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Top 11 favourite Waikato short walks

  • 6 minutes

Waikato, North Island

Discover the mighty Waikato River where suspension bridges, hydro dams and scenic landscapes invite visitors outdoors. Stroll in bush and forest reserves, through wetlands and areas of natural beauty. Find walks near the Waitomo Caves highlights what to see and do.

Enjoy fascinating natural rock formations and waterfalls with opportunities to explore quirky New Zealand towns. Enjoy family friendly walks suitable for all fitness levels.

Flock of Flying Birds, Miranda Shore Bird Centre, North Island, New Zealand
Miranda Shore Bird Centre
  1. Miranda Pukorokoro shorebird walks

It is extraordinary, the glittering white crushed shells forming the chenier beach at Miranda. Your feet crunch their way across the shells as you navigate the slightly surreal landscape. It is definitely not a beach for walking. Due to the efforts of the Miranda Shorebird Centre there are a number of short walks with excellent explanatory plaques describing the bird life and history of the area.


During the 19th century NZ Land Wars a gun-boat, The Miranda was instrumental in supporting militia constructing redoubts (military fortifications) from Thames Gulf to the Waikato River. Look for the information plaque pointing to the buff and the location of the Miranda redoubt (Pukorokoro). The post held 120 troops.

At low tide shorebirds, in their thousands, are foraging on the rich pickings of the exposed tidal beds.


Must-do is a visit to the Pūkorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre with its excellent gift shop, maps of the area, advice about the best places to visit and kids activity sheets.

What to do nearby Miranda, Waikato

Miranda visitor path guide, Auckland, New Zealand
Miranda visitor path guide, Auckland, New Zealand
Te Aroha Domain pavilion and museum, Waikato, New Zealand
Te Aroha Domain pavilion and museum
  1. Te Aroha Domain

Treat yourself to a soak in the hot pools or a luxury spa treatment. Energy levels up, start your walk with an exploration of the Domain moving onto your second late morning stroll, with a selection of town walks ranging from 30 minutes to an hour give you enough time to spend the rest of your day indulging in one of New Zealand’s earliest holiday experiences, a day at the spa. Te Aroha spa resort day trip, travel guide, things to see: Best Bits. Locate the free foot bath in the Domain and grab a selfie next to the Victorian cupcake of an Edwardian gazebo. Te Aroha short walks offer views, historic Edwardian architectural gems, coffee shops and the delight of an original spa town. Unmissable Te Aroha.

What to do nearby Te Aroha

  • Think about the challenge of Whakapipi summit walk to the lookout point. A steep climb with the reward of sweeping views of Te Aroha and the Waikato
  • Mt Aroha summit day walk continues on past the Whakapipi viewpoint. It is an intermediate / advanced day walk. From the summit there are 360 degree views across the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions, and Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngāuruhoe are all visible on a clear day
Te Aroha Mineral Spa in historic Edwardian building, New Zealand
Te Aroha Mineral Spa in historic Edwardian building, New Zealand

Te Awa covers 60km from Ngaruawahia through Hamilton to Lake Karapiro. It is predominately 3m wide and concrete, along with boardwalks and bridges and two short on-road sections. There is stunning scenery, along with plenty of places to eat, drink and stay along the way … read more how you can enjoy sections of the Te Awa trail.

Karangahake Gorge New Zealand
Karangahake Gorge, New Zealand
  1. Karangahake Gorge walks

Heritage walks among abandoned gold mining equipment with massive rock crushing batteries slowly rusting in the picturesque Karangahake Gorge Forest Park. The Victoria battery was an enormous beast with 200 stampers beating down extracted rock into slurry for gold extraction. The thump would have echoed through the gorge and beyond. The historic walkway loop is an easy 1 hour return track. Highlights are a wooden rail bridge over the Ohinemuri River and a tunnel. Check Visit Karanganhake Gorge & Kaimai Mamaku Conservation Park: Best Bits for details about getting there and things to do.

What to do nearby Karangahake Gorge

Thames School of Mines, New Zealand
Thames School of Mines
Putaruru river light, New Zealand
Putaruru river light, New Zealand
  1. Putaruru Blue Springs Te Waihou walkway

Crystal clear torrents of spring water eddy in swirling currents beneath your feet. The boardwalk floats above the action with river grass gently rippling in the water, eels and trout darting from under the boardwalk. It is entrancing watching water movement; the constant sheer volume of 42 cubic metres per minute creates a must-go destination. The walkway follows alongside the upper Waihous tributary streams. The walk is part of Putaruru Blue Springs & Te Waihou walkway – Best Bits North Island geothermal explorer road trip and is rated one of the Best Family Friendly Walks in the North Island.

