Short walks in New Zealand

Love getting outside for lots of short walks whenever you travel? So do we and luckily for you, New Zealand is a walker’s paradise, from strolls around the cities and towns you visit, to the best New Zealand day walks right outside your doorstep in landscapes that belong in a postcard. We’re not talking about hard core multi day hiking adventures, or even full day walks, but great little strolls from 1 to 4 hours, the kind of walk that just slots right into any day on your New Zealand trip really easily. If you’re anything like us, we’ve noticed that as we get a little older we’re much preferring a long walk in the evening than going down to the pub (unless the rugby’s on, of course!). 

Growing up and holidaying all over New Zealand as kids, we’ve walked a mile or two in and around all the best holiday spots in the country. Here’s our pick for the best short walks in New Zealand, great tracks and routes that are super easy to get to, accessible for anyone with moderate health and fitness, walks you don’t need any special gear for and we may even tempt you to stop for coffee or dessert on the way!

This is by no means an exhaustive list here, just an introduction of some of our favourite short walks we know you’ll love on your trip around New Zealand. Walks you can do early in the morning or at the end of the day, walks that we’ve done many times ourselves when we’re on holiday and ones friends visiting from overseas tell us they love too. Walk on…

Short walks in Auckland

Auckland’s a great walking city, and getting better every day! We live here and are walking around all the time, here are a couple of our favourites you can get to really easily from the CBD. One Auckland city walk, and another really close by, which combines getting out on the water with visiting one of Auckland’s favourite neighbourhoods.

Our favourite Auckland City Walk – Viaduct Harbour, Wynyard Quarter, Westhaven Marina, Herne Bay, Ponsonby, Victoria Park.

This is the walk we recommend for friends arriving in town from overseas who are still getting over jet lag, especially if they’re staying right downtown or in the viaduct. This walk really shows off how scenic Auckland is, with the iconic America’s Cup Viaduct, Harbour Bridge, Waitemata Harbour and the best views of the city from College Hill. Warning – plenty of distractions on route, cafes, restaurants and even a bit of retail therapy up in Ponsonby. This is a real slice of life of Auckland right here, make a stroll round this loop and you’ll see why Auckland is voted one of the world’s most liveable cities.

This is a 6km / 4 mile loop that you can walk around easily in one hour, but we like to take our time and poke our nose in to a few places on the way, it’s a very happy 2 hours if your idea of a great walk is to stop for drinks and snacks along the way.

Kiwi Tip – Walk ‘anti clockwise’, i.e., start in the viaduct, then go over the bridge to the Wynyard Quarter, then around the harbour before climbing up to Herne Bay and Ponsonby, this way you’ll get the best views of the city walking down College Hill. Stop in and check out the refurbished Victoria Park markets at the bottom of the hill or grab a drink or dinner in the historic Birdcage Tavern, long time favourites with Auckland old timers like us!

Auckland Walks – Devonport, North Head and Cheltenham Beach.

After arriving in Auckland on a long flight, this is the perfect tonic and a pretty awesome first day in New Zealand, you’ll get out on the stunning Waitemata Harbour and love a stroll around one of Auckland’s most iconic neighbourhoods. This is where we find ourselves going when we’ve got family from other parts of New Zealand visiting, you’re only 10 minutes from the CBD but it feels a world away! The Ferry Building is right down the bottom of Queen Street, just a few minutes walk if you’re staying somewhere central like the Viaduct. You’ll be across the harbour and into Devonport before you know it, and will feel like you’re getting off into a quaint little English seaside resort town, but with better weather!

Step off the ferry and follow King Edward Parade (told you it was English!) to the right, all along the shore towards North Head, you’ll see the grassy slopes up above. If Navy history is your thing, drop in to the Navy Museum right there at Torpedo Bay (Devonport is home of the New Zealand Navy). There are quite a few different routes around and up to North Head, but we like following the path right close to the shoreline behind the Navy Museum all the way around to Cheltenham Beach, then climbing up from that side. There are plenty of nocks and crannies to discover up top, including the old barracks, tunnels and gun batteries and of course the best views of Rangitoto Island, the Hauraki Gulf and over to the Coromandel Peninsula. You can come back down the same way you went up, but we like to walk through down Takarunga Road through the beautiful neighbourhood and back to Devonport village that way. If you’re there on a weekend keep an eye out for a local cricket match in the Domain on your right. The ice cream shop on Victoria Road a compulsory stop in summer, and while you’re sitting there with your Hokey Pokey ice cream you’ll be thinking, hey, this New Zealand is alright isn’t it!

