Take a moment to refresh in nature with your dog

Department of Conservation —  08/09/2021

Spring has arrived! The days are longer which means more time to refresh in nature with your dog.

Regardless of the country’s shifting Alert Levels, there are many local, dog friendly walks to explore which will give you and your furry bubble mate a dose of serotonin.

Here are some recommended walks from our Conservation Week team and some tips on how to explore sensibly during Alert Levels – all brought to you by Lo and Messi, and Kurt and Dal.

Messi enjoying some belly scratches.
📷: Lo Hughes.

Meet Messi, a.k.a Princess Messi – she’s an 11 year-old cocker spaniel and she’s mostly well behaved, unless there’s food or loose tissues around. True story – I found my broken retainer wrapped up in a tissue thanks to her night-time mischievousness! I’ll save the rest of her trouble-maker tales for another time…

She’s my partners family dog and we all fuss over her. I have no doubt that she knows how loved and spoiled she is, which sometimes means scheduling in “walkies”.

Messi is not currently in our bubble, but there are so many local places we would take her during our shift across Alert Levels.

Red Rocks – Te Kopahou Reserve, Wellington

This beautiful coastal track along Wellington’s rugged South Coast is so refreshing, but Messi needs to be on a lead at all times due to wildlife.

If you live near Owhiro Bay, you’re probably thinking “Yeah, I know the one!”. It’s a popular place to soak up the sea salt, dip your toes (or paws on a lead) in the water, and spot seals – an activity that you and your pooch should do from 20 metres away. Did you already know that? Test the rest of your wildlife wise knowledge with our ‘Lead the Way’ – share the beach quiz.

We love taking Messi here because the coastal path is flat and wide – It gives enough space for you to socially distance from other people, and isn’t too technical for her. For my partner and I, we get a healthy helping of fresh air and get to soak up some sweet, sweet views!

Foveaux Walkway, Invercargill

If you live in Invercargill, Foveaux Walkway is the perfect equivalent to Red Rocks – Te Kopahou Reserve. It’s low effort, has beautiful coastal views, and has a well-compact surface for your dog’s paws. Similar to Red Rocks – Te Kopahou Reserve, your dog must be on a lead at all times due to wildlife.

Under Alert level 3 and 4, both tracks should be treated as a way to refresh in nature, not an opportunity to solely “spot seals”. Make sure you’re visiting these locations if they’re local, you need a work-from-home break, or need some socially distanced fresh air.

Foveaux Walkway

Titahi Bay Beach, Porirua

Dal is a Titahi Bay local and I’m her godfather (or is that dogfather?). She is an almost 2-year old miniature schnauzer originally from the Hawke’s Bay. She’s named after one of New Zealand’s musical legends – the great Dalvanius Prime.

I’m always super excited to dog-sit when her parents Geoff and Caroline are out of town, she has a range of great outfits to keep her warm and looking stylish.


We usually keep it local and visit Titahi Bay Beach on our daily walks. During low tide there’s heaps of space along the beach and it’s easy to keep your distance from others (and other dogs). Normally Dal would be able to exercise off-lead along the beach, but she’s sticking to her bubble on-lead whilst in Alert Levels 3 and 4.

We soak up the environment – the brightly coloured boat sheds, the gentle sounds of waves lapping on the beach and the gorgeous view across to predator free Mana Island. Did you also know that there is a 35,000 year old fossilised forest beneath the beach. How cool is that?

Dal in her cardigan with Mana Island in the background

We’re so lucky in Aotearoa to have so many amazing forests and beaches where we can connect with nature. Research shows time in nature can improve concentration, buffer against stress, and improve our immune systems – those are some pretty good reasons to get out into nature. Dal loves it too! ❤️

Ngarunui Beach, Raglan

Ngarunui in Raglan is another awesome Kiwi beach that’s a great place to take your dog and experience nature. Raglan has several designated areas of reserves and beaches available for exercising dogs – check out the Waikato District Council website for maps.

Raglan is one of our renowned surfing hotspots in New Zealand – hear the waves crash on the black sand beach and keep an eye out for oi, grey-faced petrels. These magnificent seabirds (only found in New Zealand waters) are making a comeback in Raglan thanks to the dedicated trapping work of the Karioi Project and other predator free groups in the Waikato. It’s another important reason to keep your dogs on a leash and under control, to protect these returning seabirds and the work of dedicated volunteers.

Ōi/grey-faced petrel. 📷: JJ Harrison | CC BY-SA 3.0

So what are you waiting for?

We hope we’ve given you some inspiration for soaking up a bit of nature while getting some much-needed exercise for you and your canine pals.

If you want to go dog-walking in nature you can check out where dogs are allowed on conservation land. We also have some great tips and guidelines for keeping our wildlife safe, which will also help keep your pooches safe too .

Most of all remember the golden rules at Alert Level 3 and 4 – keep it local, and keep your distance from others to ensure you, your whānau and your fluffy friends are staying safe.

One response to Take a moment to refresh in nature with your dog


    Really nice refresher for guidelines and rules for dog responsibilities as owner when out connecting with nature.