The Best Hikes on the North Island of New Zealand
Get some good exercise, breathe in the fresh air and soak in the scenery on one of these North Island walks. That right, we’ve put together a whopping 50 best hikes on the North Island so there’s no excuse not to get out there. From rambles over volcanoes to strolls by the beach, there’s something for all interests and fitness levels. Start planning your outing with the list of North Island hikes below.
And for our South Island equivalents, see The Top 50 South Island Walks.
1. The Mount (Mauao) Summit Walk
Walk up the extinct volcano of Mauao to get expansive views of Mt Maunganui’s beaches, the city of Tauranga and the Pacific Ocean. Learn more about the trail in the 19 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Tauranga.
Time: 30-45mins one way / Distance: 3.4km (2.1 miles) / Location: Tauranga, Bay of Plenty
2. Marokopa Falls
Time: 20mins return / Distance: 600m (656 yards) / Location: Waitomo, Waikato
3. Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway
Walk through old railway tunnels, over swingbridges, alongside mining relics and to Owharoa Falls on the two walks at Karangahake Gorge: the Rail Tunnel Loop (45mins return) and Historic Walkway (4 hours return).
Time: 45mins return and 4 hours return / Distance: 2.5km (1.6 miles) and 4.3km (2.7 miles) / Location: Paeroa, Waikato
4. Dawson Falls and Wilkies Pools Loop
Venture through the gangly moss-covered trees of the “goblin forest” to Wilkies Pools on the 1h20min Wilkies Pools Loop. Combine the trail with the 1-hour Kapauni Loop Track to see the picturesque Dawson Falls.
Time: 1h20mins and 1-hour loops / Distance: 1.4km (0.87 miles) and 1.9km (1.2 miles) / Location: Egmont National Park, Taranaki
5. Onepoto Caves Track
Walk from cave to cave on this short walk in the Te Urewera forest. Look out for cave weta and check out the views from two lookouts. See more walks in the area in the 17 Best Lake Waikaremoana Walks.
Time: 2 hours loop / Distance: 2km (1.2 miles) / Location: Te Urewera, Gisborne/Bay of Plenty
6. Deliverance Cove Track to Castlepoint
Either walk through pine trees above a lagoon or walk the southern route on the edge of the lagoon through coastal grassland. Both lead to Castle Rock and the iconic photo spot, the Castlepoint Lighthouse.
Time: 1h30mins return / Distance: 3.6km (2.2 miles) / Location: Masterton, Wairarapa
7. Mangawhero Forest Walk
Walk among forest giants, such as rimu, mataī and kahikatea, on the lower slopes of Mt Ruapehu. The Mangawhero Forest Walk is a good option for families. See the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Ohakune for more walks.
Time: 1 hour loop / Distance: 3km (1.9 miles) / Location: Ohakune, Manawatu-Whanganui
8. Manginangina Kauri Walk
Another easy one for families and suitable for wheelchairs, the Manginangina Kauri Walk displays New Zealand’s largest trees along a boardwalk.
Time: 15mins / Distance: 350m (383 yards) / Location: Kerikeri, Northland
9. Mt Karioi Track
Time: 3h-3h30mins one way / Distance: 7.4km (4.6 miles) / Location: Raglan, Waikato
10. Mt Urchin Track
This steep track in the Kaimanawa Ranges rewards hikers with breathtaking views of the volcanoes, Mt Ruapehu, Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe. Check out more walks nearby in the 12 Best Walks in Turangi.
Time: 3-4 hours return / Distance: 6.6km (4.1 miles) / Location: Turangi, Waikato
11. Smugglers Cove Loop Track
Time: 1h30mins loop / Distance: 3km (1.9 miles) / Location: Whangarei, Northland
12. Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Spend the day trekking over the volcanic terrain of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing with vibrant lakes, craters and steaming vents. The walk can be done independently between November and May but transport needs to be arranged for this one-way hike. See The Guide to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing to plan your hike.
Time: 6-8 hours one way / Distance: 19.4km (12 miles) / Location: Tongariro National Park, Waikato/Manawatu-Whanganui
13. Mangawhai Cliffs Walkway
A short walk to admire the North Island’s coastal beauty, the Mangawhai Cliffs Walkway offers a good balance of coastal forest, unfolding views, beaches and crystal clear waters.
