It’s a new year, new you; easy to say, but how to go about it? Why not set yourself a challenge to conquer seven summit hikes in 2017? You don’t even need to go far to experience stunning scenery, challenging or relaxing walks and what are sure to be memorable experiences. Check out our top picks …
1 ) Hakarimata Walkway, Waikato District
If you’ve tackled the iconic stairway, set yourself the goal to do the entire walkway. This 12km long track is a full day hike through native bush and towering trees.
Track entrance: there are three points available pointing to the reserve – off Waingaro Road to the south, from Brownlee Avenue and from Parker Road in the north.
Time: 7 hours and 30 minutes one way.
Distance: 12 km one way.
2 ) Te Waihou Walkway, South Waikato
A stunning stroll along the Waihou River, through wetlands, across rolling pastoral land and with views of small waterfalls, native bush and the famous Blue Spring. At almost 10km for the round trip, this scenic walk is a must-do in the Waikato region.
Track entrance: Upstream entrance is situated off Whites Road, Putaruru.
Time: 1 hour 30 minutes one way – 3 hour return from the Whites Road carpark.
Distance: 4.7km one way.
3 ) Mt Pirongia, Waipa district
For a strenuous full day bush walk, conquer Mt Pirongia, one of the highest peaks in Waikato. The Tirohanga Track takes you to the summit through steep and at times, challenging terrain, or you can choose the slightly longer Tahuanui Track which branches off the Nikau walk and climbs steadily up a ridge before joining with the Tirohanga track. Take it one step further and spend a night on the mountain in the Pahautea Hut via the Hihikiwi Track or combine the Tahuanui track with the Bell track.
Durations and distances for these tracks are best found on DOC’s website (doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/waikato)
Note many of the summit tracks are ranked as ‘advanced’ and are for experienced hikers.
4 ) Maungatautari ‘Over the Mountain’ Track, Waipa
Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari provides a variety of walking trails to enjoy, the longest of which is the ‘Over the Mountain Track’ – this is recommended for experienced trampers and provides great views from Pukeatua Peak. If you are not familiar with the mountain it is recommended that you seek advice before attempting this trek.
Track entrance: Can be accessed from the Hicks Road entrance (northern side of mountain) and Tari Road entrance (Southern side of the mountain).
Time: 5-6 hours.
5 ) Wairere Falls, Matamata
Just 10 minutes’ drive from Matamata, the Wairere Falls is the highest waterfall in the North Island and a popular walking track in Waikato. Small wooden bridges take you across the stream at several points, affording lovely views of little cascades and providing opportunities to cool tired feet in the refreshing water. The sight from the viewing platform is spectacular – water plunges 153 metres over the falls – From here, the more intrepid can trek to another lookout at the top of the falls, from where there is a breath-taking view back over the valley and the Waikato plains.
Track entrance: The Wairere Falls’ walk starts at the car park on Goodwin Road, off Old Te Aroha Road.
Time: About two hours from the base of the falls to the top lookout.
6 ) Mt Te Aroha, Te Aroha
The Mt Te Aroha Summit Track starts at the Mokena Geyser in Te Aroha Domain and quickly ascends to the Whakapipi Lookout. The lookout provides panoramic views over the Hauraki Plains before the track continues through a small saddle and then steeply up to reach the top. From the summit, there are 360 degree views across the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions, and Mt Ruapehu, Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Taranaki are all visible on a clear day.
Track entrance: The track starts in the Te Aroha Domain.
Time: 45 minutes one way to Whakapipi Lookout, 3 hours one way to summit.
7 ) Mount Karioi, Raglan
Mt Karioi is a forest-clad extinct volcano, surrounded by lush Waikato farmland on one side and the Tasman Sea on the other. There are two available tracks to reach the summit of Mt Karioi in Raglan. This allows those hiking the trail to do a mountain crossing, or a return trip on either side. The Karioi track from Te Toto Gorge car park offers fantastic views of the rugged West Coast, north towards the Manukau Heads. Looking south on a clear day, you can see the four peaks of Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngauruhoe, Mt Ruapehu and Mt Taranaki. The track is exposed and steep at times, and chains are provided in a couple of places to assist with the ascent. A shorter gentler route to the summit is the Wairake Track from the Ruapuke Road carpark. From Te Toto Gorge car park to the summit and return takes a full day.
Track Entrance: Drive around the coast to Te Toto Gorge. The Te Toto Gorge car park is on Whaanga Road, near Raglan.
Time – Karioi Track: Car park to lookout – 2 hours 30 minutes – 3 hours one way
Time – Wairake Track: 2-3 hours one way.