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Call it a day or keep trekking over miles of connecting trails among the city’s hills and down to the sea.
At the edge of Whangarei, a sleepy town in the often overlooked Northland, the Abbey Caves hold some of the best displays of amassed glowworms in New Zealand, though the secret is well kept.
Forty-five minutes west of Auckland, the Waitakere Ranges roll with untamed subtropical bush down to a rollicking Tasman Sea.
Hike downhill from the Lone Kauri Road car park amid towering manuka, cabbage, and fern trees big enough to camp in to a marshy inlet banked by black sand dunes.
Then head down the ridge from Red Crater to bask at the edge of the neon turquoise, geothermally heated waters of the Emerald Lakes before your final descent, another six miles through lava fields and tussocked meadows, to the Ketetahi trailhead where you’ll catch your bus back to the start.
The snowcapped dome of Mount Cook, New Zealand’s tallest peak at 12,316 feet, dominates the glaciated terrain rising above the path to Mueller Hut, a spare red trekker’s hut cantilevered into the side of a scree slope on a high alpine plateau.
Tread the path to 643-foot Mount Victoria’s summit for the best view atop Wellington where you can watch boats sailing in the harbor.
Walk through ancient-looking fields studded with stands of web-pocked monoliths, climb the stepping stool over a gnarled fence, and slither into the slippery throat of Organ Cave, the first of the three caverns, where you’ll walk shin-deep along 200 yards of a subterranean stream to a vast canvas of glowworms.
Then head to the poorly marked Middle Cave to find fluted limestone stalactites and constellations of glowworms streaked across the ceiling like a green Milky Way.
The three-mile hike from the valley floor is steep and switchbacked, so you’ll have no problem stopping to take in the immaculate view to the valley’s braided river system or the bright blue glacial pools catching meltwater at the mountain’s foot.
Once you pass the tussocky Sealy Tarns, you’ll scramble up a huge field of loose talus to the plateau ridge at 6,000 feet.
But even Wellington, the Kiwi’s capital city of 450,000, is buffered by a swath of semi-wild green hills, dubbed the Town Belt, that was set aside for aesthetics and recreation in 1840.