Pekapeka Wetlands

Pekapeka Wetlands is a good place for a short walk on well maintained tracks and boardwalks in an attractive and relaxing environment.

First look at the wetlands from the carpark
First look at the wetlands from the carpark

The map below is posted at the car park.

Map of visitors area
Map of visitors area

I set off toward Waireporepo along the first boardwalk I saw.

First look at the wetlands from the carpark
First look at the wetlands from the carpark

The water isn’t exactly what I expected from wetlands.

Looking southwest
Looking southwest

It’s surprisingly clear.

Clear water
Clear water

These cows enjoyed a good defensive position on Waireporepo Pā (a is a Māori village or defensive settlement, often a hill fort).

Cows on Waireporepo Pa
Cows on Waireporepo Pa

You barely touch ground on Waireporepo Pā before turning back across the wetlands on another boardwalk. This leads to a hill with a viewing platform that gives you a good overview of the park.

From the viewing platform
From the viewing platform

Pekapeka Wetlands is rated as the second most ecologically valuable wetland in Hawke’s Bay. It was made a reserve in 1970 for the purpose of soil and water conservation. It has historical and cultural significance for Māori people as well, and was given waahi tapu (sacred) status in 1997. The wetlands are 4.5km long and 800m wide and cover 98 hectares. This small part in the middle was made into a park, and helps to inform the public on the benefits of wetlands to the environment.

In the past rubble was dumped in these wetlands.  The sculpture below serves as a reminder of that history.

Rubbish sculpture
Rubbish sculpture

Pekapeka is the Maori name for the native bats that lived in nearby caves and hunted in the wetlands.

Pekapeka Wetlands
Pekapeka Wetlands

The reserve is closed to the public in the first weekend of May each year for game bird shooting.

Bird blind
Bird blind

Paths climb to a higher lookout for another view over the park. At this point there’s a lot of traffic noise as you’re fairly close to highway 2.

From the lookout
From the lookout

You won’t find long walks here, but Pekapeka Wetlands is an attractive and relaxing place to visit.

Please enjoy the full gallery of 11 pictures below. To view on imgur click here.

Ocean Beach, Hawkes Bay

Although it is in the Hawkes Bay region, it is south of the bay itself, and therefore Ocean Beach is situated on the coast of the South Pacific Ocean.

Looking south
Looking south

There is a small community of around 30 houses south of Waikoukou Stream. The pic above is from just in front of the car park.

Looking north
Looking north

The sand stretches about 8km to the north, all the way to Cape Kidnappers.

South Pacific Ocean
South Pacific Ocean

There’s a picnic table about a 20-30 minute walk north from the car park.  In the picture below you can see the grassy sand just behind the beach.

Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach

We reached a second stream, and the sun went down behind a high hill closer to the ocean. It was immediately colder, and we turned back.

Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach

In the picture below you can see a farm located just behind the beach.  This is probably the source of the 4-wheeler tracks.

Farm on the beach
Farm on the beach

The Ocean Beach Kiwi Surf Life Saving Club patrols the beach in the summer.  Surfing is popular here as well as swimming.  In the pic below you can see the road up from the beach.

Ocean Beach Kiwi Surf Life Saving Club
Ocean Beach Kiwi Surf Life Saving Club

We stopped at the lookout over the beach on our way out.  A couple of young girls were just setting out for a walk along the ridge.

The beach from above
The beach from above

The sun may have set on Ocean Beach, but the surrounding hills were bathed in that great evening light.  The whole drive through the hills of Tuki Tuki and Ocean Beach is very scenic, with bright green grass and limestone cliffs.

Golden hour
Golden hour

There are no shops at Ocean Beach, so it has a nice remote feel, especially if you take a long walk to the north.  There were very few people around on a Monday.

Please enjoy the full gallery of 12 pictures below.  To view on imgur click here.

Te Mata Park’s Giant Circuit

We both had the weekend off after arriving in southern Hawkes Bay, and it was a nice one.  We returned to Te Mata Park and walked the Giant Circuit.

