A Selection of Hikes in New Zealand

New Zealand offers some of the best day walks and short hikes in the world

Flying Kiwi offers you an opportunity to make many of them part of your NZ adventure tour. We've put together a selection of New Zealand hiking experiences here to give you a taste of walking in NZ.

If walking in pristine wild places is what you look for in a tour, New Zealand is hard to beat. These shorter hikes allow you to experience NZ's stunning wilderness without committing to a multi-day trek.

You may have heard of the Tongariro Crossing — reputedly the world's best day walk — it's just one of many great walks you can enjoy with Flying Kiwi. Both North and South Islands have lots to offer when it comes to walking...

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Cathedral Cove

The Coromandel Peninsula — about two hours drive from Auckland — is home to some of New Zealand’s most beautiful native forests and stunning beaches. And the peninsula offers many unmissable short forest and beach walks.

Hahei beach is the starting point for a coastal track that will take you up to incredible viewpoints and down through native bush before you reach the famous Cathedral Cove. This glorious white sand beach has a huge limestone archway, which may appear familiar to you.  It's both a popular photo opportunity found on many an Insta account and a film location. No. Not The Lord of the Rings this time. The archway is where the Pevensie children arrive back in Narnia (A.K.A New Zealand!) at the beginning of Prince Caspian, third in the Narnia movie series. Follow in the children's footsteps and walk through the arch. You will see more glorious beach and Sphinx rock, one of the most photographed natural features in the country. This might be on of NZ's best spots for a beach picnic and a swim before you walk back to Hahei.

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Waikato River Walk

Some walks are so good they should not be missed. This is one of them. Our tours arriving in Taupo from the north drop guests off to walk the rest of the way into the city. The walk starts at the incredible Huka Falls where the Waikato River is forced through a narrow channel that creates powerful white water and an impressive waterfall. These impressive falls are a must see in Taupo providing great photo opportunities as NZ's longest river spills out of the channel before the river calmly continues on its course. From here you can follow the Waikato on a stunning riverside track, offering more photo opportunities, toward Taupo.

Don’t forget to stop off at the Otumuheke stream on the way. This hot water stream is a perfect place to soak in natural hot water and cool of in the river before continuing on into the city. 

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Ruakuri Walkway

The Waitomo area is famous for its limestone caves and glow worms under the ground. But you don't have to descend into the caves to experience the natural beauty of the area. Beautiful limestone features can also be seen on the surface. Our guests who choose not to go on an optional caving adventure, enjoy a walk through some awesome limestone rock formations in the Ruakuri reserve.  The walk takes you through native fern forests, past some cave entrances, and through a short tunnel before you follow a walkway back to Waitomo village. 

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Haruru Falls Walkway

This is another unmissable walk. We think it is good enough to be part of our tour guests' experience on arrival to the beautiful Bay of Islands. Our guests get a chance to stretch their legs by walking the 5km track ending at the scenic Haruru falls. The walk starts near the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and takes you along the edge of the Waitangi River through mangroves and beech forest. Listen and keep an eye out for bird life such as Fantails, Bellbirds and Cormorants, which are common along the trail. Eventually you’ll reach the reward at the end, the attractive, horseshoe shaped Haruru Falls. 

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Waipoua Forest Walks

Our Northland tours travel down the west coast and make their way through the ancient forest of Waipoua. This is a small remnant of a much larger forest that would have covered much of the Northland region. It is important tract of forest that all visitors to Northland should see.

The forest remains as a window into the past.  Step foot into the once uninhabited forest home to New Zealand’s mighty and ancient Kauri Trees. A short walking track allows you to see the largest Kauri tree in the country, Tane Mahuta. Standing at just over 51m this beautiful specimen dwarfs the rest of the forest canopy. It's simply breath-taking once you see it for yourself. Just a little further down the road, a slightly longer walking track offers a chance to see more Kauri trees. This includes the Four Sisters, a collection of four trees that are growing unusually close to each other and Te Matua Ngahere, which is shorter than Tane Mahuta but, incredibly, wider! These majestic giants of the forest are well worth the short walks and this is a favourite stop on our trip around Northland.  

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Kaikoura Peninsula Walk

Kaikoura is famous for its marine life and you’ll most certainly be able to see some on this awesome walk around the Kaikoura Peninsula. Starting from Point Kean the track climbs a little for great ocean views with the stunning back drop of the seaward Kaikoura ranges. There’s a good chance you’ll see some native New Zealand fur seals near the track. Just remember they are a protected species and potentially dangerous, if you get a little too close. So, best to stay at least 20m away. But it’s great to see them lounging on the rocks soaking up some sun. If you look out to the water you may get lucky and see the dorsal fins of the dusky dolphins that frequent the waters around Kaikoura. Looking to the sky will reward you with views of sea birds flying nearby. The walk finishes up in South Bay. 

