10 Spectacular Hikes & Walks in Wellington, New Zealand

Located on the southern tip of North Island, Wellington is a paradise for hikers & walkers. The best hikes & walks in Wellington drift between urban gems and outdoor experiences.

Along the tracks, you’ll immerse yourself in wild native bush and craggy seascapes. You’ll revel in forested mountainsides and walk through blissful gardens. You’ll even get to explore an island or two!

Ready to embark on the perfect Wellington hiking adventure? Upgrade your itinerary with a hike or walk on these top-rated hiking and walking trails in & around Wellington, New Zealand…

Wellington hiking guide: The best trails & walking tracks

Red Rocks Walkway

The Red Rocks (Pariwhero) are perched upon the edge of Wellington’s rugged southern coast. At Red Rocks, hikers can revel in the region’s most distinctive geological features. You’ll also spot plenty of interesting seaside wildlife here.

The low-difficulty Red Rocks Walkway winds along the Owhiro Bay coastline. The trail starts in the east at Te Kopahou Reserve Visitor Centre at the Owhiro Bay Quarry. It treks west to Sinclair Head.

Red Rocks

On this track you’ll see more than lovely coastal scenery. You’ll walk past a handful of early-20th-century baches (traditional New Zealand beach houses). You’ll also get a chance to scope out the WWII-era bunker at the Sinclair Head.

If you visit the Red Rocks between April and October, keep on the lookout for the cute seal colony basking on the rocks. Although the seals are friendly, keep your distance out of respect for their habitat. They often get stressed out and anxious with human contact.

  • Distance: 7.2 kilometres
  • Time: 2 to 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

City to Sea Walkway

Feeling extra energy on your visit to Wellington? Give your quads a workout on the epic City to Sea Walkway. Stretching over 12 kilometres, the hiking trail is one of Wellington’s most popular longer-distance walks. It’ll take the better part of a day in Wellington to complete.

Tough out this 6- to 7-hour walk and you’ll hit up the best of Wellington in one fell swoop. The track ventures from Bolton Street Memorial Cemetery, west of Lambton Quay in central Wellington. It ends on the coast at Shorland Park in Island Bay, south of the city.

Trees @ Botanic Gardens

Along the way, you’ll pass by some of Wellington’s most popular attractions. Keep on the lookout for the Wellington Botanic Garden, Space Place at Carter Observatory, Wellington Cable Car, and the Aro Valley. The terrain is interesting and varied, too. It traverses native bush, steep hills, and ridges on route to the sea.

When you reach the end of the walk, you can take Bus No. 1 to get back to Wellington CBD.

  • Distance: 12 kilometres (one-way)
  • Time: 6 to 7 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

Mount Victoria Loop

Mount Victoria Loop is a favourite track for visitors and locals alike. Both its location and ease make it one of the most accessible walks in Wellington.

This popular hiking loop runs 4.6 kilometres. It climbs through pine forests to the 196-metre-high summit of Mount Victoria. When you reach the top of the mountain, spectacular 360-degree views over the harbour and Wellington city unfold. On a clear day, you can even see as far as New Zealand’s South Island!

Mount Victoria Lookout

The full Mount Victoria Loop starts at Courtenay Place. It scales Majoribanks Street to the summit, returning via picturesque Oriental Bay. For a shorter walk, you can start at Majoribanks Street or Bayview Terrace instead.

  • Distance: 4.6 kilometres
  • Time: 1.5 to 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Matiu/Somes Island Track

Matiu/Somes Island sits near the geographic centre of Wellington Harbour. It’s a fantastic place to explore Wellington’s wilder side without spending the entire day in transit. The island is just 25 minutes by ferry from Queens Wharf in the Wellington CBD.

Matiu-Somes Island

The walking track around Matiu/Somes Island is one of the best walks around Wellington. It features easy terrain and superb 360-degree views of the harbour, Wellington, and Lower Hutt.

As you walk around the pest-free island, you’ll get to spot native New Zealand species. Keep your eyes peeled for the tuatara (lizard), kākāriki (New Zealand parakeet)—and even the odd penguin!

Be sure to also look out for the lighthouse, built in 1886. You’ll also stumble on various WWII gun emplacements perched on the clifftops.

  • Distance: 4.2 kilometres
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

Skyline Walkway

Looking to add a little adventure to your Wellington walks wishlist? Tack the Skyline Walkway onto your travel plans.

At 12 kilometres, this popular walking trail isn’t for the faint-hearted. The trail whips through the hilly Town Belt to the west of Wellington. As you walk along the hills and ridges of the Skyline Walkway, you’ll uncover a mix of landscapes. Along the way, you’ll pass pastoral fields and enjoy dramatic views of the city and coastline.

