Nine Spots Where You Can Camp, Hike and Swim with Your Dog in the North Island
Check out geothermal attractions, bush tracks and rugged stretches of coastline with your best mate by your side.
For many travellers, no getaway is complete without their faithful pup. Don't be put off by unexpected 'no dogs allowed' signs — there are plenty of spots across the country where you can camp, hike and swim with your four-legged friend. In the North Island alone you'll find breathtaking views, bush walks and rugged stretches of coastline where your dog is as welcome as you are and can spend its time roaming and sniffing. If you're currently planning your summer getaway with your best companion, we've put together some of our top spots for those on both two legs, and four.
Found in the Aorangi Forest Park, the trek to the spectacular Putangirua Pinnacles offers excellent views of Palliser Bay and Lake Onoke. Three easy routes lead up to the lookout. Cool off via several water crossings with your pup on the 45-minute streambed route, take the easily-graded Pinnacles Track bush walk, or link up to the Ridge Walk Track for a steep climb to the lookout. For a longer walk with excellent views, continue uphill from the lookout. Here, dogs are allowed but must be controlled on leashes at all times.
Found 20 kilometres from Tauranga, Kaiate Falls (Te Rerekawau) is a trio of impressive waterfalls where you'll find a swimming hole and relaxing lunch spot. The well-formed track makes its way through beautiful forest on the way to the stunning natural attraction. Set aside one hour to conquer the two-kilometre route. It's a wonderful spot to take your dog — there are plenty of swimming spots where they can cool off. Just keep them on a leash when you're walking.
RED ROCKS/PARIWHERO RESERVE
The southern coast from Owhiro Bay is perhaps Wellington's best-known coastal walk. Just a short trip from Island Bay, Red Rocks is an easy two-hour hike with great ocean views — you can even see the South Island on a clear day. To find the unusual red rock formations you'll have to walk for about an hour. The trail is also used by four-wheel drive enthusiasts, but is reserved for walkers only on Sundays. Your four-legged friend is welcome on a leash, just make sure they stay far away from seals and other native wildlife.
SETON NOSSITER PARK, WELLINGTON
Nestled in Belmont Gully you will find an unmarked track that takes you to a small but magical waterfall. Halfway up the valley there is a dog exercise area where your dog is free to roam off-leash, as far as a stand of titoki and tawa, a remnant of the original forest. Further beyond that you can both take a break to relax: there is a great spot for lunch with picnic tables set beside the stream.
HOT WATER BEACH HOLIDAY PARK
For an all-inclusive family holiday, make a visit to Coromandel's famous Hot Water Beach. The geographical phenomenon annually attracts around 700,000 visitors to dig their own geothermal spa pool right in the sand. Hot Water Beach Holiday Park is a short stroll from the attraction. The dog-friendly grounds offer a variety of accommodation options for all family sizes and accepts dogs on sites by pre-arrangement, between 8 February – 31 November each year, excluding public holiday weekends and the December/January school holidays. But don't fret if you're headed there this summer – there are grassed areas near the beach where dogs are welcome to exercise.
WAITOMO HOLIDAY PARK
Located in the heart of Waitomo Caves Village, Waitomo Holiday Park is only a short stroll away from everything the tourist region has to offer. Options range from deluxe cabins to unpowered sites for tents and small backpacker vans. You will also have access to a range of facilities including a free hot tub and swimming pool. Walks like the Ruakuri walkway, Mangapohue Natural Bridge, and Marakopa Falls are within arm's reach. They're particularly dog-friendly, and even have a set of rules directly aimed at your pup.
The Bay of Plenty is home to this slice of dog-friendly paradise. All eleven kilometres of Ōhope's golden sand are up for exploration. You can let your four-legged friend run or swim off the lead as long as they're under control — and you clean up after any mess. You'll cop breathtaking views of Whale Island (Moutohorā) and White Island (Whakaari) here, too.
BETHELLS BEACH (TE HENGA)
Just over 30 kilometres from Auckland's CBD, Bethells Beach is a wild stretch of coastline perfect for a run around. There's a sea cave and a waterfall nearby up for exploration and plenty of room for your doggo to tucker itself out. The surf is known for its strong currents, so swim with caution. Stick around and you'll cop one of the most incredible sunset views in the city.
LYALL BAY BEACH
Wellington's most popular surf beach also doubles as a playground for canines. Lyall Bay's vast stretch of sand is perfect for some off-leash exercise. Dogs are not permitted in the area from the steps in the seawall and the children's playground. At the far end of Lyall Bay, Spruce Goose is perfectly positioned for a post-walk coffee/puppiccino stop.
Top image: Stephen Goldberg, Unsplash