Spot X- Orakawa Bay, Waihi Beach

So this is a pretty special spot “off the beaten track” and well, in truth a Spot X type of place. So shhh!🤫 I love this quote “blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures”. I’m all up for getting away from the crowds, and honestly sometimes that’s only a mere 5- 10 minute walk away to find your own little piece of paradise🏝. This walk is slightly longer at around ~45 minutes each way but so completely worth it! But only for the adventurous!😉⛱

 

I’ve been walking this track with my kids since they were 2 and 4 years old. The two year old is in the backpack (good old dad carrying surfboard and child!) When my youngest was around 3 he started to walk one way on his own, requiring carrying on the way home. From ~4 years old both my kids were able to walk there an back on their own-with a bit of bribery which has since become tradition #waihibeachhotel #gelato 🍦 yummy! There is a lovely stream that comes out of the bush further along the beach so that is usually where we take the kids and they happily splash about and build dams for hours. Kick back and enjoy a picnic under the overhanging pohutakawa trees.

Important note: This walk is tide dependent! You need to suss out the tides so you can A) access the track from Waihi beach to start and B) get home! Also there are NO lifeguards at Orakawa Bay. My partner surfs🏄‍♂️ at Orakawa and is pictured above teaching our son on a relatively calm day. The DOC website considers this beach unsafe to swim at due to the steep grade of the sea floor. Please be aware of this and know your limits. There is nothing out these ways except you and nature so please be prepared i.e. water, sunscreen, hats, snack or lunch, nappies, 1st aid kit, spare clothes or togs, towel etc.

NB: There is a long drop toilet about 5 minutes before you get to Orakawa beach, BYO toilet paper just in case.

+For more detailed information on this track click here

Happy adventuring✌ Hey why not subscribe to our blog so you can keep up to date with our latest adventures! Just scroll down a bit further and hit the subscribe button 😍  or find us on all social media – forestfamilynz

 

Girls birthday 🎈🍰 weekend hike, Pirongia

Though it is nice to take the kids out bush walking, it is also fantastic to have a kid-free girls weekend tramp and every year since my 30th birthday I make that happen, here’s how it started ….

When thinking about what I wanted to do for the big 3-0, my thoughts went to my bucket list… what were the things I really wanted to do and what hadn’t I done yet? Having a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old at home 🤱 didn’t leave me much time to think about me.

I had always wanted to do an overnight hike, and I was feeling frustrated that at 30 I hadn’t yet made that happen 🤦‍♀️. Well that was about to change, even though I was feeling nervous leaving the kids for the first time overnight and hadn’t done many decent day hikes since having them, I had to get out there and lucky for me I had an awesome crew ready to celebrate on top of a mountain ⛰ with me.

We started early in the morning and went slowly, took our time, had plenty of stops to take in the constant views along the Mahaukura Track. We took the whole day and reached the summit after about 5 and a half hours, It was a glorious summers day ☀️, you could not have asked for clearer conditions, the 360 degree views of the Waikato were magnificent.

 

From the summit tower, the track to Puhautea Hut was approximately another 20-30 minutes, and once there we claimed our beds, had a feed and a rest on the deck. Since it was gonna be such a clear night we decided to take the 20-30 minute walk out along the Hihikiwi track to the lookout. WOW, we were stunned by the sunset 🌄 in the west and the moonrise 🌛 in the east – perfect!

 

In the morning we decided to get an early start and stop at the lookout tower for breakfast, (apologies to the others in the hut, we tried to be quiet)! Breakfast and a cuppa whilst watching the spectacular sunrise, there really was no better way to see in the first day of my 30’s.

 

We walked back along the Tahuanui Track and came out at the Kaniwhaniwha. We had dropped a car off there at the beginning so we could take a different track out, the stream at the end didn’t disappoint.

I now enjoy my birthday tradition every year 🥂 and can’t wait for the next adventure!

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An ugly old quarry transformed into an arty garden paradise🌵🎨🌴🌻😍

Looking for a walk that incorporates nature and the arts? Then put Te Puna Quarry Park, in the Bay of Plenty on your to do list + the kids will love this place too! Donations welcome as it is run by volunteers. There is an honesty box at the park entrance.

The kids highlight’s were the huge digger at the park entrance (good luck getting them off!), the monarch butterfly garden, the musical garden, the komodo dragon sculptures, the moving wind sculptures, any chimes you get to bang, searching for painted rocks, and the wonderful dragon playground under the cherry blossom trees.

