In our Day Walks in New Zealand competition, we asked you for your top tips for a fabulous walk in Aotearoa. Your responses were so great we've divided them into two. This week, we've compiled your tips for the best places in the country to walk.
BAY OF PLENTY
Originally set aside as virgin bush 100 years ago, the Hikutaia Domain, Opotiki, has recently been looked after by a care group who have put in boardwalks, seating, picnic tables and interpretive signs. DoC has helped with tree identification and many trees are now named. The original instigator of the reserve, and others to follow, has added to the collection there, planting rare plants and trees. The tracks meander through stunning restorative bush. There's a 2000-year-old puriri tree that was originally a burial tree for Upokorehe.
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The most surprising day walk we completed recently was the scenic Waipu Coastal walkway between Waipu Cove and Langs Beach. Hearing very little about the walk we were stunned to find ourselves in a mini Punakaiki coastal setting. Amazing pancake rocks, ocean views and beautiful native bush with pohutukawa just starting to burst into bloom. We walked both ways in under three hours and finished up with a refreshing drink at The Cove. A brilliant day walk.
My top tip for a fabulous walk is to take togs to bathe at the safe little secluded waterfall on the Tanekaha Waterfall Track in the Brynderwyn hills.You may prefer to swim in the altogether, it's that private. Take a snack as there are no shops near, drinking water too, though I drink from the crystal clear streams. Access is an easy amble through flat bush, then a climb through native bush including an ancient puriri tree. Delightful.
In Onemana, in the Coromandel, park at the top of Onemana Drive, take in the views to Whangamata then set off on the clifftop walk. Enjoy the stunning ocean views, gannet colony and majestic pohutukawa and finish at beautiful Octopus Bay with a well-earned swim. Walking time is around an hour each way but it's moderately difficult terrain. For the extra-active crew, a further 40 mins of very up and down walking brings you to another private beach, Stingray Bay. It's well worth the effort - crystal clear water and pohutukawa shade on the beach. Stunning.
The Waitawheta Tramway in Coromandel is a family-friendly track beside the Waitawheta River, with options to walk part-way to a replica logging bogie, or walk further up the valley to a partial reconstruction of the old logging mill. Or take two days and stay overnight in the Waitawheta Hut as we did with our grandchildren. There are signs along the track with photos and memories from a girl who lived up the valley when the sawmill was operating in the early 1900s. Spectacular scenery, swing bridges, an optional river crossing, or enjoy a swim in the river on a hot day.
Mary and David Penman
Waimama Bay is a beautiful pohutukawa-lined beach just a 20-30 minute walk north from Whiritoa Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula. Pack a picnic, cross the estuary at the north end of the beach and follow the well-defined track over the hill for a day of swimming, sunbathing and just chilling out. You can find some Maori rock carvings on the way by scaling down the cliff if the tide is out a bit. It's not far to go but it is great for families and far enough away from the usual beach crowds to make you feel the beach is all yours.
A great way to explore the city is the 16km Coast to Coast walk from the west to the east. Start at the Onehunga Lagoon and follow the arrow signs through parks, reserves and over volcanic cones. The walk finishes in the Viaduct Basin where you can dip your toes into the Pacific Ocean and reward yourself with your favourite icecream.
Palmers track to the summit of Hirakimata (Mt Hobson) via Windy Canyon, Great Barrier Island is not a Sunday stroll, but the scenery is fantastic. Big rock formations within five minutes as you walk through Windy Canyon giving way to open scenery all over the island. The view from the top is fabulous, so it is worth waiting for a clear day or at least one where you can see the dome of the top before setting out. The bush is interesting — the lower sections are regenerating from kauri logging and there are some uncommon trees such as monoao growing through. The ridge boasts a more alpine feel and the top section was never felled and is original forest. The track itself is a mixture — well formed steps (more than 1000 of them), gravel in parts and a more traditional tramping track in others. It is up and down along the ridge top with a last big climb up well-structured stairs. One to take your time over and enjoy. Took us nearly five hours there and back.
Mt Karioi! On a clear day you can see Rangitoto, Te Aroha, Ruapehu and its neighbours, Taranaki, and even, on a really clear day, the Seaward Kaikouras. It's an easy three-hour walk from the Ruapuke Rd entrance to the summit (this is the Wairake Track). I've walked it with moderately fit 75-year-olds, and the only bit that gave them any trouble at all was a bit of a scramble right near the summit. And if you look carefully you might see bright blue mushrooms — Entoloma Hochstetteri — which can also be seen on the $50 note.
* See next week's issue for part two.