What to do nearby Putaruru Blue Springs

  • Check out the thread of towns on the Waikato section of State Highway one from Cambridge through to Tirau with its quirky corrugated sculptures.
  • Putaruru is close to Lake Arapuni and its campgrounds on the Waikato River. The lake is a trout fishing hot spot

Cambridge is a great spot to base yourself while exploring the Putaruru Blue Springs the central location means less than an hour travelling to key visitor spots such as Hobbiton, Waitomo Caves, Sanctuary Mountain or Rotopiko National Wetlands Centre & Yarndleys Bush – Best Bits.

Vibrant yellow-orange leaves during autumn in Cambridge, Waikato, New Zealand
Autumn in Cambridge
Pukaha, Kereru wood pigeon, New Zealand
Kereru, Jim Barnett reserve, New Zealand
  1. Jim Barnett reserve

Perfect for families and friends with canopy shelter, toilets, picnic tables and excellent signage. You will discover the oldest documented 1000 year old totara surrounded by mature trees from tawa, rewarewa and tree ferns.

The extensive plant identification makes the 13 trails in the reserve interesting as you stop to read about the tree, its historic uses and favoured growing conditions. All tracks are sign posted with track length and if there are any steps. Tracks are shared with the Waikato River Trails, please be aware of cyclists on the tracks and share with care. Jim Barnett Reserve is co-managed by a committee with representatives from Forest and Bird, Putāruru Rotary, Putāruru Walking Group, the South Waikato District Council and the Waotu community.

What to do nearby Jim Barnett reserve

  • Putaruru Blue Springs is a must-go destination
  • Waikato River hydro dam exploration, check out the Waikato River Trail information for inspiration
Putaruru Blue Springs river grass
Putaruru Blue Springs river grass, NZ
Bridal Veil Waterfall in Waikato New Zealand
Bridal Veil Waterfall in Waikato New Zealand
  1. Waireinga Bridal Veil waterfall

One of New Zealand’s unmissable falls. The sheer single waterfall drop of 55 metres is a dazzling aerial display of a perfect spray arching into a deep pool. The easy short walk is easily accessible for all fitness levels to the upper viewpoint. Continuing further there are a series of steps to the bottom viewpoint and pool. Bridal Veil falls are a popular photo location.

What to do nearby Waireinga Bridal Veil falls

Massive point break waves Raglan surf culture NZ
Raglan surfing
Hakarimata Scenic Reserve river crossing bridge, Waikato, New Zealand
Hakarimata Scenic Reserve river crossing bridge, Waikato, New Zealand
  1. Hakarimata Scenic Reserve, Waikato

Discover an old railway line.

Surviving kauri and native giants inhabit the reserve only 10 km from Hamilton. Hakarimata Rail Trail is a family walking and cycling track following the route of the former Ngaruawahia/Glen Massey railway to attractive stream cascades. The former railway, until 1950’s transported coal to Glen Massey. Walk ing from the car park to the first bridge you pass a wetland restoration site which is part of Perry Quarry.

The flat walk is suitable for buggies and all fitness levels. The walk terminates at Firewood Creek picnic area. You can continue onwards climbing steps (over 600) as part of the  southern section of the Hakarimata Walkway. The 3.5 km walkway section is a moderate grade on well maintained tracks with several bridged stream crossings and emcompasses a mature native forest. You climb to the Hakarimata Summit (374 metres) and enjoy good views of the summit tower out towards the coast, across the Waikato Basin and down to Ruapehu.

Casacade falls, Hakarimata Scenic Reserve, Waikato, NZ
Casacade falls, Hakarimata Scenic Reserve, Waikato, NZ
Casacades waterfalls, Waikato, Hakarimata Scenic Reserve, NZ
Casacades waterfalls, Waikato, Hakarimata Scenic Reserve, NZ

Hakarimata walk

Walk the length of the Hakarimata Range and enjoy excellent views towards the coast and across the Waikato Basin

Advanced hiking trail – 12 km

  1. Lake Hakanoa

Wetlands, well maintained flat shared walking trail starting at the Huntly Domain. There are themed exotic plantings. The lake has a picturesque jetty, playgrounds, picnic areas and the
Lake Hakanoa circuit walk is a popular and easy walk.

