Walks

The Insider's Guide to New Zealand - - NORTH ISLAND -

Hamil­ton re­sides in a leafy val­ley but is sur­rounded by climbable moun­tains. The sa­cred Mount Taupiri is to the north, “Moun­tain of Love” Mt Te Aroha lies to the east, Raglan’s “Sleep­ing Lady” Mt Kar­ioi to the west and Mt Piron­gia to the south.

Mounts Te Aroha, Kar­ioi and Piron­gia all have ex­cel­lent walk­ing trails and Te Aroha (952 me­tres) has the added ben­e­fit of a post-walk dip in warm ther­mal pools, a re­ward for twing­ing mus­cles. Af­ter climb­ing Mt Kar­ioi (756 me­tres), an extinct vol­cano, you can plunge into the Tas­man Sea or sit on warm black sand and watch surfers at Manu Bay ride the world’s long­est left-hand break. Mt Piron­gia, the high­est peak in the Waikato (959 me­tres), has beau­ti­ful bush trails but the tracks are steep, so only for the fit.

The best moun­tain ex­pe­ri­ence for ev­ery­one is Maun­gatau­tari (797 me­tres), south of Cam­bridge. Fondly re­ferred to by lo­cals as “the Maunga”, but now of­fi­cially “Sanc­tu­ary Maun­gatau­tari Moun­tain”, it is the largest pest-free project in the world and New Zealand’s most am­bi­tious con­ser­va­tion ven­ture. The na­tive bush-clad slopes are more pro­tected than a G8 sum­mit. A 47 kilo­me­tre pest-free fence runs up cliffs and through streams around the moun­tain’s perime­ter and if a stoat or rat tries to sneak in, elec­tronic alarms ring. The sanc­tu­ary is a safe haven for kiwi, takahe, kaka, the North Is­land robin and Pa­cific gecko. There are night tours from Oc­to­ber to March when you can shine a light on gi­ant weta and koura (na­tive cray­fish), see glow-worms and hear the plain­tiff love calls of the kiwi. 99 Tari Road, Pukea­tua, (07) 870 5180, sanc­tu­ary­moun­tain.co.nz

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