New Zealand’s best urban hikes

New Zealand is a hiker’s paradise. People come from all over the world to explore our famous hiking trails and ‘Great Walks’. Once, a couple of hobbits even hiked the entirety of the country in bare feet. 

There’s nothing quite like getting out and enjoying the wonderland that is our backyard, but it’s not always easy to organise. Many of our ‘Great Walks’ require a lot of travel just to get to, not to mention several days to hike. 

Even if you don’t have the same free time as a hobbit, there are still plenty of urban hikes all over the country that you can tackle without travelling far from the city. 

North Island 

Mt Eden Path (Auckland)

Mt Eden, Auckland

Sam and Frodo hiked across Middle Earth to climb a volcano. You’ll only need to cross Auckland to tackle the beautiful (and long dormant) Mt Eden volcano

This urban hike is just 2 kilometres long and will take you to the grassy crater at the top and down again in approximately one hour. As one of the highest points in the entire city, you’ll earn a spectacular 360-degree view of the surrounding suburbs and Sky Tower in the distance when you reach the summit. 

Mt Victoria (Auckland)

Mt Victoria, Auckland

Also known as Takarunga, Mt Victoria is the highest volcano on the North Shore. Take the 10-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland to Devonport, then make your way up the main street (Victoria Road) to reach the hill. 

This hike is short and sweet at just 3 kilometres there and back, but the steep incline on the way up will ensure you work hard for the views at the top. The vistas over the Auckland Harbour are stunning but be sure to also check out the cute mushroom sculptures dotted around the peak – these are artfully disguised vents for the water pumping station under the surface. 

Mt Victoria (Wellington)

You can’t beat Wellington on a good day, and there’s hardly a better way to experience it than from the top of Mt Victoria. The full loop from Courtenay Place covers approximately 4.6 kilometres and takes around 90 minutes. 

It takes you through beautiful pine forests and up onto the top of the hill for some of the best views of Wellington from anywhere in the city. 

South Island 

Victoria Park (Christchurch) 

Just when you think you’ve seen all the urban hikes named after a Queen in New Zealand, there’s Christchurch’s Victoria Park

You can either do this hike on hard mode and start from the bottom of Dyers Pass Road or drive most of the way up the hill and park at the Victoria Park car park. Once there, there are countless trails all over the mountaintop that you can explore, such as the Sign of the Kiwi hike that will take you approximately 45 minutes each way. 

Ben Lomond (Queenstown)

Ben Lomond, New Zealand

Queenstown is an outdoor adventure mecca, but you don’t need to go far to discover one of the best urban hikes we have. Starting in downtown, the Ben Lomond hike will challenge you to ascend over 1,400 metres in elevation on an 11-kilometre round trip. 

You’ll hike to the top of the Skyline Gondola (or you could simply take the gondola to save an hour of uphill walking), then get started on the slog to the Ben Lomond summit. 

It’s a challenging hike but one that rewards you with the kind of views you’ll only find from the highest peaks in one of the most beautiful places in the world. 

An unexpected benefit of a healthy lifestyle

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