Visiting NZ via cruise ship - tramping advice
Our family of 4 were initially planning a tramping trip to NZ, then a one way cruise back to OZ. Long story but that fell through and we are now doing a 14 night cruise Sydney to Sydney in January 09. I have done a lot of tramping in NZ over the years (most of the great walks/Cascade Saddle/Young-Wilkin/Tarankai etc etc) and my preference (by far) is the alpine areas. I just want to give the rest of the family a sample of it. I'm looking for recommendations on what the best options might be for 1 day alpine type walks (or similar), taking into account we are visiting from a cruise ship and have at most 11 hours from the time of docking to the time of departure from the port. We'll be visiting Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Tauranga and Auckland. I would like to fit in the Tongariro Northern Circuit which I have done before, but it is just too far away from Tauranga to do in a single day. I was thinking about Avalanche Peak near Arthurs Pass, but again probably not enough time out of Christchurch. (Bealy Spur might be an option but I don't think that walk is going to give me what I'm looking for, i.e. apline area/scenic quality) and may not be enough time even to do it. I think the options are going to be pretty thin as most of the types of walks I'm looking for are towards the west coast of the south island or the centre of the north island and just not enough time to do in a day from a cruise ship port. But any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. I've looked at options like the Mt Herbert Walkway or the Crater Rim Walkway above Lyttleton near Christchurch. By the way, which of these two walks would provide the best scenery? I've looked at Rangitoto Island near Auckland, Mt Maunganui near Tauranga etc etc, and while these may be great day hikes, I don't think it's really what I'm looking for and I'm looking at them mainly because they are close to the ports.
This is a tough one. Unfortunately your cruise isn't landing near any really big mountains. Your best bet will be from Christchurch and a dash to Arthur's Pass. But you wouldn't want to be late and miss your boat. In Dunedin I would suggest the Pinapple Track http://tramper.co.nz/?2822 will be well within your time limits. It at least gets you out of the bush and a good chance to look around. From Tauranga maybe you could look into the Kaimais. They certainly arn't alpine, more bush country, but once again you get out on to tussock on one or two places. I would suggest a trip to Te Rereatukahia Hut http://www.tramper.co.nz/?2326 from Hot Springs Rd which is off the Tauranga- Katikati Highway. The Tuahu Track is a good track and takes you to the summit of the range and from there go north along the North South track to the hut. It is then possible to return by a different route that comes back via a Kauri Grove. It has been some time since I did this so don't have detailed info. There is a descrition on the DOC web site at http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/bay-of-plenty/tauranga-area/te-rereatukahia-loop-track/
I agree about Arthurs Pass being the most accessible alpine area from any of the ports you are visiting. Atomic Shuttles leaves Chch 7.15am and arrives Arthurs Pass 9.55am (on weekdays the Lyttleton red bus would get you into town in time for this, see www.metroinfo.org.nz for their routes and timetables). It leaves Arthurs Pass at 3.30pm returns Chch 5.40pm, which would give you 5+ hours in real mountains! Probably still not long enough for the Avalanche Peak loop, but you could walk up to a viewpoint, or consider something else like Otira Valley; there are lots of options for shorter walks around Arthurs Pass. Hope you have a great trip
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