Posts in Walking
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.

Read More
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.

Read More
Te Papa Exhibition Gallipoli: The Scale Of Our War

We had studied World War I in school. There was a lot of focus on Gallipoli - teaching us about the brutal ANZAC campaigns and how it (and subsequently World War II) had robbed many towns and cities of a generation of men. No community escaped the melancholy of war - and even those who survived the bullets and shrapnel, their minds did not. For myself, born in a generation that has never experience a world war (or lived in a war torn country), I hope that we are not naive enough to think it won’t happen again. Exhibitions like Gallipoli are necessary to remind us that war is futile - the great loss of life is no victory for either side.

Read More
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.

Read More
Walking The Pakihi Track (Pakihi Rd
To Hut & Return)

I have been planning on walking the Pakihi Track since I came across a photo of the suspension bridge earlier this year. Unfortunately at this time, there is a massive slip that has taken out a part of the track about 300m upstream of the Pakihi Hut, so I couldn’t start my hike from Motu Rd. Instead I walked from Pakihi Rd to the hut and back on the same day. It was still an 18km hike, and was glad to finally make use of the hiking poles I bought as fatigue began to set in on my legs on the way back.

The Pakihi Track is a 20.7km dual use track for walkers/runners as well being a Grade 4 MTB track. Riders can only ride downhill, starting at Motu Rd. Walkers and runners can go both ways. I hope to see the other half of the track once the slip has been repaired - you can keep an eye on the Department of Conservation website for track updates, or head to the Motu Trails Cycleway on Facebook. For shuttle drop off and pick up, make sure to contact Motu Cycle Trails.

Read More
Motiti Island: Walking In The Footsteps Of A Local

Myths, legends and folklore - there are plenty on Motiti Island. A rugged paradise that’s just a 15 minute flight from Mount Maunganui, yet it’s a world away, and a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the mainland. Here, time is as slow as the 4WD truck that is driving us to the other side of the island, and so far the only real hazards are the deepening dirt roads, gates and wandering cows feasting on the wild fennel.

The private island is home to around 20 permanent residents, mainly retirees who have come home to honour their roots. They are Ngati Awa, and their hapū, Te Patuwai, have such a deep, long-held connection to the land that it’s hard to picture this place being any other way. This is an old place, and that day I walked in the footsteps of locals, history and time.

Read More
Tongariro Alpine Crossing: The Hobby Hiker's Goliath

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is in the Tongariro National Park and about 3.5 hours drive from Whakatane. We had a house in Turangi for the weekend, which was a bonus, especially as we got home late on Saturday night after the walk. Our day started early (I was up by 5am) - we managed to leave the house just after 6am and made our way to the Ketetahi End car park.

We had booked a one way shuttle with Tongariro Crossing Shuttles, which cost $30 each. You can book a two way shuttle pick up, but we wanted the flexibility of taking our time, and in hindsight, was the best option for us (you’ll read about it later!). There is very limited parking at the Ketetahi End car park, so many sure to arrive 30 minutes before your shuttle is due.

There were four of us on this adventure: Myself, my friend Jem and another hiking buddy, as well Jem’s son, Joe, who was my road trip buddy from Whakatane. I have to mention that Joe’s only 12 years old and was the only one in our group who didn’t wake up with aching legs the next day!

Read More
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.

Read More
The Whirinaki Falls Loop Track

The Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tāne Conservation Park is a place of immense, natural beauty and I invite you to see it for yourself as you walk amongst the giants of the forest. Located near the village of Minginui, it’s about an hour and half from Whakatane, where I live.  

I have wanted to do this walk all Summer, and with Autumn’s shorter days, I didn’t want to leave it too much longer. It took me almost two hours drive just to get to the River Road car park, mainly because I didn’t want to risk a flat tyre in the pot holes on the gravel road. I’ve learned to add at least another 30 minutes to my driving time vs Google’s estimate, especially if there’s a gravel road along the way. If you’re experienced in back country road driving, this probably won’t affect you, but if you’re mainly an urban driver like me, you will want to keep this in mind. River Road is a single lane gravel road, so make sure to take extra care.

Read More
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.

Read More
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!

Read More
The Onepu Wetlands Boardwalk and Lake

I have to tell you something, the Onepu Wetlands Boardwalk isn’t an Insta-ready location...yet. In fact, a lot of the track is currently overgrown. The trees and plants are still a fews years away from being fully grown so that we can truly appreciate the beauty of this area. If you’re a mountain bike rider, you should also check out the Onepu Community Mountain Bike Park which is in the same area. Many of the tracks are multi-use, including horses and walkers/runners.

Read More
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.

 

Read More