Day Trips for the Uninspired: Waitarere Beach & Levin Adventure Park, Levin, Horowhenua District, Manawatu Region

Gina & I decided to head down to Levin and visit the home of the Hydrabad Shipwreck at Waitarere Beach, in the winter of 2014.

It was fine but cold and windy, scarf and woolly hat weather.  It took us about an hour to get to Levin, we stopped and had a wander around the shops and then we came across the Adventure Park in Oxford Street.  It is a well laid out and maintained park, with many facilities, it even has a dog exercise area. It is also Wheelchair friendly. Its a great place to stop and take a break.

Both, Gina and I were dying for a coffee and low and behold, there was Woodley’s Coffee Break, parked in the car park.  I must say Woodley’s make great coffee, they also sell a variety of snacks and drinks. They can be found at the park most days.

After we had a chat and finished our coffee, Gina & I  headed off to Waitarere Beach.  It was  breezy and cool and the sand was being blown around by the wind. We walked up the beach until we saw the Hydrabad  marker, there wasn’t much left to see, as nearly all the wreck was covered by sand. Although, there was a small portion of iron still visible, I can imagine there would be nothing left to see today.

The Hydrabad was driven ashore at Waitarere beach on June 25th 1878.  Gina & I are both glad we made the trip, to see the last remains of this historic ship.  We wandered around the beach for a while, then headed home.

 

 

Day Trips for the Uninspired: Manawatu Gorge and Tawa Loop Track Walks. Manawatu Region

Gina and I only live a few minutes away from the Manawatu Gorge and river. The Gorge is unique in many ways and if you are a local, you sometimes forget the natural wonder, that is on your doorstep.

Whether it be daytime, evening, winter or summer the gorge has many faces, if you choose to open your eyes and look.

To add to the Manawatu Gorge’s uniqueness, it is one of the few places in the world where a river passes through a dividing range and where the road, rail and river, run parallel alongside each other.

For a few months of the year, large numbers of Tui can be seen feeding on the flax plants that line the Ashhurst end of the gorge. I have personally seen them there from Nov/Dec through to end of January.

Gina & I have walked the Tawa Loop Track, a couple of times but I have personally walked it four times.  Its a 4km walk and takes about 2 hours to complete. Whereas the Gorge Walk is 10km and can take anywhere between 3-5 hours one way. You have to be reasonably fit, doc suggest easy-medium fitness level. Click on the Department of Conservation links above for more details and directions.

The views from the top of the track are amazing, even on a winters day, we could see the wind farm, gorge, river and landscape as far as the eye can see. At the top of the loop there is a statue of Whatonga with an information plaque telling the story of Whatonga.  Click on the link above to find out more information

Always make sure you take plenty of water and dress accordingly. The first time Gina and I walked the Tawa Loop, was in winter, we had just gone and bought some new tramping boots so we stopped on the way home from Palmerston North to try them out.  It was raining a bit and quite cool but we made good time and were back in the car park by 4.30pm after which we headed home.

 

Day Trips for the Uninspired: Tangimoana Beach and Tawhirihoe Scientific Reserve, Manawatu District, Manawatu Region

Seeing as we have being have such great weather, Gina & I decided to go to the beach again. This time we decided on Tangimoana Beach  and Tawhirihoe Scientific Reserve. The Reserve can be accessed via the beach.

Tangimoana beach like many beaches on this coastline has a sand dune landscape, with driftwood scattered around. To help stop the dunes shifting, spinifex grasses have been planted to slow down dune movement.

The dune conservation program was started in 2007. Apparently, these parabolic dunes are the fastest moving in the country. Gina and I didn’t know anything about this, until I started doing some research on the area.

If you would like to read more about the dune conservation, have a read of  ” Volunteers muck in on dune project” written by Emma Goodwin (Evening Standard 2009).

When we arrived there were quite a few people, fishing and walking along the beach.  The seagulls were having a great time hovering around, waiting for their next meal.

The people down there were very friendly, everyone we passed on the beach, smiled and said hello.  Even when we parked the car, a lady stopped and told us of a quicker way to get down to the beach.

We didn’t venture into the reserve that much because I had to fess up and tell Gina, katipo spiders live and breed around the area. I don’t mind spiders but Gina isn’t a fan of them.

The sea was quite warm, so we threw caution to the wind and took our shoes off, although we didn’t go in for a swim because its really not suitable for swimming.

Great place to hang out though, if you like wide open spaces, walking along the beach and just generally chilling out.

Like always, all too soon we had to head for home.

