Bare feet is fine
There’s a section of the Abel Tasman track on our “Elegant South” trip that is best walked in bare feet, as we make our way across an estuary at low tide. It’s something special – you feel the sand between your toes, and you find yourself gently hopping over the occasional small stick. Then when you rejoin another part of the track, you pop your walking shoes back on and head into the forest. It just makes sense to take your shoes off. It’s a beautiful thing. What’s even better about that is that there’s nothing here that’ll bite you apart from the occasional sand fly, which can be dealt with, with the firm application of repellent.
And that pretty much applies to New Zealand in general. Given that our little piece of land at the bottom of the earth broke away from the mass continent of Gondwanaland millions of years before mammals and many other creatures evolved, we didn’t pick up any beasts or animals that will harm you if you come into contact. Apart from one extremely rare species of spider that can make you a little ill, there’s nothing you need to avoid. No snakes, bears, tigers, lions, crocodiles or poison dart frogs.
So kick your shoes off, anywhere, anytime. The worst that might happen is the world’s only alpine parrot (The Kea) might try to steal your shoe laces.