In March 2020, I was incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to do the inaugural Trek for Life, a wonderful week long event that brings together a fabulous community of walkers, bikers, and horse trekkers to explore Aotearoa New Zealand while raising funds for first responders in the regions.
The Pouakai Circuit is one of the best multi-day hikes I've ever done. The views are phenomenal. The huts are great. Sunrise from the Pouakai Tarn was stunning. The track is technical enough to be interesting. It's not super full of people. The terrain varies greatly. The only downside were the many, many, many stairs that had to be climbed on day one (but more on that later).
This is a popular walk, and for good reasons. It's free, has stunning views, great picnic spots, has historical significance, and takes less than two hours to do! Cook's Cove Walk is in Tolaga Bay, home of a famous wharf, and enormous ice creams from the dairy (seriously, their single scoop icecreams were double scoops!)
If you like dogs you will ADORE this walk. It's one of the few walks on DOC land I've come across where dogs are allowed and because of that there were so many cute puppies around every corner (disclaimer: every dog to me is a puppy whether they are a couple of months old or not!)
I first went to Morere Hot Springs when I was a kid. In the decades since I last visited, it has changed from childhood memories but it still has great hot pools, incredible bush, and is a wee slice of paradise in the middle of nowhere!
Want a waterfall you can wade out to, a meandering river, a bush walk, and then another waterfall you can admire from a quiet lookout? Have I got the place for you! The Tangoio Walkway which encompasses Te Ana Falls, which you can swim at, and Tangoio Falls which you can view from a lockout, in Hawke's Bay is the place to be.
800 steps up. Sounds like a lot but it goes surprisingly quick and the view at the top is absolutely worth it. The East Cape Lighthouse walk also has quite possibly one of the most picturesque drives to get to it, following the road around the coast and I almost guarantee you'll start to imagine yourself owning a bach (holiday home) here as the beaches are glorious and it's so easy to find a wee spot away from the other 10 people that happen to be on the beach at the same time as you!
Patuna Chasm has to be one of the best kept secret day walks in all of New Zealand. The fact it's on private land and there is a entry fee involved probably accounts for that - but let me tell you that this walk is absolutely worth every dollar!
A walk on a predator free island (well, apart from humans), less than a hour's drive from New Zealand's capital city? A walk that starts and ends with a boat trip? The opportunity to see birdlife up close and personal? If all of the above appeals to you, then you need to get yourself to Kāpiti Island, ASAP.
We lucked out big time with this walk - a few days before we were due to start walking the middle section of the track was closed due to snow. And two days after we came off that section it closed again due to bad weather. Which is completely understandable as there is no way I'd want to be on top of those ridgelines in windy and/or snowy conditions!
The number one reason I like this walk is because it starts in the heart of the city, but within 30 minutes you can look around and not see any sign of people. That's my kind of walk! The second reason is that it ends at the beach. And not just that, but a beach with seals! If those aren't two fantastic reasons to do this walk, then I'm not sure what would be.
If you like stairs, you'll really like this walk. There are lots of them. And they are perched on hillsides where if you slip, there is nothing to stop you until you hit the ground far below. So my hint for this walk? Take it slow going up and down the many, many stairs.
I've walked tracks on Mt Victoria a hundred times. But it seems like each time I do I still manage to find a new path I haven't come across before and manage to not follow the track I want to be on. This was a loop walk so I figured it was going to be well signposted, which it was. Mostly. But I still managed to get off the loop, but I found my way back on to it, purely by accident!
On the first sunny Saturday in December, I expected the Shine Falls track to be full of families trekking their way down to the falls for a swim - this walk is along a relatively flat track, safe, and with barely any uphill. Hence, you could imagine my surprise when we made it all 2km to the falls without passing another person!
If you're afraid of heights, cliffs, rocks, or being out of cellphone coverage - stay away from this walk. If those four things excite you greatly, then this walk is for you. Well, at least until the fun police turn up and fence everything off.
Mt Kaukau - the big mountain in Wellington with the giant transmitter on top. It' s the one place that you can see from pretty much anywhere in Wellington, and one of the places that makes most people say 'oh Mt Kaukau, I keep meaning to walk to the top but I haven't done it yet' (seriously, say to five people you've walked Mt Kaukau and that response will be one of the five).
If ever there was a day where I wish a drone would deliver me red bull into the middle of nowhere, and a host of other things to give me energy, today would have been it. A night in a hut with 25 others, rustling sleeping bags, and a body covered in sandfly bites meant my energy levels today were non existent - less than ideal for a full on day of hiking.
If you'd told me before starting this walk that I'd eventually reach the point that upon coming across another beautiful secluded beach I'd take a quick glance and keep walking I would have said you're crazy. But there's just so many stunning beaches on this walk that after a while you become quite picky about what ones you actually want to spend time at.