This is a 5km / 3 mile walk that is best done with plenty of time to stop to check out whatever you see along the way, allow at least 2 hours. Devonport from the city deserves at least a half day, but on a long summer evening who wouldn’t want to take longer and stay for dinner!

Our favourite short walk in the Bay of Islands – Flagstaff Hill Track

When we’re in the Bay of Islands we always like to stay for a couple of nights to have a full day to get out on the water and exploring, including the short hop across to Russell on the ferry. If you’re staying on the Paihia side and only have a few hours in Russell, here’s a great little walk with some of the best views of the Bay of Islands and the site of some iconic New Zealand history you might not know about – the Flagstaff Hill Track. Catch the ferry over from Paihia and just walk north on the Strand, Kororareka Bay and the beaches. You’ll see the loop track signposted, take the left hand fork and climb up for 360 degree views the most famous flagpole in all New Zealand. Grab a map or ask your guide where to go, it’s pretty easy!

Walking group enjoying the views from Flagstaff Hill in the Bay of Islands

What happened on Flagstaff Hill?

After the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi just across the water in 1840, the Union Jack flew from a flagpole right on this very spot. Relations between the local Ngapuhi tribe and the British had soured, and a local chief, Hone Heke, chppped down the flagstaff here, not once, or twice, but three times. The last occasion led to the ‘Flagstaff War’ in 1845. This flagpole is a real symbol to the resistance of the Maori to the British colonisation of New Zealand.

Short walks in Rotorua

Here’s a little gem of a walk in Rotorua, perfect for starting or ending your day. There’s so much to see in Rotorua and no trip to New Zealand is complete without a visit here and no doubt you’ll be out and about discovering the area, so here’s a great little walk perfect to fit in with a day out sightseeing in Rotorua.

Our favourite Rotorua city walk: Government Gardens – Rotorua Museum – Pukeroa Hill – Ohinemutu Village – Kuirau Park

This is a great little Rotorua walk taking in the best sights in town, with plenty of options to make it a shorter or longer, to suit you. When we’re in Rotorua we always stay down on the Lakefront, and always walk down to see our friends at Ohinemutu Village and St Faiths church, poke your head in and say ‘Kia Ora’ to the locals. If you want to give the legs a good stretch out, keep walking up to Kuirau Park, a little thermal park with free entry right in the centre of town (try the foot bath). If you’re anything like us, you’ll love the window on the world walking through a city gives you, so walk down Pukuatua or Hinemoa Street all the way to the Museum and Government Gardens, there’s so much to see around here with great walking tracks right around the gardens. Inside the gardens, we always take the walk out to Sulphur Point, then back along the lakefront to our hotel.

To walk the whole loop, the distance is around 5.5 km / 3.5 miles, but you can really make as much of this as you want. If you’re like us and enjoy sticking your head in a few doors as you walk this would be a great half day, especially as you’ve got Rotorua icons like Ohinemutu Maori Village and Rotorua Museum right on route. If you like getting up early for your morning constituntional, you can tailor this loop anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours for a power walk before breakfast!

Short walks in Tongariro National Park

When you started planning your New Zealand ‘Dream Trip’, no doubt Tongariro National Park and the central volcanic plateau made it to your ‘Must-Do’ list pretty quickly, this is the easiest place in New Zealand to see our volcanoes close up, and if you’re a walker then you’ll be as happy as a clam here. We reckon the place to stay is right in Whakapapa Village, you’ve got the volcanoes right there and so many great short walks one step out your door.

Our favourite Tongariro short walks are all tracks that you can get to right from the village on foot, perfect to stretch your legs in the fresh mountain air after an afternoon arrival. Remember, this is serious mountain country so check the weather and any track info from the visitor centre or ask your guide before you head out.

Silica Rapids

A loop track from the village around to the ski field road, of around 7km / 4 miles. What you can see on this walk that you can’t see anywhere else are the creamy white rapids made up of alumino silicate, as well as alpine flora and spectacular views of Mt Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe. Tip – Either walk back to the village from the rapids or get dropped off on the start of the track from the road, this is better than walking along the road.