My highlight’s were: sitting in the mediation/peace garden eating lemon cake (I love a good picnic spot) and the views over the Bay are awesome from there! Also getting to walk around the long loop without pushing a toddler in a buggy (it is steep!) These days I almost have to run to keep up with them (ah the irony!) If you are in the buggy pushing stage I’d just recommend a walk to the butterfly garden and perhaps some of the lower tracks definitely the musical garden.

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A very brief history: Large quantities of low-grade rock were extracted from the quarry from the early 1900’s to 1979. After it closed the disused quarry, already an eyesore began to get over run by noxious weeds, when the local council suggested its sale in the late 1980’s they were met with opposition from the local residents who argued that the mine was not environmentally acceptable. In 1993 the Te Puna Quarry Park Society was formed largely thanks to a lady called Shirley Sparks. And after a serious amount of behind the scenes type work, the society got the status of the quarry changed to “Quarry Reserve Community Use”. Then the real work began transforming a scarred piece of land into a giant garden paradise🌵🌼🌴🌳🦋🕊🎨🌻🍁🌹.

Aren’t some people just awesome!😍👊🤗 Click here for their website.

Happy exploring!

 

 

Stream crossings: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Stream Crossings can be so much fun, though generally speaking only when you get to the other side safely and with dry boots.

During these last school holidays 14 of us, 7 adults and 7 children, went on a tramp to Lane Cove Hut in Totara North, Northland. It was raining pretty steadily but the forecast said it wasn’t meant to stay, so with rain jackets on and our packs watertight we set off. We decided that if we got to the stream crossing and the flow was too high or strong, then we would just turn around.

 

After an hour and forty minutes, we met the stream, it wasn’t too high and it wasn’t a raging torrent so crossing wasn’t too much of a big deal, most of the kids even managed to cross by themselves, they weren’t worried about wet shoes. Sometimes you have to weigh up the pros and cons here: let the kids cross on their own, carry them across, carry their shoes and packs for them and then let them take on the slippery rocks ????

I definitely wanted to try keep my boots dry, so me and a few of the other adults decided to takes our boots off and throw them across.

My cousin had taken hers off and we were having the discussion of who she would trust to get them across for her. After some joking around, I took on the job, I was balanced on a log in the stream and I lobbed one of the two boots over ….. perfect! It was the perfect throw and a perfect catch on the other side. I was feeling pretty confident and coordinated, I said to the others “check me out I feel like I’m a pro croquet player”  …. That was the first mistake I think i was meaning petanque.

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Me holding the then dry boot

Anyway I got my pose ready to show off my mad boot throwing skills, my sister pipes up and says “remember when I did this and my boot went floating down the stream” ……. I threw the boot …….. straight up in the air …… OMG how did that go so wrong? It felt like it was in slow mo and the boot seemed to stay up in the air for ages. I tried to get into the stream as quickly as I could to catch the boot (without injuring myself), but too late …… plop.

Everyone was laughing, well apart from me standing shocked and embarrassed holding a wet boot in the middle of the stream, oh and of course my Cousin looking not so impressed with now having one wet boot. The world sometimes knows when you have to be brought down a peg, what can you do but laugh ; )

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We sat on the other side for a lunch break and had a good laugh at my opsies, An unfortunate way to make funny hiking memories. 100m along the track we had to cross over the same stream again, needless to say we all weren’t as precious second time round, and maybe next time I’ll only be taking responsibility for my own boots.

Check out our adventures page for more photos and info on the track.

How to take a 💩 in the bush…

No joke! We need to have a conversation about this! We hate seeing toilet paper or worse🙈 when out in the bush! Here’s our guide on how to…see a man about a horse🐎 when nature🌳 calls.

  1. Stepping off the track ~10m or so-usually behind a tree or shrub. Please talk to your kids or if they are young go with them. They don’t need to go miles away- you don’t want a rescue mission on your hands!
  2. Dig a hole that’s deep enough (at least 10 cm). You can use a stick or the heel of your shoe/boot.
  3. Hopefully you’ve remembered some toilet paper or a tissue, if not don’t fret you can usually find some rangiora (pictured below) aka bushman’s toilet paper, it’s easily identifiable by its large size and nice white soft underside.20181012_002229996_iOS
  4. After you’ve done your business, push the soil you removed to create the hole back on top! If your very courteous you might place a rock or log on top.
  5. Done – voila! No one needs to know you were ever there, which is how it should be!😁❤🌳🐎👌 #keepnzgreen #beatidykiwi #lovenz #jobdone

 

Hiking with children; from the front-pack to their own two feet.

