Best of 2017 – New Zealand Tramping / hiking

I often think that for something I enjoy doing so much I don’t tramp / hike nearly enough, particularly during the second half of the year when the weather isn’t particularly appealing for doing it in New Zealand. There are plenty of day walks close to Auckland, but I’ve done most of them already, and the logistics and time to do most decent length walks elsewhere can be a challenge. I’d usually do a couple over Easter and Anzac Day but this year I was in Iran. However looking back on 2017 I think these represent a decent effort.

Pouakai Crossing return, February
Highly variable weather (pretty standard on Mt Taranaki) but it kept the crowds away and the crossing was atmospheric (I.e. wet and misty), before the weather cleared and gave me the most stunning views of the mountain as the sun set.

Mt Taranaki summit, February
After the crossing I tackled the summit, starting in perfect weather that turned into zero visibility by the time I reached the top.

Roys Peak, Wanaka, February
One of the best, and certainly the most popular, one day walks near Wanaka, Roys Peak is a technically easy, physically energetic walk straight up the side of the hillside to the summit.

Waiheke Te Ara Hura around Mataitai, February
Less well known that it should be, Te Ara Hura is 100km of joined up tracks around Waiheke Island, only 40 minutes by ferry from Auckland CBD.

Rob Roy Glacier, Matukituki Valley, and part of Cascade Saddle, March
I had planned a bit of an adventure over Cascade Saddle and down the Rees Valley but the weather had other plans, so I just did the first half. Perfect weather for this part though, enjoying the side trip to Rob Roy Glacier, beauty along the Matukituki Valley, and views from part way up Cascade Saddle.

Karekare, Auckland, March
A 24km circuit around a dozen connected tracks, along Auckland’s wild west coast. Good day walk less than an hour from home.

Sugarloaf / Rockburn Track, June
The first of three day walks over Queen’s Birthday long weekend, based in Kinloch at the top of Lake Wakatipu. Didn’t see anyone all day and was treated to good views from the saddle and of Lake Sylvan.

Routeburn Shelter to Conical Hill, June
Longest day walk of the year, 31km return from dawn to dusk (very short days down south at that time of year). Interesting to compare the experience with when I first walked it a few years ago, as my first multi-day hike, felt too easy now.

Invincible Gold Mine Track, June
A relatively short but sweet walk for views of Rees Valley and gold rush era remains.

Glenorchy Lagoon Walkway, June
The shortest and easiest walk here, but lovely autumn colours.

Palm Beach to Narrabeen, Sydney, June
A day walk exploring the coast and endless beaches of North Sydney.

Mt Somers, December 2016
My final tramp / hike of the year and one of the most enjoyable as I had near perfect (if rather hot) weather and almost complete solitude on the rather wonderful 29km Mt Somers Track. I included a side trip up the 1,687m summit, which involved ascending 1,200m over 4km in 2 & 1/2 hours which I was pretty pleased with, particularly when half of which was carrying a 15kg overnight pack.

These two were walked in 2016 but just before New Year, and after I’d written my Best of 2016 – Tramping / hiking – New Zealand post so thought I’d include them here.

Gillespie Pass Circuit and Lake Crucible, December 2016
A quite amazing two days, helped by a cheap helicopter backhaul out saving a day walking out. Felt more like a week than 48 hours, particularly day two heading over Gillespie Pass and taking a side trip to the incredible Lake Crucible.

Breast Hill and Timaru River Tracks, December 2016
For a last minute trip (had planned to still be on the Gillespie Pass Circuit), this turned out surprisingly well with Breast Hill home to one of my favourite huts and views, and the Timaru River offering tough but rewarding tramping.

I also did a bunch of shorter day walks overseas, mainly in Australia, between Perth and Broome, Tasmania, and Cairns, plus some in Iceland.

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