Hiking In New Zealand...Where It's High Summer
A practical guide to tramping among the Kiwis
February 4, 2002
Million dollar sailboats competing for a shot at the America's Cup glide through Viaduct Harbor like high-tech phantoms, retuning from a day of racing on the breezy Hauraki Gulf. I have a front row seat from the terrace of my room at the Hotel Sebel, perched on the harbor side above the busy promenade of cafes, restaurants and bars that teems with visitors from far corners of the globe. The buzz around this international scene is major league, not unlike an Olympic Games, and one has the sense of being at the center of things despite being deep down under.
I'm finally back in cosmopolitan Auckland-the Big Smoke-after three weeks of hiking on both islands of this easy, friendly country. And even though the city has more than a million people, it reflects the laid-back Kiwi way. There's a lot to do here, so choosing a final afternoon's activity isn't easy.
But right now I'll head down to a table on the waterfront, order up a Speight's Ale, and finish up my notes before the long ride back home. Air New Zealand Flight 6 leaves for LA tomorrow, and reluctantly, I'll be on it. The time has gone quickly, but good journeys are like that.
I've put in backcountry miles in a lot of places but found New Zealand among the richest, yet easiest international adventures I've done. The experience is enhanced by the friendly Kiwis and a pervasive sense of light-hearted fun that has been sorely missing in North America the past few years. Here's how to get started.
Peter Potterfield, MountainZone.com Staff