“It is not the mountain we overcome, but ourselves”

– Sir Edmund Hillary   (Hakarimata Summit)

The benefits of living in the plains of Hamilton is the flat, wide,  open, accessible spaces – perfect for scootering, biking, skateboarding, motorised scooter travel and other wheeled activities. It’s great for long distance marathon runners, or walking the small dog. If you want to head up a hill and get the legs and lungs going there are fewer options, which why at any time you’ll find a stream of cars heading out of Hamilton to the Hakarimata mountain range in Ngaruawahia.

Colloquially known as the “Thousand Step Hill” or the “Haks” the 4.5km track up to the top of the Hakarimata summit starts from the water treatment plant and heads up, way up. Peppered with inspirational quotes along the way this is a climb through beautiful native forest that tests the mettle.


According to the Department of Conservation the name “Thousand Step Hill” is a misnomer. There are in fact 1,349 steps. It starts to burn on about step 80, and I have been told by long term climbers of the mountain, that it never gets easier, you just get faster.

“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right”

– Henry Ford

Each person heading up is there for their own reason, some with family, some with friends, some on their own,  some with a partner. Whatever the reason, by the time they hit the Henry Ford quote, the reason is theirs and theirs alone as they battle the last the quarter, heart rate up, sweat levels high, head down.

Not for the faint hearted, over the summer we have helped a guy who tumbled on a wet step, a woman in jandals whose back gave way, a guy with an asthma inhaler struggling to head down, and our own twisted foot tackling the track on the wrong angle.

At the top, the sense of achievement is great and the view is spectacular. The Sir Ed quote which welcomes you resonates on those final wooden steps up to the viewing platform. Time to wonder at the beauty of the scenery from Huntly through to Pirongia, and beyond, before heading back down.

A fifteen minute drive out of Rototuna, allow somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half, take decent walking shoes and plenty of water. One of Hamilton’s “Must Do” activities – it’s hard, but it’s worth it.

It is not the mountain we overcome, but ourselves“.


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