NZ Short Walks
Your feet can take you to some of the best places in New Zealand, so pack your favourite walking shoes for this north-to-south adventure.
A steady climb through native forest to the summit of volcanic Mount Manaia rewards you with breath-taking views of Taurikura Bay, Hen and Chickens Islands, Bream Head and the harbour entrance.
This mountain, which has extraordinary rock formations, is important to local Maori. There’s a legend about how the five rock columns at the summit of the mountain are people who were turned to stone by the God of Thunder.
As you hike up the mountain on a track that was recently upgraded, you’ll come across large stands of tree ferns (ponga) and dramatic rocky outcrops. The panorama from the top of the mountain is truly awe-inspiring.
Easy to moderate
Rangitoto Island is Auckland’s youngest volcano and its picturesque neighbour. The rocky island is softened by the largest pōhutukawa forest in the country. Native birds, particularly fantails and tui, are very happy here.
The climb to Rangitoto’s summit is interesting and relatively easy. You’ll walk across vast broken lava fields and through the forest to the summit picnic area, where 360° views of the city, ocean and islands will keep your camera occupied. If you have time, detour to see the lava caves. You can use the torch on your phone to navigate through some of the bigger tunnels.
Spend the evening in Auckland, where you’ll find an excellent choice of restaurants. Visit the Wynyard Quarter waterfront precinct and check out Silo Park’s night markets and outdoor cinema every Friday during summer. Browse the stalls for vintage clothing, contemporary art and a delicious choice of food before the movie.
Scenic landscapes, quality arts and crafts, a fascinating history and relaxed vibe make Hokitika the perfect place to get a taste of the West Coast.
Spend the day exploring the town. It’s easily walkable and has some excellent bars, cafes and restaurants. Check out the local delicacies, such as whitebait fritters, and enjoy the great local coffee. Hokitika’s arts and crafts galleries often double as workshops, so you have the opportunity to meet the artists and watch them at work.
Make sure you find the beach – it’s wild and beautifully decorated with driftwood and polished stones. After dark, you can also discover Glow Worm Dell for a nature-made show of little blue lights.
Lake Matheson is famous for its stunning mirror-like reflections and extraordinary views of the Southern Alps. On a clear day, you can capture the perfect photo of Mount Cook reflected in the lake’s dark waters, which are the result of natural tannins.
The Lake Matheson walking trail is extra easy. It starts near the Clearwater suspension bridge, then passes tall kahikatea and rimu forest to the jetty viewpoint. This is a top spot for photography, but it’s not the only place to snap your shots.
The trail continues around the lake, presenting many opportunities to capture more amazing mirror images of the dark water. Reflection Island promises some amazing vistas and the ‘View of Views’ point at the top of the lake has the ultimate scene for your daily Instagram post.
Tonight, you’ll stay at Fox Glacier township, a charming village surrounded by farmland, forest and New Zealand’s highest mountains. There are several local restaurants for casual dining.
1 hr 30 min
Leave your vehicle in the carpark, then stroll through beech/tawhero forest to a spectacular swing bridge that crosses the crystal-clear Makarora River. From here you can follow the boardwalk to a viewing platform over the legendary Blue Pools. They are amazingly blue! The vivid colour is a result of light refraction on the clear and icy cold water.
Look for large rainbow and brown trout, often seen feeding in the pools. You might also see rare birds, including yellowhead/mohua.
If you have time, you can combine this walk with Thunder Creek Falls and Fantail Falls, which are on the same road.
Wanaka is your host town tonight. Restaurants and cafes along the lake foreshore offer seriously good coffee and relaxed gourmet dining with a generous accompaniment of lake and mountain scenery.
1 hr return
There’s so much to see and do in Queenstown - it’s exciting, sophisticated and fantastically scenic. But it’s not all about bungy jumps and jet boat rides; there’s also a quieter, more relaxed side to this alpine resort. You could, for example, take a leisurely tour of the local wine region or visit Arrowtown.
Once a gold rush settlement, Arrowtown is one of the most charming historic towns in New Zealand and a great place to find out about Otago’s past. Explore the Chinese miners’ settlement by the Arrow River, visit the Lakes District Museum, then find a convivial café to soak up the surroundings.
This two-hour lakeside walk captures the extreme beauty of Queenstown without the distraction of buildings. If you've had enough walking, you can hire bikes. The well-maintained trail is smooth enough for a sensational cycle journey.
There’s every sort of view to enjoy – lakeside views, valley views and huge views of the Remarkables Range. When they all come together, it’s very special.
A highlight of this adventure is Jack’s Point, a newly-built village with great restaurants and cafes. You can refuel and refresh before making the return journey.
2 hours each way