Spring really is one of the most beautiful times of year to be out in nature. You can’t help but be blown away by the bright green colour palates of the forest, the new growth of the foliage, and the fresh Spring air.
Getting out in nature & exploring new places is good for us in so many ways, and it really doesn’t need to be difficult.
Here in the Waikato region, we’re so blessed with the amount of opportunities we have to get out in nature. A lot of hard work that has gone into creating some pretty impressive trails simply for us to enjoy, and we really are spoilt for choice!
Whether you’ve got 40 minutes after work, you’re looking for an adventure to tire the tamariki out, or you want to immerse the whanau in learning about our environment – there really are options to suit. Today we’re sharing three of our favorites that we’re enjoying visiting this Spring.
Te Awa River Ride
A flat, smooth, and scenic cycleway and walkway that’s perfect for walking, running, biking & walking the dog. With a total of 46kms of concrete path that runs all the way from Ngaruawahia to Lake Karapiro, the track is accessible, easy, and enjoyable for all.
There are a tonne of options to break the track up into sections. In particular we’ve been loving parking at the Avantidrome, and taking the trail into the Cambridge township. It’s a really sheltered trail, while the undulating track and rolling scenery keep things interesting. A return trip is 7.5km in distance so it’s perfect for an after work run, or a weekend adventure with the kids on their bikes.
Waikato River Trails
The Waikato River trails cover 105kms of intermediate and advanced terrain from just outside of Cambridge right through to Atiamuri. There are five different sections of the trails that have been designed so even the kids can tackle just parts at a time.
The first section begins at the Pokaiwhenua Bridge Carpark and ends at the Arapuni Swingbridge. This is by far our favourite section of the trail as the halfway point is the Little Waipa Reserve – an ideal camping spot. This section ends at the famous Rhubarb Cafe where we like to stop in for one of their hot chocolates.
The next section of the trail then begins at the Apapuni Swingbridge and goes right along to what is known as Jones Landing. You can then decide to ride along the road or skip ahead via car to the Mangarewa Bridge. You’ll then end this trail at the Waipapa Dam where the third section along Lake Waipapa begins!
The third section covers 19km and is considered an advanced trail. Towards the end of this section, you’ll be on the road for a few kilometers before arriving at Lake Maraetai. Once again this little spot is known to be a great camping location!
Heading on to the fourth section you’ll leave from Lake Maraetai travel across the Mangakino Bridge and arrive at Whakamaru Village. Our insider advice is that you stop at the Dam Cafe before starting the fifth and final section of the Waikato River Trails.
After you’ve refueled you will leave Whakamaru Dam and arrive at Atiamuri Village. Along the way, there are three different reserves you can stop at which might come in handy as the last section covers 26kms of intermediate terrain – it’s definitely a big day out!
Heading out to Mt Pirongia, you’ll spy a smaller mountain right next door – that’s Kakepuku.
With a wide and well graded track, this hilly hike is perfect to get the heart-rate up, to tire the kids out, and to be totally immersed in the native NZ bush.
The Kakepuku Track climbs through the bush to the summit of an old volcano. It is used by both walkers and mountain bikers (grade 2) where they get to both enjoy the sounds of Tui and Kereru. Alongside the track, you are surrounded by native fauna which leads you to a rewarding summit view!
The track is roughly 3.8km to the summit, which means it’s a 7.5km return trip. On a good day you’ll even spot Mt Ruapehu from the top!
There’s a tonne of history to explore on the well documented signage both along the track and at the lookout point. Various panels offer historical and geological information about the Mountain and the nearby areas so no you’ll walk away with a new appreciation for Kakepuku and it’s rich history.