Gratia - Hiking

Harwood Hole, Abel Tasman National Park

Like many beautiful and mysterious things, Harwood Hole is also dangerous. It is the 'deepest vertical shaft' in New Zealand, as various websites humorously tell us, with a depth of 357 metres, and no barriers around the entrance. If you're visiting the Abel Tasman National Park or Nelson, the forty-five minute walk to the cave system is not to be missed. 

Jack's Blowhole in The Catlins

In ‘inappropriate’ conditions, not so much a blowhole as a… normal hole

Outdoorswoman Wanda and I took the walk to Jack’s Blowhole at high tide, which is of course the time to visit a blowhole. The drive from Owaka was quite amazing – the high tide had filled the fields with water, so sheep were trapped on small islands of grass, while ducks floated on large puddles in the paddocks. 

Kauai and Hanakapiai Falls

Suddenly our mud-drenched shoes, mosquito bites and sunburn were worth it

Throughout my five week trip in Hawaii, Kauai was the only island that made me feel a little homesick for New Zealand. Not dissimilar at all to the landscape and culture of our little rock, Kauai was everything I love about our country all within one little tropical island.

Kitekite Falls in the Waitakere Ranges

Just follow the sound of running water...

Surrounded by the Waitakere Ranges' lush native bush, the air has a damp, fresh feel to it. Here in the forest, I feel like I've left the busyness of the city completely behind; the only noise is the rustle of leaves, native bird song and my footfalls crunching the ground. 

Matukituki Valley: Track to Aspiring Hut

The Matukituki Valley is a beautiful area of the South Island with various walking tracks, just an hour's drive from Wanaka. The two best-known day walks are the tracks to Aspiring Hut and Rob Roy Glacier, both of which begin at the Raspberry Flats car park. Earlier this year we took the walk to Aspiring Hut, so here are some photos and words of encouragement to tempt you to get out the hiking boots. 

Millennium Track

Every week or two during my time in Wanaka, I would reach a level of guilt over my physical laziness where I would decide to accompany Wanda on her strenuous 7am march the next day. The Millennium Track was my preferred walk because it only brought me to the brink of collapse for around ten minutes, as opposed to Mt Iron, which had me gasping and faint for closer to half an hour. Also, it has to be said, the views from the Millennium Track as the sun rises are quite spectacular.  

Mt. Iron Walking Track: A Survivor's Tale

Or, a tale of embarrassment and red-facedness

I decide to walk up Mt. Iron with a local Wanaka woman who does this track two or three times a week and calls it a ‘doddle’ – we’ll call her Wanda. It is an 80 minute climb up and down Mt. Iron – 60 minutes for Wanda, and she expects me to keep up. I am prepared to make a fool of myself; I have been sitting at the dining table and agonising over my laptop for too long, and am worried that I will soon lose the use of my limbs.

Pupu Springs, Nelson

If you’re visiting Nelson it’s worth a trip to Takaka, home to Pupu Springs - one of Australasia’s largest and clearest freshwater springs. The springs are an easy 30 minute walk from the car park, and the walk takes you through some beautiful New Zealand bush, serenaded by the soothing sound of running water and light song of native birds. You truly get a sense that you're treading on sacred ground.

The Coromandel by foot and by bike

There's no better way to soak up The Coromandel 

When you aren’t relaxing at the beach or roaming the gorgeous coastal towns of The Coromandel, the best ways to explore the area are by hiking and biking. Here are our top picks for seeing the most gorgeous spots in The Coromandel – by foot or by bike. 

The Pinnacles Trail

Photography of one of the most breath-taking hikes in New Zealand

The Pinnacles Trail, also called the Kauaeranga Kauri Trail, sits in the heart of the Coromandel Forest Park. It offers breath-taking views, and is the historic site where Kauri Bushman and their pack-horses ventured during the early 1920s for logging. The track leads to the Pinnacles Hut, where guests can stay overnight, and then to the Pinnacles summit, where glorious views of the Coromandel Peninsula await you. Awaiting you right now - some gorgeous and dramatic photography from a trip to the Pinnacles.

The Routeburn Walking Track

Advice for new Empty Nesters: get out of the nest and into the bush

It’s funny how long it can take to do something you’ve always thought about – for me, it was hiking the Routeburn Track.  Though hiking around New Zealand is one of my great pleasures, life and circumstance had, until recently, limited my time in the Great Outdoors. The allure of overseas travel, the drama of children, and the busyness of daily life had delayed this particular adventure for decades.  However, on becoming newbies in the Empty Nester game, my wife and I suddenly had a strange amount of freedom, and a long-awaited “walk in the woods” seemed the perfect thing.