The Great New Zealand Dog Walks
Need some inspiration to get out and about with your four-legged friend? Heading to a new part of the country for the first time? Try our guide to these great dogs walks around New Zealand.
Just 40 minutes from Auckland’s CBD, Kakamatua Inlet is the perfect weekend adventure for you and your four-legged friend. It’s a much-loved destination for Auckland dog owners so your pal is sure to find someone to play with!
A short leashed walk through some beautiful New Zealand bush opens out to dog paradise – a beach that’s off-leash 24/7, even during the summer months! As you walk into the inlet there’s a freshwater stream that’s perfect for not so confident swimmers, or for washing off sandy dogs before getting back in the car.
The beach itself is surrounded by cliffs, making it a very safe place for off-leash play. When the tide is out there’s a huge area for zooming around and chasing tennis balls, and at high tide your dog will love running in and out of the gentle waves. In the summer months many dog owners wade in the clear water with their pups, and the shallow area can be good for kids to enjoy too.
When your dog is all worn out, just five minutes down the road is The Huia Foodstore, a very dog-friendly café where you can buy treats for you and your pooch! It’s the perfect place to refuel before heading home again.
If you are searching for more of a leisurely stroll with your dog, Auckland’s waterfront is the place to go. It is lined with dog-friendly cafes on one side, stunning beaches on the other, and is a paradise for dogs and their owners all year round.
Although the beach is out of bounds much of the time in summer, your dog can still walk on the adjacent sidewalk on a leash. During the winter months you will find countless dog owners giving their companions a chance to ditch the lead and burn off excess energy on the beach. They frolic in the waves, and chase other dogs through the sand to their hearts’ content.
The flat boardwalk, sea breeze, and beautiful views also make it a great place for a relaxing family stroll. The kids can ride their bikes or scooters, or be pushed in a pram with ease, and your dog will love being a part of the family outing.
It is completely up to you how long you want to walk. It will take you about 35 minutes to walk from Saint Heliers to Mission Bay, or 20 minutes if you only want to go as far as Kohimarama. But the beauty of the waterfront is you can make a day of it. You can stop for breakfast or lunch one of the many cafes and restaurants along the way, or just spend time on the beach taking in the spectacular sights.
Other great walking spots:
St Leonard’s Beach: A steep staircase descends into this beautiful North Shore beach. It’s best at low tide and is great for people swimming too in the summer months.
Waitakere Ranges: This Regional Parkland has hundreds of walks of varying lengths and levels of difficulty. Check the Auckland Council website for up to date information on where dogs are permitted.
Warkworth Cement Works: This old cement works in North Auckland offers an incredibly deep swimming hole. It’s off-leash all year for dogs so if your pooch is crazy about the water, pack a picnic and make a day of it.
Mount Eden Summit: Park at nearby Mount Eden village and enjoy a walk through suburbia and up this volcanic summit. You’ll be rewarded with amazing views of the city.
Dogs are part of the family, so during the warmer months, dog owners love nothing more than for their furry friends to join in on the fun. While this can be tricky with a dog ban on most beaches during the summer, Back Beach is an off-leash dog heaven all year round!
At low tide, a large stretch of black sand is uncovered, giving your dog plenty of room to race around. Its popularity means your dog will meet old friends, and make new ones, becoming the perfect place for a social occasion. A classic west coast beach, Back Beach is dramatic, surrounded by cliff faces, and with spectacular sunsets. Not only will your dog love the scenery, but you will too.
Although surfers and families congregate here to take advantage of the special sights Back Beach has to offer, there is an understanding that dogs are also welcome.
Other great walking spots:
Tehenui – A beautiful off-leash dog walkway that follows the scenic Te Hunui River. It winds its way up from the coast through a variety of native and exotic flora, several picnic areas and swimming holes.
Barrets Domain – The domain offers three off-leash dog walks that you can enter from Roto Street. It is also a wildlife refuge, so keep your dog away from the wetlands and pond area.
If you are looking for an off-leash walk with views – you can’t go past Maupuia Walkway! Beginning at Akaroa Drive where you can park your car, the path follows the edge of Maupuia Heights, and boasts a breath-taking panorama.
Take your time, stop for a moment at one of the park benches and watch the yachts sail the harbour. The route is gentle and is a little under a kilometre long so a return journey will take you around 40 minutes – a good distance for a casual walk or for those doggies with little legs!
If you prefer a longer walk, once you reach Prison Road you can take a connecting path down the hill to Shelly Bay however remember to put your pooch on a leash before leaving the off-leash area.
