Mt Lees Reserve is a pleasant short walk in the Manawatu region of New Zealand. Perfect for families or a gentle stroll as it is neither long nor arduous. However, it is beautiful and rather scenic which makes it a treat to explore.
Access Ngaio Road in between Feilding and Bulls
Time 20 minutes to an hour
Difficulty low, the track is well maintained and easy to follow while the hills are short and sweet
Mt Lees Reserve always brings back good memories for me. I grew up just down the road and biked past it every day on my way home from school. We had many school events there growing up, my son had a birthday party at Mt Lees Reserve and I even have some wedding snaps there.
Pick ‘n Mix
One of the things that makes Mt Lees Reserve interesting is the many loops, paths and tracks. You can pick how you want to tackle your walk. Do an easy 20-minute loop or take it to the next level and explore the side tracks, loops and weaves that zigzag through the reserve.
There are several tracks that intertwine so you can pick ‘n mix how long you want to go for and how hard you want to make your hike.
The track is quite varied. Giant Bamboo shoots adorn one part of the path while leaves carpet another part. Glimpses of the surrounding farmland are seen towards the end of the hike if you take the outside loop. Dry fields are evidence of a long hot summer.
Read More: Other hikes in the Manawatu
Perfect for Families
Last year I took my friends girls for a hike with me. They were 4 and 8 at the time and we took turns to choose which way to go at the junctions. It made the hike more interesting for them and they felt like they had some sort of control over where we were going.
I wasn’t too worried which way they would pick as they couldn’t really choose a wrong direction. The paths all end up back at the carpark before long.
There are a couple of hills, however, these aren’t long or steep. Rather they meander rather nicely at a steady pace then flatten out quite abruptly.
Read More: Tips for hiking with children
Other points of interest
- Distinctive Trees: There are two rather distinctive trees in Mt Lees. One is a large kahikatea that is thought to be more than 1000 years old and a pukatea which is thought to be around 600 years old. This tree has the honour of being listed as one of New Zealand’s distinctive trees.
- Speaking of Trees: There are many different types of trees that call Mt Lees their home. As well as the wisened ancient kahikatea, you will spot punga, totara, ferns, puriri, lancewoods and a whole host of other kinds that I won’t pretend to know the names of (luckily, I have a tree book now so that I can get it out when I am hiking and curious. Soon I will be a Tree Expert).
- Spring Fever: If you head to Mt Lees during spring, you will be treated to a daffodil feast for the eyes. A large carpet of daffodils of various varieties (alliteration at its finest) spread out in front of one of the entrances to the bush walk.
- Grubs Up: There are several little clearings just perfect for a picnic blanket. Lie back under the shade of the giant trees while the kids roll down the hill (tried and tested. Results are good) and burn off some energy (if only you could bottle it huh?).
- Accommodation: Mt Lees is not only a great place for a hike, but it is also a great place to stay in a beautiful, quiet rural setting. The reserve has a stunning B&B perfect to get away for a while from the hustle and bustle of city life. Why wouldn’t you?
- The Nature Trail: If you are going with children, I recommend ticking off the nature trail which starts on the drive in front of the house. The nature trail is easy to follow with numbered wooden posts dotted along the track. Find points along the way from ancient trees to bushman’s toilet paper. Information booklets are available at the start to the track.
If you are looking for a family-friendly hike in the Manawatu, look no further than Mt Lees Reserve. Take a picnic to have in one of the many clearings and let the kids run wild in the playground afterwards as you let your legs recover. It is the perfect day out.
Other Family Friendly Hikes in the Manawatu
- Beehive Creek, Pohangina Valley
- Sledge Track, Palmerston North
- Manawatu Gorge Loop, Ashurst
- Limestone Creek Glowworm Caves, Apiti
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