We followed the park website‘s recommendation that we walk the Giant Circuit in a counter-clockwise direction, unlike all of the other signposted walks in the park.

Very near the car park there is a platform with a great view to the north and east toward Hastings and Napier and the bay.

Giant Circuit, near the Main Gates Car Park
Giant Circuit, near the Main Gates Car Park

Te Mata Park is very accessible.  It’s a large 99 hectare (about 245 acres) park with 5 well marked walks.  It has an epic landscape, with forests and cliffs and great views of southern Hawkes Bay.  The best views are from Te Mata Peak, the highest point in the park at 399 meters (about 436 yards)).  The landscape demands that I shoot lots of panoramas, both horizontal and vertical.

Redwood Grove, planted 1974, Giant Circuit
Redwood Grove, planted 1974, Giant Circuit

I knew that we’d pass a grove of giant redwoods, and I thought we’d arrived when we reached the grove shown above.  A plaque informed us that this grove was planted in 1974.  The Giant Redwoods grove was planted in the 1930s.  As I’ve come to realize, past residents of southern Hawkes Bay loved planting redwood trees.

Giant Circuit climbs steeply out of grove and valley to the top of the surrounding cliffs.

Giant Circuit
Giant Circuit

The track then follows the ridge along the western border of the park.

Giant Circuit
Giant Circuit

The redwoods in the Big Redwoods grove are a lot larger than the ones we saw earlier.  The grove itself is larger too. There’s a 3rd redwood planting somewhere in Te Mata Park.

Big Redwoods grove
Big Redwoods grove

The track continues through a beautiful valley below some picturesque cliffs. This valley extends along most of the southern end of Te Mata Park. On the left, in the pic below, is one end of the ‘Hogs Back’ ridge whose opposite end is Te Mata Peak. The Rongakako Trail follows the top of this ridge.

Giant Circuit
Giant Circuit

The cliffs of Te Mata Park are composed of erosion-resistant limestone. Originally deposited in horizontal layers on the seabed, they were “tilted and bowed upward by the geological forces of the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates. The features of Te Mata Park are a result of the earthquake fault which runs from Wellington in the south, through the Ruahine ranges to Hawke’s Bay”.

Te Mata Park's southern valley
Te Mata Park’s southern valley
Southern Te Mata Park
Southern Te Mata Park

At the end of the ridge above a view opens up of the farmland of the Tuki Tuki region south of the park.

Tuki Tuki region from Te Mata Park
Tuki Tuki region from Te Mata Park

The ‘Snakes & Ladders’ section of track is fairly new, and very steep.  It was already in shadow on this winter late afternoon.

Bottom of the ‘Snakes & Ladders’ section of track
Bottom of the ‘Snakes & Ladders’ section of track

We took it slow, and enjoyed the improving view as we climbed.

Tuki Tuki region from Te Mata Park
Tuki Tuki region from Te Mata Park

The pic below is a comfortable walk away from the Te Mata Peak car park, still looking over Tuki Tuki.

Tuki Tuki region from Te Mata Peak
Tuki Tuki region from Te Mata Peak
Approaching Te Mata Peak
Approaching Te Mata Peak

There are many more pictures from the top of Te Mata Peak in my blog post on my first visit.

Looking southeast from Te Mata Peak
Looking southeast from Te Mata Peak

Walking the landscape between Te Mata Peak and the Saddle Lookout provides new angles on familiar landscapes.

Looking northeast toward the Tukituki River and Hawkes Bay
Looking northeast toward the Tukituki River and Hawkes Bay

This dog made me a bit nervous, coming up beside me as I stood near the edge shooting this panorama.  He ignored me, and took in the view before continuing on his way.

Looking northeast toward the Tukituki River and Hawkes Bay
Looking northeast toward the Tukituki River and Hawkes Bay

A last stretch of forest took us away from the road.

Last stretch of bush
Last stretch of bush

When we emerged from the trees everything was painting in the golden light of early evening.

Palms in golden light
Palms in golden light

From there it’s a short walk back to the Main Games Car Park.

Fall colors
Fall colors

Te Mata Park is an impressive place.  I look forward to exploring more of it.  I think I need to get a mountain bike so that I can explore the many trails dedicated to bikes.

