Posts in Outdoors
Discover why Otarawairere Bay at Ohope Beach is one of my favourite playgrounds!

In New Zealand, as the island nation that we are, we’re definitely spoilt for beautiful coastlines. Having recently moved back to Whakatane, I decided to check out some of my favourite ‘local tourist’ spots. Having recently moved back to Whakatane, I decided to check out one of my favourite ‘local tourist’ spots. Otarawairere Bay is a hidden gem just a 15-minute walk from its more famous cousin, Ohope Beach. The bay is easiest to access at the west end of Ohope Beach, and I recommend going at low tide so you can walk the entire length and explore the rocks.. Otarawairere Bay is a hidden gem and just a 15-minute walk from its more famous cousin,
Ohope Beach. The bay is easiest to access at the west end of Ohope Beach, and I recommend going at low tide so you can walk the length of the bay and explore the rocks.

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Coastal Kayaking Adventure With KG Kayaks

A moonlight kayaking tour with KG Kayaks was my introduction to ocean kayaking two years ago. Since then, I have been out on Ohiwa Harbour to check out the little islands - which make great picnic spots by the way! Most recently, I joined him on the Whale Island tour - where we encountered some decent swells due to the Winter months. There was even a curious seal pup swimming alongside us for part of the trip. This blog post covers an awesome morning exploring the beautiful coastline between West End in Ohope and Whakatane.

It’s only been a couple of weeks of New Zealand’s Spring and I officially have a tan line thanks to this adventure. Kenny McCracken, from KG Kayaks, was already unloading the kayaks at West End when I pulled into the car park. His good friend, Jim Robinson of Motu Trails, made up the trio on this morning trip. Both are experienced kayakers so I knew I was in safe hands, besides, we had picked a beautiful day to be out on the water (read ‘very little chance of me falling in’).

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The Onepu Wetlands

I have covered the Onepu MTB Park, Onepu Wetlands and the Karaponga Reserve in previous posts - and this one is just a morning explorer with my Mum. She had been in the Philippines for a couple of months, and now that the weather is warmer in New Zealand (just coming into Spring), it was nice to show her some of the places I had been to. It was also a chance for me to see the wetlands again as Bill Clark (and the Onepu Community Group) had been doing some work in there recently.

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Escape To The Beautiful Karaponga Reserve

Bill Clark and I go way back to my musical theatre days - he is indeed a man of many talents and passions. Today he is my guide to what he describes as the Onepu Project, a collective of activities and experiences in a village just 20 minutes from Whakatane. It’s a place us Eastern Bay locals should know about, or maybe we do and don’t use because of the perceived inconvenience of getting out there. Some people in cities sit in traffic longer every day, I feel pretty lucky to be living here.

I had stumbled upon the Karaponga Reserve when I bumped into a local walking her dog at the Onepu MTB Park. She saw that I was interested in photography and said that the waterfall and hydro-dam walks were a must, especially since they were just down the road. For dog lovers, the Karaponga Reserve is dog friendly. Bill’s dog Lucy took great joy leading us to the waterfall, and I could tell she had been here many times before.

After my morning walk at Karaponga, I’m excited to see this place as it develops over the coming years. Development doesn’t have to have the dirty connotation of commercial agendas - for I see Onepu’s activities enrich our appreciation of the natural beauty of the outdoors. This will require ongoing education and respect of this place. Public spaces - be it urban or rural, require the patience and passions of locals to maintain its beauty and culture.

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Road Trip: Winter Through The Desert Road

We left Whakatane around 8am - in the midst of a quiet morning fog and crisp Winter air, I grabbed a quick coffee at Z Petrol Station where I ran into an old friend. He was moving down south, where he had been studying for almost two years. The woman who made my coffee recognised me from the other day, and was nice enough to give me an extra stamp for a new coffee card. Small towns are great like that!

There’s something fascinating about our reaction to fog - it’s beautiful as long as it isn’t too thick that it becomes a real driving hazard. This was the case as I drove past Hell’s Gate in Tikitere, just outside of Rotorua. Geothermal tourism is big money in this area, and I would have loved to go in and take photos, so I settled for a roadside snap instead.

