Explore Waikato

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This month we take a look at some of our favourite school holiday trails around the region, perfect for spending family time together while keeping fit and active.

Explore your own backyard this school holidays and tackle some popular family-friendly trails for some free or low cost fun.

The self-proclaimed Kiwiana capital of New Zealand, Otorohanga, proudly celebrates all things Kiwi, from No 8 wire to pavlova. The Otorhanga Kiwiana Walk is great for families, offering an entertaining stroll through the town. Taking in the main street with its Kiwiana display gallery, mural and scultpures – even the public toilets are a light-hearted tribute to NZ’s popular culture.

walk1From intricately carved totem poles paying tribute to the ancestors of the local Manaiapoto people, to a bronze bowler hat on a greenstone and stone plinth, the walk offers insight into New Zealand’s proud history and uniqueness.

Exhibitions within the gallery includes a tribute to Sir Edmund Hillary, Weetbix, Marmite, rural life, Pavlova, No.8 wire, Buzzy Bee, All Blacks great Colin Mead and more. Team your day exploring this quirky town with a visit to one of the many great cafes and eateries along the main street including Thirsty Weta Bar, and Eatery or O Café.

If you’re looking to hop on the bike with the kids this winter break, why not enjoy a leisurely cycle along Te Awa – The Great New Zealand River Ride. With river views and a mix of rural and urban landscapes including the stunning Lake Karapiro, the Te Awa River Ride is perfect for a family day out.

With wide concrete paths along much of the trail, the Te Awa River Ride has sections shared by walkers and cyclists, families and athletes alike, with the flat trail suitable for cyclists of all skill and experience levels.

Once complete, Te Awa will link with the Waikato River Trails near Horahora as well as other regional cycling highlights such as Hamilton Mountain Bike Track in Pukete Farm Park and the impressive Avantidrome near Cambridge. Completed sections of the trail take in scenic rides along the Hamilton CBD, and a mix of riverside, lakeside and walkways in Cambridge.

If wildlife is on the agenda, why not take the family along to one of New Zealand’s most significant preservation projects, Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari. A haven for native wildlife and plants such as kiwi, kokako (wattlebird), tuatara and more, Maungatautari also offers great walking and hiking tracks the whole family will enjoy.

walk2Surrounded by 47kms of predator-proof fence which encloses 3400 hectares of Mt Maungatautari, the project strives to eradicate mammalian predators so that native bird populations, trees and ferns are able to flourish uninhibited.

Visitors to the mountain can enjoy five walkways varying from 30 minutes to two hours in the southern enclosure, providing some of the best birdwatching on the mountain. The bird feeding area is a great place to stop for a picnic to watch the birds come to feed. The canopy tower takes you 16m up into the treetops of the forest canopy, and a guided day and after-dark night walk are also on offer.

There are also a number of other walks and hikes around the mountain, for example the ‘Walk Over The Mountain’ which is recommended for experienced trampers and will take most of a day (5-6 hours). For more information on the walks and hikes at Sanctuary Mountain visit www.sanctuarymountain.co.nz

Otorohanga Kiwiana Walk
• Located in the quaint town of Otorohanga on the way to Waitomo – great thing to see and do when heading to Waitomo Caves
• Sir Edmund Hilary Walk
• Snap a picture in front of the Kiwiana Walk on the southern end of town
• Many cafes and eateries along the way

Te Awa River Ride
• Stunning river views
• 400m boardwalk around Lake Karapiro
• Wide track suitable for social riding and walking
• Current completed trail sections take in both Hamilton City and Cambridge town

Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari
• Take in the stunning vistas from the 16m high Canopy Tower which takes you high up into the forest canopy
• Flourishing native birdlife and bird watching opportunities in the bird feeding area
• Take a guided night tour to experience ancient NZ at night

Walking trail length
–  Otorohanga Kiwiana Walk – 1km
–  Te Awa River Ride – Grade 2 (easy) – Will be 70 km once completed
–  Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari – Distance varies from short walks to full day hikes depending on the trail followed.

For more information on these and many more free and low cost activities, visit
www.hamiltonwaikato.com/experiences/free-attractions or for more information about the other various cycling and walking tracks and trails available in the Hamilton and Waikato region visit www.hamiltonwaikato.com

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