Tag Archives: birds

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.

 

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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: Akitio Beach, Akitio, Tararua District, Manawatu Region

Gina and I decided it was time to go to the beach again so we decided to head out to Akitio  and checkout the beach and surrounding area.

So on a chilly Wednesday morning in May (2015) we hopped in the car and believe it or not, we were on the road by 9am. We headed to Dannevike and stopped in at Subway for a coffee and a bite to eat.

We then headed down to Millar Street (There is a sign for Akitio, Herberville, Pongaroa) and continued on Weber Road. We then turned left into River Road and followed the road across the bridge that goes over the Akitio river and on to the coast road. Then along to the Akitio  Esplanade, where we parked the car. There are quite a few houses along the esplanade, many are holiday homes but there are a few people who live there permanently.  There is also a shop and public facilities. It took us approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes to get there from Woodville.

It was a bit brisk and overcast when we got out of the car, so out came the scarfs, woolly hats and gloves. We made our way onto the beach and what caught my eye were the posts firmly planted in the sand. They looked like sentries watching over the beach. Which of course we had to take photos of and the seagull added a nice touch, perched on top, of its lofty lookout.

The tide was out so we walked along the beach, the reef has some amazing rock formations and the sea water left behind, created some interesting looking rock pools. We then headed back up to where the Akitio river meets the sea, passing quite a bit of driftwood along the way. We were also surprised by how many Kingfishers were flying around. It’s the most we have seen in a very long time.

The following week, we visited a very different Akitio beach, a depression had gone through the night before, when we arrived the Akitio river seemed to have doubled in size as we drove over the bridge. There was no beach, the waves tossed around the driftwood as if it were paper mache. In places the waves were coming up over the grass verge.  So with the rain coming down we parked the car, donned on our wet gear, grabbed the cameras and off we went.

As we stood on top of the grassed area where normally the beach would be, all we could see were waves, its was an amazing sight to see the “power of the ocean” easy to get taken by a wave, if you don’t have your wits about you.

By the afternoon the sea had calmed a bit, the beach was visible but we still couldn’t walk on it because every so often a wave would come right in.

Although, with the weather changing we saw, Shags, Gulls a Rook, Kingfishers and quite a few Fantails, darting from one piece of driftwood to another.

All in all, a great end to another great day out.

Day Trips for the Uninspired: Lower Domain, Dannevirke, Tararua Distrct, Manawatu Region

Gina and I have visited Dannevirke’s Lower Domain which is part of the Dannevirke Domain on Christian Street, a few times.

It is a great place to go, suitable for all ages and is reasonably wheelchair friendly.   As we hadn’t been there for a while we decided to head off there, again today.

The Upper Domain has a children’s playground, gardens and facilities, while the Lower Domain is park like and has Ponds, Ducks and other birds, Deer and a large aviary, plus facilities as well.

It took us about 25 minutes to get there, so it would take about 50 minutes from Palmerston North.

Of course we had to stop for our coffee fix and to grab some lunch, so we headed to Subway, the food is always good and their customer service is excellent.

On arriving at the Domain, (there is plenty of parking) we were greeted by many friendly ducks and geese.  I think they were more interested in seeing if we had any food, to be honest.

The domain is a very peaceful place, you could easily spend a lot of time there. There are picnic tables dotted around the domain, plus walks you can do.  Gina and I walked down and around to the lower pond, on the way we saw the deer and more ducks when we arrived.

We had a wander around and them headed back via the bridge, which took us back up to the upper pond and aviary.

The domain is a great place to visit anytime of the year, it is very well maintained and is a credit to the town. Pity there isn’t more information and promotion of it, both on and offline.

Dannevirke, also has a very good Information Centre, plus a blog, which can be viewed here.

After spending a few hours at the domain, we 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: 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: 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: 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