New Zealand’s landscapes are nothing short of spectacular, especially when explored on foot. Whether you would prefer a short easy walk of half an hour through native bush to a deserted waterfall or a day walk on one of New Zealand’s most famous tracks, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to explore the great outdoors.
Abel Tasman, Tongariro and Mount Cook National Parks are the big names when it comes to walking in New Zealand but our friendly Kiwi guides are experts when it comes to knowing the other less well known local tracks on offer. To get you inspired, we’ve put together a collection of easy going & beautiful short walks that can be enjoyed as a part your MoaTrek small group tour.
Our favourite short easy walks in New Zealand
One thing lots of people tell us they love about our tours is the opportunity to get outside and walk in so many different places along the way. Here are our favourite walks from the trip, from short walks of under an hour to a full day's hiking, if you're a walker you'll love every single one!
Flagstaff Hill - Russell, Northland
A meandering walk offering both fascinating history and great views, this is a great option after your included cruise on the Bay of Islands. Journey through native forest and then up to one of New Zealand’s most historic sites – Flagstaff Hill . The track begins near the boat ramp on The Strand in Russell, and there are high tide and low tide options. Chat to your friendly Kiwi guide to see which one is most suitable.
Golden tussock, imposing volcanoes and thundering waterfalls characterize Tongariro Plateau, and exploring here on foot is incredibly rewarding. Hike a 2 hour-return loop to the Taranaki Falls, where water tumbles 20 metres over the edge of a huge lava flow – left over from when Mount Ruapehu erupted 15,000 years ago. There are a number of other shorter or slightly longer tracks in the area if you would prefer something different; simply ask your friendly Kiwi guide.
Grade – easy. Length 6 km (3.7miles). Time – 2 hours return.
Abel Tasman Coastal Walk
Always one of our favourite days out on tour is the boat cruise combined with a stunning coastal walk in Abel Tasman National Park. Hike on a well-formed track through native forest and up to a headland for panoramic views over the park’s golden beaches and coastline. If you don’t feel like a walk today that’s not a problem as you can continue cruising on the boat before relaxing at Golden Bay.
Grade – easy. Length 4 km (2.4 miles). Walking time – 2 hours (point to point; transport via water taxi).
Kea Point Track - Aoraki Mt Cook National Park
Explore the foothills and dramatic mountainscapes of Aoraki Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain, on the Kea Point Track. Aoraki means ‘cloud piercer’ in Maori, and this mountain certainly lives up to its name. Gently winding its way through golden grasslands to the Mueller Glacier moraine wall, the Kea Point trail showcases panoramic views of Mount Sefton, Hooker Valley, Mueller Glacier Lake and soaring Aoraki/Mount Cook itself.
One of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’, the Routeburn Track is a walker’s paradise. Jewel-hued lakes, lush valleys and snow-capped peaks make this one of New Zealand’s most special trails. A day hike on the Routeburn is the perfect way to experience this outdoor wonderland in a shorter amount of time. From Queenstown, you’ll travel to Glenorchy before hiking through misty beech forests to reach the Routeburn Flats or even further on up to Falls. This walk is available as an optional extra during our stay in Queenstown.
Grade – easy/medium. Length – 8km (5 miles). Time – 6 to 8 hours.
Mt Iron - Wanaka
A towering, glacier-carved rocky knoll, Mt Iron rises nearly 250m (820 feet) above Wanaka and its surrounds. As you would expect, the view from the top is mind blowing: Walkers are rewarded with 360-degree views of the Southern Alps, Lake Wanaka, the Pisa range and the Upper Clutha Basin. Best of all, the start of the track is only 2km (1.24 miles) from town.
This easy track leads to bright blue, crystal-clear pools, carved out of rocks by centuries of erosion and fed by glaciers. Journeying along a gravel path as well as boardwalks, walkers explore a native silver beech forest before crossing a swing bridge above the Makarora River. The views of mountains from the swing bridge are breath taking. The trail then winds further into a forest full of the call of bellbirds and tui to reach the blue pools. Because the water in the pools is so transparent, the resident brown trout look like they are suspended in thin air!
Have you ever seen photos of New Zealand’s Southern Alps reflected in a lake so still it could be a mirror? It’s likely they would have been taken at Lake Matheson on the West Coast, a place famous for its mirror views of Aoraki/Mount Cook. This easy, flat walk winds its way through lush forest to circumnavigate the lake, which was formed 14,000 years ago when Fox Glacier retreated from the sea. Mo from MoaTrek loves this walk – “Mirror-like, towering mountain views and a flat, forested trail – the trail around Lake Matheson is hard to beat!”
There are also a couple of shorter options here too, to the first lookout (30-40 minutes return) or the "View of views" (about 1 hour return, less if you're fast!)
Franz Josef Glacier Track - Westland
One of the best places for easy walking access to our glaciers. A really well graded track, flat at the start but with a few short climbs to keep you honest before you get to the glacier views. You start in the rainforest and then break out into the middle of the U shaped glacial valley, it's mother nature's work at its finest! Be careful of the weather here, there are a few streams you'll need to walk over and they can rise very quickly at any time. Full information available from your guide or at the Franz Josef information centre.
Grade - moderate. Length - 5.5 km (3 miles). Time - 1.5 hours return.
Arthur's Pass Walking Track
Right in the heart of the Southern Alps, you're literally right on the Main Divide, this short walk is a perfect way to break up a journey across the Great Alpine Highway and thanks to the brand new track DOC have put in for us, it's really easy going. What we love to do on our tours is start at the Temple Basin car park, cross the road with care, then follow the gentle downhill track (we love that bit) through the alpine meadow then into the beech forest to the other end of the track. Highlights are amazing Mt Cook Lilies in season, views of Mt Rollestion and it's glaciers plus the short side walk to the Bealey chasm.
Grade - easy. Length - 1.6 km (1 mile). Time - 30 minutes one way.
One of the great things about touring around New Zealand is that there are so many great walks everywhere, they're really easy to get to, excellent facilities, national parks in New Zealand have no entry fees either. If walking is your thing then you'll feel like New Zealand was tailor made just for you. Talk to one of the friendly MoaTrek team now to find out more about all the fun people have on our small group tours, with lots of walking and more.
The ultimate New Zealand small group itinerary, this is the very best of our country. Milford Sound, Queenstown, Mt Cook, Abel Tasman, Tongariro, Rotorua, the Bay of Islands and a few more surprises. Small friendly groups led by our expert Kiwi Guides.