Plan your trip
Whether you have two or three days to fully explore the trails or you're taking a short group tour, you'll get the most out of your trip if you plan ahead.
Plan your trip
Top travel tips
Use a GPS
Navigation can be hard, especially in these parts of France and Belgium where the landscape is flat with not many visible landmarks. The road systems can be complex - so double check that a GPS is included with your rental - or bring your own.
Bring a decent pair of headphones to experience the audio stories without disturbance.
Base yourself in Ieper or Arras
The main trails and key sites are a day trip from these cities, so staying in either city will take the hassle out of your travel.
Avoid tourist traps
In towns, venture beyond the main squares to avoid the tourist traps and discover better restaurants, cafés and bars.
The White Van Rule
A white tradesman’s van parked outside an establishment usually indicates a great lunch!
Be aware of unexploded shells
These are still found regularly in France and Belgium - especially in fields - so never pick up any unidentified objects while travelling these sites. Don’t purchase any ammunition souvenirs either!
Don’t venture off main roads or paths
Use caution when stopping on the side of the road. Be aware of trucks, cars, farm vehicles, and cyclists. Bring a high-visibility vest to wear when walking near roads.
Pack wet weather gear
Bring a rain jacket, an umbrella, and choose sturdy, wet-weather shoes - as these parts of Belgium and France experience frequent rainfall.
Ngā Tapuwae Western Front trails
The trails are based around nearby towns. From Ieper, Arras or Salisbury, you can begin your journey - choosing trails to suit.
In and around Ieper, Belgium
A small and vibrant town, leper is an ideal location to base yourself. With its rich history and many museums, you can easily visit the battle sites of Passchendaele, Polygon Wood, Messines, and Plugstreet.
1. Behind the lines
Learn about the New Zealand effort in Ypres and Poperinge, find out about how the hospitals and transport systems worked, and see evidence of the soldiers’ sacrifice in the many cemeteries.
Find out about the preparations for the New Zealand and British assault, see the landscape over which the soldiers advanced, and learn how the Germans inflicted defeat upon the Allies - causing New Zealand’s darkest day.
3. Polygon Wood
The New Zealand Division wintered here after their defeat at Passchendaele. They prepared for an attack on Polderhoek Chateau and trained in anticipation of the impending German offensive.
See the remaining German bunkers where much fighting took place, hear about the painstaking preparations, the huge mine explosions and the attack in which the New Zealanders took Messines village - resulting in complete victory.
Learn about the soldiers’ lives billeting near the town of Armentières and their interaction with locals. At Plugstreet, find out about life underground, and the battle at La Basseville.
In and around Arras, France
Arras is famous for its Flemish Baroque houses, underground tunnels and caverns, and it was here that ‘Bloody April’ was fought in the skies between British and German pilots. Staying in Arras is perfect for travelling to the nearby Somme battle sites of 1916 and 1918 and for visiting the town of Le Quesnoy.
Learn about the New Zealand Tunnelling Company and the famous underground tunnels. Visit the memorial, the fortress walls designed by Vauban, hear about the war in the air, and see the cost of the fighting at Faubourg d’Amiens Cemetery.
7. Somme 1916
Discover where the New Zealanders launched their first major attack - supported by tanks. Visit the Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, the outskirts of Flers where the battle continued, and the Warlencourt Cemetery where many of those who fought are buried.
8. Somme 1918
Hear about the battles to hold off the advancing Germans, travel to where the New Zealanders pushed forward, fighting the Germans back, through Rossignol Wood, Bapaume and beyond.
9. Road to Le Quesnoy
Follow the New Zealanders in the last weeks of the war as they advanced through Havrincourt and Crèvecœur - eventually taking the town of Le Quesnoy in a daring attack.
In and around Salisbury, UK
Staying in Salisbury provides you with an excellent opportunity to explore the locations of both Brockenhurst and Bulford. Brockenhurst was home to the No.1 New Zealand General Hospital and other medical facilities, and Bulford was the site of Sling Camp, where many New Zealanders completed their training before departing for the Western Front.
Learn about how this area became an enormous medical complex run by New Zealanders, where over 20,000 soldiers passed through. Later, drive to Bulford and learn about how recruits were trained at Sling Camp and see the famous giant chalk Kiwi.