Walking in New Zealand - back

New Zealand is a paradise for walkers. Hundreds of tracks and walkways take you through bush, into the mountains, along river banks, to beaches, anywhere there's wonderful scenery.

DayOut.co.nz gives you detailed information on many of New Zealand's best walks. Our intention on this website is to help tourists, even locals and other New Zealanders choose from a selection we can personally recommend.

You don't have to be superfit: we include walks for different levels of fitness. We also take into account the limited time some visitors have: some walks we describe can take as little as 10 minutes; on others you can spend a full dayout.

We include walks showing you the wonders of our National Parks, scenic walks outside the National Parks, walks that explore our cities and towns, or take you to historic sites and heritage buildings, walks that highlight our architecture. We include walks that enable you to see our wildlife and native birds close at hand, or take you into ancient forests and very diverse landscapes.

Walking is a great way to get to know New Zealand, and, although different companies want to guide you, we show you how to walk the country for free.

In keeping with our theme of a "dayout", most of the walks described on this site are short. However whether doing a casual day walk or a more strenuous overnight tramp, be aware that you are entering a different environment that requires common sense and some safety precautions.

The Great Walks

New Zealand is famous for its Great Walks. In the South Island the Milford Track, Kepler Track, Routeburn Track, Heaphy Track, Abel Tasman Track and Queen Charlotte Track are the best known. All these tracks take three or four days to walk, hut bookings are advisable and you need to get information from the Department of Conservation (DOC).

But you don't have to walk the whole track to enjoy the delights of each area. Look at our information on Fiordland, Golden Bay, Tasman, Marlborough Sounds and West Coast and we'll tell you how you can walk part of these tracks in a day.

Te ARAROA (The Long Pathway)

An ambitous project to provide a continuous walkway the length of New Zealand is aiming for completion in 2010. Te ARAROA takes in existing walkways as well as much that is new.

Walks in National Parks

The National Parks administered by the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) offer a huge variety of walks.

  • NORTH ISLAND

    Walks in the BAY OF ISLANDS HISTORIC AND MARITIME PARK and the HAURAKI GULF MARITIME PARK include ancient kauri forests, magnificent coastal scenery, historic pa sites and battlefields, bush walks, waterfalls and wildlife reserves.

    In the UREWERA NATIONAL PARK you walk in part of the North Island's largest native forest and on the shores of beautiful Lake Waikaremoana.

    TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK is home to Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe, the mountains of the central North Island's volcanic plateau. You walk through alpine gardens and over land shaped by lava flows from an active volcano. The Tongariro Crossing is a full day walk said to be the best in New Zealand.

    A sacred mountain, Taranaki (Mt Egmont), is at the centre of over 300 km of walking tracks in MT EGMONT NATIONAL PARK.

    The Whanganui River, of deep spiritual significance to Maori, is at the heart of the WHANGANUI NATIONAL PARK which you can explore on foot or in boats or kayaks.

  • SOUTH ISLAND

    National Parks abound in the north of the South Island:

    Walks in the MARLBOROUGH SOUNDS MARITIME PARK and ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK offer spectacular views of bush-clad peninsulas, marble cliffs and granite headlands. You can swim in crystal-clear water and rest on golden sands when you walk a section of the Abel Tasman Track.

    In the KAHURANGI NATIONAL PARK you can walk in karst landscapes and among semi-tropical trees and plants. We tell you how to have a dayout on the Heaphy Track from the West Coast end.

    Walks in the PAPAROA NATIONAL PARK take you into an amazing limestone landscape with spectacular rock formations and caves and beautiful, unspoilt forest. Take a stroll to the famous Pancake Rocks here.

    The WESTLAND NATIONAL PARK, part of the TE WAHIPOUNAMU WORLD HERITAGE AREA, includes walks which take you to the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, to rugged West Coast beaches where you can see seals and penguins, to ancient podocarp forests, waterfalls, mountain streams, lakes and rivers.

    In the FIORDLAND NATIONAL PARK you can walk a section of the Routeburn Track and the Kepler Track, view the grandeur of fiords at Milford Sound, climb to a lake in the heart of the mountains and enjoy short walks by Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri, and off the road between Te Anau and Milford Sound.

    Walks in MT COOK NATIONAL PARK take you along mountain valleys and up slopes with incomparable views of New Zealand's highest peaks.

    ARTHUR'S PASS NATIONAL PARK walks among alpine plants and bush are signposted off a highway across the Alps that was a major engineering feat when it opened in 1866.

City and Town Walks

New Zealand cities and towns are proud of the walks they provide for citizens and visitors to get to know and enjoy the urban landscape. Waterfront promenades in Auckland and Wellington, Port Hills Walkways in Christchurch, walks in the hills around Dunedin or on the Otago Peninsula - they're all interesting.

In the South Island, Queenstown, better known for its adventure activities, has some wonderful walks, as does Wanaka, another popular holiday resort town. When you go to Kaikoura to see the whales, you can also take an invigorating walk on the Kaikoura Peninsula. The hot springs at Hanmer are a grand finale to one of its numerous forest walks. Blenheim and Picton have a network of tracks taking you to great lookout points.

Walks And Architecture

Dunedin, Oamaru and Christchurch have fine examples of 19th Century architecture. Download our detailed descriptions of their public buildings to take for reference as you follow our routes. You'll learn a lot about early domestic architecture, too, if you take our Akaroa Walk describing the early cottages built mainly by French settlers. In Napier you can walk around an "Art Deco" suburb.

Walks And Wildlife

For close-up views of penguins, seals, sea lions and birds, check out our walks in the Catlins, North Otago, the Otago Peninsula, Kaikoura and the West Coast. You can see them for free and enjoy the exercise and scenery, too.

Heritage Walks

Many walks to heritage sites are in National Parks, but some favourites are outside them. Try the Charming Creek Walkway north of Westport for a fascinating insight into coalmining on the West Coast, or explore the goldfields of Central Otago.

Hints For Walkers

  • Most tracks we recommend are well-formed with a good surface.
  • We point out if the walk is particularly steep or challenging.
  • Times (taken by a definitely 'mature' woman!) do not include stops for rests or looking at the view.
  • Take water, sun block lotion, insect repellent (especially on the West Coast) and some food - shops and pubs are rare!
  • Always take warm and waterproof clothing on all but the shortest walks - the weather can change dramatically, especially near the mountains.
  • Wear sturdy walking shoes or boots for comfort and safety.