Please enjoy the full gallery of 31 pictures below.  To view on imgur click here.

« 1 of 2 »

Leaving Auckland is such sweet sorrow

Some time around early November I knew that I would soon be leaving Auckland.  I resolved to make the most of the time I had left.  It was a sort of New Years resolution, and I started strong, with a 3 day trip to Tiritiri Matangi Island in early January.

Rangitoto Island and Auckland CBD from Tiritiri Matangi Island
Rangitoto Island and Auckland CBD from Tiritiri Matangi Island

After that my efforts tapered off quite a bit.  I found myself leaving Auckland with the islands of the Hauraki Gulf are still largely unexplored.  A trip to the islands takes a fair bit of planning, and I didn’t really make that happen.  I made a visit to Waiheke Island, but only for one day of Sculpture on the Gulf.

Sculpture on the Gulf
Sculpture on the Gulf

I did continue to experience Auckland’s nature and culture.  I spent a day immersed in Pacific Island cultures at the Pasifika Festival.

Cook Islands Stage
Cook Islands Stage

Before leaving Auckland I became familiar with my new neighborhood the Kaipatiki region.  I moved there at the end of November.  This area is densely populated with parks and reserves.

Hilders Park and western Waitemata Harbor - Leaving Auckland
Hilders Park and western Waitemata Harbor

I met a girl last fall, and she had better opportunities in south Hawkes Bay.  I’m a digital nomad, so moving is not a problem for me.  There are some things I miss about the only place in New Zealand that I’ve ever called home, but leaving Auckland is an opportunity to get to know a part of New Zealand that I’ve barely begun to explore.

I don’t miss Auckland’s traffic.  But I do miss taking ferries as a way to avoid traffic.

Double hulled waka on Waitemate Harbor - Leaving Auckland
Double hulled waka on Waitemate Harbor

The gulf, harbors, and islands of Auckland offer a lot of great views that appear before you as you move about the city.  Since the end of November we enjoyed a view of western Waitemate Harbor from our living room and deck.  It was flanked by young kauri trees.

Kaipatiki view of western Waitemate harbor - Leaving Auckland
Kaipatiki view of western Waitemate harbor

On our way out of Auckland we drove to the top of One Tree Hill.  It was a beautiful winter day.  We took in that great 360 degree view of the city and the region.

Eastern Auckland from one Tree Hill - Leaving Auckland
Eastern Auckland from one Tree Hill

In both panoramas you can see both Tamaki Strait in the east and Manukau Harbor in the west.  Look closely and you’ll see the sheep on One Tree Hill.

Western Auckland from one Tree Hill - Leaving Auckland
Western Auckland from one Tree Hill

There was a bit of moisture in the air, but it was clear enough to see Cornwallis Peninsula across Manukau Harbor, and behind it Manukau Heads and one of the peaks of Whatipu.

Manukau Harbor, Cornwallis Peninsula, Manukau Heads and Whatipu - Leaving Auckland
Manukau Harbor, Cornwallis Peninsula, Manukau Heads and Whatipu

After this long goodbye we got on with leaving Auckland.  We went slightly out of our way to stop for lunch in Rotorua.  We drove to the lake for a quick look before continuing.  We had left a day late due to some work that came up, and by waiting we got a much nicer day for the drive.

Lake Rotorua - Leaving Auckland
Lake Rotorua

Southern Hawkes Bay has somewhat more distinct seasons than Auckland, with frost a few times every year.  Last summer at least was much more of a summer in Hawkes Bay.

We had the next day off, and the weather was clear, so we were able to get right into exploring the area.  We had left Auckland for new horizons.  But I’m sure that we’ll return, if only to visit.

Ngataringa Bay Coastal Walk, Devonport to Bayswater

I knew that my expedition to walk the coast from Devonport to Bayswater would be my last walk in Auckland for a long while.  The weather was forecast to clear, and before I left I had a look from the deck over the Waitemata Harbor.  Heavy fog over the harbor produced the brightest rainbow I’ve seen in New Zealand, and possibly the first full double rainbow.  It was a bright start to a somewhat melancholy occasion.

