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The Hamilton & Waikato region’s main city of Hamilton provides an ideal base for exploring, with a variety of city walks as well as mountain tracks and wetland trails all accessible within a 45 minute drive. The city’s CBD river and lakeside paths are also part of Te Araroa (The Long Pathway), a continuous 3,000 km walking track the length of New Zealand.
Forty minutes south of Hamilton, Sanctuary Mountain (Maungatautari Ecological Reserve) provides extra interest for walkers due to the native flora and fauna being released and regenerated in the special predator-free environment. The reserve’s Southern Enclosure is perfect for one to two hour walks and the 16 metre high forest canopy viewing tower allows visitors to get up close with native birds such as kaka, hihi, kereru and tui. Recognised as an internationally significant restoration project, the 3,400 hectare reserve’s guided night tours also provide the rare chance to experience the magical atmosphere of a New Zealand forest at night.
Clear mountain streams and waterfall walks are never far away either, including Bridal Veil Falls near Raglan and the impressive 153m high Wairere Falls near Matamata. South Waikato’s Waihou Stream is the focus of another great short walk with its stunning crystal clear and bright blue water due to the purity of the spring water which has been underground for up to 100 years.
For those who like a little luxury after a trek, Mt Te Aroha is the perfect spot as there is the bonus of natural hot pools at its base to soothe aching muscles after exploring old gold mining pack tracks and tramways, crossing rivers and streams, and taking in 360 degree summit views over the Waikato Basin, Bay of Plenty and Hauraki Plains.
Meanwhile, at the Waikato River Trails, walkers and cyclists share the track passing through diverse terrain including riverbank-hugging boardwalks, swing bridges and historical landmarks. Suitable for all age groups and levels of fitness, this series of one hour to one day trails will eventually cover 100km and make for an iconic New Zealand experience.
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