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The BEST New Zealand Short Walks and Hikes

The Best New Zealand Short Walks and Hikes You Need to Do in 2022:

1. Hooker Valley Track (Mt Cook Aoraki)

A glacial river running through rocks with snow-capped mountains in the background and fog.
Views along the Hooker Valley Track in Mount Cook National Park

Length: 10km return
Time: 2h 30 min
Start point: White Horse Hill Campground
Walk highlights: A fantastic moderate walk that follows the Hooker River across swing-bridges and past the Lake Müller lookout, before arriving at Hooker Lake. The relatively flat gravel path winds through the Hooker Valley. You’ll be amazed by the pale turquoise colour of the glacial lakes and rivers, which are filled with silt from the glaciers. My favourite of the New Zealand short walks!

2. Taranaki Falls Loop (Tongariro National Park)

a fenced wooden footbridge leading to a heather-covered hill with a snow-capped mountain in the backdrop.
Views of Mount Ngauruhoe on the Taranaki Falls Loop in Tongariro National Park

Length: 6km circular
Time: 1h 30 min
Start point: Whakapapa Village
Walk highlights: A waterfall walk in Tongariro National Park. This area is most famous for the full day Tongariro Alpine Crossing hike, but families or those short of time may wish to do this quick walk instead, which still offers views of Mount Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings).

3. Blue Pools Track (Mt Aspiring)

Length: 3.2km return
Time: 50 min
Start point: Car park opposite Cameron Flat Campsite
Walk highlights: An easy walk over swing-bridges in Mount Aspiring National Park to the clear turquoise waters of Blue Pools. You really won’t believe the colour of it!

4. Cathedral Cove Walk

The view of a golden sandy cove with blue ocean and a large rock, seen through a natural stone archway.
Cathedral Cove on the Coromandel Peninsula

Length: 4.5km return
Time: 1h 35 min
Start point: Cathedral Cove Car Park
Walk highlights: This is another iconic New Zealand short walk to see the famous rock archway at Cathedral Cove. Expect dazzling views and a swimming opportunity once you reach the cove.

5. Tasman Glacier View Walk

A glacial lake with ice floating in it flanked by a 3000 metre snow-capped mountain.
The view from the Tasman Glacier Viewpoint

Length: 1.3km return
Time: 30 min
Start point: Tasman Glacier Car Park
Walk highlights: A short walk up steps to the Tasman Glacier Lookout. You’ll witness the icy cliffs of the glacier up close and the Tasman Lake beneath it. Don’t miss the dazzling Blue Pools on the way up!

6. Redwood Quarry Track (Rotorua)

The sun poking through some californian redwood trees with green pine branches.
Beautiful redwoods with the sun poking through

Length: 4.8km circular
Time: 1h 30 min
Start point: Redwoods i-SITE Visitor Information Centre
Walk highlights: A peaceful loop track through Rotorua’s Redwood Forest . You can do the Redwoods Treewalk for around $30 per person (alternatively this route is free if you’re happy to experience the redwoods from below).

7. Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway

Length: 6.9km return
Time: 1h 45 min
Start point: Point Kean Viewpoint
Walk highlights: A relatively easy cliff-top walk, which hugs the coast line in Kaikoura. On the walk, you’ll be able to see New Zealand fur seals on the beach below. For a longer, circular route you can do the Kaikoura Peninsula Loop which starts in the centre of town.

8. Sealy Tarns Track

The view from an elevated spot overlooking glacial lakes and snow-capped mountains.
Views from the top of the Sealy Tarns Track in Mt Cook Aoraki National Park

Length: 5.1km return
Time: 2h 50 min
Start point: White Horse Hill Campground
Walk highlights: One of my favourite walks in New Zealand! The Sealy Tarns Track is a challenging ascent up hundreds of steps to reach the Sealy Tarns Viewpoint. From here, you’ll have epic views of snow-capped Mt Cook and the glacial lakes from above.

