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Short walks

Best family friendly walks in the North Island

  • 4 minutes

Find extraordinary natural rock bridges in MANGAPOHUE or geothermal activity in Tokaanu with a hot pool as a promise for afterwards. Delve into magical places on the Goblin walk or Te Mata Peak with its Maori cultural significance. Hidden gems in the Wairarapa include a stunning suspension bridge over a scenic gorge and the best walk for waterfall fans is Putaruru Blue Springs where upwelling water is eye-catching.

Sunrise at summit hiking track on Mount Maunganui, New Zealand
Sunrise at summit hiking track on Mount Maunganui
  1. MOUNT MAUNGANUI TRACK MAUANO HISTORIC RESERVE
  • Look for the tiny dots indicating people on the beach as you survey the Bay of Plenty
  • Hang out at the Mount Salt Baths afterwards as a reward for getting to the top of the summit

Hanging out at one of New Zealand’s top beaches is a summer pastime. The place to go is Mount Maunganui Mauao Historic Reserve. Climb to the summit for unmissable views of the Mount and Tauranga and the glorious sweep of the sandy beach. There are a lot of steps up the steep 232 metre slope however it is a must-do for visitors to the Bay of Plenty. For the faint of heart or its a step too far the base walk is equally impressive as it circles both the ocean and harbour coastline… learn more about Mount Maunganui, activities, events, attractions – Best Bits

  1. GOBLINS FOREST – MOUNT EGMONT NATIONAL PARK
  • Superb introduction into the magic of natural landscapes
  • Layer up if raining, it’s fun in the rain as you are not exposed to the elements, dripping gloomy green ghostly feeling

The Kamahi Loop Track is less than a 1km, meaning the shortest legs can manage the track. Twisted kamahi tree trucks covered in moss and fern creating a gnarly feel to the forest. The very short walk of ½ kilometre is impressive. Filtered light gleams off the emerald green ferns. Here are more ideas what to do in Egmont National Park 12 walks and tramps – Best Bits. Remember to check out the weather forecast and carry layers.  The track begins just above the Stratford Mountain House.

Goblin forest in Taranaki, New Zealand
Goblin forest, Kamahi Loop Track
Piha waterfalls, Kitekite Falls, Auckland New Zealand
Piha waterfalls, Kitekite Falls, Auckland New Zealand
  1. KITEKITE WATERFALLS WAITAKERE RANGES FOREST PARK
  • A cool freshwater natural pool
  • Waterfall buffs will not be disappointed

This is a walk Auckland locals can enjoy as it is only 45 minutes from the centre of town. It is an extraordinary contrast from the wild west coast beaches to the coastal forest walk to a pretty waterfall complete with a swimming hole at the bottom of the falls. Check out Auckland’s West Coast Beaches travel guide, things to do: NZ Jane for ideas for your next Auckland day trip.

  1. MANGAPOHUE NATURAL BRIDGE, WAITOMO
  • Extraordinary natural rock formations
  • Look for ancient oysters in the rocks

Mangapohue Natural Bridge. Follow the boardwalk as it weaves its way through the impressive limestone gorge bringing you underneath the stunning natural bridge. The natural bridge is a 17m high limestone arch; the remains of an ancient cave system. Take an easy 5 minute stroll to the base of the natural bridge, or continue along the track for a 20 minute loop walk that takes in superb views of the natural bridge and gorge, stalactite-like formations, farmland and 25 million year old fossilised oysters that are exposed in the limestone outcrops.

Natural bridge and caves on Mangapohue
Blue Spring which is located at Te Waihou Walkway, New Zealand
Blue Spring, Te Waihou Walkway
  1. BLUE SPRING TE WAIHOU WALKWAY – PUTARURU
  • Mesmerizing upwelling water, the sheer volume is impressive
  • Prolific freshwater fish, eels and insects to watch

Mesmerizing, water welling up forming blue ribbons with tendrils of green swirling freshwater plants. Photo opportunities galore against the blue / green water, hillsides and regenerating bush. Look closely at the upwelling water and you will see trout nibbling on the delicious plant life, with open mouths snacking on water insects. The springs are a hotbed of aquatic activity. Blue Spring Te Waihou Walkway has two major entrances. The longer walk, through farmland and regenerating bush is 4.7 km. The shorter walk is accessed from the Leslie Road car park and it is a 20 minute flat stroll to the springs. The Leslie Road access is wheelchair accessible.  This walk is part of Central North Island road trip, geothermal explorer:Best Bits and a must-do for fans of waterfalls and rivers.

