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New Zealand is home to some, if not many, of the most stunning hikes in the world. These include the well-known Milford Track, Routeburn Track and the Tongariro Crossing, and whilst they’re all magnificent walks, unfortunately they are not always suitable for the young ones. We don’t want to leave out the budding walkers among you so we’ve selected 5 amazing NZ day walks for families which are perfect for kids from the age of 6 or 7 upwards.
To keep things simple, we’ll start in the north of the country and make our way south.
Rangitoto Rangitoto is first up - this volcanic island is a short 20 minute boat ride from downtown Auckland. It’s the youngest volcano in the Hauraki Gulf, having last erupted 600 to 700 years ago. An hour long walk takes you to its summit where you’ll find an amazing 360 degree panoramic view over the gulf and Auckland City. We recommend walking shoes that give your ankles good support as the track is partially made up of rugged hardened lava flows. Make sure to take water and snacks with you as well you can’t buy them on the island. Once you’ve made your way back down you can freshen up with a dip in a natural saltwater swimming pool.
Waimangu Volcanic Valley is the youngest geothermal system on the planet’s surface, formed as a direct consequence of the Mt Tarawera eruption in 1886. The trail that leads you through the valley’s brightly coloured geothermal features takes 4 hours in total but a courtesy shuttle bus circles the park and allows you to cut short certain sections on your way back towards the starting point.
Abel Tasman National Park is the perfect walking destination for kids as the coastal track does not involve too much up or downhill walking. You can choose the length and duration of your hike thanks to the water taxis that can drop you off and pick you up from different points along the track. We’d suggest a scenic cruise of the park to start with, and then a walk encompassing the beautiful Te Pukatea Beach where you can stop to enjoy a swim in the turquoise water - we’ve no doubt this day will be one of the highlights of your trip.
Rob Roy Glacier track in the Mt Aspiring National Park starts off with a swing bridge that the kids are sure to love. The track then gradually winds uphill through some interesting alpine vegetation. It’s not particularly difficult and the reward is having a picnic lunch with views over the glacier. You’ll often come across Kea, a green native parrot but hold on to your sandwich, these intelligent birds know how to quickly make off with their treasure of choice!
Hooker Valley Track in the Mt Cook National Park is also a great walk to take the kids on - there’s another couple of fun swing bridges and you can do some iceberg spotting once you reach the glacial lake at the foot of Mt Cook, the highest peak in the country at 3754 metres. And there you have it, our top picks for kid friendly walks in New Zealand. So what are you waiting for, get out there with the whole family and explore!