TORA Coastal Walk – hiking in style

Glamping Tramping! Get ta crew together and treat yourselves 🥾 🥂 🌿

Beautiful mountains. Stunning coastline. Spectacular cuisine and Great friends. What more could you want for a 3 day adventure away. Check out the video below from my trip away on the TORA coastal walk.

I have to say doing a three day hike with only a day pack was pretty awesome not to mention being catered for 😋. Having done this walk during a very dry February, I think I’d also like to see it in October or November in all its full green lushness. We walked for about 12-15km per day and everyone in my group had walking poles and used them on day 1 and 3 due to steep terrain.

For anyone thinking of doing the trip, here are some notes from my trip and tips I think I would have liked to have known in advance:

  • Day one – why rush? Stop and look around, the views of the surrounding mountains are endless. We cruised along, taking 6 hours to trek to Stony Bay Lodge, which included plenty of stops and the quick side trip up the Bulgar (worth the short steep climb 💪). Try and take breaks in the shade when you can as it is pretty exposed (the last bit of shade is just before the Buglar). Stony Bay Lodge is beautiful.
    • The Crow’s Nest 👇 walk is only a ~10 minute walk that takes you a 3rd of the way up the hill behind the lodge. We checked this out at the start of day 2 but it really would have been a stunning spot to have a wine and watch the changing evening sky at sunset 🌄.

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  • Day 2 – I recommend not doing the ship wreck walk as there isn’t much to see as it’s mostly eroded away, and it’s a ~7km return walk on the gravel road – Instead take your time in the morning enjoying the beautiful Stony Bay Lodge and take a slow walk to the Shearer’s Quarters (this section is road walking which I didn’t particularly enjoy – but that may have been due to the fact it was top of the road trek to the ship wreck. Take a leisurely swim/lunch stop along the way (conserve your energy for the Trig walk ⛰).
    • There is a good swim spot at Te Awaiti really close to the driveway for the Shearer’s Quarters. Once you pass the little cluster of houses on your right (oceanside), keep following the road until you reach another small gathering of houses buildings but this time on your left. Opposite these houses there is a grassed driveway/reserve with camping sign – if you follow this around the little hill you come to a choice little secluded stony beach. Fair Warning – oh so cold  🥶 but oh so refreshing 😁.
    • Unfortunately we did not do the trig walk. Only 2 of the total 13 guests ventured up and apparently had to almost crawl the last part due to the really strong wind that day.
  • Day 3 – You begin with an hour walk with mountain vistas amongst farmland until you meet the bush edge – enjoy the bush whilst you’re in it, this day has the most in-bush walking. Very steep downhills on bulldozed tracks made me glad for my poles. This day for us was a super-hot one with no breeze. There were times you could feel the sun burning you. I was thankful for my face scarf/shield (wish I had of used it on the first day as I got super wind burnt 🥴).
    • A couple of us braved a cold shower at Whakapata Cottage at the end (a party of nine had been and gone before we got back – maybe if you were first back it wouldn’t be cold) – I personally found it nice and refreshing after the massively hot day we had. We went straight from there for a massage at Brackenridge Country Retreat and Day Spa – great way to top off a luxury tramping experience 🧘 😝.

As I stated at the top: Glamping Tramping! Get ta crew together and treat yourselves 🥂

What happens on TORA stays on TORA 😜

Anita 🥜✌️

 

Have you done it? What were your highlights?

Wanting to do it? – If you have any questions, flick me a line below. I’d be happier to have a korero 📬

 

 

Adventure 🚵‍♀️Race 🏃‍♀️Addiction!

While you are reading this post, I will be sat in a little caravan in remote, hilly, bush clad Coromandel on the eve of an 8 hour adventure race…nervously pouring over maps with butterflies in my stomach! This is my first 8-hour adventure race, with four 6-hour races under our belt it was apparently time to up the anti (yes, thank you Catherine😜). Our team, “Hopscotch Mafia” consist’s of my two good friends, Catherine & Simone. Our other friend & the 3rd team member is wisely joining us as support crew this time around. A girls weekend then, but perhaps not your average girls weekend!

The race we are doing on Saturday 7th March is called Raiders of the last arc the catch phrase is “enter the unknown” which I find unsettling and exhilarating in equal measure! The adventure races we have done in the past have included a rogaine/orienteering section (I love this part) requiring some map, compass and strategy skills- basically a giant treasure hunt! We typically run between the stations, as you generally get a bit of a rest walking around, staring at the map and searching for the station. You also complete mountain biking sections- usually through farm land or on forestry roads, with a few big hills thrown in for good measure! And then there’s mystery activities. One of my favorite memory of a mystery activity was when my friend Catherine had to wade around in the duck pond, wet up to her waist searching for the right decoy duck🦆 which had a code on its bottom. 😂 It still makes me laugh thinking about it!

IMG_0748IMG_0759IMG-3407IMG-3404IMG-3408These photos are of our team doing the Whangamata 6 hour race last year. It was a total mud-fest on the bike (as you can see, and a lot of bike pushing…) and yeah it was hard at times and we went the wrong way once, but we still had the best time!!!

