The Best Walks in New Zealand

Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash
Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

THERE are some places on this planet that simply demand being done at strolling speed. New Zealand is one of these lands, a country that regularly crowns lists of the world’s top places to wander and a location that makes it a cinch to marvel at Mother Nature.

It’s a walkers’ wonderland with addresses right across the region, from the weather-beaten cliffs sitting in the shadows of the Cape Reinga lighthouse to serene stretches of Stewart Island sand, suited to every visitor capable of knotting up their laces.

While New Zealand is home to challenging multi-day walks that test even the hardiest of hikers – think Ball Pass Crossing, Dusky Track, Avalanche Peak Route, Traverse Sabine Circuit – the diversity of districts means there’s something to satisfy travellers set on seeing the legendary Land of the Long White Cloud.

Perhaps it’s Sunday strolling through the fashionable enclave of a big-smoke settlement, an early-morning meander across a pristine peninsula to see the sun surface at the start of a new day, or a twilight toddle around a centuries-old forest to hear symbiotic stories from one of the land’s traditional custodians.

GrownUps Holidays travel partner AAT Kings is here to help you discover New Zealand on – or off – the footpath with our guide to the best walks on both islands.


The Abel Tasman National Park is New Zealand’s smallest national park, with the picture-perfect parcel near the northern tip of the South Island home to one of the country’s most accessible and famously friendly hikes.

The Abel Tasman Coastal Track roves across golden beaches, past emerald and sapphire bays, beside crystal-clear streams, and through valleys full of ferns with the whole 30km route between Marahau and Wainui Inlet taking five days to comfortably complete. Those looking to peruse some of the perfect panoramas during a half-day tramp are warmly welcomed with locals advocating for autumn and springtime visits when mornings are crisp, the sky is blue, the water is calm, and the tracks uncongested.

Ride a water taxi to Medlands Beach and walk the waterfall trail around Bark Bay, head to Anchorage Beach and follow the path to Te Pukatea Bay, take a dip in Cleopatra’s Pools, roam the Tinline Bay Nature Walk, or survey the Tonga Island Marine Reserve during a scenic sail before disembarking at Awaroa Spit and walking to Onetahuti. Another option is pausing in Kaiteriteri – the holiday hamlet considered the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park – and completing an amble before taking a dip in the lagoon or lingering on the balcony of a waterside cafe.

Head to the southern end of the sand to follow the Little Kaiteriteri track, the beach locals frequent during summer, or find Withell’s Walk behind the campground for the 45-minute ascent to a scenic spot that frames views across the bay.

A two-night stop in Nelson during GrownUps Holidays travel partner AAT Kings’ Southern Spirit guided holiday provides the perfect window to complete a bite-sized section of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track with water taxis darting around the route to deliver walkers to parts perfect for seeing those fabulous vistas. 

Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash
Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

INTERESTED? Contact GrownUps Holidays on 0800 842 685 or email


Queenstown is home to some of New Zealand’s most loved landscapes – the affable address is encircled by lofty alpine mountain ranges, including The Remarkables and Coronet Peak which are two of the Southern Hemisphere’s leading ski areas – and there are short hikes around town that showcase the sights.

The Queenstown Hill Time Walk is a short and sharp 500m ascent through the pine forest to the peak of Te Tapu-Nui, with sweeping views across Lake Wakatipu the prize waiting at the end of the summit footpath. Pack refreshments to pause beside the mountain lake for a snack then return to town along the path that’s marked with information plaques detailing chapters in the region’s history.

Another agreeable alternative is to cross the lake aboard the TSS Earnslaw, a vintage Edwardian steamship built in 1912 that departs on daily drifts across the deep sapphire water to Walter Peak High Country Farm, and join a guided walk of the pastoral property before snacking on freshly-baked scones.

GrownUps Holidays travel partner AAT Kings’ Kia Ora New Zealand guided tour promises hours of leisure in Queenstown late in the 17-day journey that traverses the territory from Paihia and the Bay of Islands in the north to Dunedin and Te Anau in the south.

INTERESTED? Contact GrownUps Holidays on 0800 842 685 or email


Cruising the Marlborough Sounds is a highlight of every GrownUps Holidays travel partner AAT Kings’ itinerary that crosses between Wellington and Picton via the Cook Strait, but the best way to discover the hidden bays and empty coves of this true New Zealand gem is on foot.

The Queen Charlotte Track is the Marlborough Sounds most famous route, with the experts recommending those set on surveying the whole 70km stretch from Meretoto/Ship Cove on the edge of Cook Strait to Anakiwa at the eastern end of Grove Arm dedicate five days to the undertaking.

But travellers with less time up their sleeve can still sample a satisfying section by catching a water taxi to a stepping-off spot and arranging collection a few kilometres further along the winding path, with the eastern end of the route the most accessible area.

Strollers looking for something more modest can start at Picton’s Victoria Domain, with routes taking from a few minutes to a few hours. The Harbour View Track, Bob’s Bay Walk, and The Snout are all highly recommended while Tirohanga Track is a tad more challenging but delivers mighty Marlborough Sounds views.

GrownUps Holidays travel partner AAT Kings’ Sensational South tour is a relaxed 11-day stroll from Wellington to Queenstown that features a two-night stay in nearby Blenheim, putting wine lovers close to the famous Marlborough vineyards and walkers close to the Queen Charlotte Track.

INTERESTED? Contact GrownUps Holidays on 0800 842 685 or email

Photo by Mark de Jong on Unsplash
Image: Marlborough Sounds. Photo by Mark de Jong on Unsplash


Long stretches of quiet coastline and colourful seaside communities make Northland – the region capping the North Island – a haven for hiking, with the Bay of Islands a place to immerse in Māori and European history that stretches back centuries.

The Bay of Islands Coastal Walkway is a full-circle course that includes two ferry rides and will take all day to complete but, with multiple places to step on and off the track, shorter sections can be crossed from the to-do list in a couple of hours.

The walk passes beaches and bays, crosses boardwalks winding through mangroves and wetlands, and follows forest paths with the first section skirting the shoreline from Paihia to the Opua ferry and the second stretch winding from Okiato to the historic hamlet of Russell.

The passage traverses Kiwi Protection Project areas where volunteers replace weeds and other introduced plants with native species encouraging indigenous fauna to return and making this a bird-watchers nirvana and the perfect place for nature lovers to wander to a sweet soundtrack of birdsong.

GrownUps Holidays travel partner AAT Kings Jewels of the Bay tour is a three-day itinerary that takes travellers from Auckland to the Bay of Island and includes a comprehensive guided tour of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds before a full day of free time to stretch the legs around the coastline.

Article in partnership with AAT Kings. For more information and to book AAT Kings guided tours please contact GrownUps Holidays on 0800 842 685 or email 

What walks have you done in New Zealand? What would you recommend?