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Urchin Peak, New Zealand @Wilderness Magazine

Where to go and getting there for walking buffs

WALKS AND HIKES IN TURANGI

Spoiled for choice with wild natural places on either side of the town, from Kaimanawa Forest Park with its iconic wild horses to Tongariro National Park a year round visitor destination. Then the ace in the hole is Lake Taupo. Turangi is an ideal place for walking holidays with walks at your doorstep or a few minutes cycle / mountain bike trip away. Here’s a list of walks for families and all fitness levels with even a short sharp mountain summit to think about climbing for the spectacular views.

 

1
Lake Rotopounamu

This is an active walk with deep blue lakes as a reward at the end of some steep sections on well maintained tracks. You can circumvent the lake checking out the lake beaches. Twenty minute loop walk has toilets and picnic tables for a day among the North Island robins, tui, wood pigeons and flitting fantails. The walk is signposted from state highway 47. Remember to check for speeding traffic before crossing the road.

  • Length various between 3km – 5km
  • Duration 1 hour – 2 hours
2
Tokaanu Thermal Walk

This is a perfect walk for family and friends with mobility issues, it is short, easy and wheelchair friendly. There are boiling mud pools, mysteriously mists arising from steaming water where submerged logs have turned coppery. The native bush is stunted with the geothermal heat and activity adding to the sense of mystery. The walk is directly behind the Tokaanu Geothermal Pools making for a great day out and about from Taupo.

  • Length 400m
  • Duration ½ hour
3
Tongariro River Trail

Join this walk at the various exits and entrances marked on the map supplied by the Tongariro Visitor Centre. Do not forget the obligatory photo of yourself walking or cycling across the swing bridges. The walk is popular with locals walking their dogs or exercising. You will pass homes, the river and views of the countryside. Within the major 15km loop trail are shorter walks including Waikari Reserve loop and Taupahi Reserve loop. The Tongariro National Trout Centre is also on route, which is a favourite for kids in the school holidays with its fishing for kids programme. The Trout Centre is home to the blue duck (whio) creche and freshwater aquarium along with numerous wild trout.

  • Length various
  • Duration 1 hour to 7 hours (walking)
4
Tongariro Crossing

Turangi is a favourite base for the internationally renown Tongariro Crossing as it’s 30 minutes drive from the Ketetahi Car park. There are a number of shuttle services to the Crossing who will pick trampers up at the end of the one way walk. To fully understand the requirements of what can be a strenuous day tramp visit the Tongariro Visitor Center before departing to ascertain the conditions and requirements. The video about the Crossing is memorizing and worth the trip alone.

5
Kiko Loop Walk

This is a lesser known short loop walk introducing fans of native forests to the sheer variety of the Kaimanawa Forest Park. The native vegetation is a podocarp forest of matai, miro and rimu. There are glimpses of Lake Taupo through sections of regenerating forest where timber milling once took place. Look for the banded red mistletoe to stop the exotic pest, possums from browsing, stripping the vegetation of bark.

  • Length 3.9km
  • Duration 1 – 2 hours.
  • Grade Easy

NOTE: Shared track with mountain bikes

6
Pukawa Bush Walk

A quiet walk without the crowds on this relatively unknown gem. Reaching the settlement of Pukawa the walk is well signposted. The walk is part of the Department of Conservation Reserves in the area. The virgin podocarp forest and lake views with birdsong is on the southwestern shores of Lake Taupo. The walks have several sections, some of which cross private land, follow signposts and respect private property.

Getting there:

Pukawa village is a 15 minute drive west of Tūrangi, signposted to the right off SH41. Public parking and toilets are available on the waterfront reserve.

  • Length 1.2 or 1.4 km
  • Duration 30 minutes – 1 hours
  • Grade Easy walking track, dogs allowed on a leash
7
Oruatua Walk

This track winds through the Oruatua Reserve and Conservation Area, with options to walk a loop, either by using the beach or the road. A pleasant, easy walk where you can enjoy the native bush and wetland area. Getting there: Getting there: Turn off SH1 onto Heuheu Parade on the southern side of the river, then left into Kopua Street and follow the unpaved one way road to the grassy lakeside clearing where the track begins. This is a Department of Conservation managed walk.

  • Length 2km
  • Duration 30 – 50 minutes
8
Urchin Track Mt Urchin Summit

Kaimanawa Forest Park is where the serious tramping begins with a steep climb to Urchin Trig at 1392 metres. You will rise above the bush line to stunning views of Mt Ruapehu, Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe with the Kaimanawa mountain ranges adding glamour to the scenic views.

Getting there: Kaimanawa Road (approximately 15km from Turangi travelling south on state highway 1 and following the Department of Conservation signs for Urchin Track. It is a narrow gravel road. DOC describes the walk as beach forest, incredible views and a real alpine environment.

  • Length 6.6 km return via same track
  • Duration 3–4 hr

Unique journeys, personal adventures.

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Turangi walking trails for families and all fitness enthusiasts
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Turangi walking trails for families and all fitness enthusiasts

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