Day Trips for the Uninspired: Bridge Café, Timeless Horse Treks and Woodville Ferry Reserve, Tararua District, Manawatu Region

I thought seeing as the Bridge Café, Timeless Horse Treks and Woodville Ferry Reserve are located in the Balance area of the Tararua District and very near to the town of Woodville, I would include them, all in one post.

Since I wrote the original post back in March 2015, the Manawatu Gorge, has been closed due to slips but alternate routes, are in place.

Visiting any or all three of these places, would make a great day trip out and if you live around Palmerston North, it will take you  approximately 30 minutes to get there.

The Bridge Café is situated in a great location, on the Gorge Road, Balance, it is peaceful and quiet, with very picturesque views and garden. They serve a variety of both hot & cold, food & drinks. They are also wheelchair and dog friendly.  The scenery, wildlife and walks nearby, are worth the trip alone.

Timeless Horse Treks:

On winters day, Gina & I booked to go on a trek for an hour.

The weather was pretty crappy that day but it managed to stay fine for an hour or so.  Gina had ridden before but it was the first time for me, so I thought to myself,  I am up for the challenge, what’s the worse that can happen.

Nothing happened, we had a great time,  except when I came to get off my horse, I had a bit of trouble there but that was easily rectified by moving along to the back porch of the café.  So I didn’t have as far to get down.

Gina and I, highly recommend Timeless Horse Treks

Now across the Balance bridge lies the Ferry Reserve, it has undergone a facelift, there’s picnic tables and new paths have been laid. Freedom campers are welcome there, the Manawatu River runs alongside and under the road bridge.  It is a wide open space with  a small fenced off wetland area.

Gina and I decided to go walking there one night, thought I had better take the torch and cameras, just in case. Well when we arrived it was nearly dark,  it was however a clear night so we could sort of see, where we were going.

We wandered around and I thought we had better use the torch as we were on the river bed, so a great idea came to mind, why not take photos, which we did but the torch attracted a tad to many insects.

Anyone looking down from the bridge was probably wondering, what the heck were two people doing, lurking around in the Ferry Reserve with a torch, at nearly 10pm at night.

 

All the above, photos, (click to enlarge) have been taken at various times, from in and around the Bridge Café, Balance Bridge & Ferry Reserve. If you would like to order a print, please contact me.

copyright Elayne Hand, Brightchic Photography

Day Trips for the Uninspired: Cape Palliser and Lake Ferry, Wairarapa Region

Gina and I have visited Cape Palliser and Lake Ferry, a number of times. It takes us just over 2 hours to get there from Woodville. We have visited  in all kinds of weather and each time there is a different story, to tell. Like, standing on the rocks in the pouring rain, watching and listening to thundering of the waves, as they crash against the rocks. (Trying to take photos and keep the cameras dry, was a bit of a challenge that day).

The Wairarapa coast has a lot to offer, with it’s stunning scenery, wildlife, amazing sunsets & sunrises, and history.

Cape Palliser is home to largest NZ fur seal colony, in the North Island and the Lighthouse, which has sat on the cliffs, since 1897. On the way to Cape Palliser stop in and visit the local fishing village of Ngawi, with its colourful tractors, which are used to haul the fishing boats in and out of the ocean. Lake Ferry is situated on the shores of Lake Onoke and another place not to be missed.

If you have a limited amount of time or just don’t want to drive and feel like taking a tour with a difference, then I highly recommend, To the coast with the post, tour with Gordon, the local RD2 postie. You get to ride along with Gordon on his daily mail run, which covers a distance of 220kms.

 

Day Trips for the Uninspired: Waihi Falls, Tararua District, Manawatu Region

Gina and I set off to see Waihi Falls in the winter after there had been a few days of heavy rain. We headed to Dannevirke and then turned right into Weber Road. Click here for directions.

Some of the road is quite winding and narrow in places and the last few kilometres are gravel.  Along the way we had to stop and let a mob of sheep go by. Couldn’t resist taking a photo of them.

When we arrived at the falls, we found ample car parking, as well as a picnic area.  Due to the rain the pathway down to the falls was slippery underfoot in places.  When we arrived at the bottom and made our way to the water’s edge of the grassed area. I would say up to  2 metres back from there was really wet, due to the mist created by the volume of water, tumbling down over the falls.

