Turns out I consistently overestimate how fit I am/how easy it is to walk uphill and I made this mistake two days in a row! They were both still fantastic walks though.
The first was 232 metres up Mount Maunganui, which occupies a peninsula near Tauranga and, as such, has fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean and back over the city centre from the summit.
There are routes of varying difficulty, slopes and steps and the route we took up made its way around almost the entire mountain’s circumference.
I took it rather slowly (because I had to…) but it made it easier to enjoy the brilliant views, with the sea sparkling, planes coming into Tauranga Airport and forests across the bay to one side.
If you’re that way inclined, there were also some rather nice looking beaches at the bottom, though the tide was in when we were there late afternoon.
If you want the experience of climbing a mountain in New Zealand, with a rather unusual summit view and a relatively short climb (about 40 minutes) then Maunganui is a good choice.
The next day I wanted to stay closer to Hamilton so tried out the Waterworks Walk at Hakarimata Scenic Reserve just north west of the city. This track follows the route to an old dam; the reservoir used to provide the water supply for nearby Ngaruawahia.
The route to the dam was easy and took less than half an hour, with short pauses to stop and admire the rich forest and babbling water of the the Margarita Stream.
However we then daringly decided to try and continue the walk past the dam to the summit tower, 374 metres high. The track was almost continuous steps up and I really struggled, it was hard work. There were locals running both up and down the steps which showed us up!
Eventually we reached a sign that said ‘halfway to summit’ and that was when we gave up. I decided I couldn’t do all that over again… The walk was still enjoyable itself, and went through some rich green scenery. The summit tower would have given views towards the coast and of the Waikato Basin.