When looking through my children’s photos, it was interesting to see how many photos I had of the kids walking our old local track over the years; so I decided to make a little video of what I found, check it out below.

To get more track info click here to view our Hakarimata Summit Track Nutshell.

Forest family goes a little bit town & country

Last week I dropped my car at the mechanics, un-loaded our bikes and took off on an adventure along one of the many urban-link cycle ways in Tauranga. We cycled from Birch Ave to the Cambridge Rd BMX track ~5 km return. The kids loved the ride as it was flat, easy and very different from our usual type of mountain bike rides! Firstly we biked through a short stretch of industrial area, under the big highway bridges, whizzed past amazing gratified walls, then along bush corridors and finally past a lovely big wetland full of different types of birds. We rocked up to the BMX track and watched some BMX racing while we has our morning tea, then rode back the same way. Next time I will bring my tag-along so we can explore the trails more and ride a bit further, as my 6 year old had definitely had enough by the end. Note: its a gravel track which my 7 year old thought was fab to practice doing skids on. All I could think of was his bare legs (as he was only wearing shorts) and the fact I’d not brought a single plaster or tissue with us! I’m happy to report that none were needed on this excursion. Happy adventuring!

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Awesome short easy walk- Castlepoint, Wairarapa

This is a stunning, easy walk suitable for everyone. If you visit the Wairarapa checking out Castlepoint Scenic Reserve, it is simply a must do!

Check out this short video of my visit up to the Lighthouse, and for more track info click here to view the Nutshell on our adventures page.

Swans, a scavenger hunt & a serendipitous meeting

It’s the school holidays at the moment. Last week I took my two boy’s aged 6 and 7 to McLaren’s Fall Park in Tauranga to take part in a scavenger hunt. In my mind I was like “Capital -A- for Awesome, they are going to love this!” The reality was quite a lot of whining from my 7 year old…(and a lot of internal eye rolling from me) … sigh, anyway after being left no alternative he hopped in the car. And of course when we arrived, he got out of the car and ran around like a mad thing high on life -totally loving it!

We parked at Cherry Bay, which incidentally was full of Cherry trees in blossom, ahhh…lovely. But as you may (or may not know) there’s no time to stop and enjoy the serenity or smell the flowers, as I have to jog if I’m to keep up with the boys!

 

The kids and I had a great time together doing the scavenger hunt. There are many tracks here but the track we walked went from Cherry Bay to the park entrance/exit and was flat and easy going (~2.2km return). P.s. I totally recommend a scavenger hunt as an exciting way to get out an about with the kids. Click here to see the one we did.  Afterwards we walked back to the car to grab our lunch for a picnic under the Cherry trees, when we ran into some friends from Raglan! Love serendipitous meetings! We had a hilarious competition as to who was brave enough to feed a swan by hand, the winner getting an 🍦! In the end we also counted hand feeding ducks as swans can be a little bit scary!

There is sooo much more left to explore here so we will be back soon!

Note: The track is stroller/buggy friendly from Cherry Bay -bottom flat-to park entrance/exit. There are toilets, BBQ’s and picnic tables dotted around. Pick up a map from the information centre when you arrive. For more information about McLaren Falls Park click here.

No dog’s permitted in the park. However you can take dogs along the Ruahihi Canal walk (just outside park) on a lead.

Other activities: Disc golf (Frisbee golf), walking, bike friendly trails, Marshall’s Animal park, camping, glow worm walks, kayaking, cafe, Trout fishing (need a licence, can buy from information centre.)

Part 2 – A sick child in Waingongoro Hut, Taranaki

In the morning I awoke to find that my daughter had a very high temperature and did not want to get out of bed. Oh oh, alarm bells, that is not normal! Hmm… we are meant to be walking out this morning, how am I going to get her up and moving? I can’t very well carry her plus our bags! Up until this trip, she had only taken liquid pain relief, which of course I had none of, I only had ibuprofen capsules, and from past failed experiences, she hadn’t managed to swallow yet. Luckily there was cell reception and I was able to double check the dosage. Great, she could take one capsule. Now the tricky part of how to get a sick child to take the pill …… after some important discussions and some diligent negotiations (bribes), she managed to swallow it. Oh thank goodness!

We spent a nerve racking hour, trying to come up with a plan B,C & D, but her fever thankfully came down and she was able to get up and get going. Phew. We called a friend and asked them to walk up and meet us in case we needed help getting her out. Thankfully we weren’t too far into the wilderness, we had cell phone coverage and I wasn’t on my own!

