By Alistair Guthrie
From coastal walkways to native forest trails and ancient glaciers, New Zealand is packed with short walks suitable for all levels of fitness.
With hikes of just 30 minutes up to 3 hours, New Zealand's selection of short walks cover everything from a casual beach stroll to a slightly more challenging mountain climb.
Journey from the North Island to the South Island as you explore lush native forest, discover fascinating history and encounter unique wildlife.
Find your ultimate short walk in the collection below.
Christchurch - Canterbury
20 Mins — 1.4 km (return)
Explore the spectacular limestone formations of Kura Tawhiti on this short walk.
1 Hr — 2 km(return)
Take a short walk through beautiful native forest to stand at the base of the spectacular 131m Devil's Punchbowl Fall.
1.5 Hrs — 3.4km(return)
Walk through stunning native bush on the way to Wainui Falls, the largest falls in Golden Bay.
45 Mins — 1.4km (loop)
The Lake Gunn Nature Walk is an easy 45 minute loop walk suited to all ages and accessible to wheelchairs.
1 Hour — 2.7km (return)
Discover New Zealand's longest glacier with this walk that takes in alpine-fed lakes and glacier moulded landscapes.
1 Hour — 1.5 km(return)
Wander through beautiful native forests and over a swing bridge to experience the pristine waters of the the Makarora River's Blue Pools.
1.25 Hrs — 3.4 km (one way)
With a seal colony, a lighthouse and panoramic views of mountains and coastline, the Cape Foulwind Walkway is an easy walk suitable for all the family.
1.5 Hrs — 2.5 km (return)
Explore the spectacular Coromandel coastline as you walk to Gemstone and Stingray Bays and the famous Cathedral Cove.
1.5 Hrs — 2.6 km (loop)
Wander through ancient forest and gaze on mirror-like reflections of New Zealand's highest mountain Aoraki/Mount Cook on this easy Lake Matheson hike.
2 Hours (return) — 7 km
Travel to the dormant volcano island just off the coast of Auckland. Climb to the summit and experience panoramic views.
3 Hrs — 9.5 km (one way)
Hike along a disused railway line through tunnels, over bridges and along deep gorges. Enjoy native forest, waterfalls and sweeping views.
Northland & Bay of Islands
2-3 Hrs — 5 km (return)
Journey over beaches and cliff tops, through farmlands and native forests to discover views that reach all the way down to the Hauraki Gulf.
2-3 Hrs — 3.5 km (return)
Wander through regenerating native forest to the summit of Mount Manaia, where rocky outcrops create perfect natural lookouts with spectacular views.
30 Mins (return) — 1 Km
From swamp forest to windswept sand dunes these two short walks will give you give a real taste of the wild West Coast.
With 360 degree views, the loop track that circles Matiu/Somes Island in Wellington Harbour is a tranquil walk through nature and history.
Lake Monowai is a very peaceful paradise at the edge of Fiordland National Park.
Put half a day aside for this easy coastal walk to Red Rocks and a fur seal colony on the south side of Wellington. Make sure to take a drink and lunch!
40 Mins (return) — 2 km
A easy walk along the most spectacular coastline in the region, passing through farmland and forest.
The Centre of New Zealand, on Botanical Hill at the start of the Maitai Valley, is an iconic walk in Nelson.
1 Hr — 5 km
Fensham Reserve is an easy-going bush walk on the outskirts of Carterton in the Wairarapa.
1 Hr — 7 km
Follow the Pororari River upstream into the impressive Paparoa National Park. Pass between dramatic limestone cliffs and through sub-tropical forest.
1 Hour (one Way) — 3 km
This family friendly track follows the Clutha River/Mata-Au from its starting point of Lake Wanaka.
1 Hour (return) — 2 km
Explore the sea-carved sandstone cliffs, rock arches and caves at Tunnel Beach; look for fossils as you descend through the pioneers' hand-carved tunnel.
1.5 Hrs — 5.4 km
Not for the fainthearted, this track winds through a rocky riverbed. You'll be rewarded with stunning glacier views.
1.5 Hours (return)
Walk, run or ride along a scenic lakeside trail on the front porch of downtown Rotorua. Learn about the local birdlife and geothermal activity.
1.5 Hrs — 4.5 km
Just outside of Wanaka, the track ascends for 250 metres. At the top, experience awesome 360 views.
1-2 Hours (return) — 10 km
Named in 1770 by Captain Cook who thought Castle Rock looked similar to the battlements of a castle.
2 Hrs — 5 km
Hike along the Pineapple Track high above Dunedin and enjoy magnificent views of the city and Taieri Plains.
1 -2 Hours (return)
Work up an appetite with one of Oamaru's scenic walks. Choose the challenging Skyline Walk or the relatively easy South Hill Walkway.
1-2 Hrs — 5 km
This totally unique experience allows visitors to get up close to New Zealand’s native flora and fauna in natural, self-sustaining forest surroundings.
2.5 Hours — 5.8km (return)
Picnic in Cooks Cove where Captain Cook restocked and repaired his ship.
2.5 Hours — 3km
Camp beside a river in a quiet rural valley and walk through native forest to a picturesque waterfall and abandoned gold mines.
3 Hrs — 11.7 km
There are a number of different segments in this walkway. Cross the peninsula’s cliff top and soak up the ocean views.
3 Hrs — 7 km
You don't have to travel far to find yourself in another world. The Putangirua Pinnacles are just an hour's drive from Martinborough.
3 Hrs — 4.2 km
In the heart of town, and a favourite with locals, the Queenstown Hill Time Walk offers spectacular views of Queenstown and the area around Lake Wakatipu.
3 Hrs (return)
Close to Picton, the track ascends to the Queen Charlotte View Lookout. Great views along the way.
3 Hrs (return) — 10 Km
Walk the Te Waihou Walkway and explore the famous Blue Spring, which supplies around 70% of New Zealand's bottled water.
GRADE: EASY - INTERMEDIATE
3 Hours (return) — 8 km (Raetahinga Point Return)
Go west to the Waitakere Ranges and wind through wild and stunning locations like Huia, Piha and Muriwai.
4 Hrs Return — 7 km
Discover mining relics, travel alongside the Ohinemuri River, and experience the large Karangahake Gorge.
Makara Walking Track combines spectacular long-range views with a walk along a wild, west coast beach.
Cruise into the heart of the National Park to walk the most varied section of the Coastal Track. Optional side trip to Cleopatra’s Pool.
2 - 4 Hours
Exercise your mind as well as your legs on this three hour loop track. There's a lot to be learned about gold mining here.
4 Hrs — 10.4 km
Traverse the edge of the Rakaia Gorge and marvel at the spectacular geological areas.