It was not safe to be too near the edge of the grassed area because the water made it very soggy.

Waihi Falls are a sight to see though, the roar of the water tumbling over the falls and the misty water rising as it hits the river below.

When we arrived at the bottom and made our way to the water’s edge of the grassed area. I would say up to  2 metres back from there was really wet, due to the mist created by the volume of water, tumbling down over the falls.

It was not safe to be too near the edge of the grassed area because the water made it very soggy.

We visited the Falls again on 26/5/17, the idea was to grab the sunset but the clouds had other ideas. When one door closes another opens and the Falls looked stunning in BW.

Day Trips for the Uninspired: Castle Point, Mataikona Rocks & Riversdale Wairarapa Region

Gina and I visited Riversdale as well as  CastlePoint  a couple of weeks ago (15/3/17) and seeing as all three places are on the same coastline and not that far from each other, I thought I would add Riversdale to this existing post.

Riversdale has a magic all of its own, as well as a long sandy beach to walk on, the coastal settlement, felt warm and inviting. A great place to stay if you want to get away from it all, for a few days.

The rocky outcrops at one end of the beach add character, besides its always fun to walk on the rocks and explore the weathered formations. while watching the waves crash against them. We also found many species of birds, nesting and living in the dunes.

Original post:

Gina and I decided to head down to Mataikona Rocks, in the Wairarapa and seeing as Castle Point is only a 15 minute drive away, we though we would visit there again, too.

We left Woodville at 8.30am  and stopped in at the Finest Batch Bakery in Pahiatua for, yes you guessed it, a coffee and something to eat.  So all up, it took us nearly 2 hours to reach Castle Point, (we decided we would stop there first).

Castle Point, Lovely place but it can be dangerous too, if you don’t have your eyes open. Rogue waves often visit and can take you off the reef in seconds. Gina and I last visited just over a year ago, on September 10th 2014.

We stood on top of the reef and walked up to the lighthouse but not on Wednesday, while the sea was a lot calmer than in 2014 some of the wind gusts were very strong and nearly knocked us, off our feet. Great place to visit though, there are walks you can do, Fur Seals can be seen there occasionally, as well as different bird species, plus the scenery is stunning.

After spending about an hour at Castle Point we headed off to Mataikona Rocks. The road is signed posted so you can’t miss it, (on your right) just as you are leaving Castle Point.  By the time we reached Mataikona, the wind had worsened and some of the gusts were very strong.

The rocks can only been seen and walked on at low tide.The rock formations are the result of the constant pounding and compression from the ocean and the movement and and colliding of tectonic plates. They are quite a sight to see, along with the rock pools and Fur Seals.

Unfortunately, the wind made it hard to stay upright some of the time but we both like a challenge and the rocks are something you don’t see everyday.

We stayed at Mataikona for a while, taking photos, exploring the rock pools and watching the waves crash upon the rocks. On the way back, we parked on the roadside, overlooking Castle Point and the views were stunning. All in all another great day out.

Day Trips for the Uninspired: To the coast with the Post. Wairarapa Region

Early on Tuesday morning I drove down to Featherston for a different kind of day trip. When I reached Featherston I stopped in to the Everest Café for a coffee and a bite to eat and to wait for Gordon.

Gordon is the local RD2 rural mailman and as well as delivering the mail he also offers a unique tour called: “To the coast with the Post” where you get to ride along with him on his daily 220km mail run all the way to Southern most point of the North Island.

Although, I am not a stranger to the Wairarapa, Gordon showed me places I had never visited before and filled me in, on some of the local history.

I have often driven past Burnside Church but on Tuesday I got to go inside and have a look around this beautiful old church, which was built in the 1800’s. We also stopped at the Pirinoa Country Store, which was also established in the 1800’s. The store is the hub of the Pirinoa community, its a one stop shop for everything from petrol to groceries.

I also got to see the flood gates, some back country road scenery, old buildings and a memorial to 12 crew from the ship wrecked Zuleiki in 1897.

We also visited Lake Ferry, on the shores of Lake Onoke, Ngawi  and Cape Palliser, home of the NZ fur seal colony and Lighthouse.

We had lunch at Cape Palliser and hung out with the seals for a while, then headed back to Featherston.

I thoroughly enjoyed my trip and I would like to thank Gordon for his hospitality and laughs along the way.