9. Spa Park to Huka Falls Walk

Length: 6.9km return
Time: 1h 50 min
Start point: Spa Park Car Park
Walk highlights: A moderate walk along the Waikato River to Huka Falls. As you walk by the side of the river, you can witness the flow of water getting faster and faster. By the time you reach the swing-bridge viewing platform, the river has turned into crashing rapids.

10. Franz Josef Glacier Track

A retreating icy glacier with a rocky river bed in the foreground used by people walking towards the glacier.
The Franz Josef Glacier Track on the West Coast

Length: 1.4km return
Time: 20 min
Start point: Franz Josef Glacier Car Park
Walk highlights: A walk through the Franz Josef Glacier Valley, which ends at the glacier lookout. From here, you’ll be able to see the beauty of the retreating glacier and the rocky landscape left behind as the ice receeds.

11. Pitt Head Loop (Abel Tasman)

The view from a viewpoint overlooking a blue crescent bay with golden sand surrounded by trees and rocks.
Te Pukatea Bay in Abel Tasman National Park

Length: 3.2km circular
Time: 55 min
Start point: Anchorage Bay Beach
Walk highlights: A gorgeous walk in the pristine Abel Tasman National Park, one of the most beautiful areas in the country. Walk through lush forest to the Pitt Head Lookout, offering views of golden sandy coves with aquamarine water. Don’t miss the view above Te Pukatea Bay, the most stunning beach in Abel Tasman. You will need to jump in a water taxi to reach the pristine but secluded Anchorage Bay (so worth it!).

12. Lake Pukaki Shoreline Walk

A bright turquoise lake with a black rocky shoreline flanked by snow-capped mountains in the distance.
Views on the Lake Pukaki Foreshore Walk

Length: As short or as long as you want! The entire track is 13km but you can do a short return section.
Time: 1h-4h
Start point: Lake Pukaki Car Park
Walk highlights: This foreshore walk hugs the southern end of Lake Pukaki and offers brilliant views across the turquoise water to Mt Cook Aoraki. The full track meanders for 13km, but you can just do a short section before returning to your car/ campervan if you wish.

13. Cape Reinga Lighthouse Trail

A tarmac path leading down to a small white lighthouse surrounded by grassland and the blue ocean beyond it.
The Cape Reinga Lighthouse Trail

Length: 1.6km return
Time: 35 min
Start point: Cape Reinga Parking Area
Walk highlights: A leisurely short stroll to the Cape Reinga Lighthouse, the most northerly tip of New Zealand. From here, you can witness the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean collide, which creates interesting currents in the water.

14. Wilkies Pools Loop Track (Mt Taranaki)

An area of green vegetation with a snow-capped mountain in the backdrop.
Views of Mt Taranaki from Wilkies Pools Loop Track in Egmont National Park

Length: 2.6km circular
Time: 1h 5 min
Start point: DOC Visitor Centre Dawson Falls
Walk highlights: A leisurely walk to clear pools, offering stunning views of Mount Taranaki. Enjoy the calming sounds of the water running by as you take in the nature around you.

15. Lake Matheson Loop Trail

A reflective lake with snow-capped mountains reflected back into the water and forest on each side.
The reflective waters of Lake Matheson near Fox Glacier

Length: 4.3km circular
Time: 1h 10 min
Start point: Lake Matheson Parking
Walk highlights: A chilled walk around Lake Matheson in Glacier Country. The glassy lake is flanked by snow-capped mountains and there are a couple of lovely jetty viewpoints to stop at and take in your surroundings.

16. Waiheke Island Short Loop

A grassy path on a headland with blue ocean and small islands dotted to the left.
Picturesque views on the Waiheke Island Short Loop Track

Length: 5.5km circular
Time: 1h 30 min
Start point: Waiheke Island Ferry Terminal
Walk highlights: A wonderful moderate loop around the north-west section of Waiheke Island. The walk takes you through lush hills before arriving at Owhanake Beach and hugging the coastline past idyllic bays and headlands.

