Short walks to get you off the couch

Department of Conservation —  11/07/2020

Starting to feel like your weekends are turning into one long Netflix binge as the temperatures have dropped? Never fear, you’re not the only one.

Outside of the Great Walks season, some of New Zealand’s most beautiful spaces are inaccessible – unless you are handy with an ice pick and experienced in alpine conditions. But the keyword here is some; nature is still open, and there are world-class spaces waiting to be explored.

Connecting with nature is good for you. Studies show that spending time in nature lifts your mood and can decrease feelings of depression and anxiety.

If the thought of a multi-day hike makes you want to crawl up into a ball, you can snap that waterfall pic for Instagram without having to move your legs for more than 2 hours.

Mangawhai Cliffs, Northland

Mangawhai Cliffs Walkway | Photo: Fraser Clements ©

The track: 2-3 hours, 9km return via the same track.

Instagrammable? Panoramic coastal views from the shoreline to the clifftops. Bonus: the Coromandel Peninsula and Great Barrier Island/Aotea are often seen on the horizon.

Family-friendly? Yes – there’s even the opportunity to spot passing whales and schools of sharks.

Seasonal restrictions: We didn’t add this track to our winter list without it being an option, however if you’re planning to venture out during September or October, check the website for more details.

Rangitoto Summit Track, Auckland

Rangitoto Summit Track | Photo: Fraser Clements ©

The track: 2 hours return, an easy 7km.

Instagrammable? Walking though ancient laval fields that support the largest pōhutukawa forest in the world, also home to dozens of shore, sea and forest birds, you won’t find it hard to get that perfect shot for the ‘gram.

Family-friendly? Yes, but a moderate fitness level is required.

What you need to know: Prepare for rapidly changing weather conditions. There are also no rubbish bins available on the island, along with anywhere to purchase food or drinking water. Come prepared.

Cape Foulwind, West Coast

Cape Foulwind Walkway | Photo: Miles Holden ©

The track: 3.4km / 1 hour and 15 mins one way.

Instagrammable? A seal colony, a lighthouse and panoramic views of mountains and coastline feature on this spectacular coastal walkway.

Family-friendly? With the beach close by and the flat walking track, this is perfect for the kids.

What you need to know: This is a coastal walk, meaning the weather can change quickly and there are fall hazards along the walkway. Keep to the track and keep children nearby. Ensure you take a waterproof and windproof jacket, as well as a hat and gloves.

Wainui Falls Track, Nelson/Abel Tasman

Wainui Falls Track | Photo: Alan Cressler

The track: 1 hour and 20 mins, 3.4km return vis the same track.

Instagrammable? Wander through lush native bush that leads to the cascading Wainui Falls, the largest and most accessible falls in Golden Bay/Mohua. Keep a look out for the Powelliphanata snail, amongst the largest snails in the world.

Family-friendly? Yes! The walk is popular with families, especially popular over the summer months.

What you need to know: The track climbs rapidly alongside spectacular granite boulders, following the Wainui River. There’s a great suspension bridge on the way – below this you can see old logs piled up after massive floods.

For more family-friendly walks and tramps around the country, pick your region on the DOC website here. Your experiences in nature can be close to home – and you’re still able to reap the wellbeing benefits. Before you head out:

  • Plan your trip
  • Tell someone
  • Be aware of the weather
  • Know your limits
  • Take sufficient supplies

The Outdoor Safety Code provides important information to follow when going out for a walk, hike or tramp in New Zealand. Download the code from the AdventureSmart website.

4 responses to Short walks to get you off the couch

    Peter Hallinan 11/07/2020 at 8:18 pm

    Hope you are adding the Kaikoura Peninsula walkway at the top of your next blog on this topic; it’s right up there with panoramic views of snow clad mountains, forest, and ocean – not to mention the Hutton Shearwater special colony…


    Have you some walks closer to Wanganui please?