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Stretch your legs: The best walks on the North Island

New Zealand is known as a destination par excellence for those who love to lace up their boots, chuck a bag on their back and head off into the wilderness hiking. The variety in length and difficulty means that no matter what your level or experience, you'll find a route that appeals to you.

If you're planning a hiking tour to New Zealand and are including some time on the North Island, here are three of the best walking tracks for you to choose from.

Coromandel Coastal Track

The upper section of the Coromandel Peninsula is one of the more remote and rugged areas in New Zealand, and the Coromandel Coastal Track is the best way to explore its isolated beauty. The route runs between Stony Bay and Fletchers Bay, both approximately two-and-a-half hours from Thames or two hours from Whitianga by car, and is a moderate difficulty walk 10 kilometres long. On average it will take seven hours return to complete.

Highlights of the hike include the imperious Mount Moehau, excellent views of the Coromandel Pinnacles,and various golden sand beaches along the way. Campsites are located at the start and end points for those hoping to extend their stay.

Tongariro Crossing

Lord of the Rings fans will already know Tongariro as the location of Mount Doom in the legendary movies. The famous Tongariro Crossing hike is a 19-kilometre long trek that takes you through stunning volcanic craters and around shimmering emerald lakes. In good weather this is one of the most spectacular places in the whole North Island.

The route starts a short 30-minute drive from the town of Turangi and you'll find plenty of guided hikes and tours located there.

Atene Skyline Track

Located 14 kilometres from Whanganui, along the Whanganui river, is the Atene Skyline Track. The bulk of this moderate track takes you around Puketapu hill, from where you can enjoy excellent views of the Whanganui River, Mount Ruapehu and Mount Taranaki. Although the track can easily be completed in a day, there is a campsite at the half-way point should you wish to take a more relaxed pace.

- Walking, Hiking & Biking

Written by: David Kettle

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