Tag Archives: day tours

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. Also the Bridge Café has been sold (April 2018) and is no longer open to the public at this time. The new owners have mentioned they will open to the public again in the future.

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

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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.

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: 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: Marima Domain, Pahiatua, Tararua District, Manawatu Region

Gina and I decided we would go local again this week, we thought we would have a look at what domains/reserves were around our area, that we had yet, to visit.  I went on to the Tararua District Council, Parks and Reserves page and found Marima Domain.

Unfortunately, the information on the page is very vague:

Marima Domain
Pahiatua
“A lovely area which is 12 kms south of Pahiatua. Has a picnic and BBQ area. Popular for swimming and fishing, toilets are available”

So, I had a look at the Tararua A-Z and Horizons Regional Council pages. the information was more or less the same, except Horizons mentioned the Mangahao River.

So, I had a look on Google maps and yes you guessed it, directions to Marima Domain, weren’t to be found on there either. However, thanks to some local knowledge, we found the location of the domain. All in all, not a very good start.

It was quite a dismal day, when Gina & I headed out, we stopped for a coffee at the Finest Batch Bakery in Pahiatua. then carried on out-of-town,  we turned right at the Mangamaire turn off and carried on down Mangamaire road.

We then turned right into Tutaekara road and carried on over the railway lines and past Ridge Road south. The Domain is located just before the bridge on the right hand side of the road. There is no sign,  just a dirt road leading off Tutaekara Road.

As we drove down the tree-lined road we thought the road could do with a bit of an upgrade, so we parked the car and walked the rest of the way.  The Mangahao River flows around the domain and water levels and flow can increase quite suddenly, so you have to beware and keep an eye out, for that.

Gina and I visit places in the winter and summer, if a place looks great in the winter, it usually looks fantastic in the summer. The rock face down by the river is quite stunning and we liked the tree trunk that had been turned into a jumping platform, great idea and it is peaceful place. We walked along the river and saw various species of birds as well.

Unfortunately, the domain suffers from neglect, it is being used as a rubbish dump, we couldn’t find the toilet facilities, maybe we were looking in the wrong place! Its is very overgrown and the picnic table has seen better days.

I personally don’t think anyone from the council has been there in a while, if you are going to promote any destination irrespective of what it is or where it is,  it needs to be up to par, It doesn’t take a genius to work that one out.  Not a great advertisement for the district or the Tararua District Council.

After we had a bit more of a wander around we headed for home.

I did however manage to find a map of the Domain on the LAWA site, a couple of days later.

Day Trips for the Uninspired: Patuna Chasm, Martinborough, Wairarapa

I was on the net looking for places Gina & I could visit down and around, the Wairarapa Region and I came across Patuna Farm Adventures in Martinborough.

Gina and I particularly liked the sound of the chasm walk so decided we would go. I rang the Farm and told them we would like to come down and do the chasm walk.

As it was in April I thought I had better check to see if it was still open.  As they close the chasm from April to October due to the rising water levels.

We set off  just after 8am in the morning , It took us a couple of hours to get there from Woodville, the directions are pretty straightforward and can be found on their site along with other information. Just click on the link above.

There is a $15 charge for adults & $10 for children,  be prepared to get wet, so take along a change of clothes and something to eat and drink.

When we arrived we were greeted by the owner, we then followed him in the car to the starting point of the chasm walk.  We parked the car and were given directions he also asked us to let him know when we had finished the walk.  As there is no mob coverage out there.

Then we set off, we walked through a pine forest, through the river and up and over a  bank and across farmland and down through some bush and into the river again and chasm. It was a lovely day and we had great views of the surrounding countryside. We stopped and had lunch before we entered the chasm.

The limestone chasm is amazing, it makes you feel very small as you walk through it.  You do however have to watch where you walk as some of the smaller stones can be slippery  and in some places the water is deeper than in other parts. Good footwear is a must.  Gina and I spent a couple of hours walking and looking through the chasm, after which we walked back out the same way we came in. Another hidden gem that a lot of people don’t know about.

We stopped off at the farm, on our way out, then headed for home.

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.