17. Mt John Circuit Summit Track (Lake Tekapo)

A grassy hill overlooking a bright blue lake with a mountain range in the background.
Views over Lake Tekapo from the Mt John Summit Walkway

Length: 8km circular
Time: 2h 45 min
Start point: Tekapo Springs Car Park
Walk highlights: A relatively challenging uphill ascent to the Mt John Observatory Viewpoint, an astrology research facility owned by the University of Canterbury. From the summit, you’ll witness the bright blue waters of Lake Tekapo from above, and great views of the Southern Alps mountain range in the opposite direction.

18. Mount Maunganui Track

The viewpoint from the top of a mountain overlooking a peninsula town by the ocean with a white beach, gentle waves and small islands in the distance.
Views from the Mount Maunganui Summit

Length: 6.4km circular
Time: 2h
Start point: At the north end of Maunganui Beach by the holiday park
Walk highlights: A moderately challenging ascent up an extinct volcano, offering breathtaking views of the Bay of Plenty from the summit.

19. Queenstown Hill Walkway

A summit view of a green pine valley with a blue lake and a snow-capped mountain behind it.
Views over Lake Wakatipu from the top of Queenstown Hill

Length: 4.8km return
Time: 2h 15 min
Start point: Belfast Terrace
Walk highlights: A semi-difficult uphill ascent to the summit of Queenstown Hill (which is actually a small mountain!). You’ll ascend through pine forest before reaching a lookout with views over Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountain range.

20. Hokitika Gorge Walk

A swing-bridge over a blue body of water in a gorge surrounded by rocks and trees.
Hokitika Gorge

Length: 2.1km circular
Time: 35 min
Start point: Hokitika Gorge Parking
Walk highlights: A leisurely walk to Hokitika Gorge over swing-bridges, arguably the bluest water in New Zealand! The gorge was ground out of granite by the Hokitika River, and it has a bright milky turquoise colour.

21. Onahau Lookout Track (Marlborough Sounds)

A grassy hill top with bushes overlooking a sound with forest-covered islands and deep blue ocean.
Views over the Marlborough Sounds from the Onahau Lookout

Length: 3.7km circular
Time: 1h 40 min
Start point: The end of Onahau Road
Walk highlights: This short but steep tramp takes you to the Onahau Lookout, where you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the Marlborough Sounds.

22. The Outlet Track (Lake Wanaka)

A river running between tree-lined riverbanks with mountains in the backdrop.
Views of the Clutha River from the Outlet Track

Length: 12.1km point-to-point
Time: 2h 45 min
Start point: Lake Wanaka Centre (Waterfront)
Walk highlights: A great one-way walk from Wanaka to Albert Town. As you walk, the lake turns into the Clutha River, which is a lovely clear blue colour.

23. Rangitoto Summit Track (Auckland)

The view of a forest-covered volcanic island behind a body of water. With houses of the mainland in the foreground.
Rangitoto Island near Auckland

Length: 5.5km return
Time: 1h 45 min
Start point: Rangitoto Wharf
Walk highlights: A moderate hike on the volcanic Rangitoto Island, just off Auckland. The return track through black rock ascends gently to the summit, offering panoramic views of the gulf.

24. Mount Tauhara Track (Lake Taupo)

A mountain covered in trees with a grassy hill in the foreground.
Mount Tauhara by Lake Taupo (it’s steeper than it looks!)

Length: 6.6km return
Time: 3h
Start point: The end of Mountain Road
Walk highlights: A challenging leg-burner to the summit of Mount Tauhara. From the top, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views over Lake Taupo and central North Island.

25. Mount Victoria Lookout

A vantage point overlooking a waterfront city at sunset with a marina, high rise buildings and green mountains in the backdrop.
The views of Wellington from Mount Victoria Lookout

Length: 2.4km circular
Time: 50 min
Start point: Lawson Place, Mount Victoria
Walk highlights: An easy walk from Charles Plimmer Park to the Mount Victoria Lookout. From the top, you’ll be able to see panoramic views of Wellington, the wharf and the mountains beyond.