 

 

Day Trips for the Uninspired: Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre, Tararua District

Gina and I have visited Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre a couple of times. The last time we visited, we really hadn’t made any plans, we were in the car and just decided we would go, as we hadn’t been there for a while.

There is always something interesting to see and do. There is an entry fee, costs etc can be found on their site as well as directions. It took us about hour to get there from Woodville.

The centre is well planned out with easy wheelchair access to most parts of the centre, except for the bush walk.

When you visit Pukaha, you will have the opportunity to see, Kaka, (native parrot) Kiwi in the Kiwi house including Manukura (white kiwi), Long fin eels, Takahe, Tui & Kereru (wood pigeon) as well as Tuatara, just to name a few.

We saw the Takahe from the café, the Kaka flying around in the trees, they often stop by the café to say hello. They are amusing birds to watch, they made us laugh.

Its great to just wander around, you can easily spend the whole day there, as there is plenty to see and do and don’t forget your camera as you will have plenty of photo opportunities.

Day Trips for the Uninspired: Pukepuke Lagoon, Conservation Area, Manawatu District, Manawatu Region

Gina and I are always on the lookout for new places to visit so I thought I would have a look on the Department of Conservation website.

There I came across information on Pukepuke Lagoon, I had never heard of it before and I thought it would be an interesting place to visit.  To visit Pukepuke Lagoon you do need an access permit which are available from the DOC office in Palmerston North.

Pukepuke Lagoon is a dune lake and wetland near Tangimoana, on the Manawatu coast. Directions can be found on the link above.

It was a nice sunny day so with permit and cameras in hand, Gina and I set off, it took us about an hour to get there. When we arrived, we parked the car and walked, (we are great walkers) the rest of the way.

The lagoon is a haven for many species of birds, some migratory, while others, including natives, call the lagoon home.  Many native plants and freshwater fish can be found there also. We had to enter the lagoon via a gate, which needs to be shut after you enter and exit.

There are pathways and boardwalks  all around the lagoon as well as a number of bird hides, which are great for viewing the birds. As it is a wetland you need to stay on the pathways and boardwalks, for your own safety.

We saw a lot of Black swans, Swallows, a few Shags and a Bitten, I also caught a glimpse of a NZ Falcon flying overhead.

It is a very peaceful place and we wished we could have stayed there longer but we had to head home. On the walk back we had an audience, a herd of cows decided they wanted to say hi, they were on the other side of the fence but they were very nosey.

All in all another great day out. It does pay to checkout the DOC website, they have up to date information on places to go, condition of tracks etc.  Like with anywhere you go, you must be prepared.

 

 

 

 

Day Trips for the Uninspired: Manawatu Estuary and Foxton Beach, Horowhenua District, Manawatu Region

Gina and I have visited the Manawatu Estuary and Foxton Beach on a few occasions, at different times of the year. It takes about an hour to get there from Woodville and even less time from Palmerston North. Both locations are in close proximity to each other, so they make for a great day trip out. Directions on how to get there can be found, if you click on the links above.

The Manawatu Estuary is a wetland of international importance and 93 species of birds have been identified there. We have personally seen, Royal spoonbills, Black swans, Pukeko, Pied stilts, Variable oystercatchers and White fronted terns, just to name a few. So if you are an avid bird watcher this is the place for you.

Foxton Beach, like all beaches is a great place to visit winter or summer as there is always something different to see. Gina and I don’t need any excuse to go to the beach,  problem is, we don’t get there often enough.

On a whim, our last trip was in the evening, to watch the sunset, something we haven’t done before. So armed with a torch and cameras we set of, we arrived with minutes to spare and we were rewarded with an amazing sunset.

The torch came in handy though, as it went dark rather quickly and seeing as there is a lot of driftwood on the beach, it helps, if you can see where you are going.

I think we were the only two people left on the beach that night.  So after wandering around on the beach for a while in the dark, with the torch, we decided it was probably a good idea to head home.

Day Trips for the Uninspired: Te Apiti Wind Farm, Tararua District, Manawatu Region

Gina And I visited the Te Apiti Wind Farm in May, it was cold that day and very breezy up there. We saw quite a few people drive in but no one got out of their cars, except us.

We had a good look around at these giant wind turbines and whether you love them or hate them, they are here to stay.

Te Apiti wind farm is situated on the Saddle Road between Woodville & Ashhurst. The car park is open between 8.30am & 5.30pm. The views from the lookout are worth the visit alone.

