Puketoki Reserve is pretty much my local and I feel like I know it like the back of my hand. My kids have been walking the long loop since they were around 2 1/2 years old. I also do regular monitoring work there (off tracks) for the local pest control group the Friends of Puketoki . I often take groups of school children there to study the streams health (very healthy by the way) and to learn about native birds and plants.
It’s a great place to head with kids of any age, the short loop is buggy friendly (although you may encounter some mud) and you can bring the dog, on a lead. The short loop is made up of the old tram lines so they are straight and relatively flat, perfect for little legs to wander along. Its nice if you just take your time and let the kids explore a bit at their own pace.There are picnic tables near the car park and a very pretty stream to check out.
The long loop is more undulating, with sections of stairs, uneven ground and the odd muddy part. You may see pink tags and tape off the sides of the main walking track, these are trap lines (for possum and rodent bait stations). The main walking track is marked with orange triangles. There are a couple of short marked detours off the main track to see giant rimu and puriri trees and they are well worth the couple of minutes detour it takes (if things are going well! )
We often see kereru (native wood-pigeon) and robins and hear tui and grey warbler. Occasionally you might see or hear kaka (native parrot).Puketoki Reserve is a good place to start if you and your family haven’t done much bush walking before as the loop walks are very short and easy, so there’s no stress about distance, you can just meander and enjoy.
Side notes: Dogs are allowed on leads. The short walk is buggy friendly. Picnic tables and toilets available near the car park.