I was nominated in that race to wear the wrist tag (which you need to get “punched” once you find the station) so it was me 👇scrambling down the hill or sidling around the pond (Catherine was hoping to get pay back but to her dismay I remained completely dry!) 🤣🤣🤣…IMG-3406IMG-3401

So why on earth do we this to ourselves? Wouldn’t a girls weekend at the caravan with a good book and couple of bottle of vino be better you ask???? To be honest we do usually end up asking ourselves that very question around hour 5! But there are a few reasons:

  1. I love adventures! Going somewhere new with my mates, doing something a little crazy. That’s what its about!
  2. I love the training that leads up to our event! Having a plan and buddies to do exercise with get’s me out the door, and it holds me accountable because my team is relying on me to keep up!
  3. Then there’s the actual race day where you have to dig deep and push on through the hard parts, and where you realize that you are indeed stronger than you think, and that you can do freaking hard things! 🤔What else can you do, you start to wonder…Perhaps a 12 hour race?🤣😋

So spare us a thought on Saturday, because Hopscotch Mafia will be “entering the unkown!”😮… our mystery activity clue said we all need to bring lifejackets & glow sticks!!!??? Thinking I might be getting wet this time around!🤔😆🏊‍♀️IMG-3405

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If I have reception during the race I will try to post our progress via Facebook so don’t forget to find us there too!🤙 #blood, sweat & tears

Enjoying the journey not just the destination

The theme these past school holidays seemed to be – Enjoy the journey 🏞

I feel like I always try to enjoy the journey and be present in the moment. But sometimes the realisation that you aren’t actually present slaps you in the face when you least expect it – it’s not about trying it’s about being.

So on a recent long walk all of the kids at some point complained, about the walk and about how tired they were. But what I noticed was, at every break we took, they sat down only for a couple of minutes then jumped up and were playing in the bush or stream, chasing each other around and just seemed to have lots of energy. They didn’t care about “getting there”, that was all me (sometimes that just comes as part of being responsible).

I was like 💡 “ah huh” they actually just want to play.

So factor in more time to be playful/imaginative while hiking … the track times are good as guides for how much walking needs to be done, but why not factor in an extra hour or two to really make something of the journey. The boys ended up being Amazonian Farmers and the girls made up new names for themselves and had a whole story going about the adventure. Distraction can sometimes take away from a moment, and quiet reflective walking is not really going to last long for the kids.  Maybe a mix of all of them is the best recipe.

I don’t know about you but I find “playing” with my children hard – we are just not on the same level …. But these past school holidays, I took more stops, played in the waves, swam in the cold streams, did bombs off the jetty, danced like no-one was watching (much to my children’s embarrassment). Therefore – I smiled more, laughed more and connected with my kids on a whole other level.

Kids really can teach you so much, when you truly open up!

Anita ✌️🥜🌿

 

Slow adventuring

Doesn’t that sound appealing! I read a book recently by Penny Watson called Slow Travel which showcased wonderful places in the world to slow travel, the benefits of connecting with people and nature, stories from other slow travelers, companies that offer slow travel experiences and ways to travel slowly i.e train, bicycling, canoeing, walking.

So what exactly is slow travel or adventuring you ask?

Slow travel is about resetting, it’s about connecting to yourself, others and nature, it’s about being present & open to life, magnifying joy and of course slowing down.

Life in the modern world is (as we know) extremely busy. Commonly asked questions are “have you had a busy day” to which we answer “yes”, commonly answered questions to “how was your day?” are “it’s been crazy busy!” Perversely there seems to be a certain pride in rushing through our daily lives, in being “crazy busy”. But are we really coping? Mental health and anxiety are on the rise and we are more disconnected from nature than ever.

Have you ever come back from a holiday and said “I need a holiday from my holiday!” Yeah me too! However my most recent holiday was a 5 day camping trip to the isolated Coromandel peninsula and I really got into the gorgeousness of simple pleasures and slow living and I came home feeling so relaxed and refreshed that I’m very keen to try more conscious slow adventure and travel!

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Essentials for slow “mini” adventures: A curious mind, the courage to slow down and breathe, a willingness to create/set aside some time (a minimum of half and hour- the longer the better), perhaps your old digital camera, try putting your phone on silent (maybe one day you will even be able to leave it at home entirely!)😮🤣🤣 A paper map, pack a picnic and water if venturing further, a pad and pen, and walking shoes.

Here are some slow “mini” adventures suggestions to try:

– walking in nature with others, walking in nature alone, sitting in nature aka “forest bathing”, canoeing or kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, making a camp fire (except when there’s a fire risk!), camping,  hiking to the top of a hill, riding your bike, a car trip with no real destination, take a yoga or meditation class, invite your friends around for a slow cooked meal, star gazing, write a postcard or letter, a star filled night walk, fly fishing, wild swimming, talking to a stranger, sitting alone without distracting yourself with your phone- just sitting.