Taranaki Falls

Another easy loop track from the village, also with great views of the mountains and alpine flora, but this one take you to the crystal clear water of the Taranaki Falls and the gorges of the Waitere Stream, this is a 15,000 year old lava flow! If you’re there in winter the rock walls will be covered in ice, in summer you can walk right under the falls if you’re game.

These are our favourite short walks from Whakapapa Village, there are others too like the Mounds Walk, Whakaapa Nature Walk, Whakapapanui Walk and the Ridge Track, all which start from the village and are under 2 hours. If you like your short walks, you’re spoilt for choice in Tongariro!

Taranaki Falls - Short Walks in Tongariro National Park

Short walks in Napier

What’s the best town for walking in New Zealand? Hard to say, but with great weather, beautiful coastline and one of a kind architecture, you can bet Napier would be right up there. When we go to Napier on holiday, we always stay right downtown across from the beach, we reckon there’s nothing better than an afternoon or early morning walk in the Hawke’s Bay sunshine! (yep, it’s always sunny here!)

Here’s our favourite little Art Deco Walk in Napier:

Grab a map from the Art Deco centre on Tennyson Street and take your pick from the city or seafront walks, or both! The excellent heritage walk map produced by the Art Deco Trust introduces over 70 buildings and local spots, all close by and easy for you to spend anywhere from 1 – 2 hours to walk around and see as much as you want. The city side takes you up Tennyson Street to Clive Square then back down Emerson Street. The Seafront walk takes you up and down Marine Parade. There are plenty of spots to stop for a cold drink, coffee, dinner or just to enjoy the views out to the Pacific Ocean. To meet one of the locals, join the Art Deco Trust’s guide walk, or pick up a map and guide yourself round.

Kiwi Tip for your Art Deco Walk in Napier:

Look up, a lot of the building facades have their completion date stamped above verandah level. Look closely, a lot of original shop fronts, doors and headlight glazing have been used.

Walks around Wellington

You don’t get to be ‘the coolest little capital in the world’ without being a totally walkable city. Wellington is surrounded by hills, but the city centre and waterfront is really flat, and all the ingredients for a perfect city walk are right there.

Here’s how we love to stretch our legs in the capital:

Parliament Buildings & the Beehive – Wellington Railway Station – Wellington Waterfront Walk – Te Papa Museum – Waitangi Park – Oriental Parade

Any section of this walk really gives you a great insight into our capital city, from the corridors of power (Kiwi style of course), some great landmark buildings in the Wellington Railway Station and Bowen House, views of the harbour and hills, all the restored boat sheds down on the waterfront (conveniently, these are all bars and restaurants now!), the national museum at Te Papa and if you’re keen, right around to the beach and classic Kiwi waterfront neighbourhood at Oriental Bay.

To walk from Parliament House to Oriental Bay is just over 3km / 2 miles, but you’ll want to make a few stops along the way for sure. You could come back the same way, or pass right through town and grab something to eat on the way, Wellington’s really easy to navigate around as you’ve always got the harbour and the hills as reference points.

A couple of tips for walking Wellington: Check out ‘The Backbencher’ pub just near parliament for the most irreverent representations of politicans you’ll ever see and if you’re idea of a perfect walk is to combine it with tastings at Boutique Brewerys (we hear your, we hear you!) then check out the ‘Craft Beer Capital Beer Trail’. Any real ‘Kiwi Guide’ worth their salt will know this one!

Abel Tasman National Park Day Walks

You’ve all seen pictures of Abel Tasman and it’s on your ‘Must-Do’ list for travelling New Zealand, we know, it’s top of the holiday list for lots of Kiwis too! What we’ve always loved about Abel Tasman is that it’s really easy to get into the national park and there’s a water taxi that can drop you off on the Coastal Track, so you can walk the best bits with a nice light backpack, then it will come and pick you up again later in the day. Just getting there on your cruise long the coastline is stunning, and make sure you keep your eye out for seals, dolphins and even penguins on the water!

Our favourite easy Abel Tasman day walk

Awaroa Inlet to Tonga Quarry

The water taxi drops you off at Awaroa Inlet and you’re now on the Abel Tasman Coastal Track. The walk through to Tonga Quarry is about 8 km / 5 miles and there’s heaps to see so this can easily take 3-4 hours. There’s one little climb to the Awaroa Sadde (224 meters / 730 feet), other than that it’s pretty easy going on the excellent track through the forest and along the Onetahuti beach, the longest stretch of beach in the park – you would have seen pictures of this beach for sure!