Time: 2-3 hours return / Distance: 9km (5.6 miles) / Location: Waipu, Northland
14. Manawatu Gorge Tawa Loop Track
While there are super-short and long hikes in Manawatu Gorge, the Tawa Loop Track provides a happy medium meandering through the forest with lookouts over the river gorge and a Maori statue part-way through. See more walks nearby in the 26 Best Hikes Around Palmerston North.
Time: 2-hour loop / Distance: 4.1km (2.5 miles) / Location: Ashhurst, Manawatu-Whanganui
15. Orokawa Bay Walks
There are various walks to enjoy from the northern end of Waihi Beach starting with the Waihi Beach to Orokawa Bay walk (45mins one-way). Once you reach the picturesque bay, we recommend taking the William Wright Falls track (40mins one way). Return the same way or continue to Ngatitangata Road for a 4-hour one-way trip.
Time: 45mins to 4 hours one way / Distance: 1.3km ( 0.8 miles) to 9km (5.6 miles) / Location: Waihi, Bay of Plenty
16. Muriwai Walk
Enjoy expansive ocean views and undulating pastures on this track on the northern tip of the Coromandel Peninsula. The Muriwai Walk also features a historic Maori pa site. See more walks in the 16 Best Hikes in The Coromandel.
Time: 2-hour loop / Distance: 6km (3.7 miles) / Location: Coromandel, Waikato
17. Whitecliffs Walkway
Walk over clifftops through coastal forest from Pukearuhe to the Wai Pingao Stream. The return trip can be along the beach with the white cliffs towering above. Plan to walk along the beach at low tide (and while the tide is going out).
Time: 3-4 hours loop / Distance: 6.5km (4 miles) / Location: Pukearuhe, Taranaki
18. Ngā Tapuwae o Toi
An interesting way to see Whakatane, the Ngā Tapuwae o Toi or “Footprints of Toi” is a walk linking a series of short walks in Whakatane and Ohope. See historic pa sites, forests with kiwi birds, beaches, views of White and Whale islands and much more. Learn more in the 10 Best Walks in Whakatane.
Time: 7 hours loop / Distance: 16km (9.9 miles miles) / Location: Whakatane, Bay of Plenty
19. Taranaki Falls Walk
Walk to the 20m (65ft) Taranaki Falls! Features of the Taranaki Falls Walk include forest, ancient lava flows and views of the Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe volcanoes on a clear day. See more walks in the 13 Best Walks Around National Park Village & Whakapapa Village.
Time: 2-hour loop / Distance: 6km (3.7 miles) / Location: Tongariro National Park, Manawatu-Whanganui
20. Mangapohue Natural Bridge Walk
Time: 20mins loop / Distance: 700m (766 yards) / Location: Waitomo, Waikato
21. Okere Falls Track
Time: 30mins one way / Distance: 1.2km (0.7 miles) / Location: Rotorua, Bay of Plenty
22. Whataroa Falls
Speaking of waterfalls, a good one near Tauranga is Whataroa Falls (1 hour one way), found in the Otanewainuku Forest along with Rimu Loop Walk (45mins return) and Lookout Track (1h30mins return).
Time: 1 hour one way to 4 hours return / Distance: 2.5km (1.6 miles) one way to 10km (6.2 miles) return / Location: Te Puke, Bay of Plenty
23. Orongorongo Track
Time: 2 hours one way / Distance: 5.2km (3.2 miles) / Location: Kapiti, Wellington
24. Mangakara Nature Walk
Learn about New Zealand’s native trees on this example of a fantastic nature walk on the North Island. The Mangakara Nature Walk features illustrated signs to identify trees on this child-friendly stroll.
Time: 1 hour loop / Distance: 1.8km (1.1 miles) / Location: Pirongia, Waikato
25. Huka Falls Walks
There are two ways to experience Huka Falls and the views of its tumultuous rapids from the walkways. The short way is parking at the Huka Falls car park and viewing the falls from multiple lookouts on both sides of the river. Alternatively, enjoy the 1h30min walk from Spa Park where you can also bathe in the hot pools of Otumuheke Stream. See more of the 8 Best Walks in Taupo.
