With Easter landing a bit later this year, the country will be well into autumn by the time the holiday rolls around. We asked our local experts – the DOC rangers in Visitor Centres throughout the country – to give us their top recommendations for tracks to explore right now. From Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland to Ōtepoti Dunedin, they suggested a range of tracks that are all within a day’s journey of most cities, so even if you’re staying home this Easter, you can still get out, get moving and maybe the kids can even earn a Kiwi Guardians medal while you’re at it.
Here are their picks for 9 New Zealand tracks to enjoy over the Easter holidays.
Goldie Bush Scenic Reserve
Home to beautiful kauri forest and scenic waterfalls, Goldie Bush Scenic Reserve is close to Auckland’s west coast beaches and only a 40-minute drive from the city, making it perfect for a day out. You can choose from two different walks, the shorter Mokoroa Falls Track (1 h 20 m return) or the longer combined loop of Goldie Bush Walkway and Mokoroa Stream Track (4 h return).
Goat Island Walkway
Goat Island Walkway sits within the Cape Rodney-Okakari Point Marine Reserve , New Zealand’s oldest and most popular marine reserve. It’s an easy 90-minute walk that affords stunning views over the marine reserve and islands of the Hauraki Gulf.
If you want more than a walk, the marine reserve offers some great snorkelling and diving opportunities. You can also enjoy a swim, walk on the beach, or visit the Goat Island Marine Discovery Centre.
Considering venturing out to Goldie Bush Scenic Reserve or the Goat Island Walkway? Visit the Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland DOC Visitor Centre first – they’ll give you all the information you need and answer any questions you have about either spot.
Whakapapanui Track and Rotopounamu Track
Both tracks are great for children. The Whakapapnui Track runs alongside the Whakapapanui Stream. It’s about a two-hour return walk, and if you’re lucky, you may spot a whio in the stream! If you’re looking for more, Rotopounamu Track is a two-hour loop track that circles Lake Rotopounamu. Surrounded by native forest, it’s a favourite with birdwatchers, tree lovers and Kiwi Guardians seeking medals.
Have questions about either track? Visit the Tongariro National Park DOC Visitor Centre before you head out.
Connett Loop Track
Wet or fine, the Connett Loop Track [is a great little introduction to the ‘goblin forest’ of Mount Taranaki. Twisted, gnarled trees dripping with mosses and ferns make this family-friendly walk just like stepping into a fairy tale.
Keep an eye out for the predator traps along the track. This educational trapline explains some of the ways DOC protects our special taonga in Egmont National Park. Want to learn more? Check out our short video.
Thinking about heading out on the Connett Loop Track? Pop into Taranaki / Egmont National Park DOC Visitor Centre first – they’ll help you figure out whether this walk (or another) is right for you. Be sure to stop in at the onsite Kamahi Café for wedges and a hot chocolate after you’re done exploring.
Waikanae Estuary Scientific Reserve is connected to the Kapiti Marine Reserve and to Kapiti Island Nature Reserve, providing a rare sequence of protection for animals which move between sea, river and land habitats.
The river and estuary is home to a variety of waders and sea birds: more than 60 species of birds breed there, including banded dotterel, pukeko, dabchick, and variable oystercatcher.
Any easy wide flat walking track meanders through the different landscapes of the estuary, making this a fun, easy place to explore with the family, especially if you’re keen for some bird-spotting. You’ll also get some great views across to Kapiti Island to the west and the Tararua Forest Park to the east.
Want to learn more before you head out? Stop by the Kapiti Wellington DOC Visitor Centre before you go.
Cable Bay Walkway
If you’re looking for an adventure within easy reach of Nelson, look no further than the Cable Bay Walkway. An easy tramping track, it can get steep in places (good for using up excess energy!), so strong footwear is recommended.
On a fine day there are good views across Tasman Bay to the Western ranges. It’s a 3.5-hour walk one way (this requires transport arrangements to be made) or 7 hours return through private farmland along the hill above Mackay Bluff. There is a section of native forest in the middle of the track. Shorter walking options are possible from both track ends: 1 hour return to the lookout from Cable Bay beach, or from the Glen a round-trip walk to the airstrip and back takes about 2 hours.
If you’re keen, it’s possible to go for a swim at both ends of the track.
Please respect the stock and farm property.
If you have questions about the walkway or arranging transportation from the end, visit the Whakatū / Nelson Visitor Centre before you head out.
Aoraki Mount Cook
Sealy Tarns Track
Dubbed the ‘stairway to heaven’, 2,200 steps along the Sealy Tarns Track take you straight up to the freshwater lakes of Sealy Tarns. This energetic walk provides spectacular views of the Hooker Valley and peaks of the area, including Aoraki Mount Cook. With the popular Hooker Valley Track closed right now, Sealy Tarns Track is a great alternative half-day walk. Thinking of taking on the Sealy Tarns Track? Be prepared. Sealy Tarns is in an alpine environment and can be dangerous in poor weather. Head into the Aoraki Mount Cook DOC Visitor Centre before you head out for an up-to-date weather forecast and to make sure you have everything you need.
Sandfly Bay Track
From the carpark it’s only a five-minute walk to the viewing platform, which offers coastal views and wildlife spotting. From the platform, Sandfly Bay Track continues: you can then walk down a steep sand dune onto the beach. If you’re lucky, you may spot some sea lions / rāpoka sleeping on the beach. Be sure to give them space and keep at least 20 metres away from them. They move surprisingly quick!
Sandfly Bay is an ideal family outing, as kids will love the sand dunes and can also earn a Kiwi Guardians medal here.
Looking for a different walking track this Easter holiday? If you’re stuck for ideas or inspiration, drop into your nearest DOC Visitor Centre. The DOC rangers there can help you figure out what nearby walks are best for you, and ensure you’ve got the right safety information and gear to head out and explore.