If you are interested in finding out more about Te Apiti Wind Farm There is a very informative article about the Wind Farms near Woodville written Richard Moore.  Its an easy read, not too technical. There is enough room and flat surface at the Wind Farm for wheelchair access.

After we had finished looking around, yes, you have guessed it, it was coffee time again.

The 1st 4 photos were taken in May, the others were taken on a sunnier and warmer day from the Wetlands Café in the Ashhurst Domain.

 

Day Trips for the Uninspired: Waikanae Estuary Scientific Reserve: Wellington/Kapiti Region

Gina & I visited Waikanae Estuary Scientific Reserve the other day, we were supposed to go to Kapiti Island but due to insurfficent numbers the trip was cancelled.

So being ever resourceful, (we always have a backup plan) we decided to go and visit the Waikanae Estuary.  From Woodville it took us about 2 hours, of course we had to stop on the way, for our caffine fix and a bite to eat in Levin.  We also made, a quick stop in Otaki for a look around.

The entry point to the Waikanae Estuary is on Manly St North, Paraparaumu Beach. Gina & I managed to drive past the entry to the Estuary as we were too busy talking. (note to self,  observe more, talk less). We ended up having to stop and ask for directions.

The one thing you have to be aware of when you visit the Estuary is the possibility of quicksand conditions.

Information from the Department of Conservation website:

Beware of soft sand near water.The changing course of the river affects the water table beneath the sand and can cause quicksand conditions” In other words if you are not a bird, watch where you are walking.

The Estuary is home to many bird species, I saw Caspian Terns, Royal Spoonbill White-Fronted Terns just to name a few.  As we walked around we could see Kapiti Island from the shore.

There was also numerous sea shells, small bits of driftwood and sea weed,  scattered on the shore.

We ended our day with an ice cream, a visit to a nearby park and a walk on Paraparaumu Beach, before heading home.  All in all another great day out.

Photos on this page are copyright, Elayne Hand, Brightchic Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Trips for the Uninspired: Walk from the Bridge Café around the Totara Loop Track and back again. Balance, Tararua District, Manawatu Region

Gina and I decided to go local this week,  it was a nice sunny day but not too hot. We drove down to the Bridge Café, which is situated on the Gorge Road in Balance.  The Café has wheelchair access so whether you want to sit inside or out, you will be comfortable.

We had our coffee fix, then set out, we walked from the Café via a slight detour to investigate the cycle track, we walked up the track for about 15 minutes then turned around and came back down. Be aware that this track, is a cycle track not a walking track.

We then walked down the road to the start of the Totara Loop Track, which is located at the Woodville end of the Manawatu Gorge Walk, the entrance to the walk is via the car park at Balance.

The Totara loop track is what I consider and easy walk as it is flat most of the way around. We stopped to see the Giant Totara Tree. Gina and I both thought the seating and raised boardwalk is a great idea.

We sat for a while, its very peaceful there, then we walked back to the café car park and drove home.

 

Day Trips for the Uninspired: Totara Reserve & Pohangina Wetlands, Pohangina, Manawatu Region

Gina & I  have been lucky, the weather has always been fine for us, not that it would really matter, unless a major storm was on the horizon, we would still venture out.

We visited  Totara Reserve and  Pohangina Wetlands during the winter months.

The reserve is approximately a 50 minute drive from Palmerston North, you have to drive through the town of Ashhurst, the reserve and wetlands are both located in the Pohangina Valley.

Whether you choose to visit the reserve for the day or maybe longer, there is plenty to see and do. There are two camp sites, with facilities and they are wheelchair friendly. You can go for a swim, not that I would recommend that during the winter, unless you are feeling brave.

There are a number of walks you can do, we came across the Bush Chapel, which I think is a must see.  There is a lot of very old large tall trees and plenty of different ferns for you to look at, as well as the bird life. The bush walks are not suitable for wheelchairs though.

On the way back from the reserve we stopped in at the Wetlands, Gina and I were both very impressed, it’s a very peaceful and tranquil place. There are pathways around the wetlands, so it is an easy walk. Park benches have been placed in different spots, so you can sit and stay a while. The water was like glass, reflections of the trees, plants and birds, could be seen in the water.

There are many bird species that stop by or live in the wetlands permanently  it all depends on what time of year you visit, to what you will see. We saw, Pukeko, Australasian Shoveler, Mallard Ducks and Canadian Geese.

Both these places are well worth the visit and make a great day out for all.

Photos are copyright @ Elayne Hand Brightchic Photography 2015

Day Trips for the uninspired. Things to see and do in and around the Manawatu, Tararua, Wairarapa, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Regions of New Zealand

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