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The Wilderness 100: The 7 best trips in Waikato and Bay of Plenty

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May 2020 Issue

Looking for a new challenge this year (or for the remainder of your life)? How about ticking off the Wilderness 100?


Welcome to the inaugural Wilderness 100 – an annual list of the best trips in the country. For the website version of this feature story, we’ve broken the trips down into regions and linked to those trips we’ve got route notes and maps for. 

So, without further ado, here are the best trips in theWaikato and Bay of Plenty regions.

1. Wairere Falls, Kaimai Mamaku Conservation Park

A trip to the North Island’s tallest waterfall takes trampers up 153m to the lip of the falls. While any waterfall is an infinity pool if you’re brave enough, the tranquil pools of Wairere are safe enough to swim in while you enjoy phenomenal views over Hobbiton/Matamata and the Waikato. DOWNLOAD

View to the Windows Walk in Karangahake. Photo: Alistair Hall

2. Windows Walk, Kaimai Mamaku Conservation Park

Gold mining history, tunnels, bush and impressive river gorges make this a worthy day tramp from Karangahake.

3. Lake Waikaremoana Track, Te Urewera

The taonga kahurangi of Te Urewera, Lake Waikaremoana may be the North Island’s most spectacular lake. It’s best viewed from the vertigo-inducing Panekiri Bluff, but trampers will enjoy the goblin forests, waterfalls, and swimming opportunities. Now back with Tuhoe, its rightful kaitiaki, visitors are asked to respectfully immerse themselves in the culture of their welcoming hosts. DOWNLOAD

View from The Pinnacles. Photo: Matthew Cattin

4. The Pinnacles, Coromandel Forest Park

A popular overnight trip for those in the upper North Island, The Pinnacles offers bang for buck for any keen pair of boots. The pinnacles themselves provide extensive views over the Coromandel Peninsula and Waikato, and a fine vantage for sunsets. Trampers can chance a night in New Zealand’s largest capacity hut, or tackle a return trip in a day.

5. Pahautea Hut, Pirongia Forest Park

In Māoridom, Mt Pirongia was a home to patupaiarehe, the legendary fairy people, and any tramper who’s ventured to the misty, mossy, muddy slopes of the extinct volcano will understand its mystic appeal. On a clear day, views extend to Tongariro National Park and Mt Taranaki, and an overnight stay at picturesque Pahautea Hut – where sunrises and sunsets can be enjoyed – is the best way to enjoy the manga. DOWNLOAD

Waitawheta Hut - a great family tramping destination. Photo: Alistair Hall

6. Waitawheta Hut, Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park

Perhaps the North Island’s best family-friendly hut due to the ease of access along the Waitawheta Tramway which offers an easy gradient, bridged river crossings and a smattering of kauri logging history to boot. DOWNLOAD

7. Whirinaki Circuit, Whirinaki Forest Park

Blue ducks, babbling brooks and beautiful stands of podocarp-broadleaf forest characterise this mellow three-day tramp with accommodation at Mangamate and Central Whirinaki huts. DOWNLOAD