Protea, South American garden, Lake Hakanoa, Waikato, NZ
Protea, South American garden, Lake Hakanoa, Waikato, NZ
Lake Hakanoa story, NZ
Lake Hakanoa Japanese Garden, NZ

The circuit around the lake takes you through many specially themed gardens and wetland areas. The lake also has jetties, playgrounds, picnic areas and opportunities for boating. The lake walkway is split into thirteen zones including a native tree reserve, Japanese Garden, Global Garden, Wildlife Gardens, Palm Beach, Contemporary Maori Garden, Green Cathedral, Ponga Grove and wetlands.


The area is popular with wedding photographers. wetlands and more, making for great picnic spots along the way.

Trails – 3.6 km in length

  1. Lake Puketirini – Huntly, Waikato

  • Repurposed coal pit is now a Waikato local government managed lake near Huntly. a newly formed lake that has been developed from a disused coal-mined pit, and is now part of Puketirini, a Waikato District Council owned park.
  • Lake Puketirini is available for activities such as kayaking, waka ama, boating, and water-skiing.
  • Walking and cycling around the lake are also popular recreational activities. This lake has very good water quality. Recreational boating – access key $100.00 per season (October-May) – $21.00 refundable on return of key … source Rivers and lakes (Waikato)
Lake Puketirini picnic area with ever present Huntly power plant in background, Waikato, New Zealand
Lake Puketirini picnic area with ever present Huntly power plant in background, Waikato, New Zealand

What to do nearby Huntly

  • Visit Hampton Downs for the thrill of a racing track
  1. Mangaotaki walk – family friendly kids walk

Piopio (Waitomo district)

The area is undoubtedly famous for the world class underground Waitomo Caves and is worth exploring further.

Piopio has a number of things to do. Discover a fantasy walk good enough for Lord of the Rings film setting. The gentle loop walking track is an 800m fantasy walk surrounded by massive boulders littering the landscape.

Stunning rock formations at Mangaotaki Valley, the filming location of `The Hobbit, an Unexpected Journey`, in New Zealand
Stunning rock formations at Mangaotaki Valley, the filming location of `The Hobbit, an Unexpected Journey`, in New Zealand

Boulders are covered in moss and gnarled kahikatea trees artly grow up and around the boulders. The shaded walk is another imaginative landscape perfect for kids as The Mangaotaki River is ideal for the novice fly fisherman, with no shortage of rainbow trout, with access gained via the Mangaotaki Scenic Reserve. Make sure you have the required license to fish.

  • Length: 800m
  • Duration: ½ hour
  • Grade: Easy

The Mangaotaki Valley was the filming location for Trollshaw Forest in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

… LEARN MORE ABOUT Piopio, Waitomo district top 7 best things to do and what to see

Mangapohue boardwalk thru native bush, New Zealand
Mangapohue boardwalk thru native bush, New Zealand
  1. Mangapohue natural bridge

Mangapohue Natural Bridge has spectacular sights. The 17 metre-high limestone arch which spans Mangapohue Stream is the remnants of an ancient cave system.

Short easy walk for kids

The walk to the arches is through a fern filled gorge with mosses coated with dew.


Grab a coat as it can be chilly even in summer.

Check out Waikato Kiwi Towns for more inspiration what to do and where to go nearby Mangapohue Natural Bridge:

Interested in extraordinary geology, New Zealand rock stars, check out Geology, rocks, NZ fantastic natural sculptural landscapes for places to pop onto your bucket list.

Marokopa Falls on North Island New Zealand
Marokopa Falls on North Island New Zealand

Getting to favourite Waikato short walks

Travel pack information

Waikato peat lakes  – survival issues

Lake Kainui & lake Rotokauri

Lake Kainui and Lake Rotokauri are peat lakes that provide recreational opportunities and also have important ecological values. The lakes are of the Waipā peat lake complex. The surrounding catchment is a combination of residential, industrial and pastoral land use. A sediment trap has been placed on the lake’s main inflow to reduce sediment entering the lake. The lake has been fenced to exclude stock and a riparian margin established around the lake to separate farming activities and the lake. Cyanobacterial samples are also taken during swimming season. The lakes are suffering from pastoral runoff and have had eutrophic status in the 1990’s. The story continues … Lake Rotokauri.

Reserves and bond form – Waikato

Reserves check here for form

Public toilets in the Waikato

Check for an up to date list of locations.



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