Hokitika Gorge swing bridge.

Get outdoors: 10 scenic spots for a springtime stroll


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As the weather warms up and we're all itching to get out and about, why not check out a short walk close to home. We've rounded up a handful of springtime strolls to add to your wish-list.

1. Ōtānewainuku Forest, Bay of Plenty

Walks like no other can be found in this tranquil, unspoilt bush in Bay of Plenty’s Ōropi. A volunteer trust helps to conserve the wildlife here, with a kiwi sanctuary and an abundance of native birds in a place which is steeped in stories. Māori legend says that Tūtānekai, lover of Hinemoa, leapt off Mount Ōtānewainuku to escape his Rotorua enemies. Both Ōtānewainuku and Mauao (Mount Maunganui) were in love with the beautiful mountain Pūwhenua. When she chose Ōtānewainuku as her lover, Mauao decided to drown himself in the sea. A sad story, but so lovely, too.

2. Allans Beach, Otago Peninsula

This stunning wild beach at the northern end of the Otago Peninsula is accessed by the road that winds around Hoopers Inlet and is a handy spot to connect with the wildlife and natural beauty of the Peninsula. Allow a couple of hours to walk along the beach to the entrance to the Inlet. Sea lions can often be found sunbathing on the beach and kekeno fur seals breed on the rocks at the beach’s northern end – keep an eye out for pups playing in the rock pools. Remember: these are wild animals and must be given plenty of space.

3. Walk to Huka Falls, Taupo

The Taupō to Huka Falls walk and cycleway follows the east side of the Waikato River for two kilometres. It’s an easy path with great views of the river and its edges of willows, ponga and bright yellow gorse in spring and summer. Riverside rocks smell of sunshine and an occasional trout rises leaving concentric rings on the water’s shiny surface. Go there and back or, if you are feeling lazy, get someone to pick you up at Huka Falls.

4. Estuary Walkway, Invercargill

This return track (allow for around an hour) is a relaxing way to discover the aptly named Pleasure Bay Lagoon. Harbouring many local birds and featuring a rich human history, the 5km track also offers a unique view back towards the city. Walk across the Roger Sutton Boardwalk that winds through the native rushes and check out the remains of the historic railway trestle bridge.

5. Silica Rapids Walk, Ruapehu

Accessed from the road that takes you to the Whakapapa ski field, the Silica Rapids Walk is a 7km, 2 1/2 hour loop that takes in some of Tongariro National Parks most curious and colourful natural attractions. Multi-coloured streams run through alpine tussock and burble alongside the track. In the heart of the beech forest you’ll find cascading waterfalls that are so bright with mineral deposits they’re almost lurid. The colours here are caused by various trace elements emerging from the depths of the volcanic earth. Aluminum makes for pale, creamy colours below the rushing water, while deposits of iron turn to bright orange rust. 

6. Rarangi to Whites Bay, Marlborough

Rarangi to Whites Bay is a scenic walking track connecting the popular Whites Bay beach, and the small settlement of Rarangi, not far from Blenheim. The walk climbs up from Rarangi near Monkey Bay track and descends through pine forest into Whites Bay. Fun fact: Whites Bay is named after an American known as Black Jack White who, in 1828, deserted his whaling ship and came to live with local Māori.

7. Karioi Summit Tracks, Waikato

Mount Karioi is an extinct volcano that sits in the heart of the Raglan landscape. On a clear day at the top, you can see Mt Taranaki, Pureora, Maungamangero, Te Aroha, Pirongia and Maungatautari. Karioi is said to be the oldest and westernmost of the Alexandra lineament of volcanoes. It is a bit of a steep climb at times and takes roughly 3.5 hours from the car park to the summit (one way).

8. Crater Rim Walkway, Christchurch

The hillside tracks around Lyttelton are are one Christchurch’s most cherished local assets. There are five different ways to reach the ridge and the Crater Rim Walkway links them all together so you can choose to be up and down in 45 minutes or spend several hours wandering the hills. If the climb is daunting, you can always take a bus through the tunnel to the gondola and then walk back down into Lyttelton.

9. Mount Victoria, Wellington

Mount Victoria a bit of a glute-busting walk, but the best way to get your bearings is from the lookout at the top of the Town Belt. Rising 196m above the city, it’s is one of the best places to take in a sunrise or sunset, watch the Cook Strait ferries or, get your thrills if you’re a plane-spotter. Don’t forget to take lots of selfies and thank the Colonial New Zealand Company for creating the Town Belt as a public expanse in 1841. Fun fact: the slopes of Mt Victoria stood in for the outer reaches of the Shire in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

10. Hokitika Gorge, West Coast

One of the West Coast’s most popular and picturesque must-do’s is Hokitika Gorge. A short, easy walk will take you through native forest to the unreal hues of the Hokitika River. Caused by sediment suspended in the water from the upriver glaciers, the river is an otherworldly and incredibly photogenic neon blue. To get to the water, cross the swing bridge – another great photo spot – and wander down to the rocky outcrop overlooking the iconic bend in the river. Tip: try to visit in the morning, as the gorge becomes shaded in the afternoon light, so it’s not as good for photos.  

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