Upper Hutt

Nestled between bush-clad hills and the Hutt River, it’s only natural that Upper Hutt boasts so many natural wonders

upper hutt city dusk

When you arrive, hop off the train and hop onto the Hutt River Trail. This 29-kilometre path follows the Hutt River from the Tararua Mountains to the sea, but there’s no pressure to see the whole thing - you can join it at any point. Take a gentle stroll to get acquainted with Upper Hutt’s signature scenery, work up an appetite with a jog or bike ride along the riverside path, take a kayak out on the water for the day, or dive right in for a swim. The river is also known for its trout fishing, so bring your rod too.

If you’ve got the sprogs in tow, Upper Hutt is an ideal place for them to burn off some energy. If it’s too chilly for a dip in the Hutt River, pack your swimsuit anyway. H2O Xtream is a knockout aquatic park, whether you’re happy perfecting your form in a lap pool or a trio of thrilling hydroslides is more your thing. Float serenely around the river ride, or try to conquer the wave pool. There’s plenty for kids here too, including a shallower extra-warm pool for the little ones.

And while you might pretend you’re only going to Staglands Wildlife Reserve for the kids, it’s okay to admit you’re more excited about it than they are. This charming park features friendly animals, from barnyard favourites to some of New Zealand’s native creatures. Many of its residents are free to roam, and most are happy to be fed and patted, like the fluffy merino rams or adorable kunekune piglets. Staglands is set in a glorious slice of Akatarawa Valley, complete with verdant bushland and ponds and rivers.

Hutt River Trail people cycling along river credit Jay French
Staglands Dad and kids feeding doves
h2oxtream wave pool

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