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4 Awesome short day walks in Nelson you need to try

Looking for one of the best short day walks in Nelson? You have come to the right place. If you like to get out for a walk Nelson is one of the best places to do just that!

The Nelson region has many awesome day walks to choose from and some of them are located just minutes from Nelson city centre. There are endless walks to pick, you are spoilt for choice! Below are 4 of my favourite short day walks in Nelson worth a try.

One of the best day walks in Nelson: Whispering Falls

I have spent over 2 years exploring the Nelson region and I can safely say Whispering Falls is one of my favourite Nelson walks close to the city.

Whispering Falls walk is awesome because it doesn’t take too long, it’s close to the city and takes you on a magical journey through native bush, incredible limestone and gorgeous mini waterfalls. There is beauty in every nook and cranny of the walk to Whispering Falls.

Whispering- falls 2

About the walk:

Whispering Falls is a gentle walk to some of the most beautiful natural waterfalls in Nelson located just out of the city. The waterfalls are the main attraction that look amazing just after the rain. You will find yourself surrounded by the beautiful Hackett river and following the Dun Mountain Mineral Trail.

Hackett Valley is a gateway to more adventures exploring further into the trails of the Richmond Forest Park. There are also quite a few Aniseed valley walks to choose from. 

The good thing is it is one of the dog-friendly walks in Nelson.

Getting there: 

The walk is situated about 25 minutes drive out of Richmond in a place called Hackett valley, just next to Aniseed Valley.  Follow the Aniseed Valley Road all the way up until you see the sign for Hackett Valley. 

The turn off kind of creeps up on you so keep your eyes peeled. The turn off will be on your right-hand side down a tiny gravel hill to a car park with a toilet. To get to the walk just head towards the bush line and you should see a Doc sign.

Cross the bridge and you are on your way! Or, take a dip in the beautiful pool just below the bridge. One time I drove here just for a swim. Little did I realise the sandflies were killer! So, if you’re swimming just come prepared with bug spray.

If you fancy a longer walk there is a sign before the bridge that has walking distances and times. If you are a keen bean you can head into Browning Hut or even further into the Richmond Forest Park!

Walk length: 

The walk to Whispering Falls Nelson is about a 2-hour return trip (including the small river crossing). The small river is impassible after heavy rain. Be careful as the conditions of the track are very narrow in parts and might be dangerous after heavy rain.

Walk details: 

Whispering-falls 1

The walk starts off on an open gravel road and soon singles into a walking track. Be sure to follow the orange markers and do not take the turnoff up the massive hill (there is a sign that warns you not to go up that way).

You will be greeted by a rushing river on your right-hand side that after crossing the awesome swing bridge, will be on your left.

After the swing bridge, the track can be a little thin in parts so extra care is needed. 

Walk on up until you see the sign for Whispering Falls. Carry on up until you get to the river.

You will have to cross the river to access the falls. The river should be pretty shallow (up to your ankles and no higher than your knees) but in times of heavy rain, it may be impassable. 

Keep in mind you have to walk up some rugged rocks to get back onto the track (as seen above). There is a fence that indicates where you need to get to. (See the fence in the middle left of the photo above). Once you reach the top there is a well-marked path. 

Once you have made it to the fence continue on up and follow the track. There will be a sign a little way up that will direct you to the falls. Eventually, you will make it to another bridge that brings you closer to the trickling waterfalls. 

Walk up to the left of the hill and you will see some steps that take you to more of the incredible falls.

This is where the walk turns truly spectacular. The rushing falls, limestone rocks and mini pools are beautiful. They really made me appreciate the beauty and creativity of nature. 

Whispering- falls 4

Just when you think the walk couldn’t get any better, it does. You end up walking next to a cliff face that has water falling like a heavy shower. If you haven’t showered in a few days this is your chance! 

If you keep on walking up past the falls you will eventually make it to a steep hill. It’s worth the climb if you brought a snack because there is a picnic table at the top. 

Once you are done head back down the way you came and be careful as it may be a tad slippery! 

