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Bush Walks: Exploring the Unknown

Updated: Jul 29, 2021


Bush walks are well known, and are regarded, as national heritage. New Zealand provides many tourist attractions and bushwalking is among them. Going on a bushwalk does not mean going through thick areas with leaves, trees, and weed all around. It usually means a combination of paths, hills, views, water, or even sea.

A bush walk includes visits to reserves, conservations, parks, beaches, or mountains. It also includes visits to built-up areas with some natural decorations.

In an unlikely event, you will need mud boots to go through the water, for example, to the other side of the beach. You will leave the trail and take a route through the unknown, which is not a usual thing to do.

On entrance to the trailing site, a welcome post will greet you - a sign with the name of the place and its location. You will then come across many information boxes. They will tell you the history of the place, how it evolved, what creatures inhabit the area, and other things. You will also see maps and signs pointing you in the right direction. These signs will suggest you a path to take to reach a certain place.

The terrain you are going to come across can vary from nice pavement/wooden type to sand, rocks, or even mud and water. Consider doing some research about the place you are going to visit. Then decide on which shoes you are going to wear.

So facts number 1, 2, and 3:

  • Bushwalk tracks have different types of terrain along which you are meant to go.

  • Going for a bushwalk does not mean clearing a pass through the bush.

  • Choosing a common pair of shoes for casual walking should suffice most of the time.

Bush Walk vs Hiking

By definition, a bush walk is a recreational hike into the wild or uncultivated country. Tramping, as it is known in New Zealand, is a popular activity.

You will see networks of tramping tracks of various lengths and difficulties. For some of them, you will need a backpack and special gear like non-wet shoes, cooking tools, and camping. Others are 10 to 20-minute walks. These include mountain climbs such as Big King mountain, One Tree Hill, Devonport, etc.

Hiking involves a difficult excursion through the forest. It also has a different term - bushwhacking. It involves clearing a path and advancing through thick woods. And you do that by chopping down bushes and low branches.

Hiking involves a walk a lot longer than a bushwalk, often with vigorous trails or footpaths. In comparison, you can do tramping in cities. The term "bushwalking" is endemic to Australia and was adopted by the Sydney Bush Walkers club in 1927. In New Zealand, it is best known as tramping, a popular strolling activity.

Bush Walk (Tramping) Facts:

  • Tramping is usually seen as involving a shorter, easier walk than hiking.

  • The term "bushwalk" originates from Australia where there are plenty of them. The origins of the term "hike" are unknown.

  • Hiking is like tramping in that the same preparation steps apply to both of them.

Hiking (left) and tramping (right)

Common things to do before tramping or hiking:

  1. Determine what type of terrain is prevalent on the trail. Look up the weather forecast for the day you are going to go out. If it is rainy and windy there is a high risk of you getting wet. In this case, you will need a coat and proper shoes that wouldn't allow wet inside.

  2. Look up the track route on Google maps beforehand. Determine where you might enter and exit the trail. Many of them will have many dead-ends and other things you might want to avoid.

  3. It is important to bring a hat, sunscreen, and water. You might also bring your phone to take pictures of the surroundings or to check your location.

  4. Estimate the difficulty of the bushwalk.

  5. Consider whether you need hiking poles to give you the support you need to finish the walk. Hiking poles improve your stability and give you extra support. The less the strain on your legs, especially your knees, the longer you can walk and enjoy the hike.

Answer the following questions:

Are you going to climb a mountain? Are you going to cope with the walking difficulty without getting tired or having an injury?

As it is very important to enjoy your walking experience. Otherwise, you will get frustrated by long walks and unmanageable conditions.

Examples of a tramping walk in Auckland, North Island (blue lines mark the track):

Some examples of bush walks include:

North Head Historic Walk inside Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park on the North Shore.

Explore defenses that were placed on the headland to protect Auckland from feared Russian invasions.

Difficulty: Easiest.

Completion time: 1 hr one way.

Okura Bush Walkway

Take a 3-hour return excursion along the Okura Bush Walkway. The trail winds its way through the Okura River Estuary and coastal native forest to Karepiro Bay and historic Dacre Cottage.

Is located north to Auckland between Orewa and Long bay beach areas.

Difficulty: Easy.

Rangitoto Summit Track

An easy climb through the pōhutukawa forest and lava fields. It will give you a way to panoramic views of Auckland and the Hauraki Gulf from the summit of this volcanic island.

Difficulty: Easy

Completion time: 2 hr return

Refer to Department of Conservation DOC Walking and Tramping Experiences locations for a list of tramping sites. Or the lookup service on this website. For more Auckland paths refer to Interactive Map ( For more information on how to enjoy your trip to New Zealand go to this page.


Bush walks are a great way to pass your time in the fresh air exploring new territories and enjoying the views of nature. You will see different types of bush walks. Some of them are pretty easy to make it through while for others you will need to wear special equipment. There are trails all around New Zealand. The most prominent and easy ones are located in cities such as Auckland. More difficult and tiring ones are located in the countryside. If you travel to New Zealand from abroad, I would recommend going for an outing to gain some tramping experience yourself.

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Jun 08, 2021

Location button won't open


Jun 08, 2021

I especially liked the selection of different track types!


Jun 08, 2021

Nikolay, this is a small but very exciting topic!

How long did you spend exploring this place?

Jun 09, 2021
Replying to

Hello Volodya. I am glad to hear that. This blog post talks about different places in general, not a single place. The photos come from different bush walks and hence different locations. The first one is from Kiwi Esplanade Walk, the others in order: Sanders Reserve, Oakley Waterfall, Mairangi/Murray's Bay beach, Sanders Park, Point Chevalier beach, and the last one from Lemington Reserve


Коля очень интересный пост. Представляешь я думала что если bush walk то это только прогулка в зарослях Я и костю спросила и он тоже так думал. Я ему рассказала что подразумевает этот термин. Для нас это открытие. Мы не знали😊 фотеи красивые. Все таки природа в Зеландии очень классная

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Hello, I am a Blog Writer

In my blog I love to write about New Zealand Nature. My focus is to provide value to website visitors by offering New Zealand Nature-related information and articles. By reading my blog you will learn a lot about New Zealand nature, how to preserve it and how to get the most out of your travel and nature-related endeavors!

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Nikolai Kolbenev

Blog Writer

Passionate about all things nature, I am giving you facts and showing you tips on nature preservation in New Zealand.


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