I’m really not the best person to tramp with. Most of my tramping friends are faster than me. I complain about my blisters and groan every time I see a flight of steps. I’m not super fit, I don’t have a sporty background, and I hate insect bites and extreme heat or cold.
Yet I guess I’ve discovered that tramping does have a few things going for it. Firstly, I’m a gorpcore goddess. Secondly, nature is alright. Have you guys seen mountains? Waterfalls? Yes, you can see them without sweating and panting for hours to get to them, but I reckon they’re better that way. Call it masochism or my dedication to the grind. I’ve also heard that it’s good for your body to get exercise and sunlight? Huge if true.
With a few multi-day tracks all over Aotearoa now under my belt—some marked expert-level by the Department of Conversation, mind you—I now consider myself very advanced and ready to unleash my sage advice to those inexperienced beginners out there. What’s the difference between walking and tramping, you ask? If a track is hard and/or long and marked by those classic yellow-and-green Department of Conservation signs, that’s tramping. Is ‘hiking’ a valid word to use instead? No. Without further ado, here are the best one-day and overnight tramps near Auckland that I’ve done (‘near’ = you can drive there in under half a day).
Did you see RPattz and Willem Dafoe in The Lighthouse and think, “Damn, I wish that was me”? Well, for the low, low price of $15 per night, you can live the dream and stay in the old Cape Brett Lighthouse keeper’s house at the end of the Cape Brett track.
I’ve done Cape Brett twice, each time as a day walk, so I haven’t had the pleasure of staying in the hut and reenacting that iconic movie, but I would highly recommend it either as an overnight or day tramp. The section just before you get to the lighthouse is quite exposed and at the hottest times of the year the water at the hut has been known to run dry, so be prepared and bring plenty of water. The views from that last section are absolutely incredible and possibly terrifying if you have a fear of heights.
I hit the jackpot and did this track as an overnighter when only three other people were staying at the normally extremely popular 80-person hut. I experienced both the sunset and sunrise from the Pinnacles, at great cost. I hope my tale of woe will save others from suffering the same fate. My tramping companion was so desperate to catch the sunset at 6.50pm that I was made to run (run!) up the steep incline from the hut to the Pinnacles platform to get there in time. When we reached the platform, the sun suspiciously still high in the sky, our legs like jelly, and eyes blinded by sweat, my companion cheerfully informed me that he’d gotten the times mixed up! We were early for sunset and 6.50am was actually tomorrow’s sunrise time. We are no longer friends. The attention I got on Instagram for my incredible golden hour pics made it almost worth it.
This is a long walk up what is basically one massive staircase to a stunning view of the entrance of Whangārei harbour. At two to three hours in total, it’s nice and short. The walk is almost entirely shaded by the bush, so it didn’t feel too hot even when I did it on a warm summer’s day.
Another track in the Whangārei Heads area is my favourite coastal walk that I’ve done in the North Island so far, mainly thanks to the views from Bream Head Summit. There are a number of different day tracks that can be done in this area, at varying levels of difficulty. I’d love to go back to do the easier Peach Cove track and Smuggler’s Bay Loop Tracks.
I did this tramp in April in terrible weather. It was cold, cloudy, and windy with intermittent rain. Despite that, it is one of my favourite tramping memories. I probably climbed the Devil’s Staircase so much faster than I normally would’ve thanks to the howling wind and almost horizontal sleet—I just wanted to get outta there! The clouds parted for one brief minute for a perfect view of Emerald Lakes, Ngā Rotopounamu. I’m definitely going back for the guided winter experience sometime.
I’m kinda cheating putting this one on a list of tramps ‘near Auckland’, since it’s a four-hour drive to get to quite a long and hard day tramp. It’s a good idea to plan to stay a night or two in a nearby town to give yourself maximum time to complete it. That being said, my relatively slow arse did finish it in less than DoC’s estimated time. So.
I’m frothing to see where my tramping adventures will take me. Perhaps I will conquer the harsh, beautiful wilderness of the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk, or that famed, formidable Te Paki Coastal Track. If this pampered, sedentary queen can find bliss in walking and tramping, you can too.