The photo opportunities are endless, there is so much to see, it is also a great trip to do if you don’t have a lot of time but want to see what the Wairarapa has to offer. Lunch and snacks are also provided.

If you would like to find out more or book the “To the coast with the Post” tour. Visit Gordon’s page on Facebook or click on the tour link in the second paragraph. Also visit “To the Coast with the Post” on Tripadvisor to read some of the great reviews, this tour has been given.

Day Trips for the Uninspired: Scotts Ferry, Manawatu-Whanganui region

Gina and I headed out to the small settlement of Scotts Ferry, it had been on our “to do” list for some time, the weather was nice and sunny, so we decided to go and photograph the sunset as well. If you want to stay a few days there is a Motor Camp and Bed & Breakfast accommodation in the settlement.

It took us just over an hour to get there from Woodville. I must say I was quite impressed, we parked the car in the car park and sat down at the picnic table and had something to eat and drink. There were a couple of litter bins, so no excuse for people to leave their rubbish lying around.

Scotts Ferry, is the gateway to the Moana Roa conservation area, it along with Tawhirihoe Scientific Reserve at Tangimoana make up the Rangitikei River mouth coastal reserves. Both of these places have the best examples of  parabolic dune systems left in new Zealand. Click on this DOC link for directions and more information.

We saw pied stilts and dotterels on the river flats, then we walked around and up over the dunes. Standing on top of the dunes was breathtaking, nothing but the ocean and dunes for as far, as the eye could see. The beach is a road so you have to watch out for cars etc.

We stayed there until the sun went down then made our way back to the car, its a good idea to have a torch with you, otherwise you could end up stumbling around the dunes in the dark.

It is a place we will be going back to explore some more, as we ran out of daylight. Below are a few photos I took that day.

 

Day Trips for the Uninspired: Sunset Trips

The sand, water, wind, sunlight & clouds are true alchmists of nature. They always put on a good show, never the same, always changing.

Daylight saving makes it easier to go and visit places to watch and photograph the sunset and yes, in some cases by the time we get home, its nearly midnight.  Sometimes, you don’t have to travel too far, local is good but sometimes it pays to travel further a field.

If we are heading out the time may vary depending on where we are planning to go. Its no different than going on a day trip. Sometimes we take our food with us, depending on where we are going, other times we stop off somewhere and grab a bite to eat. The gear apart from my camera, I always take with me, year round is listed in Safety Tips for Your Trip.

I love the beach as does Gina, the crashing waves, the open spaces, the sand beneath your feet. I find being out and travelling around, keeps my cup full, just being on the road and going somewhere, makes me smile.

If you are interested in visiting any of these destinations, please click on the following links, Destination Wairarapa, CastleCliff Beach, Woodville, Balance, Otaki Beach, Porangahau Beach, Herbertville, Hokio Beach, Foxton Beach, Himatangi Beach

The photos below are copyright and belong to Elayne Hand, Brightchic Photography.

If you would like to purchase a print, feel free to contact me.

Safety Tips for Your Trip!

New Zealand is a beautiful country with amazing landscapes and beaches just waiting to be explored, by tourists and locals alike. Unfortunately,  people die and are injured every year in New Zealand, while exploring, having a fun holiday or day out. Poor judgement, lack of knowledge & complacency, more often that not, play a part in these deaths & injuries.

The weather & conditions in NZ are very changeable even in the summer. So it pays to be prepared for the worst, as the saying goes “Shit Happens” when you least expect it, a day trip can turn into an overnight trip, very easily.

So here are a few safety tips and advice I personally follow and carry, whenever I go out anywhere. Otherwise, I have similar gear that permanently lives in my vehicle, along with a few extra bits and pieces.

  1. Tell someone where you are going, what time you are leaving your home/accommodation and what time you hope to arrive back at home/accommodation. Say you will text or call, when you get back.
  2. Check the weather forecast/conditions. I use and find AccuWeather quite reliable. No weather forecast is 100%. Accu, gives you a lot of information, including cloud cover percentages, wind chill & rain information etc. If I am heading towards the coast I also check Surf-forcast.com  for the latest tidal information, such as high/low tide times, wave height, energy & wind. Lastly, I also take a look at the Department of Conservation, for information on track conditions, permits, wildlife etc.
  3. Know where you are going, write down directions, take a map, I don’t rely on my cell phone because coverage can be sketchy in places. Its is also very easy to lose, drop/break your phone.
  4. Dress for the conditions: take extra clothing & a first aid kit, including any medications you may need.
  5. Water & food, make sure you have enough, always take extra.