This is a must-visit walkway for you and your best friend to take in some of Wellington’s most magnificent views!
The Hutt Valley is a great destination for Wellington dog lovers. With a designated dog-friendly beach (west of Petone Wharf), much of the Hutt River bank being off-leash dog walking areas, and beautiful bush walks - if your dog loves the water, exploring or generally frolicking with other dogs they are in for a treat!
During weekends, people from all walks of life converge on Petone beach, and on the west side of Petone Wharf it is all about dogs. Here it is a usual to see small dogs hooning with big dogs, dogs finding their perfect patch of sand to dig, and others adopting a new human who is in possession of a magical ball thrower.
The Hutt River also has a lot to offer. With various entry points, the river trail makes its way through peaceful tree and bush lined areas. At the Melling Road entrance you will find a dog exercise area with rolling green hills, backing on to the Hutt River where your dog can take a dip if they’re game. Be careful in the summertime or times of low water flow as toxic-algae can be an issue in some areas of the Hutt River and is hazardous especially to dogs.
The Hutt also has beautiful bush walks in its Regional Parks – some of which are dog friendly provided your dog is kept under control and does not enter farmland. If you fancy a longer, more intense trek, the Belmont Trig Track has it all. You will be met by the challenge of walking a steep track, but be rewarded with the beauty of mature native forest and expansive views from the Tararua to the Kaikoura ranges. Belmont Trig is 457m high, and the walk, depending on the route and your fitness level, can take 3-4 hours. It is a great walk take in the beautiful native surroundings and escape to the hustle and bustle of city life.
Other great walking spots:
Oriental Parade: This gentle stroll around Wellington’s waterfront can’t be beaten on a sunny day – bring the whole family and stop for an icecream on the way.
Lyall Bay Dog Beach: The airport half of the beach is Wellington’s most popular off-leash dog exercise area. Busy even during winter, there’s lots of place to run and play fetch.
Ian Galloway Dog Park: This is Wellington's largest fully fenced dog park and is a great place to socialise your pup.
Taylor River Reserve
Located right in the centre of Blenheim, the picturesque walk along the Taylor River is the place to be for any Marlborough dog owner.
It’s a popular spot, so in the evenings and at the weekends you’re guaranteed to meet a range of friends for your dog to play with (and they’re allowed off lead). While they’re occupied, enjoy the scenery of the river and native trees and shrubs.
The terrain is flat enough for all ranges of walkers and there are rubbish bins and toilets along the route for your convenience.
The best thing about the Taylor River is that you can do as much or as little as you want to. If you’re in a rush, there are six carpark access points so you can have a quick walk through the 4.6km area of concreted pathway. However, if you and your pal are feeling keen you can walk the extra 5km up to the Taylor Dam Reserve - an area which is perfect for a picnic with the whole family.
This stony beach is one of Marlborough’s best kept secrets. Located Just 15 minutes from Blenheim, Rarangi offers stunning views of both the sea and the Wither Hills
Take your dog on a meander through the pine forests, explore the sand dunes or wander for miles on the beach’s stony shores. There are plenty of sticks to collect and new smells to discover along the way.
Bear in mind, Rarangi is a surf beach. Some days it’s calm but other days there can be rough swells and hidden dangers, so be careful to check the conditions before letting your pup go for a swim.
Keep your eyes peeled for seals who have also been known to frequent the beach. And for the true nature lovers, there is a dog friendly DOC campsite located on the beach where you and your family can stay overnight.
Other great walking spots:
Sutherland Stream Reserve: Walk along the stunning reserve at the base of the Wither Hills Farm Park.
Pollard Park: 24.6 ha of wooded parkland, meandering stream and floral gardens.
The Groynes is one of Christchurch’s most popular dog walking spots and it’s easy to see why. With 8 fenced areas, three agility courses, two spring fed streams for dog swimming and acres of open spaces, your dog will be easily entertained for hours.
Anytime you visit The Groynes, you’re likely to encounter a wide range of dogs from the very big to the very small. There will always be a perfect playmate for your pets.
It’s a great place to take the whole family, with plenty of picnic spots across the park as well as free barbeques and multiple children’s playgrounds.
Bottle Lake Forest
While Bottle Lake Forest is not a designated dog park and is unfenced, it boasts a large forest pine plantation and beach area alongside the coast in the north-east of the city.
The Bottle Lake Forest dirt and sand tracks wind through 1000 hectares of pine forest and is mostly flat, where owners can run or walk dogs. Maps at the beginning will help so you don’t get lost. And if you’re keen you can end up at the beach for a refreshing swim.
The forest walks are particularly sheltered so suitable in all weather conditions.
