If you’re keen on exploring the New Zealand countryside; you’ll probably be aware of the long distance paths branded as the country’s Great Walks. There are three on the North Island with a further six on the South Island and another scheduled to open in 2019. But if your level of fitness precludes such tramping, or you simply don’t have enough time, there are easier walks that might just fit the bill. Here are three of the best New Zealand short hikes; for people who hate walking, but don’t want to miss out on the scenery.
3 of the Best New Zealand Short Hikes
The Coromandel: Cathedral Cove from Hahei, 90 minutes
The walk from Hahei to Cathedral Cove packs some of the prettiest coastal scenery into a hike of just 45 minutes each way. A graded path undulates up and down as you walk across the headlands of the Coromandel’s delightful coast. It will deposit you at the top of a flight of wooden steps that lead down to the beach. It’s an easy hike so long as you take your time, but head there off season (1st May to 30th September) and you can park your rental car at the trailhead car park. The rest of the year you’ll need to use the free shuttle or walk from the village to enjoy this one of the most beautiful New Zealand short hikes.
West Coast: Franz Josef Glacier, 90 minutes
The good thing about the hike to Franz Josef Glacier is that as you approach the glacier along the valley floor, you can see it – so you can decide how close you wish to get and therefore how long you want your walk to be. The first part of this easy walk takes you through a small tract of woodland; before opening out onto the valley itself. The path varies between graded gravel and larger rocks that require more of an effort to traverse. The sight of this magnificent glacier is the reward. Though heed warnings about rock falls and don’t attempt to continue up the glacier without an experienced guide.
Bay of Plenty: Karangahake Gorge, 90 minutes
This gentle hike up Karangahake Gorge is the perfect way to break up a drive from Tauranga to Auckland as it’s located right on State Highway 2. The Rail Tunnel Loop follows what’s left of the old railway. From the car park, have a look at the ruined Crown Battery; this was constructed in 1892 for the purposes of crushing quartz. Cross the Ohinemuri River via the Western Portal Bridge. Duck into the kilometre long rail tunnel; and then exit onto the Eastern Portal Bridge to make your way back over the river. For the shortest walk, follow the riverside path back to the car park; a longer option takes you to Waikino Station.