Here is a quick run down of what I have in my pack, all year around.

  1. First aid kit, I make my own, saves money and I get what I want in my kit including any medication.  Always have your first aid kit, accessible, don’t have it buried at the bottom of your pack or bag. I use a zip lock sandwich bag, which is also waterproof to keep it in.
  2. Clothing: pair of socks, rain poncho/rain jacket, hat, gloves, scarf & spare top.
  3. Emergency: sleeping bag & blanket (mylar or the like) tarpaulin (shelter) cordage, 2 x black plastic bags, (bags can be used for insulation. filled with leaves for example), torch (with spare batteries), fire kit, 1 litre water bottle, with cook mug, a knife/multi tool & compass. Sleeping on the bare ground for the night, isn’t a good idea, as the earth can sap a lot of your body heat, you need to have some form of insulation or be off the ground.
  4. Food: coffee, soup, energy bars, boil in the bag meal, can be eaten hot or cold.
  5. Personal hygiene kit: Baby wipes, hand sanitizer, toilet roll/tissues/handee towel, sunblock & insect repellent. (all are put in to small containers) except for sunblock and repellent.

Common sense plays a big part in what anyone chooses to do, or not do. People often see things differently, what is important to one, may not be to another.

Day Trips for the Uninspired: Tararua District, Manawatu – Wanganui Region

The Tararua District stretches from Norsewood in the north to Eketahuna in the south and along with many other districts, makes up the greater Manawatu -Wanganui Region.

I personally believe the Tararua District is not promoted as well as it could be.  If you want tourists to stop and stay a while and explore the district, they need to know, what is out there.

There are many places for tourists and locals alike, to visit. Besides the more well known places, such as the Tui Bewery  or Te Apiti Wind Farm.

So with that in mind, I have created this page, with a list of places people can visit, in the Tararua District.  This page is a work in progress and will continue grow, as we seek out  more places to visit.

Only places Gina and I have personally visited will be listed on this page.

Te Apiti Wind Farm

Bridge Café, Timeless Horse Treks And Woodville Ferry Reserve, Balance

Walk from the Bridge Café around the Totara Loop Track and back again. Balance

Eketahuna Cliff Walk & Tararua Forest Park, via Putara Road, Eketahuna

Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre

Lower Domain, Dannevirke

Waihi Falls

Herbertville

Akitio Beach, Akitio

Pipinui Falls and Makuri Gorge

Pongaroa Bush Walks, Pongaroa

Day Trips for the Uninspired: Eketahuna Cliff Walk & Tararua Forest Park Eketahuna, Tararua District, Manawatu Region

Firstly, I have to say thank you to Bridget for telling me about the Cliff Walk and the Putara Road entry to the Tararua Forest Park, in Eketahuna. Again, two local places that haven’t really been promoted.

Eketahuna like many rural towns has suffered a decline in population over the years, due to the lack of growth in the area. There are however, still places to see and things to do in and around Eketahuna.

The Eketahuna Cliff Walk was opened by Eketahuna Mayoress Maud Page in 1911. It is a scenic walk, with views overlooking the Makakahi River.

Gina and I walked the Eketahuna Cliff Walk during the winter months. It is what I consider an easy walk, suitable for all ages. It would take about an hour to drive there from Palmerston North.

The walk begins by the bridge in Bridge Street, at the end of the walk you can either walk back or you can also carry on, walking down to the Camping ground, which is nestled in native bush with the river running alongside it.  A great escape for that, weekend away.

On the walk we saw various mushrooms and  native birds but the one thing that really impressed us, was the arch made by tree trunks growing above the pathway. its not something you see everyday and well worth going to see because who knows, it may not be there forever.

Just recently, Gina and I visited Tararua Forest Park via the Putara Road entry, its a lovely spot. There is a swing bridge, you can cross over to get to the otherside of the Manatainoka river. The views from the bridge and river are worth the trip alone.

There is a very relaxing feel about the place, its somewhere you could spend all day.

The pathway was a bit muddy and wet due to the rain we have had lately but never the less, a place well worth a visit, especially in the summer.

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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