Rainbow over western Waitemata Harbor
Rainbow over western Waitemata Harbor

The coastal walks are some of my favorite walks in Auckland.  I intended at various points to further explore the coasts of Ngataringa and Shoal Bays, but close looks at Google maps, and previous experience, indicated that it was all mud and mangroves and little access to the coast.

A closer look revealed that there are some paths along the coast of Ngataringa Bay that I hadn’t noticed before, so I went to have a look.  I borrowed the map of the Devonport to Takapuna Green Route and added my own path in red (see below).

Ngataringa Bay Coastal Walk, Devonport to Bayswater
Ngataringa Bay Coastal Walk, Devonport to Bayswater

I parked at the end of Victoria Road.  The entrance to Dacre Park was plain to see.  The day had cleared up beautifully.

Entrance to Dacre Park
Entrance to Dacre Park

There’s a good track along the edge of the park.

Path along the edge of Dacre Park
Path along the edge of Dacre Park

Soon enough a nice view opened up over dense mangroves at the edges of Ngataringa Bay.

Ngataringa Bay and Harbor Bridge
Ngataringa Bay and Harbor Bridge
Ngatarings Bay - Devonport to Bayswater
Ngatarings Bay

Ngataringa Park has a large open grassy space.

Mount Victoria and Ngataringa Park
Mount Victoria and Ngataringa Park
Ngataringa Park skate park
Ngataringa Park skate park

Near Lake Road there’s a wooded area with spiraling paths and a definite druid vibe.

Ngataringa Park
Ngataringa Park
Ngataringa Park
Ngataringa Park
Ngataringa Park
Ngataringa Park

Leaving Ngataringa Park you have to walk a short distance along Lake Road.

Ngataringa Bay from Lake Road
Ngataringa Bay from Lake Road

The mangroves and mud come right up to Lake Road for this stretch.  Right on the other side is a path into the bush along the bay.  A short distance in is Mary Barrett Glade.

Mary Barrett Glade

Mary Barrett Glade

This path follows the coast along the edge of Polly’s Park.  You don’t actually see the park from the bush.

Mount Victoria and Ngataringa Bay
Mount Victoria and Ngataringa Bay
Devonport-Bayswater
Devonport-Bayswater

I had a good look at the possibility of continuing along the coast, and saw no possibility.  The path leaves the coast and emerges from the bush along the west end of Polly’s Park.  Looking southeast you can see over Polly’s Park, Ngataringa Park, Mount Victoria, and in the distance North  Head.

Polly's Park, Ngataringa Park, Mount Victoria, North Head
Polly’s Park, Ngataringa Park, Mount Victoria, North Head

I was able to ask someone passing by about the possibility of following the coast around Duder Point.  She offered no hope, so I continued along Wesley Road.

Kawarau Road and Hill Park
Kawarau Road and Hill Park

I went and had a look at Hill Park, and found a path back along the coast toward Duder point.  I stopped when it seemed too obvious that I would be walking into someone’s back yard.

Path from Hill Park toward Duder Point
Path from Hill Park toward Duder Point

I retreated to Merwood Lane and took the bridge to Plymouth Reserve.

Bridge to Plymouth Reserve
Bridge to Plymouth Reserve

There’s a nice view from the bridge.

View from bridge to Plymounth Reserve
View from bridge to Plymounth Reserve

Plymounth Reserve is a strip of grass separated from the Plymouth Crescent houses by a narrow band of trees.

Plymouth Reserve
Plymouth Reserve
Plymouth Reserve
Plymouth Reserve

Here again I found no way to continue along the coast.  The path ends at Plymouth Crescent, which leads to Bayswater Park.  On the other side of the park is O’Neill’s Point Cemetery.

O'Neill’s Point Cemetery
O’Neill’s Point Cemetery

I love a good coastal walk.  This walk from Devonport to Bayswater is a good continuation of the North Shore Coastal Walk (click for parts 1, 2 and 3 of that great walk).

Please enjoy the full gallery of 24 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.