thelocaltourist

Coastal Kayaking Adventure With
KG Kayaks

Coastal Kayaking Adventure With <br>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’).



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

Walking The Pakihi Track (Pakihi Rd <br>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.



Road Trip:
Winter Through
The Desert Road

Road Trip: <br>Winter Through <br>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.



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

Road Trip With The Canadian: Hitting The West Coast Of <br>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.



Motiti Island: Walking In The Footsteps Of A Local

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.



Tongariro Alpine Crossing: The Hobby Hiker's Goliath

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!



Nga Tapuwae o Toi - Kohi Point Track

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.



The Gravel Road That Leads To Tarawera Falls

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.