Time: 30 min return
This walk is almost entirely on sealed roads and is suitable for buggies. Although a steep walk, your efforts will be rewarded with panoramic views over Paterson Inlet/Whaka a Te Wera and, on clear days, views of Mount Anglem/Hananui and Mount Rakeahua. Observation Rock is also a superb place to watch sunrises and sunsets.
Getting there: From the Rakiura National Park Visitor Centre, head towards the waterfront, turn right, walk along the waterfront and take the next right turn (Ayr Street). Follow the road over the brow of the hill then branching up to the left into Leonard Street. Follow the road as it bends to the left becoming Excelsior Street. Look for the Department of Conservation signpost marking the short path to Observation Rock.
Time: 30 min return
This short walk takes you along both road and track, both sometimes steep. Bathing Beach is a popular and sheltered swimming area with a white-sand beach - great for kids. The adjacent Mill Creek estuary is an interesting place to explore at low-tide, with remnants of timber from early milling days still visible along the creek edge. This track is maintained by the Southland District Council.
Getting there: Turn left at the Halfmoon Bay waterfront. Walk past the general store and turn right just as you start to climb the hill into Kamahi Road and follow this around until reaching the Bathing Beach signpost.
Time: 45 min return
The Halfmoon Bay cemetery offers an insight into the lives of some of the early settlers on the island, while providing stunning views out over the Mill Creek estuary. A classic photo opportunty!
Getting there: At Halfmoon Bay turn left and walk past the general store and uphill on the Horseshoe Bay Road. Just after crossing Mill Creek bridge, turn left into Mapau Road, and follow this road until turning left at the cemetery signpost.
Fuchsia and Raroa walks
Time: 1 hr return
These well-formed bush tracks are suitable for children. There are sections of steps so it's not suitable for buggies. Return via the road or back on the same track.
Just five minutes walk from the waterfront at Halfmoon Bay lies an area of rich natural forest untouched by early milling operations.
Two tracks run through this section of scenic reserve, which was gifted to the Government in the 1960s by Captain George Turner; he recognised the importance of protecting walks in the vicinity of Halfmoon Bay that had been undamaged by early milling or land clearance.
The track takes you past 500-year-old rimu, lush ferns, vibrant mosses and New Zealand tree-fuchsia. During summer months this area of forest is alive with the chorus of bellbird/korimako, tūī, wood pigeon/kererū and kākā.
Getting there: Turn left outside the Rakiura National Park Visitor Centre and left again into Dundee Street. The Fuchsia Walk is signposted about 100 metres on your right over the brow of the hill. The track climbs steadily up to Traill Park. From here, continue diagonally across the park and to the start of the Raroa Walk. This 15 minute track takes you to Watercress Bay and Thule Road. Return via the road to Golden Bay and Halfmoon Bay or walk back along the same track.
Time: 1 hr return
This walk through a botanic garden is suitable for buggies.
Moturau Moana translates as “islands of bush above the sea” and is an area of mostly native garden gifted to the people of New Zealand by the late Noeline Baker. Miss Baker collected the plants from Stewart Island/Rakiura and on field trips to the South Island. Today these gardens provide a peaceful setting with views over Halfmoon Bay.
Getting there: At the waterfront, turn left into Horseshoe Bay Road and continue over Mill Creek and past Butterfield Beach until the Bragg Bay turnoff. The entrance to Moturau Moana is a few minutes along this road on the left. Return the same way or take the longer walk round Horseshoe Point.
Time: 1 hr 30 min return
At the Halfmoon Bay waterfront, turn right and follow the coast road until you arrive at Leask Bay. Here you will find relics of the whaling days. From the bay, turn right into Evening Cove Road and follow this road until the end where a five minute track leads down to a peaceful and secluded beach.
Lonnekers Beach – Ringaringa Beach
Time: 1 hr 30 min return
Lonnekers Beach can be accessed by buggies. Rock pools at the eastern end (30 min) will keep kids interested.
At the Halfmoon Bay waterfront, turn right and follow the coast road to Lonnekers Beach. A track begins on the opposite side of the road, approximately halfway along the beach. The walk goes to Ringaringa Beach and the northern edge of the golf course. From Ringaringa Beach you may return the same way or follow the old Ringaringa Road to Leask Bay.
Golden Bay - Deep Bay - Ringaringa – Wohlers Monument - Peterson Hill
Time: 1 hr 30 min - 2 hr return
This well-graded walk is suitable for walking children. With some steep sections of steps it's not suitable for buggies.
The delightful well-formed Golden Bay bush track winds, climbs and falls along the coastal fringe, providing scenic views of Paterson Inlet/Whaka a Te Wera and Ulva Island/Te Wharawhara. Further along, the road above Ringaringa Beach leads to a track to Wohlers Monument and views of Native Island. Returning via Peterson Hill allows lovely views of Halfmoon Bay. Parts of this walk are along the road but much is in forest, providing some protection on windy or rainy days.
Getting there: From the Rakiura National Park Visitor Centre, walk to the water-front, turn right and then right again into Ayr Street. Follow this street (which becomes Golden Bay Road) for about 10 minutes, passing Traill Park before heading down-hill. On your left, just before Golden Bay, you will see a sign marking the start of the Golden Bay Track. At the Deep Bay end of the track the beach may be explored. Continue straight ahead along the road to Ringaringa, with the golf course on your left, and follow the road as it veers right along cliffs above the beach.
