In the middle of New Zealand’s North Island you’ll find one of the best easy hikes the country has to offer: the Te Waihou Walkway.
The Te Waihou Walkway is an out-and-back hike that leads to Blue Springs, a place straight out of a fairytale. The water at the springs is so clear you won’t believe it, and the ferns and lush greenery hanging overhead will make you feel like you’re in Shangri-La.
For an idea of just how clean and clear the water here is, it’s worth noting that the springs produce around 60% of New Zealand’s bottled water.
Read on to discover how to hike to Blue Springs via the Te Waihou Walkway, plus some things to do nearby—including Hobbiton!
Where to start the hike: the Whites Road carpark outside of Putaruru
Distance: 4.7 kms each way
Time to hike: 2.5-3 hours
Type of hike: out-and-back
Difficulty: easy; mostly flat with a couple of small inclines
Overview of the Te Waihou Walkway
While you can get to Blue Springs much quicker (a 15 minute walk) by parking at the Leslie Road carpark, we really recommend doing the whole walk, by starting at the Whites Road carpark. The reason for this is that the walk leading up to the springs is stunningly beautiful and far less crowded than the springs themselves.
The entire walkway follows the Waihou Stream and as you get closer to the springs, the water gets clearer and clearer. If you look into the stream, you can often see rainbow trout with your bare eyes—the water is that clear!
You’ll spot sections of turquoise water backed by fern trees, and feel like you’re in some sort of tropical paradise.
As you get closer to the springs, the path turns from dirt to boardwalk. The springs themselves have a little viewing area. It does get crowded at this spot, but you should be able to glimpse the springs without problem.
Head back the same way you came in.
Some other tips for visiting Blue Springs:
Before your hike, make sure to stop at Over the Moon Cheese in Putaruru to sample their incredible cheeses and pick up picnic supplies to enjoy after (or partway along) the walk!
Unfortunately, you cannot swim in the springs. However, at the Whites Road carpark there is a great little swimming hole (complete with a rope swing). So if you’re keen to swim, that would be the perfect spot for a post-hike dip.
The Te Waihou Walkway is only a 30 minute drive from Hobbiton. So, for an epic day truly from a fairytale, you could book a Hobbiton tour in the morning and then visit Blue Springs afterwards. This would be a great combination if you’re road tripping from Auckland or the Coromandel to Rotorua.
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MORE TRAVEL INSPIRATION
Looking for more “must-do’s” on New Zealand’s North Island? Check out our guide to Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove on the Coromandel Peninsula.
If you’re heading to Rotorua and/or Taupo after you visit Blue Springs, read our guide to some of the best hot springs in Rotorua and Taupo!