Tag Archives: Great walks

Getting Away

Its not far to go and its easy and its familiar.

Mangawhai Heads on the estuary is just lovely.

Lovely spot

Easy walks around to the beach and you can walk the other way for miles too.

Splash

We had escaped for the weekend to give our agent Lance a good crack at the first weekend of open homes without us or Rafe in the way and we weren’t quite ready to go home so it was Mangawhai.

Enjoying the water

I was here only a month or two before so knew that with the NZMCA mid winter rates and it being right next to the water, it was pretty good without travelling too far.

We’d been to the markets, had a coffee and a look at Bennetts chocolate factory and ready just to plug in and go for a walk along the foreshore.

Its a lovely area and as I think I said in my last post from here, it would be a good place to retire to being close to the families in the big smoke.. only 90 minutes or so away.

A Park with a view.

Kevin and Melissa Wallace escaped from Auckland about 15 years ago and bought their piece of paradise in Port Albert not long after.

Looking over towards Port Albert

The house along with a huge orchard sit on the top of a ridge overlooking the back of Port Albert and there’s a peek of the Kaipara too.

Great parking

Fiona and I arrived in Rafe and keen to check it all out, were there when Kevin popped in and was very happy to show us around and we were invited to check out the orchard on the other side of the house.

Fruit for Africa

After plugging Rafe in and opening some vents, I went for a wander to see what was what.

Part of the Orchard

There is a fantastic shower with a loo, a dump station and UV treated water. It was all there.

We had a great night there and all for $20 for us both.

In the morning, Kevin popped in with some Avocados and a Lemon which was great. Fantastic hosts sharing their lovely place by the Kaipara.

If you’re heading to Port Albert and go about 4k’s past the turnoff, you’ll find it on your left or on the App.

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Rafe’s Tracker map

Port Albert Wharf

After stopping at the Port Albert General Store to check out the amazing fish and chips, we doodled down the hill to check out the Wharf and domain.

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Amazing wharf

The area was settled in the 1880’s and was quite thriving settlement caller Albertland but they eventually all drifted away to Auckland and other bigger centres. There is a museum in Wellsford dedicated to this area which is well worth a look at.

A Plaque telling the story of the Albert Landers

Self contained Motorhomes can stay here for free for up to 2 days but need to vacate during the day.

There are good Toilets here and a huge gravel area which runs down to a boat ramp.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

Its a lovely spot and while we were there, there were three small vans ready to stop for the night.

The Gravel area.

Its only 8 k’s from Wellsford and the road runs down to Helensville and Kaukapapa so is not far for many things to see and do.

Rafe’s Tracker map

A night in a VW

The iconic shape of the VW Combi and the bright colours were hard to miss.

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Tania with the VW’s

The happy voice of Bowentown Holiday Park, Tania  was only to pleased to show me through the amazing Combi cabins. With the bright Green and Orange exterior paintjob they almost glow in the dark!

What can you say !

They’re about 4 years old and were originally made in Auckland and are fully insulated, complete with heating and set up very comfortably.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

New owners of the Park, Mike and Bec are planning to plant some gardens around them and restore the colours to that of the original VW’s.

For those who want to stay with Motorhome or Caravan friends, this is the next best thing and in the off season, they’re just $85 a night.

A great sight to see and a fun way to spend the weekend away!

Its all about that Beach

The Bowentown Holiday Park is in one of the best locations with one of the best Beachs !

With a friendly crew and with the NZMCA off season deal of pay for two nights,  and get two thrown in, it was just too tempting! Their normal tariff at $23pp powered I thought was very reasonable anyway, given the facilities provided.

With Tania’s cheery voice on the phone  and confirming there was a space for Rafe, I was underway.

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On the way, I stopped off at Karangahake Gorge to do the Windows walk. Well worth doing, and after that, I stopped to check out the new NZMCA park at Waihi Beach.

Another great addition to the parks network.

Nice outlook

The Bowentown Holiday Park is at the end of a long  peninsula right on the beach. It is well setup up with a newish Amenities block with TV room, Games room, huge Kitchen and an amazing space age looking Laundry. There is also a spa pool area there too.
I was offered a park right up against the hill overlooking the beach and the rest of the park. It was a breeze getting in and settling Rafe and I was off for a look around and down to the beach. A magic spot.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

The park has just changed hands after 30 something years, with new owners Mike and Bec settling in and only just 4 weeks in, have already got a plan of attack for new improvements. Two of the cabins are well into a full refurbishment with more to come!