Other great walking spots:
The Bridle Path. A great, steep walk for dogs with high energy needs and the reward of great views at the top.
Victoria Park & Harry Ell Track. A large enclosed dog park with panoramic views over the city and conveniently close to the popular Harry Ell Walkway in the Port Hills.
Taylors Mistake. A stunning walk from Sumner beach to Godley Heads. Stunning views of the sea. Make sure you keep your eyes out to sea and on the rocks below you may spot a seal or a dolphin.
Ross Creek Reservoir
If you were to ask any dog owner in North Dunedin what their favourite walk is, they are bound to mention the Ross Creek Reservoir. It is a peaceful native bush trail that is relatively sheltered from the elements, and with lots of smells to sniff, creeks to drink from, and bush to discover. Your dog won’t want to leave!
The reservoir can be entered from various points along Burma and Tanner Road, but the main entry is from further down Ross Creek at Glenleith, 4km from the city centre. The track is perfect for an easy stroll around a small circuit, or you can explore one of the many longer track loops. You can walk or jog with your four-legged friends, and some tracks are suitable for wheelchairs or prams.
While walking, you will be surrounded by a range of flora, and greeted by the calls of wood pigeons, fantails, and bellbirds. But the most notable feature of the reservoir is the picturesque dam and valve tower that was built from local stone in the 19th century.
It is particularly stunning on a sunny day as the blue sky reflects off the still, glassy water – a perfect place for you and your dog to sit on the park bench overlooking the dam, and take a rest before continuing through the bush.
Other great walking spots:
Shand Park: Do you have a small breed dog? Then check out the small dog exercise area inside Shand Park at Green Island – one of the only spaces dedicated to the little guy in Dunedin!
Saint Kilda beach: A popular off-lead spot for dogs, particularly in the winter months. With massive crashing waves, high sand dunes, and washed up seaweed, there's hours of doggy fun to be had here.
Arrow River Loop Track - Arrowtown
Following the beautiful willow, sycamore and larch lined Arrow River (home of the gold rush in the 1800s), the Arrow River Loop trail was built in 1998 to commemorate 150 years of European Settlement in Otago. The 4.2km track is the perfect walk for you and your furry four-legged friend.
If your pooch loves water they’ll be in heaven - on this track you’ll find yourself zig-zagging the chortling river. The river has many moods, sometimes tranquil, often rushing over rocks and bluffs, then widening to limpid pools. It’s the perfect place to take your dog for a dip, especially during the hot summer months.
Walking the loop takes about an hour. The track is nice and wide, is well maintained and suitable for wheelchairs and prams making it the perfect walk for the whole family.
Bobs's Cove Track and Nature Walk
If you are looking for a picturesque but secluded spot to take in the true beauty of Lake Wakatipu, Bob's Cove Track and Nature Walk is one of Queenstown's top dog-friendly spots.
The start of the track is around 13km from Queenstown - a short car ride for you and your pooch from the main town. It begins with a meandering track through native bush surrounded by local wildlife, so listen out for the harmonious chirps of Tui and Bellbirds.
Continue along the path veering off to the left while following the signs for 'picnic point'. You'll soon be treated to a glimpse of the lake, and see access points down the verge onto the shore of the cove. All year-round this stunning bay makes for a breathtaking sight. In summer, the colourful trees line the shore, while the winter air creates a misty magical hue over the waters.
Prepare yourself for a stunning 360 degree view of the lake and mountains - a conveniently situated little bench on the top makes for a perfect lunch spot while you and your canine take in the surroundings.
The track then continues back around the other side, so continue the way you came to complete the loop. It takes around 1.5 hours depending on your walking speed, and there are options to connect on to the Twelve Mile Delta track for a longer tramp.
Overall, a stunning and easy walk for the whole family around a secluded part of Lake Wakatipu that showcases the true beauty of Central Otago and its mountain ranges and crystal clear aqua lakes.
Other great walking spots:
Arawata Bridle track - Park of the original bridle trail from Queenstown to Glenorchy with stunning views of the lake and rock formations that draws in local rock climbers.
Mount Crichton Loop track - Perfect for the whole family, featuring a waterfall, native bush and wildlife, and a historic hut with an impressive story.
- Ensure your dog is under your control at all times, even in off-leash areas.
- Dog walking and leash restrictions can change and some beaches have strict rules during the summer months. Check with your local council and always abide by posted rules.
- Bring a portable pet water bottle for your dog, especially in the warmer months. There’s not always access to drinking water while out on an adventure.
- Don’t forget doggy poop bags and always clean up after your dog!