20-22 December: Continuing our exploration of the Bay of Plenty

Author: Mrs A

Location: Bay of Plenty, New Zealand North Island

Thursday morning reminded us why New Zealand is so lush and green, with the heavens opening as we awoke. Fortunately we were prepared for inclement weather and had planned a day that didn’t require sunshine. It began with a pedicure for me, while Mr A did a little shopping, and then we headed to Mount Manganui.

Driving around this area is a slow process, with one main road heading down the coast and an ever increasing population as people move out of Auckland to the coast. We’re getting used to Google Maps telling us there is a ‘6-15 minute delay’ on every route we take!

We enjoyed lunch in Mount Manganui, one of the more civilised areas nearby, with a choice of shops and eateries. It’s one of the ports cruise ships call into when travelling down the coast. It’s such a shame more has not been made of the waterways in terms of public transport – we’d love to just jump on a passenger ferry across from Omokoroa to here, but no, the only access is via road.

The rain disappeared once we returned back to dad’s and we headed back down to the bay for a walk. Sorry if we are repeating ourselves photographically but the scenery is so lovely!

Late afternoon sunshine – this is around 5pm
Sacred kingfisher not hanging around for a photo
Ring-necked doves like hunting for snacks on the white sand
Walking across the golf course wetlands
Walking across the golf course wetlands

We finished off the day with a dinner of delicious New Zealand green-lipped mussels, always a favourite when we visit these parts, and well worth the effort of cleaning and scraping.

Mr A on debearding and cleaning duties

Friday was another showery day, but Mr A and I were determined to head off into the Kaimai-Mamaku Forest Park for a decent walk.

We had only walked 50 metres and we found the sign we didn’t want to see ‘Track Closed’!

Oh no! Track closed!

Fortunately we knew this particular walk was a circuit, so we thought we would attempt a return hike from the other end – into the Waitawheta Valley and up to Waitawheta Gorge.

We started off through picturesque farmland
Expecting Gandalf to appear around the corner at any moment!

The path wound its way through farmland, bordered by a beautiful babbling river which we followed the whole way. We climbed over styles and through gates, the experience feeling very English!

A waterfall plunges out of the side of the gorge, crossing our path

As we entered the forest park the scenery changed, with lush tree ferns, red and silver beech, kamahi and kauri trees.

Mr A admires the views from alongside the Waitawheta River
Mrs A heads off along the track
The rain draws in, increasing the water flow and the overall atmosphere in the gorge.

The Waitawheta River was ever our companion, tumbling over rocks and carving its way through the gorge. We followed the route via which early settlers transported the Kauri tree wood, chopping down magnificent giant trees, often over 2000 years old, and shipping them around the world for building.

We crossed the river several times via swing bridges, evidence of the logging history visible in the rusty rail tracks and old struts from former bridges. A replica of a bogie, a rolling contraption which ran on tracks to carry tree trunks, helped demonstrate the area’s historic past.

Beautiful colours in the ferns alongside the track, glistening in the rain
Path or stream?
One of the most visually rewarding walks we have done

At 10km but predominantly flat walking, this was not a challenging hike, but it was definitely picturesque, and the wet weather only added to the atmospheric ambience. Highly recommended if you’re in this area.

Saturday: Three days before Christmas, we were determined to not head out in the car today, assuming the roads would be even busier than usual. Instead we took off on the short 5km circuit walk from the bottom of dad and Sue’s garden.

Mr A strolling around the headland…can you spot the photobombing Tui?

It’s just ridiculously pretty, this friendly local community all pooling together to take care of the pathways, raising money for new steps down to the water after storms destroyed old ones, and one lady telling us we were sat on a bench her husband had constructed ‘just to hide an eyesore there’! No eyesores on our walk…just gorgeous views.

Views upon views…
Parkland or walk?
How many blues can we see?.
And hardly a soul on the whole walk…just serenity…

We had lunch at a waterside cafe mid way around, before returning to dad’s for a relaxing afternoon. What a little slice of paradise this is!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *