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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:The Mighty Manawatu River Floods, views from the Balance Bridge and Woodville Ferry Reserve June 20th & 21st 2015

I know this isn’t strictly a day trip (more like an afternoon trip) but I thought I would write a bit about it all the same, as the floods were a sight to see and a timely reminder, of natures might.

As the rain was pouring down, on the afternoon of 20th June 2015, I put on my wet gear, grabbed my cameras, headed into Woodville and got a coffee from the Windfarm Bakery & Cafe .

Then I drove out of Woodville towards Balance, crossed the Balance bridge and parked the ute near the playground. The rain was pouring down so I finished my coffee and ventured out.

As I was standing on the bridge I was surprised how many people stopped to take photos and have a look at the river, I had some interesting conversations with quite a few people that day.

There was a lot of power in the river that day, I watched as part of the Ferry Reserve and trees lining the river started disappear under the flowing water. They had to close the Manawatu Gorge due to slips, it was a quite a long time before it was opened again.

After a while, I went home because the rain was getting worse but the next day, 21st June 2015 I went out again. See the photos below.

The Manawatu  River caused a lot of damage due to flooding around the Manawatu region, as seen in the video below.

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: 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: Blackhead and Pourerere Beaches, Te Angi Angi Marine Reserve, Central HB District Council, Hawke’s Bay

Gina and I decided to visit Te Angi Angi Marine Reserve in  Central Hawkes Bay. The reserve stretches from  Blackhead to Aramoana beaches. All marine life within the reserve area is protected.

We intended to leave early but we didn’t leave Woodville until 8.30am.  We stopped in at Subway in Dannevirke to grab some lunch for the trip, the food is always good and the staff are very friendly, great customer service.

We decided to head  to Blackhead beach via the Waipukurau route it was an easy trip, with great scenary  along the way. We didn’t get lost once, the route is very well sign posted, all the way out to Blackhead Beach.

For directions and more information click on Central Hawke’s Bay, District Council, Te Angi Angi Marine Reserve link above.

Even though it was a bit chilly, blue skies greeted us on our arrival  at Blackhead beach. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the rock platform as it is only exposed at low tide but never the less there is always something new to see and experience when you visit a place for the first time.

Blackhead beach has a camping ground and facilities only a stones throw from the beach. Ideal get away, for a few days.

As we walked up the beach, we noticed it was receding fast because the tide was coming in, the waves got bigger and the tide came in quite fast.

It would be easy if you didn’t have your wits about you, to get cut off, the only way to get off the beach, depending of course where you are, is to scramble up to the tree line. Which isn’t as bad as it sounds because its more or less right on the beach.

We got some great photos though, so it was worth it, the weather changed quite quickly, from blue skies to very cloudy and grey.

Seeing as we couldn’t go any further we decided to head off to Pourerere Beach,  we went back the way we came and followed the signs. Didn’t take us long to get there. The weather followed us, we had a bit of blue sky then it clouded over and got quite cool and breezy.

Pourerere  is similar to Blackhead, large expanse of beach and ocean as far as the eye can see. As with both beaches we found shells and seaweed washed up on the beach, some of which we had never seen before.  There has been a lot of coastal planting along parts of the beach and signs have been erected telling people to use the designated pathways.

We managed to get a reasonable walk along the beach before the tide came in, once again. We also saw some Pied stilts, Shags and Gulls if the tide had been out we would have seen many more species of birds.

I imagine during the summer months both beaches and the reserve are a big draw card for tourists and locals alike.

Although, Gina and I visit beaches in winter and summer because there is always something different see and do.

After we had wandered around for a while, we decided it was time to head for home. On the way back to Woodville, we looked across at the ranges, which were still covered in snow and  saw a spectacular light show, as the suns rays streamed down through the clouds and lit up the hills. Of course we had to find a spot to pull over and take photos.  A great end, to another great day out.

 

 

 

 

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.