Tip: Take your water shoes, there’s no wharf at Awaroa Inlet and also a few tidal crossings to make too. Take all the food, water and extra clothing you need for the day with you.

To walk a bit more in paradise, make your pickup further round the track, keep walking on to Bark Bay or Medlands Beach another 5 km / 3 miles or so. Onetahuti is the most beautiful stretch of beach on Abel Tasman, but we reckon around Bark Bay and Medlands beach is the prettiest bay in the park. Just arrange your pickup in the morning when you jump on the boat, these good Kiwi jokers will pick you up again later that day and drop you back to Kaiteriteri or Marahua, easy!

Walking in coastal Abel Tasman - Short walks around NZ

Short walks in Kaikoura

What do you do if you’re in Kaikoura, and Whale Watching isn’t your thing or you get a bit seasick out on the open ocean? Lucky for you there’s a great little walk over Kaikoura Peninsula that you will love. The best way to do this is to get someone to drop you off at the southern end of the track, at South Bay, then follow the path back to the Seal Colony at Point Kean, to get picked up again, or walk all the way back into town from there. There’s a bit of up and down on the track, especially if you walk up to the lookout at Point Keen, but it’s worth it. The walk ends at one of best places in the whole country to see the New Zealand fur seals up close and an awesome spot for photos of the Kaikoura mountains and the township.

From South Bay to Point Keen is about 4.5 km / 2.8 miles, with a few side trips like the lookout and Whalers Bay allow an hour to an hour and a half. To walk all the way back into town from Point Kean is about the same distance again but will take you under an hour, as it’s flat on on the footpath by the road.

Tip – There are actually two tracks over the penninsula, the high track and lower coastal track, you can walk them both on a big loop if you like. Check the tides or ask your guide if you’re walking the lower track.

Mt Cook Short Walks

If you’re on your dream trip to New Zealand, Aoraki Mt Cook will be on the itinerary for sure! We always stay right in at the Hermitage Hotel in the National Park Village, you’ve got the best views of Mt Cook and all the great short walks are right out the front door. Here are a couple we love and never miss when we’re visiting with friends.

Kea Point

It’s hard to believe you can walk somewhere that looks like the kind of place only adventurers can go, in just 30 minutes on a really easy track! You can walk all the way from the hotel to Kea Point, or if you’ve got wheels, from the White Horse Campground is probably better if you’re a little short on time. It’s a great track out to the lookout of the Mueller Glacier terminal lake and the perfect view of Mount Cook, Mt Sefton and all the glaciers up above you too. From the campground it’s an easy 3km / 2 mile return walk, you won’t find any more stunning scenery on an hour’s walk anywhere! From the village it’s about this same distance each way, allow two hours return, or get someone to drop you off at the campground and walk back to the hotel before dinner.

Red Tarns

This is short, but pretty steep so be warned! The vertical here is about 300m / 1000 feet and if you don’t climbing steps then this may not be the walk for you. You should be up and down within 2 hours, but take your time to take in the views, even though you’re only 1000 feet above the village it’s a totally different perspective from here. You might even be able to get the perfect reflection of Mt Cook in the reddish tarns. Share some photos from here with your friends back home and they will all think you’re off on some kind of mountaineering trip, New Zealand is great at making ’soft adventure’ look a bit harder than it really is.

These are our two favourite short walks in Mt Cook, we reckon coming here is all about the mountain views! There are a few more bush walks right around the village too, like the Governors Bush, Bowen Bush and Glencoe Walks, all under an hour and right outside the Hermitage Hotel.

Walking at Mt Cook - Short walks around NZ

Short Walks in Queenstown

Another town that would be right up there in the most walkable town in New Zealand category, Queenstown is not only a great little town for getting around on foot, you’ll also be treated to scenery that will make you want to move here (to cure that just walk past the real estate offices!). Queenstown’s been a favourite holiday spot for us Kiwis for ages, and part of what we all love about Queenstown is all the amazing short walks right around town. , Here are a couple of our favourite Queenstown short walks, starting from right down in the town centre and a perfect addition to a day on your holiday.

