Maraetotara Falls & Maraetotara Falls Heritage Walk

Maraetotara Falls Heritage Walk is a short but scenic drive from Hastings. Most of the way it’s the same route as to Ocean Beach. This beautiful day saw lots of paragliders circling peaks reminiscent of Te Mata Peak.

One entrance to Maraetotara Falls Heritage Walk
One entrance to Maraetotara Falls Heritage Walk

Maraetotara Road widens to provide ample parking. There are at least two different entrances to the walkway. Above is the second when approaching from Waimarama Road.

Near one entrance to the walkway
Near one entrance to the walkway

From the entrance I descended to the river. A path follows the river in both directions. There is no indication of the way to the falls, so I headed east.

Maraetotara River?
Maraetotara River?

I assume that the water tower just visible through the trees below was part of the historic Havelock North hydro-electric power station. It is visible from Maraetotara Road, and marks another entrance to the walkway.

Water tower
Water tower

I’ve read that I could walk about an hour on the tracks around the falls.  There wasn’t so much daylight left on a winter’s day, and the river is in a gully, so after walking some distance to the east, I decided that the falls was in the other direction, and turned back to the west.

The falls walkway
The falls walkway

The smaller falls are the first you see.  These flow over pipes that I believe used to carry water to the power plant.

Smaller falls
Smaller falls

From what I’ve read I can’t quite tell whether the falls themselves were actually created to power the plant.  It is clear that people enjoy swimming in the pool in the summer.

Maraetotara Falls
Maraetotara Falls

It’s a beautiful setting, a great place for a swim, and a good place for a short walk.

Maraetotara Falls
Maraetotara Falls

Please enjoy the full gallery of 10 pictures below.

Te Ana Falls & Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve

Te Ana Falls can be accessed via an easy walk along Kareaara Stream. From the car park a bouncy, well-built suspension bridge provides access to the reserve. There’s a small sheltered picnic area just on the other side of the stream.

Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve
Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve

The walk to the falls is 30 minutes return from the Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve parking area, located 27 km north of Napier on State Highway 2.

Kareaara Stream
Kareaara Stream

The trail follows the attractive Kareaara Stream most of the way. We passed lots of muddy children on the way, but there are no real climbs on the way to Te Ana Falls, so the footing wasn’t much of a problem.

Kareaara Stream
Kareaara Stream

Right before the falls the bush takes on a unique look.

Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve
Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve

This is one of the most interesting forests I’ve ever seen.

Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve
Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve

Te Ana Falls, also called Ann’s Falls, has a pool at the base that would be good for cooling off on a hot day.

Te Ana Falls
Te Ana Falls

Another 15 minutes uphill leads to Tangoio Falls. Unfortunately, as we climbed it became clear that the muddy track was going to be dangerous on the way down, so we carefully retreated, and saved Tangoio Falls for a drier day.

Track to Tangoio Falls
Track to Tangoio Falls

Another walking option is the Tangoio Walkway, about 2 hours one way uphill to White Pine Bush. It is recommended to start at White Pine Bush if walking the track in only one direction. I would guess that this track too is better avoided in wet conditions.

Please enjoy the full gallery of 9 pictures below.

White Pine Bush Scenic Reserve, home of King Kahikatea

White Pine Bush Scenic Reserve offers a 30 minute loop through well-preserved old-growth native forest, with the option to extend the walk with another 30 minute loop.

White Pine Bush
White Pine Bush

Leaving the car park, a small bridge crosses a picturesque stream. The water is very clear and the lucky visitor might see small fish, eels or koura (freshwater crayfish).

Stream - White Pine Bush
Stream

The tracks of the first loop are excellent, even in wet conditions.  The second loop’s tracks are very good as well.

The two loops connect at a picnic area next to the stream. Extending the walk is an easy choice; the most huge and impressive old trees are found on this track, including King Kahikatea.

King Kahikatea - White Pine Bush
King Kahikatea

A boardwalk encourages visitors to stay off of the roots of most of the trees in this area. This kept me close to the huge King Kahikatea, and I was unsuccessful at doing it justice in pictures.

King Kahikatea - White Pine Bush
King Kahikatea

Later in the loop King Kahikatea can be seen towering over the rest of the forest. Kahikatea is the Maori name for white pine.

King Kahikatea - White Pine Bush
King Kahikatea

I’m happier with the pictures of the giants below. Unfortunately I’m not able to accurately identify them.

White Pine Bush
White Pine Bush

The pics above and below were shot on a sunnier day when dangerously wet tracks cut my walk short at a nearby reserve.

White Pine Bush
White Pine Bush

Walks in White Pine Bush are very easy, and popular with kids. On my first visit I met a couple of boys with their grandparents. They collected an impressive number of painted rocks. There were far more here than anywhere I’ve seen, at least before these kids finished their walk.