The monument to Reverend Wohlers, an early missionary, is situated just a short walk from the road end beyond Ringaringa Beach. From the end of the track you get good views out over Native Island and the inlet. To return to Halfmoon Bay, walk back along the road past Deep Bay and up the hill for a short distance, until you find a track on your left though Deep Bay Reserve and over Peterson Hill.
Time: 2 hr return
Walk through regenerating native bush - with a picnic area at the furthest point, this is a great option for children. It's suitable for buggies.
Starting along the road, this is easy walking but the track can be muddy. It follows an old sawmill track, winding along a stream flanked by beautiful ferns and cutover forest. A clearing and seat at the end of the track provide a pleasant spot to enjoy the birds and forest. Fern Gully was one of the places local residents planned to hide their children in the event of an invasion during the Second World War.
Getting there: Turn left outside the Rakiura National Park Visitor Centre and continue along Main Road. Turn right at the airstrip turnoff and continue along Kaipipi Road until reaching the signpost marking the start of Ryan's Creek, Fern Gully, Kaipipi Bay and North Arm tracks. The route follows an old sawmill track, winding along a stream flanked by beautiful ferns and cutover forest. A clearing and seat at the end of the track provide a pleasant spot to enjoy the birds and forest. Return the same way or add on the longer walk via Ryan's Creek.
Harrold Bay and Acker's Point Lighthouse
Time: 3 hr return
This track is suitable for older children. It has some steps so not suitable for small children or buggies.
A scenic walk along the road, followed by five minutes along a well-formed track crossing private land, takes you to picturesque Harrold Bay, where one of the oldest buildings in New Zealand is located. Venture inside the stone house, built by Lewis Acker in 1835, and imagine life here with his nine children.
Further on, at the lighthouse at Acker's Point, panoramic views out over the islands and Foveaux Strait are available. In mid-late summer tītī (sooty shearwaters/muttonbirds) can be seen returning to their burrows around this point at dusk and little blue penguins/kororā after dark. An earlier lighthouse used to be situated across the inlet mouth at The Neck but was shifted to the present site in 1927. This was replaced by the current structure in 2006.
Getting there: To get to Harrold Bay and Acker's Point, turn right at the Halfmoon Bay waterfront and follow the coast road, passing Lonnekers Bay and Leask Bay, until you reach the stile at the end of the road marking the start of the track. Respect the privacy of the landowner while visiting Harrold Bay. Continue along the main track through coastal forest until you reach the lighthouse at Acker's Point.
Time: 3 hr return
The walk to Kaipipi Bay takes you along an old logging road. The surface is still in reasonable condition considering all the traffic that has travelled along it. The walk is not strenuous but there can be muddy patches. Suitable footwear is advised.
Getting there: From Rakiura National Park Visitor Centre, turn left and follow Main Road. Take the right turn at the airstrip turnoff and continue along Kaipipi Road until reaching the signpost marking the start of Ryan's Creek, Fern Gully, Kaipipi Bay and North Arm tracks. Continue straight on here along the old logging road. At the track end a small grassy clearing looks out over Kaipipi Bay, an enclosed haven on the north shore of Paterson Inlet/Whaka a Te Wera. The track continues on to North Arm Hut, part of the Rakiura Track Great Walk. Return the same way, or make a longer walk by turning off via Ryan's Creek.
Time: 3 hr 30 min – 4 hr return
This is a good option for older children - it's not suitable for most buggies as it has some sections of steps. There is a picnic area half way round.
This circular walk begins along existing road, and follows old disused logging roads and undulating track through coastal vegetation. The track can be muddy in places. Ryans Creek track is accessible from either Thule Road end or Kaipipi Road end. From the coastal section, there are scenic views of Paterson Inlet/Whaka a Te Wera. Walkers can also see wading birds feeding on mud-flats at low tide at Vaila Voe Bay, about 15 minutes from Thule Bay.
Getting there: To walk the circuit anti-clockwise, from Rakiura National Park Visitor Centre, turn left and follow Main Road. Take the right turn at the airstrip turnoff and continue along Kaipipi Road until reaching the signpost marking the start of Ryan's Creek, Fern Gully, Kaipipi Bay and North Arm tracks. Continue straight on until the DOC sign at the junction with the old Ryan's Creek road. Turn left for Ryan's Creek. From the picnic site at Ryan's Creek, the track follows the coastline, with Paterson Inlet on your right, back to the end of Thule Road. Follow the road back to Halfmoon Bay or return via Raroa Walk (on the left next to Rankin St) and across the rugby ground to Fuchsia Walk.
Time: 3–4 hr return
Part of this walk includes road. The track round Horseshoe Point is undulating and mostly in good condition. Maintained by Southland District Council, it meanders along the coast from Bragg Bay, winding above secluded bays and crystal clear water. It descends steeply down to Dead Man Beach which, despite the name, is a pleasant spot to stop for a rest.
At the beginning of the track you can visit the lovely Motorau Moana Native Gardens. Views of Halfmoon Bay are available from a comfortable bench on a wooden deck here. Horseshoe Point is about an hour’s walk from Bragg Bay and is an ideal place to view Foveaux Strait. From the point, the track passes under huge macrocarpa trees, remnants of a former homestead site, and eventually finishes at Horseshoe Bay.
Getting there: Follow Horseshoe Bay Road north for about 1½ km, turning into Bragg Bay Road just uphill from Butterfield Beach. The entrance to Moturau Moana is a few minutes along this road to the left.The Horseshoe Point track starts at the end of the road. The track emerges just past the entrance to the Resource Recovery Centre at the southern end of Horsehoe Bay. Turn left and return to Halfmoon Bay via the road.