Time: 10mins to 1h30mins one way / Distance: 167m (183 yards) to 3km (1.9 miles) / Location: Taupo, Waikato
26. Limestone Creek
A real hidden gem, Limestone Creek might be a short walk but there are lots to see. Admire glowworms and towering caves covered in moss. Be prepared to get your feet wet. Learn more about Limestone Creek in the 6 Best Things to Do in Apiti.
Time: 10-20mins / Distance: 600m (656 yards) / Location: Apiti, Manawatu-Whanganui
27. Rangitoto Summit Track
After taking a ferry from Auckland city centre, take the Rangitoto Summit Track across lava fields and through New Zealand’s largest pohutukawa forest to the crater summit. It’s worth the 15-minute one-way side trip on the Lava Caves Track. See more walks nearby in the 10 Best Walks in Auckland.
Time: 2 hours return / Distance: 7km (4.3 miles) / Location: Rangitoto Island, Auckland
28. Kauaeranga Kauri Trail (Pinnacles Walk)
Get unrivalled views across the Coromandel Peninsula from The Pinnacles Walk. Either tackle it as a day hike going back and forth on the Webb Creek Track or stay overnight in the Pinnacles Hut. Learn more in the 16 Best Hikes in The Coromandel.
Time: 3-4 hours one-way / Distance: 7km (4.3 miles) / Location: Thames, Waikato
29. Aotea Track
Our first multi-day hike on this list of North Island hikes, the Aotea Track allows you to explore Great Barrier Island through the forest, hilltops and hot springs. See more walks in the 12 Best Hikes on Great Barrier Island.
Time: 2-3 days / Distance: 25km (15.5 miles) / Location: Great Barrier Island, Auckland
30. Cape Brett Walkway
Either an overnight tramp or a full-day mission with a water taxi return, the Cape Brett Walkway features dramatic coastal views and gnarly cliff drop-offs along the track.
Time: 8 hours one way / Distance: 16.3km (10.1 miles) / Location: Russell, Northland
31. Kerikeri River Track and Rainbow Falls
Time: 1h30mins one way / Distance: 3.5km (2.2 miles) / Location: Kerikeri, Northland
32. Mt Manaia Track
On the subject of Northland walks, another beauty is the Mt Manaia Track. Enjoy a stead climb through nikau palm and kauri forest to the rocky summit of this peak with breathtaking views of Whangarei Heads.
Time: 2 hours return / Distance: 4km (2.5 miles) / Location: Whangarei, Northland
33. Wenderholm Perimeter Track
A popular walk in the Auckland region, the Wenderholm Perimeter Track takes you over historic pa sites through a mix of trees and open hilltops to soak in the coast and estuary views. Learn about more places to walk in Auckland in the 20 Auckland Parks You Can’t Miss.
Time: 1h30mins loop / Distance: 4.6km (2.9 miles) / Location: Waiwera, Auckland
34. Te Whara Track
Time: 5-6 hours one way / Distance: 7.5km (4.7 miles) / Location: Whangarei, Northland
35. Cathedral Cove
One of the most visited sights on the North Island, Cathedral Cove is famous for its white cliffs arching over the beach. The car park is closed between October and April, so either take the shuttle from the entrance of Hahei or walk from the northern end of Hahei Beach adding an extra 20 minutes each way.
Time: 1h30mins (low season) or 2h10mins (high season) / Distance: 2.5km (1.6 miles) or 3.5km (2.2 miles) / Location: Hahei, Waikato
36. Urupukapuka Island Walk
Take the ferry from Paihia to reach the trails of Urupukapuka Island. The complete Urupukapuka Island Walk loops around the island through trees thriving with birdlife to open hilltops offering outstanding views of the Bay of Islands.
Time: 5 hours loop / Distance: 7.3km (4.5 miles) / Location: Urupukapuka Island, Northland
37. Coast to Coast Walkway
See the highlights of Auckland City on the Coast to Coast Walkway. Walk from Waitematā to Manukau passing some of the city’s heritage buildings, as well as through the Auckland Domain and the volcanic cones of Mt Eden and One Tree Hill.
Time: 4 hours / Distance: 16km (9.9 miles) / Location: Auckland City, Auckland
38. Cape Kidnappers
At low tide, follow the beach under steep cliffs displaying faultlines and fossils. The end of the route rewards you with the world’s largest mainland gannet colony on the dramatic cliff formations of Cape Kidnappers. See more of the 10 Best Walks in Hawke’s Bay.
