Winter doesn’t have to be a season of total hibernation. With some planning, safety precautions and sensible gear you can still enjoy the outdoors. We’ve picked out 10 short walks around New Zealand to get you inspired.
1. Callery Gorge Walk, Franz Josef
The track to Callery Gorge begins in Franz Josef township, at the end of Cowan Street. Take the turnoff from the Tatare Tunnels Track for a short climb to a terrace overlooking the town, before winding through the rainforest. The track continues alongside the relics of a gold mining water race then drops down to the historic Callery Gorge bridge. The gorge itself has evolved over the years with gravel deposits slowly raising the level of the riverbed.
- Distance: 5.2km return via same track.
- Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.
2. Duke’s Nose (Kaiaraara Rocks) Track, Bay of Islands
The easiest way to access the Duke’s Nose Track is by boat from Totara North, or alternatively, via the more strenuous hike on the Wairakau Stream Track. Begin at Lane Cove Hut in Pekapeka Bay, Whangaroa Harbour. A short, steep walk will take you alongside the stream behind the hut, with an almost vertical climb that involves some rock scrambling to the peak of Duke’s Nose. From the top, you're rewarded with spectacular views over the Whangaroa Harbour and beyond to the open sea.
- Distance: 500m.
- Time: 45 minutes one way.
3. Coopers Knob, Christchurch
From Gibraltar Carpark on Summit Road in Christchurch’s Port Hills, take the short walk off the Crater Rim Walkway to Coopers Knob Omawete. At 573m it’s the highest point of the Port Hills and has panoramic views across to Lyttelton Harbour
- Distance: 650m.
- Time: 20 minutes one way.
4. Rangitoto summit and lava caves, Auckland
Catch the ferry to Rangitoto Island for one of Auckland’s must-do walks to the summit of our youngest volcano. An easy climb through the lava fields and pōhutukawa forest will lead you to sensational views of the city and Hauraki Gulf from the summit. While you’re there, take the 15-minute detour off the summit track to explore Rangitoto’s hidden lava caves. Bring a torch, wear sturdy shoes and take plenty of drinking water – there is none on the island.
- Distance: 7 km.
- Time: 2 hours.
5. Tunnel Beach Track, Dunedin
A popular walk to a very scenic spot on Dunedin’s coast, Tunnel Beach is great for the whole family. Cross through farmland to reach a short tunnel with steps leads down to a secluded beach and remarkable, rocky coastline.
- Distance: 2km return via same track.
- Time: 1 hour.
6. Wairere Falls Track, Bay of Plenty
While steep in sections the walk to Wairere Falls is worth it to see the 153-metre-high waterfall and for the incredible views across the Waikato Plains. For a shorter option, take the well-formed track through nīkau and pūriri groves, across bridges to the lookout platform at the base of the falls.
- Distance: 5km return via same track.
- Time: 3-4 hours.
7. Wairau Lagoons Walkway, Blenheim
A virtually flat walk around the salty lagoons at the mouth of the Wairau River, this walkway forms a loop along the shoreline, past Budges and Moerepo Islands to the lagoons' main channel where the rusting wreck of the Waverley sits in the mud. You can either return the same way, or across the salt marsh, where you’ll spot hardy pants and lots of birdlife.
- Distance: 8km.
- Time: 3 hours.
8. Mahia Peninsula Scenic Reserve Track, Eastland
The 374-hectares of Mahia Peninsula Scenic Reserve is home to one of the best examples of semi-coastal forest on the east coast. The scenic reserve track has great views over the Wairoa coastline as you wander through tawa and kohekohe forest, with stream-side stands of nīkau, rimu and rewarewa.
- Distance: 4.5km.
- Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes.
9. Bob’s Cove Track, Queenstown
A short stroll through native bush leads you to Bob’s Cove – a picturesque bay on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Look out for a historic lime kiln dating back to the 1800s, when the Wakatipu Lime Company quarried and processed Bobs Cove limestone. Continue on to the Picnic Point lookout, where you can appreciate stunning views of Bob’s Cove and the surrounding mountains. Dogs are allowed on this track, too, if they’re on a lead.
- Distance: 3km.
- Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes return via same track.
10. Rotopounamu Track, Taupō
Lake Rotopounamu fills a crater in the western side of Mount Pihanga in Taupō. Take an easy two-hour walk that circumnavigates the lake, taking in the imaginatively named Five Minute Beach, Long Beach and Ten Minute Beach. Keep an eye out for North Island robin, kākā and kererū amongst the trees.
- Distance: 5km.
- Time: 2 hours.