Tag Archives: manawatu tourist information

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: Pongaroa Bush Walks, Pongaroa,Tararua District, Manawatu Region

Even though Gina and I live in the Tararua District we had never been out to Pongaroa, so we thought we would go and do the bush walks and have a look around.

So on 21st May 2014, we decided to head out to Pongaroa , we filled up the car in Woodville before we left, as it is a long walk back, if you run out of gas.

I see at the moment there is no petrol  available in Pongaroa, so fill up before you head out.

It took us just over an hour to get there, click on the Pongaroa link above for directions and more information about the area.

When we arrived we had a quick look around the town, then headed to Urupa Street, where the bush walks begin.

There are two walks you can do and we did both of them. The yellow track to the Pongaroa lookout and cemetery takes about 10-15 minutes and is a pretty easy walk through the bush and out on to and up the hillside. On reaching the top we could see the cemetery and township below.

We took a few photos and then headed back down.  We then found the beginning of the red track, this is a longer walk takes about 20-30 minutes, the first 5 minutes are an easy walk to the picnic table in the bush. The rest of the walk was up hill through the bush, we could see it hadn’t been walked in a while, the pathway in places was a bit overgrown but nothing we couldn’t handle.

When we arrived at the top the views were worth the walk. probably would have looked better on a summer’s day but its good to get out and about, anytime of the year.

We had a wander around the hillside for a while then made our way back down, as it was time for a coffee.

Gina and I stopped in at the local hotel for a coffee and something to eat. If you are into local history, the hotel is the place to go, there are old photos and news clippings decorating the walls. On the main back wall there’s a pictorial history of the area.  Its has been very well done and there’s a lot of interesting photos and information about the area.

We could have stayed there for the rest of the afternoon but as always, we had to head for home. So we said our goodbyes and left the hotel.

Day Trips for the Uninspired: Hokio Beach, Levin, Horowhenua District, Manawatu Region

Gina and I enjoy going to the beach anytime of year, you see things in winter that you don’t see in summer and vice versa.  We visited Hokio Beach in July 2014, it was fine but quite cold and windy. Good day for thermals and a woolly hat.

Hokio Beach is situated just outside of the Levin township. Upon arriving there, I saw two shags perched in a tree, I quickly grabbed my cameras and headed off, leaving Gina to sort the car and grab her gear.

After I photographed the shags we made our way down to the beach, the sand was being blown around by the wind and it created a haze effect. The wind eventually died down a bit, as we walked along the beach.

At one stage there was hardly any clouds covering the sun and just for a short time, the winter sunlight turned the ocean a silver colour.

While the wind made interesting patterns around the shells lying on the beach, some of the shells looked like they were sitting on little stalks made of sand.

Gina and I saw quite a few different bird species, while we were there on the beach and around the waterways, Shags, Ducks, Pukeko, Gulls, Oystercatchers and Swallows were there in good numbers.

After we spent a couple or so hours walking along Hokio Beach, we decided to head for home.  On the way back into Levin we stopped to look at the snow-covered ranges in the distance and of course to take photos.

All in all another good 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: Pipinui Falls and Makuri Gorge, Tararua District, Manawatu Region

Gina and I set out on a fine winters day to visit Pipinui Falls and the Makuri Gorge. It’s good to go and see places like these during the winter because they can look very spectacular, after the rain.

Our first stop was the  Gorge, it is situated on the Pahiatua Pongaroa Road. It took us about 35-40 minutes to get there. The 3 photos of the Gorge were taken from the bridge. According to some tourist information I found, they say there is also a walk you can do, which takes about 1 hour to complete. 

After watching the water crash over rocks in the Gorge for a while, we headed off to find Pipinui Falls Scenic Reserve.  The Reserve can be found 6km north of Makuri on the Coonoor Road. Gina and I found the reserve ok, the sign is big enough, so no one can miss it. 

Finding the falls on the other hand, is another story, we parked the car at the reserve sign and got out and started looking around for Pipinui Falls.  Well we couldn’t find them, so we got back in the car and drove along the road for a while, just in case we has missed the sign.

With no falls in sight we decided to head back to the reserve sign, (it’s a good job Gina & I have a sense of humour) They say in the Tararua Guide Its a “Hidden Treasure” it certainly is, if you can’t find it. We got out of the car again and I said to Gina, “there is a gate across the road, lets take a look”.

So we proceed to cross the road and walked through the gate, as we kept walking, lo and behold we heard the sound of running water, could this be the falls, we had spent the last 40 minutes looking for! and yes it was, nestled in and surrounded by native bush, they make a pretty picture, a park bench has been placed there so you can sit a while and watch the water cascade over the rocks. it’s a very calming and peaceful place and well worth the visit.

Now from a tourists point of view, if you are promoting any attraction, good signage is a must, tourists shouldn’t have to go hunting, I wonder how many have been out there looking for the falls and given up in disgust. Nowhere, on the reserve sign does it say, to get to the waterfall you have to go through the gate on the opposite side of the road.

Unfortunately, the gate and fence aren’t signed posted either, which in my opinion, is very poor.  How hard can it be, to put a sign on either the gate or fence, to make it easier for people to find.

The online information I found on the Gorge and the Falls, isn’t much better. http://www.topomap.co.nz/NZTopoMap/nz46936/Makuri-Gorge-Reserve/Manawatu-Wanganui

All in all Gina and I has an interesting day out, the Gorge and Falls are worth going to see. Hopefully, the powers that be, will feel inspired to review and greatly improve their promotional strategies, both on and offline.

 

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.

 

 

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.