Want a summit with grand views for your next overnight tramp? Here are 12 suggestions to whet your peak-bagging appetite, all of which are accessible from a nearby hut.
1. The Pinnacles, Coromandel Forest Park
Nearest hut: Pinnacles Hut, 80 bunks
From the country’s largest hut comes one of the best scrambles: an ascent that begins gradually, but steepens to include ladders until you reach the narrow ridgeline of The Pinnacles (773m). Here, views expand from the offshore islands in the east, across the broad crest of the Coromandel Range and into the rugged headwaters of the Kauaeranga Valley – a landscape of old, weather-whittled volcanoes.
Allow 2.5-3hr to reach Pinnacles Hut, and a further 1.5hr return to the Pinnacles. Book your trip well ahead, Pinnacles Hut is popular.
2. Hikurangi, Raukumara Forest Park
Nearest hut: Hikurangi Hut, 10 bunks
As the highest non-volcanic peak in the North Island, reaching the crest of Hikurangi (1752m) should be part of every tramper’s career. The sacred maunga of Ngāti Porou, and famously the first summit of mainland Aotearoa to see the rising sun, the peak is accessible from nearby Hikurangi Hut, reached on a steep 4-5hr farm track. Book the hut through Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou, who also offer tours.
From the hut, a steep poled trail leads through forest and along the maunga’s western flanks, until a steep rocky gut climbs to the summit ridge. The last section requires the ability to keep footing on rough, loose and exposed ground. Allow 3.5-4hr return from the hut.
3. Kaweka J, Kaweka Forest Park
Nearest hut: Dominie Biv, two bunks
In stark contrast to the craggy terrain of Hikurangi is the broad-topped summit of Kaweka J (1724m), the highest peak of Kaweka Forest Park and Hawke’s Bay. It does involve some good old-fashioned grunt, with a steep 3hr, 700m climb from Makahu Saddle Hut (four bunks). Alternatively, break the climb with a stay at Dominie Biv, which is well-positioned to catch the sunrise.
The summit of Kaweka J has a large cairn, built as a memorial to tramping club soldiers who lost their lives in the Second World War. Views extend across the Kaweka and Kaimanawa Ranges as far as the volcanoes of Tongariro.
4. Mt Holdsworth, Tararua Forest Park
Nearest hut: Powell Hut, 32 bunks
Peak baggers have been trekking up Mt Holdsworth (1470m) for more than 150 years, although no one has beaten the record of Masterton tramper Eric MacIntosh who summited 839 times.
Mt Holdsworth is most often reached from Powell Hut. Built in 2019, this is the fourth version of the hut and must be booked.
Powell is reached in a 3-4hr tramp from Holdsworth Road end, with the Mt Holdsworth trig beacon lying a further 40-60min on, following a well-defined and poled route. It offers extensive views of the Tararua Range and Waiohine Valley
5. Mt Arthur, Kahurangi National Park
Nearest hut: Mt Arthur Hut, eight bunks
The marble summit of Wharepapa/Mt Arthur (1795m) is a landmark visible from many parts of Nelson and Tasman, and a worthy destination for trampers. As the road up the Graham Valley to the Flora car park reaches almost 1000m, you’re more than halfway there already.
Stroll through rattling mountain neinei along the delightful path to Mt Arthur Hut (1-1.5hr), then set out for the summit. A poled route leads up a broad ridge that becomes increasingly barren and interesting, with limestone dominating, before one steep pinch before the rounded summit. Allow 3-5hr return from the hut.
6. Tiraha, Ruahine Forest Park
Nearest hut: Howletts Hut, eight bunks
The eight-bunk Howletts Hut, named after pioneering Ruahine tramper William Howlett, has a unique design, with its charismatic orange gabled roof and blue walls. Built and maintained by the Heretaunga Tramping Club, it’s reached on a strenuous tramp up the Tukituki River and the punishing Daphne Spur (allow 6-8hr).
The summit of nearby Tiraha (1668m) was once mistakenly believed to be the highest summit in the Ruahine Range and William Howlett organised the party that became the first Pākehā to climb it.
From Howletts Hut, a route leads through scrub and then along a flat ridge until the final push to the summit (allow 2-3hr return). This last section is uncomfortably steep, and some trampers may prefer to sidle around to the south.
7. Maniniaro/Angelus Peak, Nelson Lakes National Park
Nearest hut: Angelus Hut, 28 bunks
The popular Angelus Hut has an elevated position overlooking the large alpine Rotomaninitua/Lake Angelus. The 28-bunk hut (booking required over summer) is most commonly reached on the 5-6hr Robert Ridge Route, which should not be underestimated for its exposure to weather from all directions.
To climb Maniniaro (2075m), take the Mt Cedric Route then branch off towards Sunset Saddle. From here, it’s an exhilarating climb – involving rock scrambling skills – to the summit.
8. Mt Richmond, Mt Richmond Forest Park
Nearest hut: Mt Fell Hut, six bunks
Mt Fell Hut occupies a grand position overlooking Mt Fishtail and is most often reached on a 7-8hr tramp up the Timms Creek Track. From the hut, a poled route leads onto the ridge crest above, then along to a saddle beneath Mt Richmond (1760m). Here, the angle steepens to the summit.
Although the namesake of the forest park, it’s actually the area’s third-highest peak; eclipsed by two peaks in the Red Hills. Allow 2.5-3hr return from the hut.
9. Mt Bradley, Banks Peninsula
Nearest hut: Packhorse Hut, nine bunks
Packhorse Hut has for over a century been a favourite destination for budding trampers and families. Built in 1919 as part of Harry Ell’s Summit Walkway, the stone hut has withstood earthquakes and been nicely upgraded by DOC (book well ahead of your tramp).
Year-round access to the hut is on the Kaituna Valley Track (2hr), or from Gebbies Pass via Te Ara Pātaka (2hr) in any season except spring (when it’s closed for lambing).
The summit of Mt Bradley (855m) is a steep scramble behind the hut. The area will soon become part of New Zealand’s newest conservation park, Te Ahu Pātiki, thanks to the efforts of the Rod Donald Banks Peninsula Trust.
10. Kirwans Hill, West Coast
Nearest hut: Kirwans Hut, 12 bunks
Nicely positioned in a clearing overlooking a great swathe of the Southern Alps, Kirwans Hut can be reached on the beautifully benched Kirwans Track by foot or on a mountain bike.
From the hut, explore the ruins of nearby Kirwans Reward goldmine, and take a hike up Kirwans Hill (1297m) – accessible on a track through stunted forest onto the rolling tussock tops.
Allow 6hr to reach Kirwans Hut, and 2hr return to Kirwans Hill.
11. Mt Armstrong, Mt Aspiring National Park
Nearest hut: Brewster Hut, 12 bunks
After crossing the Haast River, it’s a stiff 900m, 3-4hr climb to Brewster Hut, which has a commanding view of this chunk of the Southern Alps.
Mt Armstrong (2174m) rises a further 700m above the hut and requires some exposed scrambling in places. An ice axe and crampons may be needed except in late summer.
The summit offers a superb vantage point of Mt Brewster and the Brewster Glacier.
12. Rocky Mountain, Rakiura National Park
Nearest hut: Freshwater Hut, 16 bunks
Rocky Mountain (549m) is one of several accessible summits reached off Rakiura’s infamous North West Circuit. Either tramp to Freshwater Hut on the Rakiura Track (allow two days) or catch a water taxi across Paterson Inlet.
From the hut, it’s a steady 2hr climb for the 530m ascent, which offers a panorama of the northern half of Stewart Island, including the Ruggedy Mountains and Whenua Hou/Codfish Island.