6 Best Short Walks in NZ with Ancient Native Forests
November 23, 2022

6 Best Short Walks in NZ with Ancient Native Forests

New Zealand is a small country, but the diversity of its landscape means that you can fit a lot into one short walk.

New Zealand is a small country, but the diversity of its landscape means that you can fit a lot into one short walk. That's why we've put together this list of the best short walks in New Zealand with 1000 year old trees!

Tāne Mahuta walk: Northland

Tāne Mahuta, meaning "God of the Forest", is the oldest tree in New Zealand located in the Waipoua Forest. The tree stands 52m tall and is estimated to be around 2,500 years old! The walk takes you through a kauri forest and is part of a larger track that includes other significant trees like Te Matua Ngahere (Father of the Forest) and Hera Kauri. As well as being beautiful to look at, these trees are also thousands of years old—and they're still growing! This walk is a good option if you want to see kauri trees without hiking or getting muddy at a quick 5-minute round trip.

Tāne Mahuta Tree

Kauri Loop Track: Huntly

You'll see some of the oldest and largest kauri trees along the way, as well as being able to spot native birds and frogs in their natural habitat. This is an excellent walk for all the family, and it's perfect if you are travelling with kids. The track is an easy 1-2 hour loop walk through the beautiful forest with multiple lookouts extending across the Waikato Lakes and even the Tongariro National Park on a fine day.


Kauri tree on the Kauri Loop - image by gracemitchell99 via instagram

Hukutaia Domain: Opotiki

Hukutaia Domain is a beautiful place to visit with multiple walk options. The green-marked track takes you through some native forests. In only 12 short minutes, you may see some tui, weka and maybe even kaka, as well as the Pūriri Taketakerau tree, which is around 1,970 years old! If you're looking for something a little longer, take the 20-minute red-marked track, which takes you around the outskirts of the domain. 

Mangaotaki Walk: Mahoenui

Mahoenui is the home of the tōtara 'Pouakani', a 1,822-year-old tree. This walk is a gem that's great for all ages, with enough to keep the kids interested but not too much to make it a slog. It's just over 2km long and takes about 2 hours round-trip from the Mahoenui township or 30 minutes from the start of the track. 

Manaotaki Track


Tōtara 'Pouakani', the 1,822-year-old tree


Whirinaki Track: Rotorua

The Whirinaki forest is one of the world's most majestic and ancient forests. Located just outside of Rotorua, it is an excellent option for those looking for a lengthier short walk, at 3 hours long. It's also a wonderful spot to see and listen to native birds, such as tui and bellbirds. You'll see some of the oldest and largest trees in the country: kahikatea, totara, matai, rimu and miro. On the way back from your walk, stop at Te Puia to check out some geothermal attractions!

Whirinaki forest river

Queen Charlotte Track: Marlborough Sounds

A bonus for those looking ti walk a little further. Queen Charlotte Track is more of a tramp that can range in length from one-five days. Located in the sounds, it is home to the 1,000-year-old Rimu tree. The world-renowned walk consists of gorgeous coastal views as well as dense native bush brimming with wildlife. 

Queen Charlotte biking track
1000 year-old Rimu tree


There are many great short walks in NZ, but these are some of our favourites with 1000-year-old trees! I hope they inspire you to get out and explore some of the incredible scenery we have here in New Zealand!