Hunters rock
Hunters rock

White Pine Bush Scenic Reserve is 30 km north of Napier on State Highway 2.

New growth from old
New growth from old

Please enjoy the full gallery of 17 pictures below.

Te Mata Park’s Big Redwoods Track

The Big Redwoods Track in Te Mata Park is 2.7km long and takes about an hour to walk. At the beginning it follows a similar route to the Karaka Wander. At the end it follows a route similar to Giant Circuit. In this post I haven’t included pics of a lot of things that are shared with tracks I’ve shown you in previous posts, but this track’s scenery is as epic as any in the park, and takes in both large redwood groves.

Limestone caves - Big Redwoods Track
Limestone caves

Te Mata Park’s mountain bike tracks really look like a lot of fun.

Mountain bike track and limestone cliffs
Mountain bike track and limestone cliffs

The Big Redwoods is a peaceful place with lots of space and lots of shade. A covered picnic area invites you to take a break, and stay for lunch.

Big Redwoods Grove
Big Redwoods Grove

These are the tallest and oldest redwoods in Te Mata Park.

The Big Redwoods
The Big Redwoods

There are the usual limestone cliffs, and other photogenic landscape.

Te Mata Park - Big Redwoods Track
Te Mata Park

Lemon-scented eucalyptus are beautiful trees and I’m glad I finally know them by name. These look like they’ve survived a fire.

Lemon-scented eucalyptus
Lemon-scented eucalyptus

Once the track joins with Giant Circuit it eventually passes one end of the other redwood grove, planted in 1974 by the Hastings Rotary Club.

Rotary Redwood grove
Rotary Redwood grove

I’ve returned often enough that every walk in Te Mata Park takes me to parts of the park that I’ve seen before, but they’re well worth revisiting. Every walk also shows me something new. This post doesn’t really do justice to Big Redwoods Track.

Limestone half-dome
Limestone half-dome

Near the end of Big Redwoods Track is that great lookout point over the Heretaunga Plains, worth posting again.

Lookout over the Heretaunga Plains
Lookout over the Heretaunga Plains

Please enjoy the full gallery of 8 pictures below.

My visits with redwood trees in Hawkes Bay made me nostalgic for the giant redwoods of California. The internet turned up this great page that contains some epic photos, the best of which I’m sharing with you below.

The President, 247 feet tall
The President, 247 feet tall
General Sherman, at 275 ft, a diameter of 25 ft, an estimated bole volume of 52,513 cu ft, and an estimated age of 2,300–2,700 years, is among the tallest, widest and longest-lived of all trees on the planet.
General Sherman, at 275 ft, a diameter of 25 ft, an estimated bole volume of 52,513 cu ft, and an estimated age of 2,300–2,700 years, is among the tallest, widest and longest-lived of all trees on the planet.
300 ft, 1,500 year old redwood
300 ft, 1,500 year old redwood

Piwakawaka Loop: redwoods, lemon eucalyptus, and fantails in Te Mata Park

Piwakawaka Loop is a 1.3km walk of about 40 minutes through Te Mata Park. It starts the same as 4 of the Top 5 Walking Tracks in Te Mata Park, in a clockwise direction from the Main Gates Car Park.

Near the start of 4 of the Top 5 Walking Tracks in Te Mata Park
Near the start of 4 of the Top 5 Walking Tracks in Te Mata Park

Soon the track ducks into a leafy tunnel. Green markers show the way.

Piwakawaka Loop diverges
Piwakawaka Loop diverges

I was surprised by a grove of redwoods that continues for some time. I’d only seen the other end of it previously, and never entered far into it. This is not the Big Redwoods Grove, but it is pretty big.

This grove was planted in 1974 by the Hastings Rotary Club with trees propagated by Don Wilson Nurseryman of Hastings using seeds imported from California. Redwoods seem to do well in New Zealand, and past residents of Hawkes Bay seem to have loved them.

Redwood grove
Redwood grove

This short loop track was given the Maori name for the fantails seen along the way. These curious little birds like to come up and say hello.

Piwakawaka (fantail)
Piwakawaka (fantail)

Lemon-scented eucalyptus are striking trees that always stand out from their surroundings. The essential oil of the tree is about 80% citronellal. Unrefined oil is used in perfume, and a refined form is used in insect repellents, especially against mosquitoes.

Lemon-scented eucalyptus - Piwakawaka Loop
Lemon-scented eucalyptus

The last part of the loop passes through the same landscapes as the beginning of Giant Circuit, and the end of some of the other walks in Te Mata Park.

Piwakawaka Loop
Piwakawaka Loop

Familiar sights include the view from the lookout near the Main Gates Car Park.

View over southern Hawkes Bay
View over southern Hawkes Bay

As I walk the tracks in Te Mata Park I get to know the park better as a whole while appreciating different areas and features. It’s nice to have a short walk like Piwakawaka Loop available, and its character makes it a unique Te Mata Park experience.