  1. RED ROCKS WELLINGTON
  • Wildlife, NZ fur seals within a stone’s throw of a capital city
  • A great mountain bike ride

Unearth a wildlife encounter and meet the local fur seal colony. A capital city where some of the locals are marine is amazing. Winter is the ideal time to explore the wild jagged rocks of the stormy south coast. It is likely there will be a brisk wind however if the seals don’t complain who are we to worry about a nip in the air. The very popular route can be walked, biked and even driven in a 4WD during the week. You will start at the Owhiro Bay Quarry site, pass 1950’s historic bachs and out to Devil’s Gate and Sinclair Heads.

  • Length: 5.6 km

Grade: Flat easy walk although can be uneven due to rock debris. For more city walks and what to do in Wellington check Wellington city walks for the Best Bits.

Red Rocks NZ Fur Seal, New Zealand
Red Rocks NZ Fur Seal
Waiohine Gorge, New Zealand @Emma Hawke
Waiohine Gorge @Emma Hawke
  1. WAIOHINE GORGE – CARTERTON – WAIRARAPA
  • Gorge suspension bridge for a thrilling walk
  • Great scenery with bird song

Waiohine Gorge near Carterton is a spectacular gorge carved by the Waiohine River. The suspension bridge is the largest bridge of its type in New Zealand crosses the gorge and makes for a spectacular start and finish to any walk. The walks are another gateway into the Tararua Forest Park. The Gorge is the south eastern entrance to the Tararua Forest Park. Day visitors will be passed by trampers embarking on the two day Totara Flats route which takes you to a beautiful setting where the Waiohine River meets Totara Creek.

  • Waiohine Gorge entrance: 1km from car park

NOTE: A high clearance car is best for driving into the parking lot. For more information check

10 Wairarapa short walks for families, where to go, the Best Bits

  1. TE MATA PEAK – HAWKE’S BAY
  • Stupendous views of the Hawke’s Bay
  • Heritage Maori site
  • Glorious sunset / sunrise photo location

Kids will love watching hang gliders launching themselves off the peak. Te Mata Peak is the place to go for 360° views of Hawke’s Bay. Visitors can see Napier and Mahia Peninsula to the north and east, hill country to the south and east, and the Ruahine, Kaweka and Maungaharuru ranges beyond the fertile Heretaunga Plains. Mount Ruapehu is often visible in the distance. There are public toilets and picnic facilities available at the main Gates entrance on Te Mata Peak Road. Consult Te Mata Peak, Havelock North – Best Bits.

Sunrise at Te Mata Peak
Tongariro River walks, New Zealand
Tongariro River
  1.  TONGARIRO RIVER TRAIL
  • The contrast between river beaches, swing bridges, locals on mountain bikes and dogs on a leash makes for a friendly walk where greetings are part of the walk experience

Join this walk at the various exits and entrances marked on the map supplied by the Tongariro Visitor Centre. Do not forget the obligatory photo of yourself walking or cycling across the swing bridges. The walk is popular with locals walking their dogs or exercising. You will pass homes, the river and views of the countryside. Within the major 15km loop trail are shorter walks including Waikari Reserve loop and Taupahi Reserve loop. The Tongariro National Trout Centre is also on route, which is a favourite for kids in the school holidays with its fishing for kids programme. The Trout Centre is home to the blue duck (whio) creche and freshwater aquarium along with numerous wild trout.

  • Length various
  • Duration 1 hour to 7 hours (walking)
  1. TOKAANU GEOTHERMAL WALK
  • Geothermal boiling mud, steaming vents in a pocket sized walk
  • Geothermal hot pools to soak in afterwards

Tokaanu for a classic geothermal pool experience without the dazzle of Rotorua. Remember to check under the bridge for trout who love the warm creek water for the abundant food resources living near the geothermal vents. The flat 20 minute walk around the thermal park has no fee and is wheelchair accessible. The pool does have an entrance fee.

Tokaanu Wharf, Lake Taupo, North Island, New Zealand
Tokaanu Wharf

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