Queenstown Gardens and Frankton Arm Track

Just walk down to the lake at the bottom of Queenstown mall, turn left and follow your nose into the gardens. The track goes over a little bridge and into the gardens, leading you all the way around the little peninsula. Don’t forget your camera, right up the end of the gardens looking down the lake is a view that will make all your friends back home wish they were here too (a little holiday envy from your friends is OK, it will motivate them to come visit too, you’re not showing off, you’re helping them!) Around the other side of the gardens the views keep getting better, from the south side of the park you’re looking over at Queenstown’s ‘view of views’, the Remarkables! The track surface is excellent and really easy to follow all the way up the Frankton Arm, towards the airport. It’s a shared cycle / walking track from here, Queenstowners love their shared paths. Our favourite little spot along the track for a break is the Boatshed Cafe, stop and say hi to our friends Hal & Jane and grab a coffee or lunch. You can walk back the way you came or head up to the bus stop up on the road and whizz back into town that way too.

From the bottom of Queenstown mall to the Boasted Cafe, with a loop of the Gardens thrown in, is just over 6km / 3.7 miles, an hour and a half’s walking at an easy pace.

Queenstown Hill

This is a ‘short walk’ with a pretty honest climb to some of the best views in all of Queenstown. It’s a sligthly different perspective from the top of the Gondola, just as impressive but the real advantage here is that the only pepole you’ll be sharing this view with are other walkers. It can be a bit confusing to get to the start of the track, so grab a map or get a local to drop you off at the trailhead. Once you’re there, it’s easy as just to follow the track up the zig zags through the pineforest and before long you’ll pop out of the trees and WOW, all the views just open up. Up on top of the hill there’s a little loop track to give you just the right photo of every single angle, the Remarkables and down to the southern end of the lake, Walter and Cecil Peaks, Ben Lomond and all the way round to Coronet Peak.

The track is actually called ‘the Queenstown Time Walk’, with informative panels spread along the route, with each step you make you learn a little about the history of the area too. At the top on the loop track, is the ‘Dream Basket’, in the perfect spot for you to lay back and just dream for a while under the big New Zealand sky!

From the track start on Belfast Terrace, all the way to the top, round the loop and back again is under 4 km / 2.5 miles, but you will need to add another half mile or so to this if you’re walking from town. The elevation gain from the start of the track to the top is around 500 metres / 1600 feet, these are views you have to earn the old fashioned way!

Both these short walks in Queenstown are really easily to get to and will redefine your idea of scenic walks. Get ready to re order your ‘most beautiful places I’ve been’ list, Queenstown tops them all!

Wanaka Short Walks

There are so many walks to choose from in Wanaka, so here a few of our favourites which are super easy to get to from where we love to stay in Wanaka, the Edgewater Resort.

Waterfall Creek

If you’re staying at Edgewater, or close to the centre of town, this walk is literally right out your door. The track goes from town right along the lake edge, past Edgewater, and on to Rippon Vineyard all the way to Waterfall Creek. It’s got all the ingredients for a great short afternoon walk and if you like your ‘luxury walks’ then how about stopping along for a coffee at Edgewater or a wine tasting at Rippon? The track continues on the the MIllenuim Track and all the way to Roy’s peak too. From town to Waterfall Creek is about 2.5 km / 1.5 miles, flat easy walking all the way so it’s not even an hour.

Oh, almost forgot, you’ll walk right past ’That Wanaka Tree’, the Wanaka photo that went viral recently: (#thatwanakatree)

Mt Iron

The best views around on a short walk, the Mt Iron walk is under 2 hours, close to town and give you the best elevated views of Lake Wanaka and Mount Aspiring National Park, this is it! You can walk from the edge of town, but getting dropped off at the track will make it much easier. You can either walk the loop or go up and back from one of the three entry points, you definitely want to get to the top though! Walk down into town for dinner on the Lakefront afterwards. You’ll see why so many Kiwis love the Wanaka lifestyle! The whole loop is 4.5 km / 3 miles and the climb is about a 250 metres / 800 feet, so you’ll earn these views too!

Short walks in Glacier Country

On your Kiwi holiday, if you’re heading up the West Coast from Wanaka or Queenstown, you’ll pass right through ‘Glacier Country’ and probably spend a night or two, that’s what we always do. This is one of those Kiwi spots that all the locals seem to take for granted, yeah, we’ve got rainforest, glacier and beach all around here, no big deal, but humble Kiwi-ness aside, we say ‘Yes big deal!’ and you will too, so getting out and walking amongst it all is a must, and with a little knowhow it’s all right there.

