Destinations

Get out and about in the South Island with these family-friendly walks

The South Island is home to some of the world's most famous walks – but if you're not ready to tackle the Milford or the Routeburn yet, try our pick of five easy day walks.

Visitors flood from around the world to experience the spectacular scenery of New Zealand's southern regions. But how much have you explored yourself?
Stepping out for a nature walk has been proven to be ultra beneficial, not just for your physical health but for your mental health too. It's a brilliant way to spend quality time with your kids and partner, away from the distractions of devices and the demands of daily life. And it's free!
To encourage Kiwi families to take a hike, we've put together a quick list of five kid-friendly walks across the South Island. Created with the support of Nature Valley™ – so you can get out more.

1. The Outlet Track

Wanaka Outlet Track. Courtesy of [wanaka.co.nz]
Region: Otago
Terrain: Easy track
Distance: 3km each way
Time: 1.5 hours return
This cycle and stroller-friendly track follows the mighty Clutha River as it begins its journey from Lake Wanaka to the Pacific Ocean. Start at either end – at Outlet Road near the campground in the north, or Albert Town in the south.
The track meanders along the river's edge, passing pretty beaches that are perfect for a picnic. Visit in autumn to experience nature's spectacular colour show.
Tip: For affordable family accommodation right on the doorstep of this walk, check out the Lake Outlet Holiday Park. Find out more at doc.govt.nz.
You can find a route map here and more information about the walk here.

2. Big Tōtara Walk

Giant Totara by Tomas Sobek (CCBY-SA4.0)
Region: Southland
Terrain: Forest walk
Distance: Less than 1km
Time: 30 minutes return
As you might have guessed from its name, this walking track winds through some of Southland's largest totara trees, many of which are more than 1000 years old.
Deep in the heart of the Dean Forest on the Lillburn Monowai Road, this pocket of native bush has never been logged and is a great reminder of the grandeur of nature.
Tip: This flat, family-friendly walk is perfect for a picnic stop and leg stretch when exploring Fiordland.
You can find a route map here and more information about the walk here.

3. Cable Bay Walkway

Cable Bay Walkway. Photo courtesy of DoC
Region: Nelson
Terrain: Coastal walk with some bush
Distance: 7.9km
Time: 3.5 hours one way
Panoramic coastal views, swimming and snorkeling – what more could you want from a day walk? The track between Cable Bay and The Glen takes three and a half hours (unless you want to retrace your steps you'll need transport back to the start) but there are shorter loop tracks at either end that take only an hour or two.
The track is steep in places and strong footwear is recommended. The area was once a Māori fishing ground and you'll see evidence of occupation dating back to 1150AD.
Tip: The track passes through farmland, so be respectful of livestock and leave gates open or closed as you found them.
You can find a route map here and more information about the walk here.

4. Franz Josef Glacier Kā Roimata O Hine Hukatere Walk

Franz Joseph Glacier. Photo courtesy of DoC
Region: West Coast
Terrain: Glacier track
Distance: 5.4km return
Time: 1.5 hours return
If you've never seen a glacier, here's your chance. The full walk takes about 45 minutes each way, but if you're in a rush or have small children, you can catch a glimpse of the Franz Josef Glacier after a short 15-minute stroll along a fully accessible forest track.
If you're feeling more adventurous, follow the markers in the riverbed to a viewing area close to the face of the glacier.
Tip: The shingle and rock riverbed can be rough underfoot, so make sure you have suitable footwear.
You can find a route map here and more information about the walk here.

5. Blue Lake Loop Track

Blue Lake Otago. Photo courtesy of DoC
Region: Otago
Terrain: Short lakeside walk
Distance: 2km
Time: 30 minutes
Not to be confused with the Blue Lake Track near Rotorua or the Blue Lakes Walk near Nelson, the Blue Lake Loop Track in St Bathans, Otago, is an easy half-hour stroll alongside a lake carved out over decades of mining.
It's the mineral-enriched water that gives the lake its vivid blue, and its goldmining heritage is evident in the sculpted contours of the land and the remants of machinery.
Tip: Make sure you allow time to explore the historic village of St Bathans while you're in the area.
You can find a route map here and more information about the walk here.

Win your day pack essentials!

Be in to win the ultimate day pack, containing all the essentials for your next outdoor adventure.
Nature Valley™ wants to encourage Kiwi families to go wild in the country, the park or just the back garden – so they've put together four ultimate day packs to give away, each worth over $350!
Inside each stylish 18-litre Macpac day pack you'll find a designer Blunt Metro umbrella, a classic Stanley thermos, SPF50+ sunscreen lotion, insect repellent spray, and enough Nature Valley™ Crunchy, Protein and Nut Butter bars to fuel your entire family on your next adventure – because there's no such thing as the great indoors.
To be in to win, enter here and tell us your favourite family-friendly day walk. Competition closes 9 February 2020. Terms and conditions apply.
And make sure you check out our Five must-do family-friendly North Island walks.