New Zealand is a walkers’ haven, boasting an extensive network of trails that traverse rugged coastlines, towering forest, mountain ranges and remote backcountry areas.
Hiking tours offer a vast array of experiences, each providing its own special perspective on the landscapes around you. Whether it’s an easy nature trail or an exhilarating multi-day expedition – there truly is something for everyone!
1. Mount Eden & Wintergardens
Mount Eden & Wintergardens, situated on the fringe of Auckland city, is an area bursting with lush greenery and nature trails. This award-winning garden boasts waterfalls, rock formations, native birds as well as panoramic city and harbour views.
Visit the impressive museum located nearby for an insightful look into different cultures and ancient history. There are temporary exhibits covering topics ranging from Egyptian pharaohs to Stonehenge secrets.
Mount Eden area residents have plenty of parks to take a leisurely walk in. One popular option is Cornwall Park, situated around One Tree Hill on 425 acres. Perfect for family outings and providing plenty of activities, Cornwall Park should not be missed when visiting this beautiful region.
Muriwai Beach is another lovely spot for leisurely strolls. Its cliffs are home to an enchanting colony of Gannets that nest here between August and March, providing viewers with a spectacular spectacle.
This stunning island is only a ferry ride away from Auckland and offers stunning beaches, stunning scenery and delicious wines. Enjoy your day trip here or even spend the night in Devonport village on the island for a truly relaxing getaway.
If you’re seeking some adventure, the Waitakere Ranges are located about 45-60 minutes west of Auckland. This lush and wild landscape is ideal for hiking, camping and exploring; whether you take a day trip here to enjoy its rugged beaches and breathtaking waterfalls.
2. Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island is one of Auckland’s most beloved tourist attractions, offering a range of attractions and activities suitable for visitors of all ages. Its beaches and natural surroundings are stunning, while its people are friendly and welcoming.
Waiheke Island boasts over 100 kilometers of walking tracks that are suitable for all levels of fitness and interest. Hiking is an excellent way to take in the breathtaking scenery that Waiheke Island has to offer, providing breathtaking views and unforgettable memories.
Families and groups of friends looking for an active vacation should check out the variety of water sports on offer on the island, such as kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and surfing. Beaches offer a range of activities too – like 2km long Onetangi beach or sheltered Sandy Bay.
If you’re searching for some culture during your trip, Waiheke Island offers plenty of art galleries and craft stores to discover. In Oneroa, stop by the Waiheke Community Art Gallery or [s p a c e] art gallery which feature various events and exhibitions. In Matiatia, TOI Gallery showcases works by internationally-acclaimed artists Chris Bailey and Sally Smith.
The ideal time to visit Waiheke Island is during the summer months, however if you’re looking for a less crowded atmosphere, April and March are some of the quietest months on the island.
Hiking around Matiatia Beachfront is a great alternative to cycling around the island. Whether you’re an experienced cyclist or not, there are plenty of bike routes for everyone and renting a bicycle from Matiatia Beachfront is easy – just grab one from the ferry terminal! For those not used to hilly terrain, e-bikes are available and provide an easier option as well.
3. Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Waitomo Caves are a renowned natural attraction located about 120 miles south of Auckland, New Zealand. The highlight is the glowworm grotto, where thousands of bright, tiny creatures illuminate the ceiling.
These creatures are unique to New Zealand and can only be found there. They’re fungus gnat larvae that glow to attract insects to their home in cave walls, living both dry and wet climates.
Glowworms can be found throughout the Waitomo Caves, and you can explore them by abseiling, tubing, walking or taking a boat tour. Tours last anywhere from 45 minutes to five hours depending on what kind of experience you desire.
Visits to the Waitomo Caves are an excellent opportunity to gain insight into New Zealand’s geology and history. The limestone that forms these caves was once under the ocean, but has been compressed over millions of years to form an extraordinary underground landscape.
Visitors to Waitomo Caves can partake in a range of activities, such as black water rafting and three-hour tube trips. After each activity, guests are usually provided with hot showers to clean off and warm up before enjoying a meal provided afterwards.
For even greater adventure, consider taking the Ruakuri Cave tour. This guided journey takes you through the remarkable Ruakuri caves and offers up close and personal encounters with glowworms as well as other highlights of this underground system.
Another activity to try is a Rotorua and Waitomo Caves combo tour. This tour includes stops at Hobbiton Movie Set, Te Puia geysers in Rotorua before exploring Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Perfect for families, this activity allows everyone to spend quality time outside while having an exciting day out!
4. Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is one of New Zealand’s most captivating geothermal attractions, boasting visitors an extraordinary landscape of volcanic features such as hot springs, steaming fumaroles, spouting geysers, bubbling mud pools, sinter terraces and expansive vistas. Situated within the Taupo Volcanic Zone just over half an hour’s drive from Rotorua, it truly feels like you’ve stepped into another dimension when exploring its breathtaking sights.
At Wai-O-Tapu you have the freedom to explore the park at your own pace. Select from three distinct loops that each lead you to different geothermal features – all clearly marked with color-coded markers on the boardwalk.
Each trail begins at a visitor centre with gift shop and coffee bar, where you can learn about the area’s geothermal activities as well as view displays about New Zealand’s history. Once you’re finished exploring, head out onto the main walk along a well-maintained boardwalk that leads you to some of the park’s most impressive features.
One such pool is Champagne Pool, which looks similar to Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park but is much smaller. Its vibrant jade green hue comes from being heated by nearby hot springs that flow into it.
In addition, there are several fun mud pools and a puddle that spurts mud out of the ground – providing an entertaining sight. While it’s not suitable for swimming and you won’t be able to touch it, if you’re lucky you might hear some spitting mud eruptions! For an up close-and-personal experience, try your luck at Lady Knox Geyser which erupts daily.
5. Lauren’s Lavender Farm
Lauren’s Lavender Farm, 15kms south of Taumarunui on the historic Forgotten World Highway, offers a tranquil haven to relax and inhale its delicate lavender aromas. With 8,000 plants blooming from December until early March each year, this family-owned farm also sells various products like candles and creams for your shopping pleasure.
The cafe serves hot coffee, muffins and scones to go; you can purchase souvenirs from the gift shop to take home with you. Take a stroll down to the river for some fresh air and relaxing sounds of water lapping against its banks.
For an unforgettable lavender experience in New Zealand, head to Danseys Pass Lavender near Oamaru. Bring a picnic and sit under the rows of purple flowers to inhale its sweet fragrance as well as enjoy delicious lavender ice cream!
If you’re searching for an authentic lavender experience in New Zealand, Ben Lomond Lavender Farm in the Wakatipu Valley should be on your list. This organic farm produces oils from their lavender plants that grow there.
For an unforgettable lavender experience, check out Keys Creek Lavender Farm. Secluded in a valley surrounded by mountains and forests, this organic lavender farm provides the ideal setting for a weekend of rest and rejuvenation.
On this tour, you have your pick of two accommodation options: a glamping tent or private cottage. Both offer memory foam mattresses, linens, custom farm-style headboards and nightstands as well as other luxury features.
Epic Adventures tours offer a unique option: book an excursion that includes a rail cart ride, jet boat ride and lunch as well as return transport – with your family’s needs in mind! With this option you have complete control over which activities to partake in.