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Peel Forest Walks

The Peel Forest Reserve sits on the border between the Canterbury Plains and the Southern Alps. It offers a chance to see some of New Zealand’s ancient podocarp forest, home to mighty Kahikatea (white pine), Totara and Matai (black pine) trees. Along the trails you’ll also hear and possible see a few native song birds such as the Fantail, Bellbird, Silvereye and Tomtit. This special place offers quiet hikes and dense native bush. It's the perfect spot for a relaxing morning or afternoon stroll before or after a picnic lunch.  

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Hooker Valley

A trip to New Zealand isn’t complete without taking in the majestic sight of Aoraki/Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak. Aoraki translates to ‘cloud piercer’ and quite often we see it towering above a thin cloud layer near the very top, this hike however, is about more than just the epic backdrop of the mountain. As you make your way up the Hooker Valley you’ll cross a series of swing bridges and boardwalks spotting wildflowers as you go. Eventually you’ll reach a glacier lake with great views of the Hooker Glacier, Aoraki/Mt Cook and the Southern Alps. The track returns the same way to the carpark where the bus will be waiting. One of the most incredible places we visit and not too be missed! 

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Queenstown Walks

The adrenaline capital of the world boasts an array of different activities and promises an action packed few days of your trip. But if you want to get away from it all then head off on one of these walks. Queenstown hill is easily accessible from the centre of town as a steep but enjoyable track takes you through pine forest before you reach the summit with great views over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.

For a more challenging hike you can hike up to the top of Queenstown gondola watching the downhill mountain bike riders as you go or hitch a ride on the gondola itself as the track to the Ben Lomond summit starts from here. Follow the track through the pines until you find yourself back amongst native bush. The track climbs steeply at the end but it is well worth it for the panoramic views of Queenstown and the Wakatipu basin and on the other side views over Mt Aspiring National Park and of the mighty peak of Mt Aspiring itself can be had. Return by the same track leading back to the gondola and finally back down into the hustle and bustle of Queenstown. 

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Ship Creek

The west coast is an incredible place that has beaches, braided rivers, dense temperate rain forest, towering mountains and glaciers. The two walks at Ship Creek give you a taste of things to come along the west coast. The first walk takes you through a swamp forest observing plants and birdlife as you go; the track is also home to mighty Kahikatea trees, New Zealand’s tallest trees. A second walk follows a boardwalk along the sand dune before winding through forest eventually opening up at a viewpoint overlooking a dune lake and the remaining coastline heading south. Make your way back along the coast and keep an eye on the breaking surf as it is quite common to spot Hectors dolphins playing in the waves. 

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Lake Matheson

This beautiful lake is surrounded by native forest and boasts an impressive view of the Southern Alps including Aoraki/Mt Cook and Mt Tasman. The main attraction of this walk is the way this lake reflects the mountains in its dark waters making it a very popular photo opportunity. On a clear calm day the stillness of the water allows a perfect reflection of one of the best views on the whole tour! The track is a well formed gravel path that takes you around the lake in loop that is mostly flat and suitable for everyone. It is another great opportunity to spot native birds and plants and you can also enjoy an afternoon coffee at the award winning café near the end of the walk. 

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Pororari River Track

Our last stop on the West Coast is in a little place called Punakaiki. The scenery makes a dramatic change as you travel up the coast. The dense temperate rainforest and mountain views gives way to Nikau palms and the huge limestone cliffs of Paparoa National Park. One of the best ways to get a taste for this area is on foot by walking along the Pororari river track. You can follow the river one way and return the same way or carry on the trail that links you with an inland pack track. Once on the inland track you climb a steep hill coming down the other side to meet the Punakaiki River that leads you back to the coastline. From here it is a short walk up to the main centre of the area where you’ll find a café and the information centre.

You’ll also be able to stop in to see the famous Pancake Rocks and blowholes while you're in Punakaiki. These limestone rock formations make up a small peninsula that looks like lots of pancakes stacked up on top of each other, hence the name. At high tide waves are forced through narrow gaps in the rocks creating a whale’s blowhole effect that is quite impressive when there are big ocean swells. All in all the Paparoa National Park is a great way to finish or start an awesome wild West Coast experience. 

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