Matariki: The best overnight hikes for stargazing

Aotearoa’s newest public holiday is fast approaching as the country celebrates Matariki.

It’s a great chance to get outdoors and enjoy the amazing beauty here in New Zealand, and fingers crossed, you’ll have a clear night too.

Here are some top locations for an overnight trip to celebrate Matariki while stargazing.

* Nelson Lakes National Park: An underrated gem of the South Island
* Get outdoors with the family: Five hikes to take the whānau on
* Never tramped before? It’s time to take a hike with these five tracks for first-timers

North Island

Pinnacles Hut, Coromandel

The tramp to Pinnacles Hut on the Kauaeranga Kauri Trail is one of Aotearoa’s most popular, particularly with young families and first-time trampers. Its location in the Coromandel means heavy rain and strong winds frequently make the track hazardous to attempt, so watch this safety video to help prepare.

Mt Heale Hut, Aotea/Great Barrier Island

The Mt Heale hut can be accessed via a handful of tracks in the Aotea Conservation Park, which leads you through a kauri forest, across boardwalks, and to the island’s summit and the hut. Known for its incredible sunrises, this hut is an amazing viewpoint for stargazing.

Sunrise Hut, Ruahine Forest Park, Hawkes Bay

The Sunrise Track is an easy two-three hour one-way walk (allow more time with children) to the Sunrise Hut. Implied in the name, this hut is a stargazing-sunrise enthusiast’s heaven.

Pouakai Circuit offers spectacular views of Taranaki Maunga.

Tom Harris

Pouakai Circuit offers spectacular views of Taranaki Maunga.

Pouakai Circuit, Taranaki

This two- to three-day tramp offers the best of the Taranaki region. The 25km track leads trampers through forest, alpine tussocks with spectacular views of Taranaki Maunga and the farmland below. Planning and preparation is especially important here as Taranaki Maunga is known for high winds, very fast-changing weather, total cloud cover and freezing conditions at any time of the year.

South Island

The track to Bushline Hut is great for kids and new trampers.

Jane Solly

The track to Bushline Hut is great for kids and new trampers.

Bushline Hut, Nelson Lakes National Park

With Bushline Hut perched on Mt Robert at the tree line, the track to it offers a good experience for families and beginner trampers.

Kiwi Hut, Lake Sumner Forest Park, Canterbury

Follow the Harper Pass, which was the main pathway to and from the West Coast for Māori when trading for pounamu (greenstone), to the cosy Kiwi Hut.

Woolshed Creek Hut is set in tussock country.

Rebekah Wilson

Woolshed Creek Hut is set in tussock country.

Woolshed Creek Hut, Mt Somers Area, Canterbury

Follow the miners’ track alongside the Woolshed Creek until the tracks climb up to the summit before descending to the hut. This track is great for first-time trampers or families. The hut is set in tussock country surrounded by small hills great for exploring for panoramic views. Watch this safety video to help prepare.

Green Lake Hut, Fiordland National Park

This southern Fiordland gem is located on the stunning Green Lake, and in an International Dark Sky Reserve means there are optimum stargazing opportunities.

Hooker Hut, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

The 90-minute walk to the recently restored Hooker Hut follows the Hooker Valley Track and crosses two incredible swing bridges with views of Aoraki/Mt Cook and Mueller Lake. Being near the country’s tallest mountain means the weather is very changeable, so check the latest details.

Hooker Hut has stunning views of Aoraki/Mt Cook.

Backyard Travel Family

Hooker Hut has stunning views of Aoraki/Mt Cook.

Staying safe: Aotearoa’s tracks can differ dramatically and require different levels of fitness, equipment and planning, so it pays to do some research first before you hit the track. During the colder months, checking the weather up until departure, having a Plan B, and packing the appropriate clothing and gear are as important as ever. For more helpful guidance and free resources for planning an outdoor adventure, head to NZ Mountain Safety Council.

Download the Plan My Walk app, and refer to the new New Zealand Land Safety Code.

This story was written in co-operation with the NZ Mountain Safety Council.

This story was produced as a part of an editorial partnership with Tourism New Zealand. Read more about our partnership content here.

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