More walks in the Richmond Forest Park:

If you are thinking of exploring more of the Richmond Forest park I can suggest hiking into Rocks Hut. Rocks Hut is located about 8-9 hours walk from the Hackett Valley car park.

You don’t have to walk in and out from the same location as there are other access points. You could walk in or out from Maitai Valley or, from the Brook valley. The easiest way to do it (you will need two cars) is to park one car at Maitai Valley and one at Hackett car park. Start at either direction and stay overnight at Rocks Hut in the middle.

If you’re not keen on an overnight hike you could also walk into Hackett Hutt which is located about 1.5 hours from the Hackett Valley car park. It is a good option to take a picnic lunch and a change of scenery if you hike to Whispering Falls often.

Browning Hut is also another option which is located about 2 hours walk from Hackett Valley car park. This is a good option for a longer day hike if you are starting from the car park. You could even tick off and Browning Hut in a day!

A photo of browning hut on the way to one of my favourite walks in nelson

Browning Hut

To read more about the Hacket Valley and Richmond Forest park check out Doc’s website here. 

#2 The Barnicoat range 

If you’re looking for an outdoor climb close to town, then the Barnicoat range is definitely the one for you! Located just out of the suburb Stoke in Nelson, you can gain easy access to this intense and wonderful climb.

a photo looking back over nelson from the barnicoat range one of the best walks in nelson

This one of the more strenuous day walks in Nelson as it is completely up a hill. You will be diving into a pine forest that follows a 4 wheel drive track.

The hike eventually opens up to a clearing at the top of the range to a paragliding spot with a remarkable view. Take your lunch as there are picnic benches at the top.

Getting there:

  • The walk is located in the middle of Nelson in the suburb stoke.
  • From Stoke head along the beautiful Marsden valley road for about 3km.
  • The road is straight so just follow it all the way up, you can’t get lost! (Except on your way in from Stoke there is an annoying intersection that is a little confusing, your aim is to go straight, so try your best!).
  • About 2km down the road there is a sign to your left saying Marsden Valley Conservation Area, but don’t stop there! 
  • Keep heading up the road about another 500m to the car park on your right-hand side! There will be a massive sign marking the start of the walkway and there should be a car or two.

Walk length:

The walk is 2.6km one way and can be done in 1-2 hours. There is an option to turn the walk into a loop or walk up and down the same way.

Walk details: 

The beginning of the Barnicoat walkway is marked with a sign so just hop out of your car and enter into the walkway. You will come across a beautiful trickling stream and a bridge and then start a mini climb to the main track, which will get the lungs going!

Continue along the 4 wheel drive track and just follow the straight road up, up and up! (Don’t take any of the turn-offs).

Walk on between the beautiful immense pine forest. 

About halfway up the track, the road splits in two. The option is either straight or left down Fincham road. Continue up the straight path (if you do the full loop you will end up coming down Fincham road).

Eventually, the road will veer left and you will come to an amazing clearing that will give you an awesome view of the Nelson region.

To get to the seat at the paragliding spot head on past the clearing and then you will come to a track that heads off to the right.

Veer right to go to the lookout

If you go straight you will do the loop and end up down Fincham road described before. The loop is a bit steep, going down with lots of loose gravel, so I wouldn’t recommend it. I would recommend turning around the way you came… It’s easier on the knees!

Anyway, turn right a little bit past be clearing to head to the paragliding spot and enjoy a rest for lunch. From there you can continue waking to the Richmond hill lookout (If you desire a longer walk).

To learn more about the Barnicoat Range walkway head on over to Nelson trails website here. 

A photo of a picnic table on one of my favourite walks in nelson the Barnicoat range

#3 The Grampians walkway

This is an amazing walk right in the heart of Nelson city. You seriously don’t have to go far to be in the midst of nature. The walk has a good variety of forest and open plains, giving you amazing views of the city while helping you to work up a sweat, winning!