Please enjoy the full gallery of 8 pictures below.

Pakowhai Regional Park, The Dog Park

Pakowhai Regional Park is referred to as a country-style park. It is located near Hastings on either side of Raupare Stream. Ngaruroro River flows along its northern border. There are about 2km of easy walking tracks, open grassy areas, and a lot of interesting trees.

West from the car park - Pakowhai
West from the car park

The park was built in the bed where Ngaruroro River once flowed. The river was moved in 1969 as part of a flood control plan. Flood control features are easily recognized, such as the high banks. In places willow trees were planted to reinforce the banks.

From the car park the tracks follows Raupare Stream at varying distances.

Raupare Stream - Pakowhai
Raupare Stream

Soon you have to cross Raupare Stream in order to continue west.

Raupare Stream - Pakowhai
Raupare Stream

The park continues some distance to the west. A track along the river continues much further. I turned east instead. In the picture below you can see the Ngaruroro River and a track along the top of a stop bank.

Ngaruroro River - Pakowhai
Ngaruroro River

The park ends at the Pakowhai Road bridge over the Ngaruroro River. I was drawn to the graffiti and burned out car beneath the bridge.

Bridge over Ngaruroro River
Bridge over Ngaruroro River
Bridge over Ngaruroro River
Bridge over Ngaruroro River
Bridge over Ngaruroro River
Bridge over Ngaruroro River

The track continues a great distance to the east as well. I have a half-baked plan to follow this path to the pacific coast, and then to Napier.

This park is known to locals as The Dog Park, and it’s obvious that dog walking is a very popular use for the park.

The Dog Park - Pakowhai
The Dog Park

In the picture below you can see the long narrow island in the middle of Raupare Stream. There are bridges to the island and a track along much of its length.

Raupare Stream
Raupare Stream

Pakowhai Regional Park is a good place for a picnic or a short walk, especially if you have a dog.

Pakowhai Regional Park
Pakowhai Regional Park

Please enjoy the full gallery of 18 pictures below.

Shine Falls and Boundary Stream Mainland Reserve

Shine Falls is the largest waterfall in Hawkes Bay. It is most easily accessed via an alternative entrance to Boundary Stream Mainland Reserve on Heays Road, about 14km from State highway 2. The walk to the falls takes about an hour each way.

Track to the falls
Track to the falls

Shine Falls will be far more enjoyable on a hot day, as you can’t get a good look at the falls without getting wet.  A waterproof camera is recommended. The track is also very muddy in wet weather.

Track to the falls
Track to the falls

The striking cliffs above and below greet you right out of the car park.

Track to the falls
Track to the falls

Fortunately it wasn’t muddy in any of the steeper parts.

Track to the falls
Track to the falls

The bush is quite varied. The reserve is old-growth native forest.

Track to the falls
Track to the falls

Across the bridge below is the track to Pohokura Road, the main entrance to Boundary Stream Mainland Reserve. It is only suitable for experienced hikers. From this point the walk is 3-4 hours each way.

Track to Pohokura Road
Track to Pohokura Road

The bridge below crosses the stream very close to the falls.

Track to the falls
Track to the falls

You can get closer to the falls than shown in the picture below, but I didn’t want to get my camera that wet. Heavy mist on my glasses kept me from getting a good look up close, and the cold water encouraged me to not spend much time there. You can see the mist in the picture below. On a hot summer day I’m sure the cold mist would feel great.

Shine Falls
Shine Falls

A small stream (and a wet picnic table) mark the point where you start to get wet.

Shine Falls
Shine Falls

The stream itself is energetic and picturesque.

Boundary Stream?
Boundary Stream?

The cliffs at the start of this walk demanded more pictures on the return trip.

Limestone cliffs
Limestone cliffs
Limestone cliffs
Limestone cliffs

This kind of landscape seems to characterize the Tutira area. I believe this is called a karst landscape.

Tutira landscape
Tutira landscape

Please enjoy the full gallery of 16 pictures below. To view on imgur click here.

Napier Botanical Gardens and old cemetery

When the the Colonial Secretary in Wellington issued instructions in 1854 to survey and prepare a plan for a town that would become Napier, Commissioner of Crown Lands Alfred Domett included in those plans a botanical gardens.

Napier Terrace entrances
Napier Terrace entrances

There’s plenty of parking by the Napier Terrace entrances. The gardens are on a hill that slopes down from Napier Terrace.

These are fairly small botanical gardens, as you can see from the map below.

Map of Napier Botanical Gardens
Map of Napier Botanical Gardens

The earliest plantings included trees.  The gardens have a nice collection of exotic specimens that are now over 150 years old.

Peruvian pepper tree
Peruvian pepper tree

Napier Cemetery was planned at the same time as the botanical gardens.  It’s located right next door, separated only by the path called Military Track. Many important figures from the early history of Napier are buried in the cemetery.

