New Zealand's Favorite Short Walks

A great selection of short walks in stunning locations for those who do not have the time required to experience a multi-day walk.

New Zealand is not only known for it's stunning scenery, friendly people and adventure activities - it is also famous for the many fabulous walking and hiking options. There are so many opportunities to be active in New Zealand, it's overwhelming!  Here, we have featured some of our favorite walks - ones we include in many of our itineraries. 

We've also included walks which offer a combination of activities, ie:  walking and kayaking, or a walk followed by cruise on iconic Milford Sound.  There really is something for everyone, and learning about the New Zealand way of life from one of our many favorite guides, amongst a backdrop of drop-dead gorgeous scenery, is the perfect way to experience New Zealand. 

We have enjoyed all of these walks so much that we’ve created the 'Glaciers, Beaches, Rainforests & Fiords', "Walk New Zealand' and numerous other itineraries which includes opportunities to experience some of them. 

Abel Tasman National Park – One Day

Brief Description:  With golden sandy beaches and temperate rainforest - the Abel Tasman National Park is stunning and offers coastal walks, beaches and bays.  The track hugs the coast and there are a wide variety of ways to experience the park.  From combo walk and kayak tours, to full day guided walks to an open day pass to allow you to walk a section of the track.  Allow time for a swim and relax on one of the many quiet sandy beaches.    Many visitors enjoy time amongst the seals as part of their trip.
Level:  Easy / Moderate
Duration:  1hr to full day
Location:  Top of the South Island.  1.5hrs drive from Nelson.
Need to know:  Water taxi's depart from Kaiteriteri.  We recommend taking a picnic lunch.  Allows those who do not have the time to experience a multi day hiking/kayaking trip to experience this stunning park.
Point of difference:  Water taxi's run up and down the coast, providing great access.  Walking options for all fitness levels.   

Milford Track – One Day

Brief Description:  
A guided day excursion including a walk on the first section of the world famous Milford Track.  The Milford Track is renowned for its dramatic alpine scenery, clear rivers and ancient beech forest. 
Level:  Easy
Duration:  One day
Location:  South Island,  Ex Te Anau.
Need to know:  Only access to start of the track is by boat. Must be pre-booked.
Point of difference:   Allows those who do not have the time to experience the full 4 day walk to have a taste of the famous Milford Track - one of New Zealand's 'Great Walks'.  Also includes a stunning boat cruise across Lake Te Anau.  Enjoyable day out.  Available as a day trip from Queenstown, however, we recommend doing from Te Anau. 

Milford Big Day Out

Brief Description: 
This trip is a combination of 2.5hrs unguided walking in the Hollyford Valley or Routeburn Summit followed by a nature cruise on Milford Sound.  Stunning alpine, wildlife and fiord scenery.
Level:  Easy to moderate
Duration:  Choice of 2.5hrs unguided walking either easy or moderate/hard.
Location:  South Island.  Ex Te Anau.
Need to know:  You will need to stay in Te Anau pre and post this trip.
Point of difference:  Fiordland National Park - a World Heritage area. Great for those who want to  combine walking with experiencing iconic Milford Sound in a day.   

Fox Glacier Heli Hike
Brief description:  Fly by helicopter over the pinnacles of the lower icefall. Here, the ice is in constant motion. You then circle the upper icefall and Victoria Falls before landing. Your landing site on the ice is a remote and exceptionally beautiful part of the glacier. You are fitted with crampons, specially designed for these ice conditions and you follow the ice steps cut by your guide as you explore the amazing formations and ice caves which are only seen here.  This trip provides stunning vistas and a fantastic photographic opportunities. Learn from knowledgeable guides about glaciology, geology and botany.
Level:  Low - Moderate
Duration:  4 hr trip with 2.5 hrs spent on the ice. 
Location:  Fox Glacier, West Coast of South Island
Need to know:  Suitable for children 9yrs and older. Guides provide leather boots for use with crampons.  Take 3-4 layers of clothing. Tours are subject to minimum of 4. Helicopter part of the trip is approx. total of 16 minutes.
Point of difference:  By flying in you are able to access and explore a part of the glacier where its forces work hardest and often create spectacular ice caves and arches. Walk on a glacier. Note: and you're only 10 miles from the coast!
Lake Matheson (near Fox Glacier)

Brief Description:   As easy ‘self guided’ walks to New Zealand’s most photographed lake – famous for it’s wonderful reflections of Aoraki Mount Cook and Mount Tasman.
Level:  Easy walking track
Duration:  approx 90 minutes
Location:  7 minutes drive from Fox Glacier township, so a must do while in the area.
Need to know:  Best experienced at either sunrise or sunset. 

