New Zealand has an extraordinary network of over 950 backcountry huts to help you and your family explore the landscape. Many involve challenging technical climbs and serious navigation skills, but there are plenty of family and kid friendly huts as well, as long as you bring a hearty side of patience and flexibility with you. Below are 6 of my favorite kid friendly huts on New Zealand’s North Island. They are some of the shortest and flattest walks you’ll find to cool views and places to explore. Enjoy!
Distance: 1.8km one way
Elevation Gain: very little
Number of beds: 20
What Makes it one of the kid friendly huts: This is a perfect first tramp. In winter it is first come, first serve and you can park at the Tongariro Alpine Crossing car park, making it only a 30 minute walk or so. It’s a great walk if you’re new to overnight hikes or have very little ones. Even with the short walk, the views of the mountains, especially when they are snow capped in the winter, are really epic. There are short walks to a creek and waterfall view nearby and the deck is nice and spacious.
Peach Cove Hut
Distance: 2.9km each way
Elevation Gain: 418m each way
Number of beds: 8
Booking: Required – for more details visit the DOC page here.
What Makes it one of the kid friendly huts: With just a 2 minute walk to two different sections of beach there are options for the kids to play! We caught an epic sunset too. There are some incredible coastal views on the walk and the size of the small hut makes it easy to book out with friends.
Notes: Beware, there are over 800 stairs on this track. For the shortest route, park at the Ocean Beach Road carpark and walk along the road until you hit the track. You’ll hike up a hill, along the ridge line, then down the stairs to the hut. Just remember you’ll have to walk back up the stairs to return to your car. It’s a bit of a doozy but I’ve been impressed with all the kids that I’ve watched conquer it! For more track details, visit the AllTrails page here.
Want tips for helping your kids get through a hard hike? Check out my trail games blog post here.
Distance: 6.1 km one way
Elevation Gain: 434
Number of beds: 80
Why I love it: Add a 2km round trip hike from the hut to reach epic views at the Pinnacles. The hut even has cold showers!
Notes: I haven’t personally done this one yet but it’s high on my list. For more trail details, check out the AllTrails link here.
Distance: 5.6km one way
Elevation Gain: 154m
Number of beds: 18
What Makes it one of the kid friendly huts: The trail is very flat in New Zealand terms and still leads you to beautiful mountain views. We caught an epic sunset here and there is a creek nearby along with a spacious deck and picnic tables.
Notes: This is a Great Walk Hut so it is more expensive than others. For more trail details, visit the Alltrails page here.
Auckland Tramping Club’s Waitakere Hut
Distance: 5 minute walk
Elevation Gain: None
Number of beds: 21
What Makes it one of the kid friendly huts: This is a great first tramp with little ones or fun for a group getaway. It’s well priced, especially when you fill it up, and is close to beautiful walks and beaches like Piha, Mercer Bay Loop, Kitekite Falls, and Karekare Falls and beach.
Notes: This is not a DOC hut. It is a private hut belonging to the Auckland Tramping Club. You must book out the whole hut. It is a very short walk from the car park, maybe 50m. It gives you a bit of the hut experience, and a budget friendly accommodation, without a long walk in.
Lane Cove Hut
Distance: 5km one way
Elevation Gain: 400m
Number of beds: 16
What Makes it one of the kid friendly huts: This is my favorite kid-friendly hut. The distance and elevation gain make it manageable and the hut is right on the water. Cook and eat on the deck while enjoying the view. Walk down the stairs and directly into the water to cool off and play. The hut was once a private bach so it has a homey feel.
Take the roughly 1 hour round trip day walk from the hut up to Duke’s Nose for seriously incredible views. Highly recommend sunrise or sunset. The Duke’s Nose walk is steep and requires some climbing up rocks with the help of railings so it isn’t for the faint of heart but it can be super fun for kids. The top has many cliff edges so young children must be kept very close.
Notes: The trail is varied which makes it fun. You’ll hike up and over a hill, cross two streams through a meadow, then meander along the cove. It can be quite muddy, even in late summer, and some of the track is covered in small streams, roots, and is a bit slanty towards the cove. It felt comfortable and safe enough for me, but can make some more uncomfortable. For more trail details, visit the Alltrails page here.
Ready for more adventures on the North Island? Check out this list of epic day trips in Auckland region.