The island is full of diverse, well marked and walking tracks. The best thing is, being an island means that every track walk and lookout has a different perspective. From views across the Coromandel Peninsula and Cuvier Island to views stretching back to the Sky Tower in Auckland on a clear day.
This itinerary picks out a handful of the best short walks from the South up to the North of the island.
Day 1: Island Bay. Cape Barrier. 2 hours return
Head down to Cape Barrier road, the left turn well sign posted before you head over the bridge in Shoal Bay to Tryphena Wharf. Half way up Cape Barrier Road you’ll find a bus stop and the Island Bay walkway clearly marked. The track takes you along the ridge line with panoramic views of the Coromandel peninsula to lead you down to Island Bay. You’ll find Motu Tohora – the tail of the Southern Right Whale (or known by many as Rabbit Island).
Day 2: Kowhai Valley Track. 1-2 hours return
Accessible from Station rock or the top of Rosalie Bay road, the Kowhai Valley track links Medland’s to Tryphena. The track winds down hill most of the way to the Southern end of Medlands. The track pops out the other side of the creek on Primrose Road. There are some magnificent and interesting bachs on the far side of the creek at this end of Medlands (Oruawharo bay).
Pick up/drop off: If heading in at Station Rock, at the end of the walk you can easily hitch hike back up Medlands road to your vehicle. Alternatively, book a shuttle to the start or to pick you up at the end.
Day 3: Te Ahumata – 2 hours return
To get the blood pumping after the Kowhai track, head over to Blind Bay road to start the climb up to Te Ahumata. This range is also commonly known as the White cliffs and is clearly visible on a flight into the island. On Blind Bay road, the start of the track is clearly marked and on the left hand side of the road sits a magnificent kauri tree. The track follows the old mining road linking Whangaparapara to Blind Bay and it home to several interesting species of flora. You can head straight over or take a 30 minute detour to reach the summit (398m) – worth it for the panoramic views across the island.
Pick up/drop off: Turn this into a return walk, book a shuttle or have a go at hitching back to the start of the track
Day 4: Hirakimata Summit via Palmers Track (4-5 hours return)
Thats right – you can reach the highest peak on the island and get back down in half a day! Palmers track sits to the North East of the Island and takes you up to the summit of Hirakimata. You’ll pass through Windy Canyon, through the bush and then out onto the ridge line, with phenomenal views up and down the island. A large section of this track in on wooden walkways and many steps to the summit. This is to protect the ground nesting birds and to prevent kauri dieback.
Alternatively, you can turn this into an overnight trip or a full day hike back down through the Peach tree track to the Kaitoke Hotsprings for a perfect post walk soak.
Pick up/drop off: There is plenty of parking at the start of Palmers track. Or alternatively book a shuttle to the start of this track and leave the car at the finish if taking on the full day or overnight hike.
Day 5: Harataonga Coastal Walkway. 4-5 hour return
This may seem like a long walk after climbing the summit, but the good news is this track traces the coast line and there are very few steep climbs, providing a welcome rest for your legs. Accessed from either Harataonga or Okiwi, this track links up these two stunning locations, passing hidden secluded coves and views to Rakitu island.
If others in your group don’t quite fancy the hike, get them to drop the you at one end and collect you at the other. They can either spend a few hours on Harataonga beach, a beautiful location for swimming and snorkelling, or head out on an adventure up North to Whangapoua or one of the short walks around FitzRoy.
Day 6: Warrens Track & Glenfern Guided loop track
Port FitzRoy has some of the most stunning short walks on the entire island and is the gateway to the Aotea Conservation Park.
Head into Warrens tracks (1 hour) takes you through a kauri plantation and to a waterfall with several deep pools ideal for swimming.
Glenfern sanctuary is a must visit on any trip to Aotea. They are working hard to manage pests over the entire Kotuku peninsula. With a small visitor centre, guided walks to awesome look outs, a swing bridge to a kauri tree and some very friendly kaka, its worth dropping in.