The Blue Pools of Haast Pass

Brief Description: 
An easy ‘self guided’ walk that starts at the carpark just north of Muddy Creek and leads through silver beech/tahina to a swingbridge overlooking the pools at the mouth of Blue River. Large brown and rainbow trout can often be seen feeding in the pools.
Level:  Easy walking track
Location:  Haast Pass, West Coast, South Island.  A great opportunity to stretch the legs during the drive between Fox Glacier & Wanaka/Queenstown
Start:  State Highway 6 near Makarora (north of Wanaka and South of Haast on West Coast of South Island.  Parking is on the side of the road.
Distance: less than a mile return
Time: approx 30 minutes return 

Rob Roy Glacier 

Brief Description:   Access to the start of the track includes a scenic drive around Lake Wanaka and driving through several fords. Walk by old farmers hut, across a swing bridge, the the trek steadily climbs into a New Zealand rainforest - a variety of moss, ferns, and shrubs. Often the glacier can be seen through the bush. See alpine herbs and flowers, and the glory of the Rob Roy Glacier. Large chunks of ice and snow (sometimes the size of a car) can usually be seen from a distance dropping 150-300 metres. A 261-metre waterfall descends from here creating an amazing windblast. Note: This tour operates Nov - Apr, May - Oct on request. Does not operate on Christmas Day.
Level:  Medium
Duration:  5 hours walking time.  6.2 mile hike.
Location:  Wanaka
Need to know:   Depending on time of year, access to start of track required 4WD vehicle. Strong footwear, layers of clothing, including a warm fleece, a wind/rain proof Jacket, a personal water bottle, and a day pack to carry your gear/belongings and lunch (supplied by guides). Walking poles can be supplied if required.
Point of Difference: In other parts of the world, it may take several days or weeks to trek to places as beautiful as Rob Roy Glacier, here you can experience in one day. 

Routeburn Track – One Day

Brief Description:
Stunning drive along Lake Wakatipu to the trailhead.  Walk amongst towering ancient beech trees and blankets of moss and fern climbing gradually beside the thundering Routeburn River.  Fantastic alpine scenery and birdlife.
Level:  Moderate
Duration: 3 – 5 hrs on a guided walk
Location:  South Island.  Ex Queenstown
Need to know:  You will walk a section of the longer Routeburn Track which takes 3 days / 2 nights. 
Point of difference:   A great day out from Queenstown into stunning New Zealand wilderness and a chance to experience a day hiking one of New Zealand's 'Great Walks'. 

The Tongariro Crossing

Brief Description:  Tongariro area was formed by many different volcanic eruptions over thousands of years, from at least six cones.  The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a challenging 18.5km trek & considered New Zealand's best day one day walk.
Level:  Challenging
Duration:  8-9 hours walking
Location:  Central North Island. Ex Taupo or National Park.
Need to know:  Stay in National Park, Taupo or Ohakune.  Guided walk only operates Nov-April.  You can walk this independently; however, you must organize transportation to/from the start and end of walk.  Many who complete the trek will tell you the climbs can be steep and the weather can be unpredictable.   Outdoor clothing essential, very changeable weather.
Point of difference:  Unique and very different to anything else you will see in New Zealand.  The landscape on Tongariro is peppered with the different colored and shaped craters, scoured volcanic rocks, active geothermal areas, mountain springs, and brightly colored emerald lakes.  The guided walk can also be an opportunity to learn about Maori Culture from your Maori Guide.

If you’d like more information on walking or hiking in New Zealand please contact the team at Active Downunder on 800 425 9036 - we've experienced all of these walks first hand.

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