Coordinates 41.2728° S, 173.2995° E hold a curious sight. There is one-third of an arch; it rises strongly from the ground and tapers toward the top. Attached to that smaller end is what could be described as an over-sized pen (or, more correctly, a needle). That needle is pointing straight down to the ground, where an aged plaque signifies the significance of the spot. To New Zealanders, this location is known as point “zero, zero.”
Coordinates 41.2728° S, 173.2995° E are the Centre of New Zealand.
The Centre of New Zealand is on the summit of Botanical Hill. It is easy to get to: with merely 465 feet of vertical gain through a short walk. Stick to the Main Track and the walk is over in no time at all. But, why not slow down and linger at the top? Point zero, zero is surrounded by the historic city of Nelson, itself surrounded by enchanting mountain ranges and national parks—Abel Tasman comes to mind. Down at the trailhead, there is a large, unassuming field that will most likely be empty on any given day. But visualize back to year 1870: a sense of jubilation and excitement is in the air, as curious bystanders witness the first ever rugby game played in New Zealand.
Route: Kauri Track; Main Track; shared track
Distance: ~1 mile
Elevation: 465 ft gain
Location: Nelson, New Zealand
Date/Time: 2018-09-01 08:42
I arrived in Nelson as spring was beginning, and snow-capped mountaintops could still be seen far in the distance. Mostly local residents were on the tracks in the early morning. For lodging, I stayed within the city one night, and then camped the rest in Tahunanui. I was able to walk everywhere. The home I stayed at had a great view looking down to the CBD, and I could see that many homes were higher up.
The video seems as though I’m walking through a maze, but it’s not as confusing once you examine the track map at the location, which is easier to comprehend than the online one from the city.
There is a not-so-secret secret: Is this spot really the centre of New Zealand? It is, to many people. And it was to me; it was the reason for my journey. But, what about you…? Who am I to tell? Come with your own purpose and find out.