Walk, hike, bike pure New Zealand outdoor options range from stroll to blood stirring adventures

July 13, 2012
Walk, hike, bike pure New Zealand outdoor options range from stroll to blood stirring adventures

Get a mountain high or a river rush the simple way, with one of the regions great walking, hiking and biking trails. From casual strolls along the river to overnight bush excursions and winding mountain biking tracks the Hamilton Waikato region has something for everyone.

Put your best foot forward and enjoy the great outdoors. The Hamilton Waikato turns it on with great walks, while cycling along river or mountain trails makes the pulse race from exertion as well as the inspirational surroundings.

There is everything from gentle jaunts on well laid out tracks to more ambitious hikes including overnight hut stays and its all easily accessible. Cyclists can also experience this majesty, with new trails constantly being developed, beside the river, in the pine forests and on the flanks of the mountains.

You dont need to be super fit to enjoy super views in the Hamilton Waikato region. The regions high points have breathtaking vistas, whether thats the rich green farming countryside spread below you like a checked tablecloth, or the distant sight of snow-capped mountains to the south.

Forty minutes south of Hamilton, Maungatautari Ecological Reserve has extra interest from the many native bird species being released and nurtured in the mountain predator free environment. The summit walk takes five or six hours while shorter walks in the southern enclosure virtually guarantee a view of endangered New Zealand bird species, now beginning to thrive in the area.

Looking for something different? Te Arohas namesake mountain has fine walks and views and the bonus of hot pools at its base to soothe aching muscles afterwards, while at the other end of the region Pureora Forest Park offers some serious tramping and the sight of the buried forest, created by a violent Lake Taupo eruption 1800 years ago.

New Zealands national walkway, Te Araroa (Long Pathway), passes through the region, taking in an historic walk at Mercer, farmland from Waitomo to Te Kuiti and most spectacularly a traverse of Mt Pirongia including the summit. Meanwhile, the Hakarimata Range near Ngaruawahia in the north of the region (also part of Te Araroa) offers visitors the chance to get up close with a fine stand of kauri trees.

You will never be far from clear mountain streams on the likes of Pirongia, and waterfall walks are scattered through the region, including the spectacular and aptly named Bridal Veil Falls near Raglan and the Wairere Falls near Matamata. South Waikatos Waihou Stream has stunning crystal clear and bright blue water due to the optical purity of the water or simply walk along the banks of the Waikato River and marvel at its flow.

The region is heaven for cyclists, whether on or off-road. Make like local legend Olympic gold medalist Sarah Ulmer on the extensive network of country roads where the traffic thins out and there is a fresh view around every corner.

Stretch it out along the flat, or get pumping along the undulating foothills, always remembering to wear high visibility clothing and helmets. Many of the Waikatos must-see destinations can be readily reached this way, with a little bit of planning and exertion.

And mountain biking is really taking off in the region. Try the lower slopes of Mt Te Aroha, well known for their 10km of challenging tracks and views, or the excellent Waikato River Trail where pine forests give way to native bush which gives way to farmland, always close to hydro lakes with their great views not to mention the chance to cool off.

Not too far from there, the Cougar Park mountain bike trail near Tokoroa gets you into the exotic pine plantations, while Pureora Forest Park at the southern edge of the region ramps it up another gear. And theres a whole lot more, with farms opening up for bike trekking, including around Raglan. In such places, nothing beats two wheels.

Editors note words and pictures courtesy of Hamilton Waikato Tourism.

Biking in the Hamilton  Waikato Region
Biking in the Hamilton Waikato Region