Pine Trees on Skyline Walkway

If you’re lucky enough to trek along the track on a clear day, you may even spot Marlborough Sounds on South Island. To the north, you’ll see the Tararua Ranges.

You’ll need a moderate level of fitness for this walk—and a tolerance for the elements. The weather up here can change at the drop of a hat. Be sure to dress appropriately and bring enough water & snacks for the day.

You can find the Skyline Walkway northern trailhead at the end of Old Coach Road in Johnsonville. The southern trailhead is found at the Makara Saddle in Karori.

  • Distance: 12 kilometres
  • Time: 5 to 6 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Makara Loop Walk

The Makara Loop Walk is one of the most family-friendly walks near Wellington. Even with its ease, it unleashes some of Wellington’s most beautiful coastal scenery.

Push up the clifftops along this lovely track. You’ll catch a glimpse of everything from wild west coast sea views to rural farmland. There’s even a handful of WWII gun emplacements and an ancient Maori fortress.

Makara Walkway

The Makara Loop Walk trail begins and ends at Makara Beach, 16 kilometres north of Wellington. It’s approximately a 20-minute drive from the city centre.

  • Distance: 7 kilometres
  • Time: 2 to 3 hours
  • Difficult: Easy to Moderate

Wellington Botanic Garden

For a leisurely walk not far from the city centre, look no further than the Wellington Botanic Garden.

The botanic gardens sprawl across 61 acres above the Wellington CBD. They’ve been a fixture in Wellington’s urban mix since 1868.

Botanic Gardens

Wandering through the Wellington Botanic Garden is more about meandering than following a fixed path. There’s a variety of scenes to behold here. You can enjoy walks through native forest, scope out artwork or marvel at the flowers.

A trek through the gardens is best kicked off with a scenic funicular ride on the famous Wellington Cable Car to the upper terminus. You can also access the gardens from the main entrance at Glenmore Street. There’s alternate entrances on Salamanca Road and Upland Road, too.

  • Distance: Varied
  • Time: 10 minutes to 2.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

Te Ara o Nga Tupuna Heritage Trail

History buffs interested in New Zealand’s cultural fabric should set their sights on the Te Ara o Nga Tupuna Heritage Trail. The city centre part of the trail is one of the coolest Wellington walking trails. It strolls among the pre-modern history of New Zealand’s capital.

The Te Ara o Nga Tupuna walking track starts at Pipitea Marae in Thorndon Quay. From here, it ventures south through the CBD towards Waitangi Park on the harbourfront in Te Aro.

Waitangi Park

On this section of the heritage track, you’ll pass several important Maori culture sites. Look out for Pipitea Pa, the site of an important traditional kainga (village) and Waititi, a tauranga waka (canoe landing site). You’ll also see Kumutoto Kaigna, a former major flax-collection station and waka.

Feeling extra adventurous? Extend the hike all the way to Owhiro Bay on the southern coast of Wellington. The Te Ara o Nga Tupuna Heritage Trail also has a self-drive track. It follows the entire Wellington coastline from Mt Victoria towards the south.

  • Distance: 3.5 kilometres
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

Southern Walkway

No list of epic walking trails in Wellington is complete without mentioning the Southern Walkway.

The walk starts at the corner of Oriental Parade and Carlton Gore Road in front of Oriental Bay. From here, it slides south alongside Mt Victoria in the Town Belt towards Island Bay on the south coast of Wellington.

Oriental Bay

The views on this 11-kilometre walk are spectacular. They cover the gamut of Wellington sightseeing opportunities from forests to coastlines. It’s well-marked and well-maintained. If navigating isn’t your strong suit, it’s one of the simpler and easier walks.

From the end of the Southern Walkway trail at Shorland Park, it’s easy to catch transportation back to the city centre.

  • Distance: 11 kilometres
  • Time: 4 to 5 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Northern Walkway

To explore Wellington’s northern fringes, set your compass for the epic Northern Walkway.

Like its southern counterpart, this popular trail is one of the best hikes in Wellington. It’s a great choice for urban travellers & outdoor adventurers.

Sunset @ Mount Kaukau

The trail starts at the upper terminal of the Wellington Cable Car. It meanders through 16 kilometres of hills, parks, and quaint suburbs. At its apex, you’ll scale up the 445-metre-high summit of Mount Kaukau. When you reach the top, the views over Wellington will be spellbinding.

Be aware: Upon finishing the Northern Walkway trail, your work’s not quite done. You’ll need to walk a few more kilometres from the peak of Mount Kaukau into Johnsonville to catch a ride back to central Welly.

  • Distance: 16 kilometres
  • Time: 4 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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