This week the Herald is profiling different hikes you can do to get fit. We have enlisted Robert Bruce, founder of Got To Get Out, to write about his favourite adventures. He says getting outside and exploring nature is not only beneficial for the body, but a proven and easy way to improve your mental health.
The adventure in a sentence:
Mt Pirongia is a fantastic adventure destination for those wanting to get off the beaten track and don't mind some uphill slog.
Where is it?
Mt Pirongia is found south of Auckland on SH32 in Pirongia Forest Park.
Turn off SH39 onto Te Pahu Rd, first left on Hodgson Rd then turn left into Grey Rd and follow to the carpark at the end.
Where to stay?
You can choose one of many short or long day walks or stay in one of the DoC huts in the park, such as the 20-bunk Pahautea hut.
About the adventure:
There are a variety of day walks departing from the Grey Rd carpark. We usually head for the summit via Tirohanga track and turn the hike into a loop.
The track from the carpark meanders through native bush on well-formed tracks but then you quickly start the grind as you climb to around 1000m in elevation, at times pulling yourself up steep rock races on permanently installed chains.
There's no power at the Pahautea hut but the site has clean toilets and the sleeping quarters are separate to the lounge if you want some quiet time.
How long does it take?
Depending what route you take will of course depend on the length and time you need to put aside to go hiking at Mt Pirongia.
For the overnight loop walk it took about seven hours each way.
Difficulty rating (1-5): 3-4
Hiking to the summit is a tough day for most weekend warriors and you want to be travelling as light if possible.
The route to the summit becomes steep very quickly and a few false summits can be disheartening for new hikers, especially when you are chasing the sundown.
The chained segment requires some upper body strength and the tracks are not always easy to follow. Hikers have been known to follow the hunting markers and head off in the wrong direction.
What to bring:
What you take for this trek will depend on what length of activity you are doing, but for the overnight trip you need enough water, suitable clothing, sun protection, food and personal first aid.
There are some very muddy parts so hiking boots or quality walking shoes or trail runners are recommended.
If you are staying overnight you are unlikely to need a sleeping roll unless you are in a tent, but should take a sleeping bag and liner, head torch, gas cooker and enough food for as long as you intend to be outdoors.
Adventures going into nature may want to consider a personal locator beacon (PLB) that can be deployed to alert search and rescue if you have an accident and need rescuing.
Other vital info:
It is advisable for adventures getting out in to nature to travel with someone else for safety, and to let someone know your intentions.
It's not unheard of for people to follow the wrong markers and end up spending a cold night in the bush – avoid this by taking a map, GPS and torch in case you end up in the dark.
There is no fire in this hut.
Why I recommend it:
Mt Pirongia has stunning views and varied terrain which gives you something new to look at all day.
The walk out of the bush on day two is through beautiful native forest and best of all you just never know who you will meet in the hut.