26. Christchurch Adventure Park Walking Track

A cable car pylon at the top of a hill with grassy slopes, a city and a harbour in the background.
Views from the chairlift top station in Christchurch Adventure Park

Length: 5.3km one way (get chairlift back)
Time: 1h 45 min
Start point: Christchurch Adventure Park Car Park
Walk highlights: This is a lovely walk just 15 minutes outside of Christchurch city. You can take the uphill track through woodland and fields to the chairlift top station. From here, you’ll have a great vantage point over Christchurch and Lyttelton Harbour, before descending back to the car park on the chairlift.

27. Glenorchy Lagoon Scenic Walkway

A person sitting on a bench on a wooden boardwalk jutting out onto a lake with trees and mountains in the distance.
A stop on the Glenorchy Scenic Walkway overlooking the lagoon and the mountains

Length: 3.4km circular
Time: 45 min
Start point: Glenorchy Waterfront Car Park
Walk highlights: A family-friendly long boardwalk, which meanders through lush green wetlands and brings you out at the Glenorchy Lagoon. On a clear day you’ll see great views of the snow-capped mountains across the water. There are wooden benches dotted around the walkway – a great spot for a picnic with the kids.

28. Sawpit Gully Track (Arrowtown)

A grassy autumn forest covered in mist, with snow-capped mountains in the background.
Views on the Sawpit Gully Track near Arrowtown

Length: 7.7km circular
Time: 2h 45 min
Start point: Buckingham Street Car Park
Walk highlights: A great walk in the hills above the old gold mining settlement of Arrowtown. You’ll walk past rivers, pine forests and snow-capped mountains. The walk is especially beautiful in the autumn, when the pine trees become a carpet of reds and golds.

29. Kura-Tawhiti Access Track

A green grassy path winding through giant grey boulders, with mountains in the backdrop.
The giant rocks on the Kura-Tawhiti Access Track

Length: 5km circular
Time: 1h 45 min
Start point: Castle Hill Car Park
Walk highlights: A short walk to the top of Castle Hill, where you can enjoy large giant rock formations and views of the snow-capped Southern Alps.

30. Devil’s Punchbowl Lookout Trail

A tall waterfall cascading down to a rocky riverbed surrounded by lush trees and green vegetation.
Devil’s Punchbowl Falls in Canterbury

Length: 1.8km return
Time: 40 min
Start point: Devil’s Punchbowl Carpark
Walk highlights: A short walk with some steps to Devil’s Punchbowl Falls. On route you’ll see great views of the rugged Arthur’s Pass.

31. Mangawhai Cliffs Walkway

The view of a beach with gentle waves from the top of a grassy cliff with leaning trees.
Mangawhai Heads Cliffs walk

Length: 8.7km return
Time: 2h 30 min
Start point: Beach Car Park (Wintle St)
Walk highlights: A great clifftop walk above the ocean on the east coast of Northland. Instead of returning south on the same track, you could walk back along the beach instead (always check tide times).

32. Picton Snout Track

A grassy headland behind a body of bright blue ocean.
Views of the Marlborough Sounds from the Snout Track

Length: 8km circular
Time: 2h 25 min
Start point: Snout Track Car Park
Walk highlights: A great walk up a narrow peninsula at the top of South Island to ‘The Snout’. Expect breathtaking views of the Marlborough Sounds.

33. Castlepoint Track

A white lighthouse on a rocky headland with ocean on each side and a beach in the background.
Views from the Castlepoint Track

Length: 4.5km circular
Time: 1h 15 min
Start point: Jetty Rd
Walk highlights: A coastal circular walk which takes you to the Castlepoint Lighthouse before joining the Deliverance Cove Track for more epic ocean views.

34. Tunnel Beach Walkway

A muddy path leading downhill to a misty bay with a natural rocky arch stretching into the boisterous ocean.
Tunnel Beach Walking Track near Dunedin

Length: 1.8km return
Time: 50 min
Start point: Tunnel Beach Parking
Walk highlights: Tunnel Beach is a rugged beach with a natural arch, accessed by a historic hand-carved tunnel built into the cliff. The short walk is tranquil and provides great views.

