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.

 

 

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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.