New owners Mike and Bec

The beach here though is the feature of course and being right next to it, it just doesn’t get any better. Even in Winter!

A nice park, nice people and I’ll be back soon.

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Rafe’s Track

Windows

Karangahake Gorge is just amazing. We walked around here a year or two ago but didn’t quite get to the Windows walk for some reason. Well.. its wild.

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The Main suspension bridge over the Ohimemuri river

After parking Rafe in the carpark next to two other Motorhomes, I set off with the box brownie and headed across the suspension bridge crossing the Ohinemuri River.

The Power Station looking back to the carpark

The old Powerhouse used to be at the other end but all that can be seen now is the concrete base.

Looking back over the old PowerStation ruins to the carpark.

The walk is supposed to take an hour and is 2.5 kms. I headed off up the right hand side of the gorge along a pathway which had some mine entrances heading off into the hillside.

How is that track

As the walk went further on, the pathway was cut into the sheer cliff face and protected by barriers. Just stunning with the river below. Knowing that this was a loop walk back across the other side, I couldn’t see anywhere across the other side that looked like it could accommodate a track!

The second bridge up to the tunnels.

As I went further on, I came across another suspension bridge crossing the river and a track leading up some steps into a Tunnel. Just as well I brought my cell phone for some light although a torch would have been better .. note for next time!

The original tracks are still in there for the Gold Diggings train too.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow of the walk

As the Tunnel went on their were little exits (Windows) out across the river and eventually it came out to a well formed track.

The Spanish chaps ahead

I bumped into a couple of chaps from Spain enjoying the walk who were keen to do more walks. A family with small kids went through too so its suitable for all ages.

One of the old carts

Further along there was the ruins of the processing plants that occupied most of the hillside. Its not a big area so its amazing what they fitted in there at that time.

The foundations of one of the big factories

After a chat with my Spanish friends at the end of the track, I headed back across the main swing bridge to the carpark where there was originally a whole township. An amazing spot! .. I’ll definitely have to come back here again.!

Rafe’s Track to the Windows walks

Boiling Mud and Geysers

Grandsons, Ayden and Liam were both really looking forward to seeing some boiling mud for the first time and if we could, the famous Pohutu Geyser.

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Fiona, Ayden and Liam on the way to the Geysers

We left early and walked about 100 metres to Te Puia all well connected by tunnels under the roadway. The family pass which was normally $150 odd seemed appropriate and because there was a NZ special discount, we were able to show our drivers licenses and get nearly $50 off !  A big saving.

The base of the Geysers

There  just enough time to get the boys an ice cream and us a coffee before the next tour was due to head off with Guide Kiri.

Kiri with the Tour group

She was fantastic and as the Geysers were still building up a head of steam, after teaching the group of about 60 in the tour how to pronounce the full name of Whakarewarewa(and a lot more), she took us first to see the craft academy. Whakarewarewa is the abbreviated form !

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

I didn’t realise but they have a full Academy for training craftsmen from Bone or Stone carving to Wood Carving, Jewellery and many other skills. They work on show for the tourists behind and below a walkway and you finally end up in a Gallery where the work is available to buy. The trainees have uniforms and have a full apprenticeship/graduation ceremony. It is an amazing setup. Very entrepreneurial and all done very nicely. I was impressed.

The base of the Geysers

The steam was building up so Kiri took us down to the Mud Pools then onto the Geysers. Unfortunately there was a grey sky and the steam and the clouds all merged so it was impossible to really see the water let alone photograph it. The boys enjoyed it and also got to sit on some warm concrete which was nice as it was only 10C!

Boiling Mud

We spent about 4 hours there all up and we decided it was time to head back to Rafe and go and warm up in the Hot Pool.

Pohutu Geyser is in there somewhere

As I say, I was very impressed with the way it was all setup. Paths and bridges are a long way from what I remember from the old Whaka village with them all being well engineered and maintained.
A fun day for young and old 🙂