Walking in nature is one of the best things you can do with kids, letting them see, hear, and smell the world around them, building connections with nature. What’s more, no matter your age, walking is one of the best ways to appreciate the natural beauty here in the Bay of Islands. We’ve used our local knowledge to pull together our top family-friendly walks in the Bay of Islands:
Long Beach, Russell: pack the swimming togs and a picnic, because a 20 min walk from The Strand in Russell takes you to the beautiful golden sands of Long Beach/Oneroa, which is safe for swimming and not a bad place to while away an hour or two. The views from here out to the islands are beautiful, and for the adults a look at some of the 1930s baches along the beach might be of interest too. The 20 min walk itself is also pretty, winding through a native bush valley, over a hill, and past the local cemetery.
Haruru falls: Haruru means “big noise” and the kids will be wowed if you visit these small, horse-shoe-shaped falls after a big rain! Even if it hasn’t been raining, it’s worth a look – it’s where the entire Waitangi river empties out into a lagoon, which was New Zealand’s first river port. The falls are just a couple of minutes’ walk from the carpark, or if the kids are good walkers you can do the 2.5-hour trail to the falls from the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, which features a mangrove boardwalk.
Puketi Night walk: Because Puketi is an ancient subtropical rainforest and one of the most diverse in New Zealand, imagine the wildlife that comes to life here at night! The tui, fantails and kukupa (wood pigeon) settle in, and suddenly the forest becomes the domain of the night animals. The morepork, the kiwi, the bats, the weta, long native earthworms, puriri moth and countless other special New Zealand species come out to explore. The silver ferns catch the moonlight and the strong night perfume of certain flowers wafts through the air. The night walk tour with us at Adventure Puketi is family-oriented – we love showing the kids this parallel world of a forest at night, and seeing the excitement on their faces is one of the most rewarding parts of the job.
Manginangina Kauri Walk: Puketi Forest is also gorgeous during the day – and this track makes it accessible to even the smallest members of the family! The trail is a short 15 minutes one way and is all boardwalk, so you can take a pushchair. It wends its way through grand kauri trees and swamp forest, with panels giving information on the forest ecosystems.
Flagstaff Hill Track, Russell: This hill with stunning 360-degree views was the site of much consternation in the 1840s, as it was where the Union Jack flag was first flown in New Zealand. The pole was chopped down four times in the next five years as a gesture of protest. It is, however, a beautiful place to walk to, with breath-taking 360-degree views over the Bay of Islands ocean passages, bays, peninsulas and Russell just below. Pack a picnic lunch for the family, and enjoy the views, tui song, and occasional cheeky weka.
Opua Kauri Walk: this is a great way to get up close to magnificent kauri trees with a bit of a bird’s eye view. Only half an hour return and part boardwalk, the short, peaceful trail takes you to a bench seat on an elevated viewing platform, surrounded by kauri trees young and old – one giant one is about 400 years old. The platform keeps you away from Kauri roots, so you’ll be happy there is low danger of contributing to Kauri dieback.
We hope you enjoy getting out into the Bay of Islands natural spaces with the kids, burning some energy, soaking up the region, and increasing their connection with our natural world. If you’d like to up the excitement factor with a Puketi night walk, get in touch!