Time: 5 hours return / Distance: 19km (11.8 miles) / Location: Hastings, Hawke’s Bay
39. Cooks Cove Walkway
Hike up to a viewpoint of the weather-beaten Mitre Rocks and Pourewa Island before descending to Cooks Cove with a “hole-in-the-wall”. Note that the track is closed during the lambing season (August to October). See more walks like this in the 9 Best Walks Along the Pacific Coast Highway.
Time: 2h30mins return / Distance: 5.8km (3.6 miles) / Location: Tolaga Bay, Gisborne
40. Mt Te Aroha
Starting from the geothermal park in Te Aroha, the walk to the summit of Mt Te Aroha is a steep but rewarding climb with views over the Hauraki Plains, across the Waikato to the North Island volcanoes on a clear day.
Time: 3 hours one way / Distance: 3.9km (2.4 miles) / Location: Te Aroha, Waikato
41. Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk
Classed as a “New Zealand Great Walk“, the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk is one of the North Island’s most remote multi-day hikes. Enjoy a backcountry experience in lush forest with waterfalls, lake views and Maori history. See more walks nearby in the 17 Best Lake Waikaremoana Walks.
Time: 3-4 days / Distance: 46km ( miles) / Location: Te Urewera, Gisborne/Bay of Plenty
42. Tarawera Trail
Meander through the forest on the shores of Lake Tarawera on your way to Te Rata Bay where you’ll find a campsite and hot springs meeting the lake. Book a water taxi to return.
Time: 5-6 hours one way / Distance: 15km (9.3 miles) / Location: Rotorua, Bay of Plenty
43. Wellington Southern Walkway
Walk from coast to coast along the Town Belt of Wellington on the Southern Walkway. It’s all about the views on this walk, which includes those of the cityscape, Mt Victoria, Oriental Bay and Island Bay. Choose from more walks in the area in the 10 Best Walks in Wellington.
Time: 4-5 hours one way / Distance: 10.7km (6.6 miles) / Location: Wellington City, Wellington
44. Putangirua Pinnacles
Walk among striking weather pinnacle formations on either the full Pinnacles and Ridge walks or the shorter Pinnacles Track or Streambed walk. The Putangirua Pinnacles featured in The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.
Time: 2 to 4 hours return / Distance: km ( miles) / Location: Wairarapa, Wellington
45. Pouakai Circuit
One of the best multi-day hikes on the North Island, the Pouakai Circuit takes you over various volcanic terrain with side trips to a waterfall and tarns reflecting the coned peak of Mt Taranaki.
Time: 2-3 days loop / Distance: 25km (15.5 miles) / Location: Egmont National Park, Taranaki
46. Redwood Memorial Grove Track
One of the many walks and bike trails in Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Forest, also known as The Redwoods, the Redwood Memorial Grove Track features towering Californian Redwoods and an old thermal pond with crystal clear water.
Time: 30 minutes return / Distance: 2km (1.2 miles) / Location: Rotorua, Bay of Plenty
47. Cape Reinga Lighthouse
Dubbed as the top of the North Island (although it’s not quite the northernmost point), the Cape Reinga Lighthouse is accessed on an easy stroller and wheelchair-friendly walk with some slightly steep sections.
Time: 10mins one way / Distance: 300m (328 yards) / Location: Cape Reinga, Northland
48. Wairere Falls Track
Follow a trail with large boulders and cascading streams to the highest waterfall on the North Island, Wairere Falls. There are various viewpoints of the falls, as well as a lookout from the top of the falls looking out across the Waikato region.
Time: 3-4 hours return / Distance: 5km (3.1 miles) / Location: Matamata, Waikato/Bay of Plenty
49. Red Rocks Coastal Walk
Time: 2-3 hours return / Distance: 7.4km (4.8 miles) / Location: Wellington City, Wellington
50. Lake Rotopounamu
Last but by no means least, Lake Rotopounamu is a stunning way to break up the journey when travelling through the central North Island. Walk around the perimeter of the lake through a dense forest alive with birdsong. Find more walks nearby in the 12 Best Walks in Turangi.
Time: 2-hour loop / Distance: 5km (3.1 miles) / Location: Turangi, Waikato