Tag Archives: travel

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.

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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.

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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: Te Apiti Wind Farm, Tararua District, Manawatu Region

Gina And I visited the Te Apiti Wind Farm in May, it was cold that day and very breezy up there. We saw quite a few people drive in but no one got out of their cars, except us.

We had a good look around at these giant wind turbines and whether you love them or hate them, they are here to stay.

Te Apiti wind farm is situated on the Saddle Road between Woodville & Ashhurst. The car park is open between 8.30am & 5.30pm. The views from the lookout are worth the visit alone.

If you are interested in finding out more about Te Apiti Wind Farm There is a very informative article about the Wind Farms near Woodville written Richard Moore.  Its an easy read, not too technical. There is enough room and flat surface at the Wind Farm for wheelchair access.

After we had finished looking around, yes, you have guessed it, it was coffee time again.

The 1st 4 photos were taken in May, the others were taken on a sunnier and warmer day from the Wetlands Café in the Ashhurst Domain.

 

Day Trips for the Uninspired: Walk from the Bridge Café around the Totara Loop Track and back again. Balance, Tararua District, Manawatu Region

Gina and I decided to go local this week,  it was a nice sunny day but not too hot. We drove down to the Bridge Café, which is situated on the Gorge Road in Balance.  The Café has wheelchair access so whether you want to sit inside or out, you will be comfortable.

We had our coffee fix, then set out, we walked from the Café via a slight detour to investigate the cycle track, we walked up the track for about 15 minutes then turned around and came back down. Be aware that this track, is a cycle track not a walking track.

We then walked down the road to the start of the Totara Loop Track, which is located at the Woodville end of the Manawatu Gorge Walk, the entrance to the walk is via the car park at Balance.

The Totara loop track is what I consider and easy walk as it is flat most of the way around. We stopped to see the Giant Totara Tree. Gina and I both thought the seating and raised boardwalk is a great idea.

We sat for a while, its very peaceful there, then we walked back to the café car park and drove home.

 

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

Day Trips for the Uninspired: Apiti Glow Worm Cave: Limestone Creek Reserve, Manawatu Region

Apiti Glow Worm Caves: Limestone Creek Reserve.

If you decide to go and visit these Glow Worm Caves, which I might add are worth the trip. Make sure you have a full tank of gas before you venture out. So fill up in Feilding before you go, or you may have a long walk back. These caves are approximately 40km from Feilding.

Although, I did know what I was looking for I found searching for these caves online a bit confusing,  As my search came up with “The Iron Gates Experience” then I had to click on activities and attractions to find “Limestone Creek and Glow Worm Caves”.

There is  a lot of good and useful information on this site including directions but again hard to find, if you are generally browsing online and not sure what you are looking for.

Anyhow. now for the fun stuff, Gina & I visited the Glow Worm Caves in winter, now I am not suggesting anyone do this, like with any trip you make, you have to be prepared, warm clothing, towel, change of shoes, socks & wet weather gear etc.  Also you have to keep an eye on the water level.

We made our way down to the river via a pathway and through some native bush.  Then proceeded to walk up the river to the Glow Worm Cave. Wet feet, added to the experience. Outside the cave the walls of rock were covered with lichen, moss and ferns, with water trickling down onto them from above.

Inside the cave, the filtered sunlight highlighted the water trickling in from above, this is when the wet weather gear, really comes in handy.

We didn’t see any glow worms that day but  it was worth the visit all the same.

On the way home we encountered a slight holdup, two paradise ducks with their chicks, decided to hog the road, we did however move them along safely. I got out of the car while Gina drove and between us we herded them off the road.

All photos on this page are copyright @ Elayne Hand Brightchic Photography 2015

 

Day Trips for the Uninspired: Ashhurst Domain, Ashhurst, Only a 15 minute drive from Palmerston North in the Manawatu Region

Ashhurst Domain, Ashhurst,

Palmerston North

I have to say the Ashhurst Domain, in my opinion is one of the most overlooked places to visit, in the Manawatu.  It is also very close to the Ashhurst township. This public park and reserve has something to offer everyone. and it is only a 15 minute drive from Palmerston North.

This is a dog friendly place (dogs are allowed but must be kept under control at all times). There is a camping ground and facilities, the Wetlands Café, (stop in for a bite to eat and a drink.) Great views  of Te Apiti wind farm, Wharite Peak and Wetlands below, can be seen from the Café.

There’s sports fields, a children’s playground and BBQ area, numerous walks, some through very old native bush and along the Manawatu River.

The Manawatu Pathway walk, entrance, located down by the road bridge by the Manawatu river, is a great walk, and is suitable for everyone of all ages, and is wheelchair friendly. (assistance maybe required). The upper domain circuit as shown in this map is also wheelchair friendly.

The domain is alive with bird life,  depending on what time of year you  visit. I have personally seen, Black swans, Pukeko, dotterel, ducks, Kingfisher, Australasian bittern in the Domain Wetlands and along the Manawatu river in winter,  Black backed gulls, Pied stilts and Caspian terns. The Tui, Fantail (piwakawaka) NZ Wood Pigeon (kereru), Bellbird (korimako) , Silver eyes along with a variety of Finches, Blackbirds, Thrushes and Sparrows and the occasional NZ Falcon, all call the domain home.

Easy enough to spend the whole day here as there is plenty to see and do.

If you would like to find out more about the Ashhurst Domain visit Ashhurst’s  local website Ashhurst Dot Org

All photos on this page are copyright @ Elayne Hand, Brightchic Photography 2015