We met our “rescue” party about 50 minutes into our walk back down the track and they couldn’t even tell who was sick! Typical huh! Seeing our rescuers (who had brought their children) gave our kids the extra distraction and motivation they needed to go the rest of the way. We even managed an extra 15 minute detour to Wilkie’s Pools on the way back!

This was one heck of an adventure and although quite stressful and worrying at times had some great take home lessons. I will be carrying some liquid pamol from now on and have since invested in an personal locator beacon. These can also be hired from various outdoor shops. It won’t hold us back from future adventures but rather has made us all the more savvier for futures ones! It’s always best to be prepared!

For more track info check out Waingongoro Hut on our our adventures page.

 

Part 1 – Waingongoro Hut, Taranaki

A fevered child, in a hut, on a mountain ….

It was school holiday time and we were at my sisters place in South Taranaki.  We had the time, we had the crew and on the doorstep we had the stunning Maunga (Mt Taranaki)! My son, who had been so looking forward to staying in a hut, was sick and had to stay back with Dad. My daughter seemed well enough and was super keen, especially since her cousin and a new friend were also doing it. It was only an hour and a half walk to the hut, 45 minutes uphill and 45 minutes downhill, what could possibly go wrong?

Approximately 20-30 minutes in there is a small river crossing (you can bypass this by going up to Wilkie’s Pools, crossing the river using the bridge) but if there hasn’t been any rain and the river flow is not high (which was the case on this particular day), then crossing using the big boulders was a fun challenge for the kids.

The girls lead the way, taking turns at being the leader and pointing out any obstacles coming up on the track, a log, a large step or a muddy puddle.

Before we knew it we were at the Waingongoro river swing bridge. My niece was the first one to cross the bridge (only one person allowed on the bridge at a time) and yelled out midway “wow this is so high”! Everyone else went across, leaving me to be the lucky last ….. and oh man it was “so high”, I actually felt physically sick looking down, and my hands were like vice grips on the ropes of the not-so-wide swing bridge. P.s. the swing bridge is the highest in Egmont National Park at 24m high! Some advice to those who don’t like heights: walk slowly, try to stand in the middle of the bridge for a while to get used to it, breathe, relax and take in the beautiful view of the mountain, it is worth doing.

The hut was great, it had a fire place, two large bunk rooms, a large kitchen/dining space and on a clear day the deck outside has great views of Taranaki’s Peak and Ruapehu in the distance in the other direction.

Note: The section of the track from the swing bridge to the hut (about 5 minutes) has a very steep drop off to the valley below. Also at the hut, just past the tree line, is another very steep drop into the river valley below.  Please do be aware of this so you can talk to your kids about out-of-bound areas and safety.

Stay tuned for Part two when things take a turn for the worst!  Coming tomorrow …..

Looking for something cool to do this school holidays?

Check out the Looking Glass Gardens in Te Puke and prepare to fall down the rabbit hole… I have been meaning to come here for years but for one reason or another had never made it (it also closed for a while). But guess what? Its back open and in mid September a friend messaged and said come on! So off we went! The blossoms were out, and although we missed the peak of the (~10,000!) daffodils that were planted (you must need to get here late August/early September for that) it was a magical and wonderful place! I can’t wait to go back!

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The stairway to heaven (featured picture) is quite something, get prepared for some steep uphill! But the views! Wow, breath-taking (literally, as my kids would say!) Plus there is a swing in a tree at the top, if anyone needs a little coaxing!

Nutshell:

About: The garden was originally created by Gael & Cedric Blaymire. This is one of those amazing stories of vision and bloody hard work or yakka as we say in NZ! This awesome couple worked tirelessly for over 30 years to create an enchanted 20 acre tree garden. Honestly, such inspiring people! Some of the places they planted up with daffodil bulbs are crazy steep! Gael’s sense of humor and quirkiness is reflected in the Alice in Wonderland theme that runs throughout the garden. The garden closed for a time as the Blaymire’s sold the property but thankfully the new owners have it opened up to the public again. What an awesome legacy, I highly recommend a visit!

Location: 558 Te Puke Quarry Rd, Te Puke (partly gravel road). Call 027 578 8307 for more info.

Open hours: 10am- 4 pm daily.

Cost: $5 per adult, $2.50 per child. Bring the correct amount of $ as it is an honesty box system, however you can pay by bank deposit if you forget this!

Toilets: Yes, I noticed 2. One in the amphitheater area, and the second by the owner’s house. There is a map at the gate so take a photo of it then.

Dogs: Not allowed

Buggy or wheel chair: Sorry, not suitable.

 

 

 

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