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Hi. I will be moving with my wife and two boys (8 and 5 years) to the Auckland region for January to June 2010. We have done a fair bit of hiking in British Columbia, Canada. Can anyone tell me a good track in NZ to do with the family? Idealy I am looking for something with huts so we do not need to bring all our camping gear from Canada. It would also be prefered to find a hut we can hike into and use this as a base camp for other jaunts. What is the best time of year to go? Thanks!
There are plenty of places you can go to with huts. You will find NZ well endowed with huts compared to Canada.
From Auckland I would suggest the Pinnacles Hut on the Coromandel for starters. It is a well appointed facility with 80 bunks and not too hard to get to. You do need to pre book to stay there.
Then there is Mt Pirongia which has a hut near the summit. Much harder and the hut is more basic.
Travelling a little further south you might want to check the Great Walks. They are well covered on this site as well as the DOC web site. There are Great Walks in the Urewera and Tongariro National Parks.
Another area that has excellent tracks and good huts and is less crowded is the Whirinaki Forest Park, near Murupara in the Bay of Plenty.
You should be able to tramp in all those areas January to June as our winters are somewhat less severe than you might be used to in BC.
I can't expand on pmcke's advice about where to go.
If you're considering what to leave behind, note that you might still encounter the odd hut that's full of people by the time you arrive. Back-country huts aren't ever guaranteed accommodation, even if it's one of the major Great Walk huts that you've booked in advance (I think the Dept of Conservation even states this on its booking forms). There are also potential issues like not actually getting there, finding the hut burned down or full of smelly people or noisy snorers, and so on. You don't necessarily need a complete tent, but it's never a bad idea to at least have a backup plan or emergency shelter of some sort. (This isn't to say that everyone takes this advice, however.)
From one family to another, there is a lot out there. You would probably enjoy Lake Waikareiti. The hut (Sandy Bay Hut) can be booked through the website (and with booking you are guaranteed a bed), it's by a wonderfully shallow lake, the walk is a breeze. It's worth staying more than one day and taking a day walk into the Ureweras.
We have done this particular tramp twice on request of our children (7 and 10). If the way is too long, you can take the DoC row boats and row across. They need booking, too. If you row part of the way, you need to walk only about 3 km and row the remaining 6 km or so across to the hut.
Thanks for all the ideas! Lake Waikareiti sounds very nice. Great family spot.
Do you have any suggestions for a tramp where we can hike into a hut, then do day hikes out from there? I am particularly interested in some kid-accesible alpine hiking. It does not need to be near Auckland as we are interested in seeing different parts of New Zealand during our stay.
The nearest Alpine area to Auckland is Tongariro National Park, which is a volcanic landscape. There are several huts around the park that you could walk to and do trips from.
Otherwise the South Island is much more mountainous and there are plenty of places there that would fit the bill. It is just a bit more of an expedition to get to from Auckland.
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