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5 of our favourite short, easy walks in New Zealand

New Zealand’s landscapes are nothing short of spectacular, especially when explored on foot. Whether you would prefer a short easy walk of half an hour through native bush to a deserted waterfall or a day walk on one of New Zealand’s most famous tracks, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to explore the great outdoors. Abel Tasman, Tongariro and Mount Cook National Parks are the big names when it comes to walking in New Zealand but MoaTrek tour guides are experts when it comes to knowing the other less well-known local tracks on offer. To get you inspired, we’ve put together a collection of easy going and beautiful short walks that can be enjoyed as a part your travel experience. Here are our favourite walks from the trip, from short walks of under an hour to a full day’s hiking, if you’re a walker you’ll love every single one! Taranaki Falls Loop, Tongariro National Park Golden tussock, imposing volcanoes and thundering waterfalls characterize Tongariro Plateau, and exploring here on foot is incredibly rewarding. Hike a 2 hour-return loop to the Taranaki Falls, where water tumbles 20 metres over the edge of a huge lava flow – left over from when Mount Ruapehu erupted 15,000 years ago. There are a number of other shorter or slightly longer tracks in the area if you would prefer something different; simply ask your friendly Kiwi guide. Grade – easy. Length 6 km (3.7miles). Time – 2 hours return. Abel Tasman Coastal Walk Always one of our favourite days out on tour is the boat cruise combined with a stunning coastal walk in Abel Tasman National Park. Hike on a well-formed track through native forest and up to a headland for panoramic views over the park’s golden beaches and coastline. If you don’t feel like a walk today that’s not a problem as you can continue cruising on the boat before relaxing at Golden Bay. Grade – easy. Length 4 km (2.4 miles). Walking time – 2 hours (point to point; transport via water taxi). Kea Point Track, Aoraki Mt Cook National Park Explore the foothills and dramatic mountainscapes of Aoraki Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain, on the Kea Point Track. Aoraki means ‘cloud piercer’ in Maori, and this mountain certainly lives up to its name. Gently winding its way through golden grasslands to the Mueller Glacier moraine wall, the Kea Point trail showcases panoramic views of Mount Sefton, Hooker Valley, Mueller Glacier Lake and soaring Aoraki/Mount Cook itself. Grade – easy/medium. Length – 3km (1.8 miles). Time – 2 hours return. Blue Pools, Mt Aspiring National Park This easy track leads to bright blue, crystal-clear pools, carved out of rocks by centuries of erosion and fed by glaciers. Journeying along a gravel path as well as boardwalks, walkers explore a native silver beech forest before crossing a swing bridge above the Makarora River. The views of mountains from the swing bridge are breath taking. The trail then winds further into a forest full of the call of bellbirds and tui to reach the blue pools. Because the water in the pools is so transparent, the resident brown trout look like they are suspended in thin air! Grade – easy. Length – 1.5km return (0.9 miles). Time – 45 minutes return. Franz Josef Glacier Track, Westland One of the best places for easy walking access to our glaciers. A really well graded track, flat at the start but with a few short climbs to keep you honest before you get to the glacier views. You start in the rainforest and then break out into the middle of the U-shaped glacial valley, it’s mother nature’s work at its finest! Be careful of the weather here, there are a few streams you'll need to walk over and they can rise very quickly at any time. Full information available from your guide or at the Franz Josef information centre. Grade – moderate. Length – 5.5 km (3 miles). One of the great things about touring around New Zealand is that there are so many great walks everywhere, they’re really easy to get to, excellent facilities and national parks in New Zealand have no entry fees either. If walking is your thing then you'll feel like New Zealand was tailor made just for you. Miles Clark is the Owner of MoaTrek New Zealand Small Group Tours. MoaTrek was started in 1971 by Miles’s mother, Ena, and they’re still going strong sharing all their favourite New Zealand spots and experiences with guests on their tours. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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  1. That’s my kind of walk!

    It’s not that I’m lazy it’s just that in my younger days I probably walked too much. Now, in my sixties, despite operations, my knees are not in a great state.

    Walking is still a great way to see the countryside but I have to plan my routes very carefully. Even better if someone else does it for me.

  2. It’s good there are different levels of walks you can take so that more people can enjoy the scenery. Not everyone is physically able to manage a long walk or a hike, as amazing as it may be to spend hours exploring. Hopefully some of these paths are disability friendly to accommodate wheelchairs, too. The blue pools at the Mt Aspiring National Park sound incredible. I’m not a fan of swing bridges but I’d swallow the fear for those views!

  3. If you did these five recommended walks I think you would have a very good idea of the diversity of New Zealand’s landscape. Does any other country, around the same size as New Zealand, have such a variety of breath-taking landscapes?

    1. As you were heading into “Most beautiful country in the world” territory I thought that I would take a quick look on the internet.

      Top of my search was World Atlas. New Zealand came in at Number 9 on their chart and this was part of their citation:
      “It is no shock that New Zealand is considered one of the most beautiful countries in the world; the country is endowed with towering mountains, breathtaking landscapes, turquoise lakes, and over 9,000 miles of shores.”

    2. However, as we are talking walking New Zealand does a bit better in the league tables.

      On the Atlas and Boots walking table New Zealand comes in at Number 5 and singing it’s praises they say – “There South Island of New Zealand has a reputation as an outdoor lover’s paradise and quite rightly so – it has over 500 hiking trails. The island is divided by the great Southern Alps, the mountain range where Edmund Hilary honed his mountaineering skills before finally conquering Everest in 1953.”

      Probably no surprise that the USA hogs the top spot.

  4. I’m hoping to visit New Zealand in the next couple of years. After reading this post the Franz Josef Glacier Walk will definitely be top of my things to do list. I find it amazing that you can go from rain forest to glacier and back in just a three mile walk.

    Also, thank you for the warning about a few uphill stretches. I definitely intend to work on my fitness before I get to New Zealand. Ideally, I’d like to take on one or two longer treks too.

  5. I know that I’m a pretty lucky guy despite being in my sixties most of my body’s still in working order. No knee ops, still got the hips that I was born with and I love to walk. Usually walk 6 or 7 miles a day and most of my holidays are based around walking too. These walks all appeal to me but when I finally get to New Zealand and I’d like to take on some longer treks too while I still can.

    Maybe another time you can do a piece on 5 longer walks but nothing too silly.

  6. Thank you for a really sensible article. Too many bloggers assume that we are all supermen and superwomen who are capable of doing anything.

    I’m not exactly in the first flush of youth so with far too many dodgy limbs I have to be careful how far I walk.

    This is a really helpful guide. On a good day and with a little bit of training I ought to be able to complete some of these walks. They sound so good that it will be worth making the effort to get ready for them.

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