35. Cooks Cove Walkway

A rocky headland with grass and woodland on one side and steep rocky slopes down to the ocean on the other side.
Cooks Cove Walkway near Gisborne, New Zealand

Length: 5km return
Time: 1h 30 min
Start point: Wharf Rd
Walk highlights: A great coastal walk along the cliffs to Cooks Cove Lookout, where you’ll see the long jetty of Tolaga Bay Wharf reaching out into the ocean.

36. Wharariki Beach Loop

A sandy beach with large black rocks and a natural rock arch island in the ocean in the distance.
Archway Islands on Wharariki Beach, Puponga

Length: 4.5km circular
Time: 1h
Start point: Wharariki Beach Carpark
Walk highlights: A kid-friendly walk to Wharariki Beach and through the lush headland around it. When the tide is out, you can also walk all the way along the beach and witness Archway Islands.

37. Putangirua Pinnacles Track Loop

A steep cliff face with pinnacle rocks overlooking grassy mountains and cloudy skies.
The Putangirua Pinnacles near Wellington

Length: 4.7km circular
Time: 1h 45 min
Start point: Putangirua Pinnacles Campsite
Walk highlights: A moderate walk below the Putangirua Pinnacles, a geological formation of ‘earth pillars’ in the Wellington region. You’ll also go past the Pinnacles Lookout for some great panoramic views of the Aorangi Ranges.

38. Tawharanui Ecology Path

A sheep eating grass on a grassy headland next to the ocean.
Views along the Tawharanui Ecology Path

Length: 3.5km circular
Time: 1h 10 min
Start point: Anchor Bay Car Park
Walk highlights: An easy walk in Tawharanui Regional Park through native bush and headlands overlooking the golden sands of Anchor Bay Beach. Look out for abundant birdlife (for this reason no dogs are allowed on this track).

39. Cape Foulwind Walkway

A rocky beach with moderate waves flanked by grassy headland.
Cape Foulwind Walkway near Westport

Length: 6km return
Time: 1h 35 min
Start point: Lighthouse Rd Public Parking
Walk highlights: A coastal walk on New Zealand’s ‘wild west coast’. Starting at Cape Foulwind Lighthouse, you’ll hug the lush-yet-rugged coastline before arriving at Tauranga Bay Seal Colony to spot some furry friends.

40. Blue Spring via Te Waihou Walkway

Length: 4.7km circular
Time: 1h 10 min
Start point: The Blue Spring Car Park
Walk highlights: An amazing walk along the Te Waihou Walkway to Blue Spring Putaruru, a natural spring known for its clear blue and green water.

41. Rakaia Gorge Walkway

Length: 9.2km circular
Time: 3h 5 min
Start point: Evans Reserve Parking
Walk highlights: A great walk along the bright turquoise waters of the Rakaia Gorge. You can also see snow-capped mountains in the backdrop.

42. Mount Manaia Track

Length: 3.7km return
Time: 1h 45 min
Start point: Mount Manaia Track Car Park
Walk highlights: A quick but challenging uphill tramp to the summit of Mount Manaia, where you’ll see views of Whangārei Heads and the bay beyond.

43. Pororari River Track

Length: 6.9km return
Time: 1h 55 min
Start point: Punakaiki Town Centre
Walk highlights: A great walk along the Pororari River, flanked by lush rainforest and towering cliffs.

44. Matiu/ Somes Island Loop Trail

Length: 4.2km circular
Time: 1h 10 min
Start point: Matiu/ Somes Island Wharf
Walk highlights: A walk around Matiu/ Somes Island, which sits in Wellington Harbour. You’ll need to get to Matiu/ Somes Island by ferry, but once you’re there you’ll witness brilliant views of the scenery around the capital city.

45. Tapeka Point Track

Length: 1km return
Time: 20min
Start point: Du Fresne Pl
Walk highlights: A quick walk near the old colonial town of Russell to Tapeka Point Lookout, a viewpoint offering great views over the Bay of Islands.

I hope you enjoyed my guide to the best New Zealand short walks and hikes 2022! Don’t miss my Ultimate New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary or my guide to the Best Viewpoints and Lookouts in New Zealand.