Short walks to experience New Zealand bush

Department of Conservation —  28/01/2016

By DOC Policy Manager Spencer Clubb.

I like to get into the wilderness for days at a time. I have also been discovering some amazing scenery much closer to civilisation. These are three of my favourite places.

The Oparara Basin – Karamea

The Oparara Basin is on the West Coast some 20 minutes drive from Karamea up a steep and windy gravel road. We took a guide but you can drive yourself. The basin is home to a number of natural limestone arches, as well as caves, sinkholes and other karst landscapes. There is also terrific bush, particularly near the top area where the caves are.

Top tip: Walk the Heaphy Track and build in an extra day to visit the Oparara Basin before you head home.

Oparara Basin. Photo: Spencer Clubb

Oparara Basin.

Ruakuri Walk – Waitomo

Just minutes out of Waitomo and right off the main road, a short walking track loops through stunning limestone scenery. This has to be one of the best short walks in New Zealand with caves, tunnels, arches, holes and crazy paving everywhere!

Top tip: Enjoy this free walk, then splash out on some black water rafting at the nearby Waitomo Caves – you won’t regret it!

Ruakuri Walk. Photo: Spencer Clubb

Ruakuri Walk.

Totara Walk – Pureora

This walk is in Pureora Forest Park and starts close to the visitor centre. It contains some of the best podocarp forest in New Zealand. The sheer size, density and variety of podocarp trees is incredible. The experience is completed by the number and variety of bird life that can be seen and heard all along the track. If you want to experience the best of New Zealand bush, this walk is second to none. It is amazing to think that this forest was saved from the brink of logging destruction – with miles and miles of cleared farmland just metres away from these forest giants.

Totara Walk. Photo: Spencer Clubb

Totara Walk.

Top tip: The Timber Trail starts from the same place and offers one of the best introductory multi-day mountain bike rides in New Zealand.

Do you have a favourite short walk to recommend? Comment below.


7 responses to Short walks to experience New Zealand bush


    I did the Grove Reserve walk & Pupu Springs recently – both short but good, near Takaka.


    We are very lucky – mostly thanks to DOC, for some seriously wonderful short walk options countrywide.


    The Tangoio Falls just before Napier, the Waihirere Domain, not a DOC reserve but still awesome.