Karioitahi Beach

Feels like it’s going to be another amazing summer in NZ. Out at a wicked black sand west coast beach today. Stunning


Aratiatia Dam flooding as the rain closes in


ImageIt was one of those days. The weather couldn’t work out what it was doing, the market was boring and there wasn’t anything I wanted to buy. We ended up eating donuts for breakfast and feeling sorry for ourselves.

The dog was supposed to come on our next road trip, but he got left at home. The man of the house was supposed to be putting a race car back together but decided he needed some time out. I was sick of being stuck in the house (having got back Tuesday afternoon). Oh no! Four days without putting kms on the car!

First world problems abounding, we decided to go exploring. The joys of moving to a new place! Rather than head into the city, we decided to try and find a beach and or some wilderness.

It was surprisingly easy. Head south from Auckland on State Highway One and turn left between Papakura and Pokeno and you’ll end up in the right area. Farmland abounds. A quick decision was made to pay a visit to Hunua Falls.

About an hour drive from Auckland, the Hunua Falls are one of the more accessible attractions in the Hunua Ranges Regional Park. Although the water here contains a lot of sediment and has quite a dirty colour the falls are stunning. There is a good viewing area about 20 minutes return walk from the car park and a three hour trek through native bush. This is a pretty place to stop for lunch and picnic tables and clean facilities are available on site.


We cruised through to Clevedon, a cute little rural community, then onto the Clevedon Kawakawa Road. It’s here that we first saw the coast. It’s not been that long since I’ve been at the beach (2 months, maximum) but seeing the farmland turn swampy, to clean bays and then the Hauraki Gulf opening up like that in front of us, was just lovely. Looking out over the Coromandel Peninsula, it’s easy to forget how beautiful New Zealand is.

Although this spring isn’t lovely and warm and welcoming summer like it should be, there were still a lot of campervans, caravans and 5th wheelers parked up at the freedom camping spots along the coast as we headed down towards Miranda. With the wind whipping up and the sun making a solid effort to burst through the dark clouds the beach looked appealing and a few families were out and about, fishing from the shore and having picnics.


With time running out we headed back inland before we reached Miranda and the hot pools. Winding through the countryside before quickly reaching State Highway 2. Being on the road and exploring again was brilliant and it’s amazing what you can discover just a short drive from Auckland.

Tawhai Falls - National Park

While exploring the Tongariro National Park we walked to the Tawhai Falls. A short walk through scrub and native trees the falls are stunning! Hopefully my photographs have done them justice.

White Pine Bush

White Pine Bush is located at Tangoio, 30kms (approx 20min drive) north of Napier on SH2 as you travel towards Wairoa. One of the first reserves set up in the area, the 19 hectares of remnant lowland podocarp forest features dominant Kahikatea stands and a grove of Nikau Palms you see today have survived centuries of land clearance.

Fire was used by the Maori (pre-european settlement) of the region to flush out prey and open up land for crops and settlement. Post European settlement the land clearance continued to make way for farm and pine/exotic forest plantation.

Kahikatea, a species only found in New Zealand, were known as “White Pine” until the mid 1900’s. They are a ‘swamp’ forest species and grow up to 60 meters and up to 2 meters across. Only about 2% of Kahikatea forest is thought to remain. This stand boasts some up to 800 years old.

Ongaonga (a giant stinging nettle that grows up to 3 meters!) is the exclusive food of the caterpillar of the red admiral butterfly. Watch out for them while completing this walk as a bad sting can be extremely painful and cause dizziness for up to three days.

We arrive about 9am on this overcast Friday morning. I’m less than impressed with the weather. The east coast is known for its lovely sunny climate but we get chill overcast fogginess and I pull on a jacket to cut out the wind.

There are two main walking tracks, a 30 minute loop with another loop taking the walk to 1 hour. The 30 minute loop is described as ‘sealed’ which is most certainly is not, however it does appear to be suitable for wheelchair access (although this could get muddy when wet), while both tracks are suitable for most ability levels.

The walk is easy and the path is fairly well kept though a few parts were more overgrown than I’m used to seeing. A lot of the 30 minute track is on boardwalks and there are picnic tables under the trees in a clearing at about the midpoint. This is also where the second track loops in from. The paths are well signposted with lots of information regarding the native plants and birds in the area, a quick history of the reserve and geological information.

The track follows and crosses a small freshwater stream where we spent a couple of minutes unsuccessfully trying to spot some eels. We did have a kereru (New Zealand Native Pigeon) fly overhead and land on a branch quite close by and watch us wander past.

From the car park there appears to be usual access to bathroom facilities however this was closed due to low water levels during our visit (Hawkes Bay, Eastland and much of New Zealand was in drought conditions). Please also note that dogs and mountain bikes are not allowed.


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