Our favourite short walks around Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers

Fox Glacier Terminal Track / Te Weheka Walkway

Rainforest and glacier on the same short walk? Yep, easy as you like, you can do this from Fox Glacier township even. The new Te Weheka Walkway is dual cycle / walking track through rainforest as far as the Fox Glacier main carpark, then dedicated walking access out through the main glacial valley. Keep your eye out on the way up for the signs showing where the glacier was at different years, quite sobering!

Return from town is 8.4 km / 5 miles, if you’re just walking in from the main carpark it’s much less than this and often access is controlled by the Department of Conservation staff to keep us all safe.

Lake Matheson Track

Just out of Fox Glacier township, down the Cook Flat road, is the Lake Matheson loop track. It’s a pretty popular walk, but what’s great about it is that it’s a loop, meaning everyone’s going the same way. Lush rainforest all the way, the famous views of Mt Cook and Mt Tasman reflecting in the water from the far end of the lake – at Reflection Island or ‘the View of Views’. Stop in at the Matheson Cafe after your walk for a break on the deck, best views in town! The Lake Matheson track is about 3.3 km / 2 miles return from the cafe, pretty flat but of course nothing in New Zealand is entirely flat!

Franz Josef Terminal Track

This is a bit more of a hike than the Fox Glacier terminal walk, and probably more stunning views of the glacier too. Rainforest and glacier on the same track here as well, with a few more side tracks to poke your nose up on the way. The contrast is amazing, one minute you’re in the lush green forest with moss dangling from the trees, the next you’re out in the middle of a glacial valley with sheer rock walls towering above you on each side! For real contrast on a walk, you don’t get better than this.

The return walk here is about 5.5 kilometres / 3.4 miles, you do walk out on the rocky valley floor, it’s an easy walk for any keen walker but make sure you’ve got your sturdy walking shoes on.

Okarito Trig Walk

Down by the beach, at the little settlement of Okarito, is this brilliant short walk, a little climb that will give you the most amazing panorama of everywhere you’ve been in Glacier Country – Okarito Lagoon, Franz Josef Glacier, the rainforest and the coast and of course Mount Cook and the Southern Alps. Around and hour and half to two hours will give you plenty of time to climb up to the peak to the lookout! When we’re visiting with friends, we reckon this walk after a glacier hike or kayaking on Okarito lagoon is the perfect way to spend the day on the coast.

Terrace Glow Worm Walk Franz Josef

Like a little evening stroll? We do to, and here’s a great short walk right in Franz Josef you’ll love, especially if you haven’t seen glow worms on your trip yet. The track starts right near the Visitor Centre in town, get a local or your guide to point you in the right direction. Old growth forest, old gold mine tailings and glow worms at night on this perfect after dinner walk. You’ll only need half an hour or so for the 1.8 km / 1.1 mile return walk.

Walking up the glacial valley at Franz Josef - Short walks around NZ

Punakaiki Short Walks

This is one of our favourite spots in the whole country, especially as we always visit right at the end of our trip round the South Island. We just love the towering limestone cliffs and nikau palm trees and of course the pancake rocks and the beach, the perfect place to look back on all our Kiwi holiday memories and exchange addresses with our new friends. There are a couple of walks we always tell friends visiting from overseas not to miss when they’re here:

Pancake Rocks

You’ve probably heard about the rocks and we reckon they’re a must see, but take our tip and head out in the evening after all the day visitors have gone. Time it right to see the blowholes in action and of course, this is the West Coast, the right side of the island for amazing sunsets. There’s a really easy to follow boardwalk track right opposite the visitor centre, about a 5 minute walk up the hill from Punakaiki Resort. The track is boardwalk the whole way, making it a super easy 1.1 km / 0.7 miles. We always like to take our time (and lots of photos) so usually cruise around in half an hour.

Truman Track

This is one of those ‘are you serious New Zealand?’ type of short walks. Sub tropical rainforest, tree ferns, native palms, wildlife and then bang, you’re out on a pristine beach with amazing views stretching as far as the eye can see. A short jaunt, just 1.2 km / 3/4 of a mile return, so perfect to fit in before dinner or as a little leg stretcher to break up your journey. You’ll only need half an hour or so for the walking, but you just might want to explore the beach in low tide! The Truman track is 3km / 2 miles on the north side of town, so you’ll need to have transport out here, and it will be worth it!

