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Short walks

Short walks & hikes in New Zealand attractions, things to do, places to go

  • 5 minites

Tongariro, Turangi

Grab the joy of walking without a challenging mountain climb. Short walks to outstanding scenic attractions are part of the New Zealand experience. There is a walk for everyone regardless of fitness levels or time limits. From heritage trails, food trails, art and culture the outdoors offers a dazzling array of experiences for all tastes. Journey from the North Island to the South Island as you explore lush native forest, discover fascinating history and encounter unique wildlife.



Nature is not a place to visit in New Zealand; it is our backyard. For visitors short on time or compiling a bucket list of short walks on the must-go list here’s a start. The places to go with your walking boots laced are from the top of the North Island to the South Island Fiordland National Park.

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Unusual giant limestone rock formations in Castle Hill, South Island New Zealand
Mt. Manaia in New Zealand
Wainui Falls, Abel Tasman National Park, South Island, New Zealand in daylight and slow shutter speed during southern hemisphere summer in February


Discover Aotearoa New Zealand’s heritage. The best heritage walks delve into the story of the earliest documented human objects discovered in the Wairau Bar. Delve into the story of a somber reminder of the loss of life at a New Zealand Land Wars site; Ruapekapeka Pa. A top place to go is the extraordinary story of coal mining at Denniston Plateau.

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Tourist attraction vintage locomotive on display at Steampunk Museum in Oamaru, New Zealand
Chinese gold mining settlement, Arrowtown, New Zealand
View of buildings on a historic south street, Nelson, New Zealand

Family friendly short walks in New Zealand

Scenic short walks in New Zealand


  • Well signposted with information plaques describing the area you are walking through
  • The start and finish is easily accessible by road and usually has a designated car park
  • Each walk is flagged at the beginning of the walk with the estimated duration of the walk, length of the walk and any special features to look for such as steps and a slippery surface
  • Ditch the heavy backpack and travel light, it’s a short walk
  • Limited time or fitness levels, short walks get you out and about without any hassles
  • Indulge in a touch of comfort your accommodation does not need to be a mountain hut

Each region, in the New Zealand Travel Guide has walks for the area.

Breeze Bay section of the Awaroa, Godley Head Loop Track. Godley Head, Canterbury, New Zealand
Godley Head Loop Track


Your walk might start rambling through farmland and you wonder why this walk is so interesting? The jewel could be the destination or several sparkling highlights along the way. Look for the walk highlights to see if the walk interests you.


Many walks are under the Department of Conservation with their outstanding online resources, the link to this resource is provided. If it is a public local walk directions are given.


While these walks are not extended day walks New Zealand weather is unpredictable. You are always advised to carry a waterproof jacket, snacks, insect repellent, sunscreen and water.


Are they suitable for a short walk?

No. jandals / thongs are for the beach or BBQ

  • You can slip on an uneven surface and snap your favourite pair (and have nothing to wear)
  • In muddy or wet areas they are hazardous with the wet area / mud creating an impromptu skateboard
  • Jandals / thongs do not support the ankle or foot, good trainers work well for short walks
  • Sturdy walking sandals are an option when it is hot
Franz Josef, New Zealand. A group of tourists hiking on Franz Josef Glacier
Franz Josef


Nothing grates like kids muttering phrases … “I’m bored” or ‘When are we going to get there”

New Zealand is a great place for family and friends (plus kids) great place to go walking as there are no snakes, wild animals with the predator instinct to bite and eat. Walks are well signposted with relevant safety information clearly displayed (Department of Conservation walks).

  • Weather is changeable, ensure you have layers for kids and yourself sorted
  • Walks are selected for the variety of things to do and places to go from waterfalls with rusting abandoned machinery, wildlife spotting to views and changes in the landscape
  • Encourage the kids to go in front, to be the leader of the pack and read the information plaques and tell you what is happening
  • Carry snacks and energy bites for flagging kids
  • Consider the thrill of getting to the walk and returning back to your accommodation, a boat ride, promise of an ice cream (for everyone including the kids), a chance to check out nearby attractions and fold these into the conversation about the walk
  • If the kids or anyone for that matter wants to explore interesting finds during the walk, take time to look around. Department of Conservation kiwi guardians is an amazing programme with very handy factsheets so the hard work is already done for you


While you might not have wifi everywhere you walk, carry your mobile at all times. Download maps, click photos and take selfies. And your camera and its safety in a locked vehicle. No guarantees and some areas are unfortunately known for opportunity car thief incidents.


We don’t want to put you off.

The nasty bite can be incredibly itchy. HEALTH & SAFETY & insect repellent. It is necessary as the swarms of black clouds of sandflies are known to cause acute discomfort to holiday makers. Repellent such as deet can be effective, but many people don’t like using it. There are numerous natural remedies available. Check with your health provider if unsure. Sandflies do not like wind, smoke and rain. Sandflies are most numerous during daybreak and dusk in humid, overcast conditions, just before it rains.

View from The Pinnacles Track Hike with blue sky above and person tourist in blue tshirt in the foreground at Coromandel
Pinnacles Track Hike

The West Coast of the South Island, particularly Fiordland, is notorious for New Zealand’s biting insects.


The inviting stream is a crystal clear babble of water. It is unwise to drink water directly from a stream, creek, river or any unfiltered water supply. No matter how clear the water appears it could contain GIARDIA.

Check out the helpful guide Walking track categories by the Department of Conservation on required fitness levels for graded walks.

What to wear is important as New Zealand is an island country with a deserved reputation for uncertain weather. New Zealand’s geography and exposure to the Pacific Ocean creates unpredictable weather conditions. Remember to check the local weather forecast BEFORE departing and wear appropriate clothing. Watch the Department of Conservation for helpful tips on what to wear and carry with you.


Walking and up to date information about status of the walk, safety or closures. Always check online links before departing. Perhaps you’ve got the walking bug and want to walk further and for longer distances,


Check out New Zealand walks, attractions, things to do, places to go for what takes your fancy and lace up the walking boots. Enjoy New Zealand outdoors; the best bits come in short walks.  There is a walk for everyone, everywhere in Aotearoa New Zealand.


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Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.

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