Us Aucklanders love lacing up our hiking shoes and climbing things. And, let’s be honest, it’d be rude not to in a country as beautiful as ours. We’ve rounded up the city’s best weekend walks and hikes but it’s time to take things up a level. These mountainous hikes will require you to channel your inner Sir Ed and, in some cases, pack your sleeping bag. But fear not, there’s no need to book flights to The Himalayas—these hikes are within road trip-distance of Auckland. Without further ado, here are five mountainous adventures to take this weekend.
Rangitoto Island Summit Walk
First things first, we’re gonna ease into things by name-dropping our favourite Auckland volcano: Rangitoto. There’s an unwritten law that you must climb ’Toto before tackling any of the following hikes.
The shortest and most popular route to the summit takes an hour, but if you wanna be hard core (you do) you should go via the lighthouse at McKenzie Bay before heading to the summit. It’s the perfect wee walk to ease you into the wonderful world of hiking.
Kauaeranga Kauri Trail (Aka The Pinnacles)
Make your way to the Coromandel and tackle the Kauaeranga Kauri Trail—more commonly known as The Pinnacles. This popular walk can be done in a day or make it an overnight adventure (we suggest you do the latter).
Walk there and back via the Webb Creek Track (about six hours or so) or complete a circuit using both the Webb Creek Track and Billygoat Track (about eight hours).
Once you’re at the hut, you can drop off your heavy gear before continuing to the summit (40 minutes one way) for breathtaking views of the Coromandel Peninsula.
The hut boasts 80 bunk beds and has cooking, heating and lighting facilities—so fancy! Bookings are required and get in early ‘cause this is one popular spot.
You shouldn’t need another reason to love Raglan but, in case you did, allow us to introduce you to Mt Karioi.
There are two tracks to reach the summit of the forest-clad volcano. The shorter and gentler route crosses farmland before climbing steadily through native forest. It will take you four to six hours return and we promise the view from the top is worth your efforts.
If you’re a real tough cookie, you’ll want to attempt the steeper side. A word of warning: this one’s not for the faint-hearted—in some sections, there are chains to help you navigate the ascent. Pack your scroggin and Ginger Nuts (you are a tough cookie after all) and brace yourself for stellar views of the rugged west coast.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Further afield you’ve got the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing. You’re going to want to do your research before attempting this beast. The track is a not-so-casual 19.4-kilometres long and the weather can be unpredictable. Make sure you’re prepared for the elements and arrange transport to drop you off at the beginning of the track and pick you up at the end.
Safety aside, you’ll cross some pretty incredible volcanic terrain on this hike. Think steaming vents, hot springs, water-filled craters and the volcanic peaks of Ngauruhoe, Tongariro and Ruapehu—maybe even Mount Taranaki if you’re lucky.
The hike takes anywhere between five-and-a-half to seven-and-a-half hours. If you’re wanting to make a weekend of it, you can opt to stay in the 20-bunk Mangatepopo Hut.
Venture to the Mighty Waikato and climb to the summit of Mt Pirongia. You’ll discover lush native forest, clear mountain streams and a whole lot of tranquillity.
If you’re pushed for time (or just really hardcore) you can get to the summit and back in a day. However, if you want the full experience, spend a night or two in the Pahautea Hut. Built in 2015, the hut has 20 mattresses and water supply but no heating or cooking facilities (pack your gas cooker).
If you’re after more of a leisurely stroll, Mt Pirongia has a range of easier day walks including the Mangakara Nature Walk (one-hour loop) and the Kaniwhaniwha Caves Walk (two-and-a-half hours). Don’t forget a torch because you’ll want to explore the 20m cave.
Love all things Mother Nature? Check out 10 Secret Spots In Auckland You Must Visit.
Image credit: The Pinnacles by Jack Austin