Worldwide, pet-focused travel is on the rise. In 2020, the American Pet Products Association found that 45 per cent of dog owners take their pet with them when they're going away for at least two nights — a significant increase from just a decade ago. Kiwi pet owners aren't immune to the trend, with an increasing number of hotels offering Fido-friendly accommodation.
Travelling with your pet allows you to explore your destination through an entirely new lens — and arguably, this is best done by going for a walk with your good boy or girl. But what exactly makes the perfect dog walk?
According to new research released by TUX, it's a careful combination of length, distance and location. In August this year, the pet food brand conducted a survey of hundreds of dog walkers across the country. It determined that the ideal walk was one hour and 3km, and takes place at the park or beach. But we'd argue that the best walks also immerse travellers in a region's unique ecology or history.
Regardless of where you're headed with your canine companion this summer, there's bound to be a track that fits the bill. Here are seven of them.
Warkworth Town Riverbank Walks
Walking along the banks of the Mahurangi River will transport you back to a time when the waterway was the area's lifeblood. The highlight of this off-leash walk is the Wilson Cement Works ruins, where relics of the early 20th-century plant sit beside a quarry lake.
Of course, if you happen to find yourself in the area on a Saturday morning, don't miss the Matakana Farmers' Market. It's off-limits to dogs, but near the entrance you'll find a one-of-a-kind doggy daycare, where pets can relax in the shade for a gold coin donation.
Rotorua's Scion Tree Archive
This local favourite is sometimes referred to as the Redwoods dog park, but you'll see dozens of different trees here — Scion is a forestry research zone, where new tree species are trialled. Dogs are welcome to roam freely in the massive area, but if you prefer to walk on-lead, the Redwoods across the street also allows dogs.
Whichever park you choose, after your adventure, drive to the nearby dog-friendly Secret Spot Hot Tubs for a much-deserved beer and "shinny" dip.
New Plymouth's Back Beach
It feels like a bit of a cop-out to include a beach on this list, given that much of New Zealand's shoreline is dog heaven (except for bird nesting grounds and off-limit areas, of course). But we'll make an allowance for New Plymouth's popular Back Beach, with its black sand and pretty offshore islands.
More a spot for ball-throwing and doggie paddling, it's not the longest walk to be had. But you can extend your outing by continuing onto the nearby Herekawe Walkway.
Wellington's Maupuia Walkway
A wide off-leash path along the Miramar Peninsula, the Maupuia Walkway has some of the best sea views on-offer in Wellington. It's a little under 1km long, but can be turned into a longer and more heart-pumping walk by taking the connecting path down to and up from Shelly Bay.
Christchurch's The Groynes
Victoria Park, high in the Port Hills, tends gets all the glory in the Garden City. Fair enough: It's likely one of the country's most picturesque dog parks, with views across the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps. It's also the one most bound to impress visitors, with countless paths to explore.
However, those in-the-know head to the Groynes. Hidden just off the highway north-east of the airport, this fenced park features an expansive cross-country area, a creek for swimming in, and multiple agility courses.
Dunedin's Karetai Track
Once an old public road, the 2km Karetai Tracks climbs about 200m uphill, offering unparalleled views of the Otago Peninsula's rugged cliff faces. You can also use this pathway to access Smaills Beach, a perfect spot for cool-off after a long walk.
Queenstown's Lake Alta
Although most owners prefer walking their dogs off-leash, we would be remiss not to include this high-alpine track where leads are required.
This 90-minute track starts at the Remarkables ski resort and climbs steadily through alpine wetlands to above a glacial lake. There's a $10 fee to access the ski fields road, but the resulting views make it one of the most highly ranked trails by Queenstown dog owners.
Be in to win a holiday for you and your dog!
This summer take your best friend on the road. Sunday Travel has teamed up with Canopy Camping and Tux to create the ultimate prize for dog-owners - $900 towards a stay at one of Canopy Camping's unique dog-friendly glamping sites, $600 towards the cost of your travel, and a year's worth of Tux dog food, valued in total at $1989.65.
Enter at nzherald.co.nz/competitions