Top 5 Family Walks

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Top 5 Family Walks

The Selwyn District has a wide range of landscapes, from land to mountain to sea, and what better way to experience its diversity, than take a walk with your family.  Getting off the beaten path and into nature is a great way to connect and explore with your family, so try out one of these Top 5 Walks in Selwyn today.

Washpen Falls

Washpen Falls is the most diverse family walk in Selwyn and a good beginners hike for young walkers.  Not only does it have a beautiful waterfall, the walk comes with a map where you can find caves, volcanic rock, swimming holes and even learn about the native birds here.  It is one of the most diverse walks that will keep the kids entertained for hours. 

With stops, the walk will take about two hours and is a loop track. (far more fun for kids)  The walk climbs to the viewpoint, which is a great picnic spot, with views over the Canterbury Plains and out to the ocean.  Then head down into the shady bush to see Washpen Falls and walk along the stream side track. If it’s hot, this is a great place for dip.  Finish off at the outdoor entertainment area and take a row in an old fashioned rowboat.

Things to note:

  • There is a $10 charge per adult and $5 for kids as this track is on private land.  Walking sticks and maps provided.
  • Bring a snack or picnic, a great incentive to make it to the top of the hill
  • Good walking shoes or hiking boots are recommended, as it can get a bit muddy when it has been wet.

Getting here: Washpen Falls is located at 590 Washpen Road, Windwhistle, about an hour from Christchurch. 

Washpen Falls

Views at Washpen Falls

Rakaia Gorge Walkway

The striking blue green water is the absolute highlight of the Rakaia Gorge Walkway.  The track follows the Rakaia River upstream and offers incredible views along the way.

The Rakaia Gorge Walkway will take about 3-4 hours return, depending on how old your children are.  There is a steep climb at the end, however you are rewarded with stunning views over the gorge and you may even see the Discovery Jet roaring through from here.  The turnaround point is also just under Terrace Downs High Country Resort, so you could stop for a drink or lunch here to add a bit of luxury to your walk.  

Getting here: Located on State Highway 72, the walk entrance can be a little tricky to find.  Park in the carpark signposted for the Discovery Jet (toilets here) and walk up towards the Rakaia Gorge Bridge.  Before you get to the bridge, look up to your right (where the small road heads up the hill) and the track start is nestled here in the bush. For a shorter walk, hike to the Rakaia Gorge Viewpoint, which will take about 30 minutes for adults, or 45 minutes with young children each way.  This bush track is undulating, but none of the hills take more than a few minutes to climb. Adventurous preschoolers and primary aged children should have no problem.

Rakaia Gorge Walkway

Rakaia Gorge Walkway

Kura Tāwhiti/Castle Hill

Kura Tāwhiti/Castle Hill is a mecca of exploring adventures, perfect for families young and old.  It is less of a defined walk as it is a collection of rock formations to climb and explore.  Kids will love climbing onto huge rocks, finding secret spots to hide and the amazing views from the top of the rocks.  Do be careful, some of the upper tracks are quite close to the edge, so hold the hands of little ones. 

Allow an hour for a bit of fun and exploring, or two if you want to sit back and let kids just go for it on this amazing natural playground.  Experienced rock climbers are also known to bring their gear here, a great option if this is your type of thing.

Getting here:  Located on State Highway 72, about 1 hour 20 minutes from Christchurch.  Well signposted so you can’t miss it.

Castle Hill

Kura Tāwhiti/Castle Hill

Devils Punchbowl Falls

The most impressive waterfall in the Selwyn District, the Devils Punchbowl Falls walk is a must do in Arthurs Pass. This 1 hour walk (or 45 mins with adults or older kids) will take you to a stunning 131m waterfall.  So big in fact, you will struggle to get the whole waterfall in your photo.

The first 10 minutes is relatively flat, crossing a good bridge with a lovely view of the falls, but the rest is uphill and there are quite a few stairs.  Kids may get a good sweat up, but since the walk isn’t too long, they shouldn't have too much trouble. (and the way back is downhill).

Getting here: From Christchurch, head to Arthurs Pass Village on State Highway 73. Go through the town and just before the road heads up (and out of town), on the right hand side, is the sign for Devils Punchbowl Falls (don’t miss it). There is a free carpark here.

Devils Punchbowl

Devils Punchbowl

Magical Fairy Door Walk in McHughs Forest 

What better way to teach your toddlers and preschoolers to walk, than to explore the magical fairy doors in McHughs Forest in Darfield.  Little children will get such joy from the discovery of the unique little doors and windows dotted around the forest. There are lots of fairy doors and there are many cute coloured signposts that add to the magic.  Parents will delight in the look of amazement on their tiny faces. It is such a cute experience and so well done by the local community. 

This walk will take about an hour to stroll, dogs on leads are welcome and it is stroller accessible. 

Getting here: From Christchurch, head through the township of Darfield.  Not long after exiting the town, turn right onto Horndon Street.  Head over the railway lines and the carpark (and toilets) are located on the left.  There is a big fairy door at the entrance to the forest.

Fairy Door Walk

Fairy Doors at McHughs Forest

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