This year I managed to get an extended period of leave from work. As I needed to continue training for HPM and was missing fellow BogBeauty Ali Gover (who now resides in Blenheim), I decided to head to New Zealand! I had the time of my life fitting in loads of walking and running with sightseeing and adventures! New Zealand – I’ll be back.
Here is a run down of the running and walking I did on my trip. If you are after an active holiday and have a few weeks free – NZ really should be at the top of your list!
Run 1: Waiheke Island (nr Auckland)
To escape the city, the beautiful Waiheke island is just a short boatride from Auckland. There are lovely trails, beautiful beaches and plenty of wineries for a post run/swim wine tasting! I ran this on my first day in NZ, there is nothing like a bit of exercise to help you get over the jetlag.
Run 2: Rotorua Redwood Forest
Just 3km outside of Rotorua (famous for its sulfurous smell, hot springs and geysers) there is the beautiful Whakarewarewa Forest. This is really popular with mountain bikers, runners and walkers alike. There is a great selection of marked trails. I ran the purple ~15km circuit, from the shorter yellow circuit you can watch the Pōhutu geyser erupt!
Walk: Tongariro crossing
One of the most popular day walks in NZ. Absolutely stunning. It can get pretty crowded but still absolutely worth it. Mt Ngauruhoe (Mt Doom!) is one of the strangest mountains I have ever climbed; it is literally a huge sandcastle. Hard to ascent, super fun to descent!
Run 3: Taupo lakeside run
I was a week early for the Taupo parkrun starting, so I did my own 5km along the lake – plenty of other runners around. You could make this run as long or as short as you want!
Multiday walk: Kepler track – one of New Zealands great walks
Fast walkers can halve the Department of Convervation (DOC) suggested walking times. We had a lot of rain on our walk around the Kepler, but we still had some great views and I really enjoyed the atmosphere in the warm, well equipped huts. In December there is an ultra-marathon around the Kepler track, the Kepler Challenge, which is definitely on my to do list!
Run 4: Routeburn track (DOC page)
Another of the great walks and easily the most beautiful places I have ever been. The view is incredible everywhere you look. DO NOT MISS this if you go to NZ! At 30km this is doable in a day which means you can pick a good weather day (it is fairly rainy in this part of NZ). As the route is linear we paid Trackhopper to move our car from The Divide to the Glenorchy end of the track (~$200 + petrol). You could also link the Routeburn track with the Greenstone or Caples tracks to make a round walk. The huts need to be booked a little while in advance if you want to spend multiple days on the track(s).
Run 5: Mount Iron and Lake Wanaka – Wanaka
Wanaka was one of my favourite little towns, less busy than Queenstown but still lively and with beautiful scenery. Mount Iron overlooks the town, we ran a lovely loop over the hill and back along the river to the lake and town.
Walks – Aoraki Mount Cook
Unfortunately the weather was pretty bad for me whilst I was up at Mount Cook village. I did manage to do a couple of short walks to the Tasman glacier lake and along the Hooker Valley but check out the DOC page for other walks if you visit this area. If the weather is nice it is absolutely stunning!
Run 6: Christchurch city sightseeing
A really great way to get to know your way around and get the feel for a city quickly. I ran through the city centre, which is still being rebuilt after the 2011 earthquake, then explored the Botanical gardens and Hagley park before heading back to my hostel via the river path.
Runs 7 and 8: Onuku farm trails and Onuku – Akaroa Skywalk trail – Banks Peninsula
I spent three days at Onuku farm hostel – a really cool little hostel a few kms away from Akaroa. Most of the land on the Banks Peninsula is private farm land but there are a few trails in the farmland that you can walk for free if you stay there, the longer Skywalk track costs $20 to access. The sea views and post run swim opportunities are great! There is also the 35km Banks Peninsula Track, however currently they only allow walkers to do this over 2 or 4 days as the cost of the accommodation pays for the track access (maybe you will have more luck than me persuading them to let you run it!).
Walk: Avalanche Peak – Arthurs Pass
Another stunning walk which I luckily caught on the only sunny day in the week – the weather at Arthur’s pass is famously unpredictable. This route is not particularly long but is very steep! We were lucky enough to share the summit with some friendly Kea (watch your lunch/bags!) and my roommate Lea snapped this awesome shot of a Kea showing off it’s colours.
Run 9: St James cycle trail/Peter’s pass loop – Hanmer springs
A nice, relatively flat route. I had planned to continue along the cycle way a little further to reach some natural hot pools there but a storm rolled through so I aborted and returned along Peter’s pass – still a respectable 9mile loop.
Run 10: Picton Snout track
A reunion run with Ali! At the end of the snout it is possible to scramble down the rocks and take a mid-run swim. The top of the south island gets the hottest weather in NZ so it was great for a cool down. Make sure to check out the Dutch bakery in Picton for post run snacks!
Run 11: Nydia track
Another super hot day – luckily the majority of the Nydia track is shaded so it was manageable. Ali, Nina and I ran this track from south to north while the boys mountain biked from north to south and we swapped car keys in the middle. If you don’t have this flexibility a run to halfway and back would also be great. The swimming possibilities are much better at the north end – great for a cool down!
Run 12: Queen Charlotte track – Torea bay to Anakiwa
Another great track. You do have to pay for a track pass for sections of this one, it is ~$12 and can be bought at an i-Site, online or at the machine in the Anakiwa carpark. We got a water taxi (arranged at Blenheim i-Site) to Torea bay and ran back to the car in Anakiwa. The whole trail is 71km (DOC page) and would be an awesome multiday run/walk.