The classic family walk is a classic for a reason — Kiwis love getting out and about to explore our beautiful country. Enjoy breathing the fresh air, hearing the sounds of our manu māori (native birds), and seeing the incredible variety of native plants and trees Aotearoa has on offer. Here’s a list of some our favourite whānau friendly short walks in native bush for each region.
About an hour
If you’re up for a history lesson as well as a spot class on native plants, the Hongi Hika Walk is a great choice. It links with the Kororipo Pā Historic Walk to retrace the steps of Māori ancestors to the Kerikeri River, as well as looping through beautiful regenerating native bush.
About 20 minutes
You guessed it: this track features the only palm species native to New Zealand, the nīkau. Have a blast on this short, easy walk that showcases established coastal forest. And as a bonus, if the Mōrere Hot Springs complex is open, you can duck in for a swim on your way out. (Don’t worry if you’re after hours, there’s also an alternative entrance to the track).
Options from 20 minutes to 1 hour 20 mins
As the name suggests, the tracks around this area offer views of the spectacular 18m Dawson Falls, as well as a number of smaller waterfalls along the way! Head through mountain rainforest on the Kapuni Loop Track, or zip through younger subalpine forest for a 20 minute walk to Wilkies Pools.
Two hours one way; four hours return
Tree ferns, podocarps, kamahi and tawa trees, beech and northern rātā abound along this spectacular and well-loved track. Plan and pack for a day trip and even bring your togs if you’re brave enough for a dip in the Turere Stream.
One hour 20 min
This little gem is a popular walk with locals, as Wainui Falls are the largest and most accessible falls in the area. You’ll walk through farmland, but also lush native bush that includes nīkau, rātā and ferns. Kids will love the novelty of the giant swing bridge, and if you’re really lucky you could spot our giant native snails (Powelliphanta).
One hour 30 min
Not only does it have an adorable name, the Lake Wombat walk makes for an enchanting couple of hours. Get a close-up look at mature rimu forest as you make your way to what’s known as a ‘kettle lake’ or ‘tarn’ — the result of a huge ice melt around 9000 years ago.
The Peel Forest park has a huge number of options for your walking needs depending on how much time you have: it offers anything from a 15 minute jaunt to a three hour trek. Best of all, there are a huge range of native trees on display surrounding the tracks: from māhoe, kōwhai and kanuka to tōtara, mataī and kahikatea.
1.5 hours return
Treat yourself and the family to one of Aotearoa’s most spectacular walks featuring the famous Blue Pools and Makaora River. The Track offers a nice flat walk, with open areas for mountain views, along with closed in beech and podocarp forest. Bring your camera and selfie stick for sure!
30 min return
This is a nice short outing for the tōtara enthusiasts among us! Experience untouched nature in this section of tōtara forest, which is one of the few areas in the country that has never been logged. As a result, the trees are spectacular: some are over 1000 years old.