Tableland Circuit

The Tableland Circuit is a must do experience in Kahurangi National Park. The circuit creates a loop beginning from Graham Valley Road that takes you past a handful of Department of Conservation rock shelters and some brilliant huts 🙂

The Kahurangi National Park is New Zealands second largest covering over 4500 square km’s and has some of the most diverse flora and fauna of our parks. You’ll see our native snails, whio, weka, robins, kea and more!!

The circuit takes 1-3 days and is a great circuit for those just starting out tramping, or for when you feel like an easy-ish weekend in our backcountry. You can get the kids into the Flora Valley easy, and further dependant on ability. You can even cycle in this area through to the lower junction and continue off the circuit from there to the cobb dam area. It’s an easy cycle to lower junction but is a more difficult grade from there.

There’s also a tonne of history in the area, with the Bishops pool, old water races, and more!

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Mt John

Mt John is probably one my most favourite small hills in the whole country!! It packs a scenery punch well above its 300 or so metres above lake level.

There is a 45 minute walking track that will get you to the top that starts beside the hot pools complex in Lake Tekapo village. You can also reach the top by car if this suits you better. The summit boasts a fantastic wee café which I would say rates as one of the best coffee spots in NZ!!

The summit is also home to Mt John Observatory. The surrounding area is a night sky reserve and has some of the darkest night skys in the world. A cloudless night here is one of the most amazing stargazing experiences you will have in your lifetime!

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Omarama Hot Tubs

Omarama Hot Tubs are a MAJOR treasure of mine. Anytime I’m anywhere near Omarama I always come here! Omarama is located between Lake Tekapo and Wanaka in Central Otago.

The hot tubs are wood fired and you can control the water temperature by stoking it up with more air, or by letting in some cold water. Overflowing water drains to the nearby pond. You can get a wellness pod (which I always do) which includes a sauna room too!! The views from the hot tub are serene, and if you go for a night soak – the stargazing in the area is second to none!

This fab wee spot also happens to be located along the Alps to Ocean Cycleway, total heaven for weary cyclists if ever I saw one! It’s not too far from the Te Araroa trail either and is one of the side trips I totally recommend from the country-length hike.

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Lake Rotoiti

Lake Rotoiti is an absolute stunner location! With its lakeside village of St Arnaud it is the gateway to Nelson Lakes National Park. Not to be confused with Lake Rotoiti of the North Island nearby Rotorua of course.

There’s a lot of conservation effort in the area which you can take in on the short walks (or longer if you wish). The lake is also home to massive eels that are up to a hundred years old!!

There are some brilliant baches you can hire at the lake and two brilliant DOC camps to choose from (one even has hot showers!!). The Alpine Lodge opposite the general store also has a range of accommodation from backpackers to spa bath units. It has a restaurant on site that does great food too!

There is an abundance of walks in the area and plenty of fishing opportunities for the anglers 🙂 There is also a heap of cool mountain biking tracks in the area well worth checking out!

For the winter period, it is located a short drive from Rainbow ski field for a blat on the skis before a great meal and a refreshing drink just to make it all perfect!! 🙂

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Jackson Bay

Anyone who knows will tell you there’s no place in New Zealand quite like the west coast of the South Island, and it doesn’t get anymore west coast than Jackson Bay. In fact – its the end of the road.

There’s not a lot out here but a small fishing operation, The Craypot (brilliant fish n chips!), and the wharf itself. It’s a beautiful location and well worth the hour or so drive from Haast.

After long sweeping sandy ocean beachs along the west coast travelling south, this is the point where the shore becomes rocky as it merges into the beautiful fiords further south.

Europeans attempted to settle at Okahu near Jackson bay back in the 1870’s and it was originally named ‘Open Bay’ by Captain Cook.

It’s a must visit for a spot of fishing, or take one of the short walks from Jackson Bay to Smoothwater Bay & Ocean Beach. And before you take off – try the fish n chips!!! Yum!!


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Raetea Forest

The Raetea Forest is located North of Auckland nearby a very small settlement known as Mangamuka. Theres not much at Mangamuka, just a small store, and a cool wee local radio station.

The Raetea Forest is a beautiful Northland forest where our most magnificent trees grow – the giant Kauri trees. The forest is a brilliant place to go to hunt, hike, and camp. Our most extensive hike passes right through this area – the Te Araroa Trail – which pans the length of the country from Cape Reinga to Bluff!

If you are taking the hike through here just be sure to take plenty of drinking water as there is none once you enter. Also, it can get muddy in here (as any spring Te Araroa tramper will attest to), so be prepared for slow going hiking at times.



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Horeke Tavern

Somewhat off the beaten track in Northland, the Horeke Tavern sits in a beautiful waterfront spot on the Hokianga Harbour. It was the first hotel ever built in NZ and has a ton of history! Horeke itself happens to be the site of NZ’s first commercial ship building yard back in 1826, and there is a lot of kauri logging history in the area. There is also a lot of Maori history and the people here are very passionate and friendly. The hotel has heaps of photos about of its history on the walls.

It doesn’t have a lot of accommodation but its rooms are really nice old style hotel rooms with a heap of character. Being a hotel and all with the bar downstairs you can get food and drink anytime. The food is really nice too!

There is so much to do in the Hokianga Harbour and the hotel sits right on the Northern Coast to Coast Cycle track, making it a perfect stop even just for a meal and a beer.


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