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December 2016 Issue
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Editoral, December 2016

The Hooker Track leads trampers to this remarkable scene of New Zealand’s highest mountain. Photo: Mark Watson

This summer I’m loading up the car, bikes on the back, and heading to Hawke’s Bay where I’ll be introducing my daughter to the 200-odd kilometres of cycle trail crisscrossing the region.

It’s something a bit different to the tramping trails we might normally be hitting, but as far as walking in the Hawke’s Bay goes, it’s fair say the region is not the North Island’s answer to Fiordland.

One of the benefits of swapping boots for bikes is that a trail which would be, perhaps, a little boring if you walked it, can be done in a fraction of the time on a bike, compressing distance and time to create a more thrilling experience. That’s my hope at any rate. For my daughter, at least, I know any time and distance on a bike is going to be simply amazing.

We know many Wilderness readers also like to ride mountain bikes, or want to, so turn to p42 for advice on choosing a bike, how to carry gear and the best cycle trails for beginners, like me, to try.

Also this month we show you some more traditional tramping fare: how to spend the perfect week in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park (p24). I have fond memories of this park – camping above the Hooker Glacier was the first outdoor experience in New Zealand I shared with my foreign-born wife. She doesn’t have a head for heights, so scrambling up the moraine on the true left of the glacier certainly left an impression. But it was the night sky that really sticks in our minds. The park has since been included in the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve and is likely to be the darkest place in New Zealand – far-removed from the light pollution found elsewhere in the country. As an (extremely) amateur astronomer, I was left speechless by the wonder of the stars above our tent.

Even if some of the trails aren’t to your liking, I can vouch for the spectacle on display high above the highest peaks in the land each night.

Merry Christmas, I hope your summer is filled with outdoor adventure – do drop me a line to tell me what you’ve done.

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