Pororari River Track

Stand on the bridge over the Pororari River and look inland up the valley, does that not look like paradise to you? We reckon there are probably still dinosaurs up there, it looks positively prehistoric. If you’ve got anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours, there are some great short walks starting right here opposite the Punakaiki pub (which comes in very handy after your walk!). We’ve walked on this track with lots of people who have just arrived in New Zealand, and the first hour or so up the Pororari River will make you feel like you’re in another world – the ferns, native palms, towering limestone cliffs and pristine waters of the river will chill you right out! You can walk back the same way you came (see above reference to pub), or climb the little pass over to the Punakaiki River to finish right opposite the resort.

It’s a flat walk up the valley to the junction with the Inland Pack Track, the little rocky beach here is the perfect spot for a cup of tea. Return to here is 7 km / 4 miles, two hours is plenty of time for this. To walk the loop the Punakaiki River is 11km / 7 miles, 2- 3 hours with breaks.

Sunset walking on the beach near Punakaiki - Short walks around NZ

Arthur’s Pass Day Walks

If you’re travelling between the West Coast and Christchurch we always love to take our time and make a day of it. There’s so much to see and some excellent short walks in Arthur’s Pass and on the ‘Great Alpine Highway’ through the high country.

We’ve done this road literally hundreds of times with friends visiting and on holidays as kids, and here are our picks, from West to East.

The Arthur’s Pass Walking Track (from the Temple Basin Carpark to the Bealey Valley carpark). A great walk to break up your journey, this is a pretty new track and one the best places in the whole country to see flowering Mt Cook Lillies without having to walk a long way. Start from the Temple Basin carpark, take care crossing the road, then follow your nose up the track just a few hundred yards, this is where all the flowers bloom. Then head down the track with Mt Rolleston on your right before dropping back into the beech forest for robins and bellbirds. Best done with someone dropping you off at the top and picking you up at the bottom.

This section of the track will only take you 20 minutes, you can actually walk all the way back into the village now, passing by the Bridal Veil and Punchbowl Falls tracks. From the top of the pass back to the village, all up it’s 3.4 km / just over 2 miles and it would take about an hour and a half.

Devils Punchbowl Waterfall

One of the most popular Arthur’s Pass Day Walks, you can walk right from the village centre, over the bridge then little climb the steps up on the way into the viewing platform at the base of the falls. Now you tell us what you think, but we’ve been in here hundreds of times over the years and there’s just some kind of energy here that’s hard to explain. The falls are named after Hinekakai, the daughter of a local maori chief, the falls representing her long flowing hair, maybe that’s it? It’s just an hour return for the

On the Road back to Christchurch

Trust us on this one, you absolutely have to stop at these two short walks, you must!

Cave Stream

If the rocks and mountains around here look familiar, you may have seen them in the Chronicles of Narnia, this is where it was filmed. There is an excellent network of short tracks here, right up to the entrance to Cave Stream. You’ll see Kiwi school groups heading through all kitted up for the cold water, but you don’t have to do that. Just a short stroll here of 15-20 minutes is a perfect little break up of the journey. We reckon standing right here is one of the best panorama photos anywhere in New Zealand, tell us what you think!

Castle Hill

The second of our little ‘power spots’ and another ‘must-see’ stop on the way back to Christchurch. Google a picture of ‘Castle Hill Canterbury New Zealand’ and you’ll see pictures of this amazing looking limestone rock outcrop, surrounded by vast open fields with a snowy mountain backdrop. It looks like it belongs in another world, but it’s right here in our backyard and you’ll pass right by. There are a couple of tracks to take you round and into the middle of the rocks, take your time to explore and try not to get lost, it’s easier than you think to become disoriented in the middle of the rocks. This was where Maori used to camp on hunting expeditions into the high country, when you’re over on the backside of the rocks close your eyes for a minute and imagine the Maori sitting around their camp fires right here, you’ll be transported.

Not a long walk, more one to go slow and take it all in. If you just walk up to the lookout at the end of the gravel path, 15 minutes is all you need, but if you want to explore the whole area, take an hour or more. This is a one of a kind stop and there’s something special about the energy here that we just love.

See more info about all the short walks on a MoaTrek tour

Here’s some updated info about all the short walks you can enjoy on you small group tour with MoaTrek. Including important info like distance, gradient, where to start from and more. When you’re on tour, just follow your Kiwi Guide for all the best walks everywhere you go!

Tours You'll Love

Kakapo 21 Day Tour

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.
Scroll to Top