent of spring running back amongst the Alps.
The open, deserted roads gives your running rhythm. With nothing but natural beauty and bitumen for stretches on end, you find yourself lost in wonder and thought.
After a few rainy, windy, snowy, cold (and then very hot) days in the Mt.Cook National Park. New Zealand lived up to its reputation of being able to bring you all four seasons in a day, with the same trails feeling vastly different day to day.
Mount John Observatory near Lake Tekapo (south island). Not only does is make for the best night sky in New Zealand but also gifts you with tracks to explore around the lake and beautiful views on the southernmost peaks.
Tongariro national park, a UNESCO listed site, hides a volcanic spectacle behind the heavy mist of its peaks, transporting runners to a dream-like scene.
The views of the Mount Ben Lomond track outside of Queenstown – one of the most recommended to us by all New Zealand locals we spoke to, with a huge variety and landscapes, trails and routes to explore.
The “Skyline” route across Wanaka - a tough 10-hour hike that’s well worth it with the views scattered along it. A definite must do for anyone with New Zealand on the bucket list.
Of course, New Zealand is known for being the backdrop of the Lord of the Rings movies – with the trails of Wanaka truly putting you right there in that epic world.
The start of summer in New Zealand, we stumbled across some snow and stormy conditions running up Mount Ben Lomond near Queenstown. The view from the 4.5km climb was worth the unexpected conditions at the summit.
A running trail of a different kind, the trail of Aoraki. With a view of New Zealand’s highest peak, Mt.Cook, towering above, this route was unlike anything else in the world and simply an unforgettable sight. A must for runners, for hikers, for all.
A break between Lake Tekapo. Sunset while standing on the low-tide of the water makes it feel like another world, and in many ways, it is.
The daybreak clouds of New Zealand – definitely worth the early mornings to see this world of color.
Near the town of Punakaiki, the deserted beach stretches from WestPort and Greymouth. Though the mountains of New Zealand may remind runners of the Alps – the beaches are unlike anything else on the planet.
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