Mt. Ngongotaha, Rotorua, New Zealand
A nice 2 and a half hour hike up a small mountain. One half of the trail is a nature hike through the forest and the other half is a scenic walk down a paved road, which has lots of great views of the lake and the city of Rotorua. You can start at either end, though I prefer to do the nature walk first. With the nature side of the walk, you can choose to go straight to the top on the Jubilee Track, or around in a loop on the Nature Track. The Jubilee Track runs through the Nature Track so you could do half of the nature loop and then turn onto the Jubilee Track and go up to the top.
Tip: They aren’t joking about there being no view from the very top of the mountain. All you can see is trees and a radio tower. Don’t waste the extra 15 minutes of your time it takes to get up there.
How to get there
Driving: Take Clayton Rd. west toward the mountain, then either go up Mountain Road or Paradise Valley road (depending on which side of the walk you want to start on.) Mountain road dead-ends into the parking lot where you can start the hike up the scenic side (what you can see at the end of my video.) The Paradise Valley parking lot will be on your right not too long after you turn onto Paradise Valley Rd. (it isn’t very big, so keep any eye out for it.) This is where I started in the video.
Bus: Take Bus 7 toward Mitchell Downs and get off at the Pukehangi Rd stop just after the corner of Clayton and Pukehangi. Then walk back up Pukehangi towards Clayton and turn left onto Paradise Valley Rd. Keep walking until you see the parking lot & beginning of the trail.
Walking: It takes a little more than an hour to walk from the Rotorua city center to the Paradise Valley parking lot trail start. Starting at the Rotorua i-Site, take Arawa St. west toward Kuirau Park, turn right onto Ranolf St and follow it up until it turns into Lake Road. Turn left onto Lake Rd, heading west, until it turns into Clayton rd after you cross SH 5. Then just keep walking until you get to the Paradise Valley parking lot as described earlier.
To see what some of the hike looks like, watch my video above (or click here to watch it on youtube.)