Summer in New Zealand means quiet, sandy coastlines, buzzing city streets, tussock-covered mountain ranges and wild rivers cascading into waterfalls. And all you need to experience the grandeur this December is a good pair of walking shoes. Stretching from the tip of Cape Reinga on North Island to the signpost at Stirling Point on South Island, Te Araroa ("the long path" in Maori ) is a project designed to connect the entire country in a public circuit of paved footpaths, raised boardwalks and foot-worn trails. What started in 1995 as the effort of a group of private citizens is now the best way to experience everything New Zealand has to offer.
Celebrate the beginning of summer, for example, by watching the pohutukawa trees bloom along the North Shore Coastal Walk (route). Start the day-long stroll at Devonport Wharf, a short ferry ride from Auckland. Follow the route all along North Shore City's eastern shore to Long Bay. Or opt for a more rugged experience in the hinterlands of South Island (route). Begin at Lake Wanaka and spend three days hiking the Motatapu Track. After warm days trek- king steep ridges and negotiating mountain streams, bed down in 10-bunk communal hikers' huts stationed along the trail. Whichever New Zealand vista you're after this month, you can find it. The only limit to what you'll see is the distance your feet will carry you.
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