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Road Trip With The Canadian: Hitting The West Coast Of New Zealand

My friend Tamizan is a surfer, and this trip came about from a conversation about her wanting to surf some of the famous breaks in New Plymouth. I’m not into surfing, but I do like road trips and hiking. I’ve never been to the West Coast, and people have told me about some nice walks in the region. We were lucky with the weather, even though there was chill in the air (being Winter of course), the sun was out apart from the Monday we headed home.

The only other road trip I’ve done late was with my friend, Jemma, when we checked out the Coromandel on the first day of Spring last year. Torrential rain stalked us for most of that trip, which was the complete opposite of this one.

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Lake Okataina Scenic Reserve: Te Auheke and Ngahopua Tracks

Access Te Auheke track (also known as the Cascade Falls) starts by the Lake Okataina Outdoor Education Centre on Okataina Rd, which turns off from SH 30 in Ruato. The track starts behind the Outdoor Education Centre hut - walk along the left fence line until you see the wooden marker post. You can also access the shorter Rongomai track just a few metres away. I started the walk wearing my gloves, so it’s good to bring warm gear (just in case) even if the sun is shining.

The track itself is relatively flat, and wide throughout. The only time it narrowed was closer to the falls itself where I had to walk over some larger rocks. I thought about trying out my new hiking boots here, and there were some sections with overgrown roots and muddy patches, but as it was mostly flat terrain, my regular walking shoes did the job just fine.

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Nga Tapuwae o Toi - Kohi Point Track

My energy levels have been more down than up in the last couple of weeks, so I haven’t been able to get out to explore. Sundays are my ‘switch off’ day, or at least for a few hours, and because I haven’t been well, I thought I would check out a local favourite, Nga Tapuwae o Toi, or the Footsteps of Toi. I walked the Kohi Point walkway from Seaview Road, but didn’t walk down to Otarawairere Bay as my energy levels were getting a bit low. This will have to wait for another day.

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Okere Falls
Scenic Reserve:
Three Waterfalls
In One Day!

As I drove into the Okere Falls Park parking lot, I immediately felt a sense of deja vu. I couldn’t quite put my finger on that feeling until I was walking down Hinemoa’s Steps that I realised I came here a few years ago to do river sledging.

Okere Falls is a small town on SH 33 between Rotorua and Tauranga, along the Paengaroa Gorge. Google Maps told me that the SH 30 or SH 33 (from Rotorua) drive is about the same time, and being a beautiful day, I decided to take the more scenic lakes drive. If you’re coming from Rotorua, the turn off to Okere Falls is a left turn on Okere Falls Rd, just minutes down the road from the Okere Falls Store. It’s very well signposted, and I didn’t get lost once. That’s saying a lot!

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The Gravel Road That Leads To Tarawera Falls

I drive an early 2000 Toyota Avensis, which isn't the best kind of car to drive on a gravel road. There were potholes that made me wonder if I would have a front bumper by the end of it,  and that is definitely something to consider when you go to visit the falls.

Before you head out to the falls, make sure to get your forest road permit from the Kawerau i-Site. It’s $5 per car, and the guy gave me a week long pass (at no extra cost) in case I wanted to go back the following weekend. With the scorcher of a summer we’re having at the moment, it’s a beautiful place to cool off! There are instructions on the permit, and there are signs along the way.

 

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Dune Trail On The Motu Trails Cycleway

Richard and I go way back to mid-2000s, where he was already doing a lot of youth work in our community. Over the years, I would run into him through my graphic design work and teaching dance. He was already a cycling advocate back then, but it’s only recently that I finally took him up on getting me back on a bike. I haven’t been on a bike since 2007 - maybe somewhere in the back streets of Vietnam.

The dune trail of the Motu Trail Cycleway is in the township of Opotiki, about 40 minutes drive from Whakatane. Now, when he told me that we would be biking 9km, I thought he meant in total, not one way! He did give the option to turn around at various points, but I figured I wouldn’t be this way for awhile, so decided to make the most of it.

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