Getting There:

The Grampians Nelson can be accessed through many points but the main access route is at the end of Collingwood Street. You will need to walk up the hilly street, alongside immaculate houses, until you reach the Grampians sign and a perfectly placed seat. 

Walk length: 

The whole walk takes around 1 -1.15 up and down. If you’re in the area and don’t have a lot of spare time but want to get out and about, then this is the hike for you!

A view from the Grampians Walkway

Walk details: 

At the top of Collingwood street there will be a gate, walk on through and follow the signs. There are a few varying paths but try to take the most defined one. 

Once you have walked through the first gate you will be greeted by a V in the track. Go right! Because the left track is super hard and an uneven. Continue on and turn left towards the seat to avoid the 4 wheel drive track. From there head on up the zig-zag path and you’re on your way!

You will end up following the zig-zag track for roughly 5 minutes until it starts to get easier and level out.

Pass on through the kissing gate and up the hill you go all the way to the lookout! There are a few other kissing gates and seats along the way so there is plenty of options to take a rest if needed.

At the cattle crossing take the right turn to head straight to the beautiful lookout with panoramic views of Nelson and the surrounding ocean and mountains. If you feel like a bit more of a hike, head on up to the tower. (The view isn’t as good from up there).

Once you’re done taking in all of the amazing views head back down the way you came. Be sure to stay straight and don’t take the turn that says Brook Street! Follow your nose and you should make it down alive!

If you are visiting Nelson then definitely take the time to do this short hike. I’m sure most people in Nelson have ventured up here once or twice in their lives because it is so easily accessible!

The track is also dog friendly!

a beautiful photo of my dog milly on an awesome nelson day walk

To learn more about the Grampians walkway checkout the Nelson council website here. 

#4 The centre of New Zealand

The centre of New Zealand is a popular short walk located minutes from Nelson’s city centre. The hike is relatively short but gives you great views of the surrounding region.

a photo of the centre of New Zealand one of the most popular walks in nelson

About the walk:

The centre of New Zealand was a local central survey point in the 1800s. The ground at the base of the walk is called Botanical Reserve and is home to the field where the first-ever rugby game in New Zealand was played.

The walk can be completed up and down via the same track or via Sir Stanley Whitehead Park or Branford Park in the Maitai Valley. There are other tracks that can be joined up to meet the centre of NZ track including Maitai walking tracks (a popular riverside trail).

Getting there: 

Access to the centre of New Zealand is most popular at the Botanical Hill Reserve on Hardy Street. Just look for a rugby field and walk towards the trees.  There is plenty of room for parking.

Walk length: 

30-45 minutes return.

Walk details: 

The hike is well paved and accessible for bikers. It is uphill the entire way but is family-friendly. The walk is relatively shaded by trees except for the top. At the top, there is a viewing platform with an informational sign about the region and places in the distance.

It is also a great place for stargazing on a clear night.

To learn more about the centre of NZ walk head on over to Nelson trails website here.

Other awesome day walks in the Nelson region

The Abel Tasman coast track has a variety of day walks. Check out my article about the Abel Tasman hike options here.

Mount Arthur is a popular day hiking destination in the Kahurangi National Park. Check out the Department of Conservations website here to learn more.

St Arnaud Range track is an epic day walk in the Nelson Lakes National Park. Check out the Department of Conservations website here to learn more.

For an extensive list of what to bring on your hike sign up below to check out my day and night hiking checklist created especially for you to save you time!

Accommodation in Nelson 

My favourite accommodation option in Nelson is camping! There are so many options to choose from. Check out the app CamperMate to filter for camping grounds in the region. Airbnb is also another easy option to find accommodation in Nelson (sign up to grab a FREE $69 NZD off your first trip).

And lastly, check out booking.com to find the best accommodation in the region.

Keep in mind this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase anything through them, I will get a small referral fee and you will be supporting me and my blog at no extra cost to you, so thank you! 

Hopefully, by now you have some ideas on where to walk in Nelson!

Loved this post on the best day walks in Nelson? Pin the images below for later so you don’t forget about them! 

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