Napier Cemetery
Napier Cemetery

It’s worth having at least a short walk around the cemetery. Reading the oldest tombstones offers insights on life in early Napier.

Napier Cemetery
Napier Cemetery

I’ve never seen a stage like the one in the center of the botanical gardens. It would be interesting to see a performance there.

Stage
Stage

There are three small aviaries.

Aviaries
Aviaries

The concentration of features near Spencer Road suggest that this is the main entrance. The parking is much more limited at this end of gardens though.

Near the Spencer Road entrance
Near the Spencer Road entrance

The duck pond is right next to Spencer Road.

Pond
Pond

In the gardens shown below water plants grow from a stream between soil beds containing other plants.

Botanical gardens
Botanical gardens

I walked back up the hill among the collection of native ferns, and many more big old trees from other parts of the world.

Native ferns
Native ferns

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

Great views of Hawkes Bay from Bluff Hill Lookout

Bluff Hill Lookout offers great views over Hawke’s Bay, from Mahia in the north to Cape Kidnappers in the south. You can look over the city of Napier, and directly down on the Port of Napier.

Sturm's Gully Reserve
Sturm’s Gully Reserve

There’s a car park at the top. I wanted to make a walk of it, so I took the Bluff Hill Walkway starting at Sturm’s Gully Reserve, where Hornsey Road meets Karaka Road.

Bluff Hill Walkway
Bluff Hill Walkway

As indicated in the signs in the pic above, poison is used in this area to control the usual pests.  I saw a large rat on the way up. He looked at me and continued casually on his way.

The path to the top is steep, but there are at least two benches along the way to have a rest. It takes about 30 minutes to walk the loop. At the top of the hill is a large grassy field.  I sat for a while on a bench at the northwest corner, taking in the view.

Looking west over Hawkes Bay and Napier
Looking west over Hawkes Bay and Napier

The field slopes up to the car park. The panorama below shows the full view from the bottom of the field. For the fourth largest shipping container terminal in New Zealand, the Port of Napier looks pretty small.

View from Bluff Hill
View from Bluff Hill

From the top, near the car park, you can see north to Cape Kidnappers.

Looking south over Hawkes Bay and Napier
Looking south over Hawkes Bay and Napier

The sun set early on a winter’s day.

Sunset over Hawkes Bay
Sunset over Hawkes Bay

To return I followed Lighthouse Road for a short distance to reach the walkway.

Evening on Bluff Hill
Evening on Bluff Hill

There is no sidewalk, but traffic wasn’t too bad. The walkway is on the left, a short distance ahead in the picture below.

Evening on Bluff Hill
Evening on Bluff Hill

The view from Bluff Hill is worth a look, and easy to reach by car. The walk to the top was worth it as well,

Please enjoy the full gallery of 9 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

Te Mata Park’s Karaka Wander

Like all of the top 5 walking tracks in Te Mata Park, other than Giant Circuit, walking Karaka Wander in a clockwise direction is recommended. The track starts left of the signboard at the Main Gates Car Park. It is estimated to take 1 hour 15 minutes.

Near the start of Karaka Wander
Near the start of Karaka Wander

I would soon be amongst those great limestone cliffs. Glimpses appear early, but this trail starts in the bush.

Karaka Wander
Karaka Wander

This walk is named for a grove of ~200 year old karaka trees along the way. Unfortunately I don’t recognize that tree well enough to know when I passed through that grove.  I suspect it was early on.

Karaka Wander
Karaka Wander

Like the rest of Te Mata Park, this landscape looks best in panoramas.

Karaka Wander
Karaka Wander

A lot of the walk follows the same long valley, between the same two ridges.

Karaka Wander
Karaka Wander

The track emerges from the right side of the valley pictured below, and continues on the left side.  The track in the middle is for mountain bikes.  It looks like a lot of fun.

Karaka Wander
Karaka Wander

I crossed the road for a look at the now-familiar view over the Tukituki River from Saddle Lookout.

View from Saddle Lookout
View from Saddle Lookout

There aren’t many trees on this side of the valley, so there are lots of great views.

Karaka Wander
Karaka Wander

For me the highlight of this walk is the cliffs.

Karaka Wander
Karaka Wander
Karaka Wander
Karaka Wander

The last part of the track is back in the trees.  If I recall correctly, the track shown below is another mountain bike track.

Mountain bike track?
Mountain bike track?

These days it seems that there is always a painted rock.

Painted rock
Painted rock

Te Mata Park has a great landscape.  I’ve enjoyed every walk in the park so far.  Considering how easy it is to get there I predict that it won’t take long for me to do all of the named walks.  This park is also a big reminder that I need a mountain bike.

Please enjoy the full gallery of 17 pictures below.  To view on imgur click here.