I love the way Kiwis describe strenous hikes up-hill for two miles, and then straight down again. It's a "nice walk" the ranger said at Pureora Park headquarters. We drove about 3 miles further into the park to the trail head without seeing another car and were reasurred because there were a number of school vans and other vehicles parked there with "Hilltop School" on the side. Great, if kids can do it; it can't be too bad. Ha! I should have guessed from the name, it is probably a school for gifted and talented mountain climbers.
Sixth graders, about 50 of them and assorted chaperones met us on the way down (for them). They were very jolly and very polite. They all smiled, told us to have a good hike, and chatted with us about where we were from. Then, we climbed another hour to the summit. The signage indicated it was a 2 1/2 hour hike, return. Maybe for a sixth grader. It took us 3 1/2 hours, but, we made it and were rewarded with amazing views for hundreds of miles in every direction. The bush (which is really a fern and moss covered understory with huge trees and "Tarzan vines") is green and beautiful. We were entertained, again, with the Tui birds who make a series of calls and throaty "werks", some of which are so high pitched the human ear can't hear them.
Our weather was perfect for hiking - sunny and bright but cool breezes. Sorry, blogger is not allowing me to put up photos. I'll try again later.