Top 10 Hikes in the North Island New Zealand
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New Zealand is well-known for its spectacular nature and scenery, which provides the perfect opportunity for short or long walks for both day hikers and adventure hikers. Explore the best North Island hikes and discover the beautiful landscape and nature across the island. Whether you are looking for an easy walk or a tough hike or tramping (as the Kiwis like to say), there is something for everyone wanting to hike New Zealand’s North Island, no matter your fitness level. Explore everything from the unforgettable Tongariro Crossing to the Putangirua Pinnacles to the fantasy forest on the Kamahi Loop track. You are guaranteed to have a great time and experience some amazing, breathtaking views.
1. Tongariro Crossing
Photo via Tongariro Crossing
The Tongariro Crossing is one of the most popular hikes in the North Island and it’s clear to see why! It’s New Zealand’s oldest National Park and a dual World Heritage area because of its cultural importance and outstanding beauty. The hike offers picturesque natural scenery and unique landscapes, including the volcanic peaks of Tongariro, Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe. The hiking track itself is a 19.4 km hike across a volcanic plateau of the central highlands and can take between 6-8 hours, depending on your pace. Along the way, a few major landmarks offer guidance such as the Devil’s Staircase, the Red Crater, the Three Emerald Lakes, Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe. In the summer this is a busy hike, so if you are feeling adventurous and you want to avoid the crowds, consider doing the complete 44 km Tongariro Northern Circuit.
2. Pouakai Crossing
Photo via AA Traveller
Close to New Plymouth you will find the Pouakai Crossing hike. It’s Mt Taranaki’s premier one day walk and it takes in the best highlights of the longer Pouakai Circuit. From mountains to waterfalls and fairytale forests, the Pouakai Crossing offers some of the most breathtaking landscapes and scenery that Mount Egmont National Park has to offer.
You will get great views of Mt Taranaki, from the north Taranaki countryside to the coast and inland to Mt Ruapehu. Get up close to the towering lava columns of Dieffenbach cliffs, cross the Boomerang slip, discover the red water of Kokowai Stream and finish the hike off by walking through the peaceful and lush forest of the lower Pouakai Ranges. The hike is 19 km and can take anywhere between 7-9 hours to complete.
3. Mauao (Mount Maunganui) Summit
Photos via In A Far Away Land
The Mauao (Mount Maunganui) Summit hike is a 45-minute and 3.4 km hike up the iconic Mount Maunganui in the Bay of Plenty region. The summit reaches 232 metres above sea level and offers some impressive and beautiful views from the top. There are several tracks to the summit - the Waikorire and the Oruahine track. From the top, you will be able to see the Western Bay of Plenty, right down to the coastline and Tauranga city’s suburbs. This is the perfect hike and spot for watching the sunrise.
4. Putangirua Pinnacles
Photo via We Are Explorers
Located one hour from Martinborough and not far from Wellington, you will find the spectacular Wellington hike Putangirua Pinnacles track, in the Aorangi Forest Park in Wairarapa. If you are a Lord of the Rings fan you won't have to travel far to immerse yourself in this mythical world as many of the track's unique and stunning landscapes were used in the film. The Putangirua Pinnacles offers some of the most amazing geological rock formations and unlike many other natural pinnacles, many of the towering structures are topped with lush green ferns. There is no defined track so once you reach the pinnacles, you get to pick your own path to explore every bit of it. There are three routes that lead to the Pinnacles and they all start from the streambed. The hike is 7km and can take from 3 hours to half a day to complete.
5. Te Werahi Beach Track
Photo via Department of Conversation
Te Werahi Beach Track is situated in Cape Reinga, which is the most northern point on New Zealand’s North Island. The track is a part of the Te Paki Coastal Track. It starts with a phenomenal view of Te Werahi Beach. The 2 km track follows the West Coast and leads you down to the Te Werahi Beach and Cape Reinga Lighthouse where you can enjoy panoramic views. If you are looking for a longer hike, we recommend the hike from Te Werahi to Twilight Beach, which is 7.25 km. On this track, you will experience gorgeous peach coloured dunes, views of Cape Maria Van Diemen and Motuopao Island.
6. Coromandel Coastal Walkway
Photo via Newzealand.com
Coromandel Coastal Walkway is one of the best coastal hikes on the North Island. The walkway takes in the remote northern part of the Coromandel Peninsula. Fletcher Bay and Stony Bay mark the start and endpoints of the track. Both destinations are hidden gems worth exploring. The hike offers the chance to take in the full beauty and quiet nature in the Coromandel Peninsula and let you discover the beautiful beaches, surrounding ocean, coastal forest and farmland. Enjoy the panoramic views of the Coromandel Pinnacles, Great Barrier Island, Cuvier Island and Port Charles. The hike takes 3.5 hours one-way.
7. Rangitoto Summit
Photos via We 12 Travel
A great hike around Auckland City is The Rangitoto Summit. It is a 2-hour easy walk that is located on Rangitoto Island, just a short ferry ride from downtown Auckland. It’s a family-friendly hike so if you are travelling with kids, they will love it. Rangitoto Island is a favourite for hikers and day-trippers. It’s an Auckland icon that dominates the Hauraki Gulf with its distinctive symmetrical cone and superb location off the coast. The island is the youngest and largest of Auckland’s volcanic cones. This popular hike begins at Rangitoto Wharf and climbs through lava fields and the world’s largest native pohutukawa forest. If you have the extra time, we recommend discovering the volcano’s lava caves too. Once you reach the summit, enjoy the panoramic views of Auckland City.
8. Cathedral Cove
Photo via Department of Conservation
The Whanganui A Hei Marine Reserve, also known as the Cathedral Cove is a must-visit site in the Coromandel region. Not only is it a great 2.5 km hike, but it is also a good photo spot. The track starts at the northern end of the seaside village Hahei and takes you along the coast to the very popular Cathedral Cove. On your way to the Cathedral Cove, experience the rich marine and coastal life. There are plenty of spots to sit and rest along the track or just take in the beauty. Discover the rugged farmland, native bush and rocky shorelines until you reach the beach and the Cathedral Cove. Explore the Cathedral Cove, grab a photo at the iconic photo spot, eat lunch at the beach or go for a swim before heading back.
9. The Kamahi Loop Track
Photo via Department of Conservation
The Kamahi Loop Track also known as the Goblin Forest in Egmont National Park is a great New Zealand Day Hike on the North Island. It's the perfect walk for discovering the lush rainforest of the mountain and its twisted Kamahi trunks covered in ferns and mosses. The trees’ trunks and branches have grown through and around the existing trees, which have created a distinctive gnarled look. The walk is 0.5km walk but despite it being a short walk, it’s an impressive experience. The golden soft light breaking through the trees covered in a veil hanging lime green moss is a breathtaking sight. The forest looks like something out of a fantasy movie. The track begins just above the Stratford Mountain House.
10. Karioi Summit
Photo via In A Far Away Land
Mt Karioi is a forest-clad extinct volcano surrounded by the Tasman Sea on one side and the lush Waikato farmland on the other side. The Karioi Summit Track is about 12 km and is located near Raglan on the West Coast. You will find lookout points throughout the hike but none of them compares to the spectacular summit lookout. The track is uneven and steep at some points and chains are provided to assist hikers, but it is all worth it once you reach the top. On a clear day, you can see as far as Mt Taranaki, the Herangi Range and Pureora. A shorter and more gentle route to the summit is the Wairakei Track but it offers different views.
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