“Aotearoa” is the Māori word for New Zealand. The direct translation is “Land of the long, white cloud”. I’d imagine they must have also considered “Land of the tiny, brown birds” and “Land of the massive, green hills” before settling on that one.
With those hills in mind, we headed over to Te Aroha, to do some hiking. The kiwis call hiking “tramping” so I’ll try and do that from here on out.
Te Aroha is a nice town with a self proclaimed “Old-timey” feel. We discovered what this means in emphatic fashion when an air raid siren went off to signal that the fire fighters should head to the station. LOUD NOISES.
Te Aroha summit is 952 metres high but the mountain itself is very sheer. As we’re completely mad, we decided to climb 700 metres the day before to see Wairere Falls. This “tramp” was well worth the effort and this tramp took some photos.
The next day, we climbed Te Aroha. We amused ourselves in the early stages by trying to get pictures of a very camera-shy fantail that followed us. Beautiful birds but very elusive!
The peak of Te Aroha has a TV tower on it. If ignored, this is one the most beautiful places I’ve seen. You get a dramatic view of the Bay of Plenty from here, as well as a perfect panorama of the rest of the mountain range.
We ran down a good proportion of the mountain on the way home. Concentration is required but we made it unscathed. At the bottom of the mountain is a spa and a swimming pool with showers (people don’t tell you this but a good proportion of free camping life is spent working out where you can wash).
We had dinner at a bar called Austin’s and a cat fell asleep on Jane’s lap. Even the feline locals are friendly!
We stayed in the rugby ground car park then headed to Karangahake Gorge in the morning. It’s beautiful but we couldn’t really walk by this stage so we just did the 1 hour loop. We’ll visit again!