If you still don’t know where to start take the lead from the kids, they are pretty amazing at this! Just go with it.

To get you in the mood

  • read: Slow Travel by Penny Watson, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert , Succulent Wild Woman by SARK, Wreck this book by Keri Smith,
  • watch: Eat, Pray, Love.
  • listen: WOMAD compilations on Spotify, Happy Place podcast by Fearne Cotton, Wild Ideas Worth Living podcast, The Slow Home podcast

It’s my dream that people will start to re-connect with nature and realize we are all interconnected and not separate. Slow adventuring and travelling is totally a great place to start.

☮Aroha Tammy

How hiking builds resilience in kids

What does it mean to be resilient?

Resilience is the capacity to adapt well in the face of adversity, trauma or stressful situations, it is basically the ability to “bounce back” from difficult experiences.

Strength/Toughness 💪 (both physically and mentally).

I’ve always believed that bush walking helps build resilience in children (and in myself), but on a recent hike with the kids, I really saw it, like “light bulb moment” 💡.

It was an overnighter with decent 6 hour (including stops) days and it was a first for a couple of the kids. We knew we were going to need plenty of distractions up our sleeves. But even so, all the kids at some point complained about the long walk, especially after the breaks, they just didn’t want to get started again. But here’s what they learnt – sometimes you just have to keep going – putting one foot in front of the other (and also that once your muscles are warm again it gets easier 😜).

That’s the thing about hiking especially multi-days …. there really is only one way to get out – walk 🚶.

It actually forces you to be resilient. It’s hard and tiring, you can take many breaks but eventually you have to just keep going. To push through boundaries you didn’t know were there. To know that when things seem so hard and tiresome after however many hours of walking 😫🥵 – you can do it! I believe the younger children experience this, the better – what a tool to already have going into adolescence.

Children and adults alike – we all need to learn that hard work pays off, especially emotionally – how we feel about ourselves. When you have completed a hike – no one has done it but you. You did this, the achievement is all yours and no one can take it from you. Be proud of yourself 😁🥰😎.

Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems – Gever Tully

Anita ✌️🥜🌿

 

(NB to keep on walking is not always the answer – not applicable to being lost or in a survival situation, where staying put could mean your survival).

Family camping adventure ⛺ in the Coromandel- Waikawau Bay

In the last week of January my family and I went to the beautiful Waikawau Bay camp ground for 5 blissful days of getting back to basics! No internet, no phone reception & no power. I am still on cloud 9 and bathing in the relaxed state of mind I came home in!

The strange thing is, that it was a really relaxing holiday yet totally action packed! For example upon waking the kids were straight into their togs and off to snorkel, do bombs or play with their nets in the creek that runs through the campsite.  After breakfast we were either swimming, snorkeling, spearfishing, surfing or fishing down at the beach. We also had a couple of kayaks so the kids were up and down the creek in them or catching a wave. This type of routine was broken up with meal times, cups of tea, games of ‘top trumps’, rock pooling, more swimming in the creek, cold showers and occasionally a chapter of my book. After dinner once the sun had set there began massive games of spot light! Such awesome memories.

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IMG_6673My friend and I snuck in a bush walk on the 2nd to last day along the Matamataharakeke track, leaving the kids with the dads for a morning 👍. The track starts at the back of the campground and winds its way up to a view point over Waikawau Bay, Great Barrier and Mercury Islands … it is well worth the uphill effort. We had a half hour break on route and were only 15 minutes over the recommended time of 3 hours. Due to the hot weather and steepness I was glad I didn’t bring the kids on this walk, although if you wanted to do a walk and have little kids you could always walk for ~20 minutes and there you will find a series of stream crossings which the kids would have liked, then turn around and go back the same way. In my opinion this walk would be better suited to 10+ years old.

If you’d like to find out more about this track and see some photos click👉 here

🤙I’ve been pondering the success of this trip and I think it was due to a combination of factors, such as:

  • going later in summer, when the crowds had largely dispersed
  • going with friends who have kids of a similar age and interests
  • incredible weather
  • the fact that our friends were more experienced campers and therefore had all the gear, like a 20 lt water container, pop up shelter and kettle! I do love my cups of tea!😂
  • Getting back to basics. It just felt sooooo good!!!

I’m really looking forward to returning here next summer and feel like it could become a bit of a family tradition.

Happy adventuring ☮

Tammy

 

 

 

5 tracks near Tauranga to enjoy this summer ☀️

If you’re in the Tauranga/Bay of Plenty area this summer and are looking for some good tracks to do with the family, check out these 5 tracks below:

  • Whataroa Falls
    • Wicked waterfall and swimming hole, push the kids a little further with this 1 hour and 20 minute well worth it walk – Otanewainuku – Te Puke/Oropi

 

  • Otanewainuku Trig Loop
    • Overwhelming un-obstructed 360 degree views, 50 minute walk up – another great walk in the Otanewainuku Forest – Te Puke/Oropi

 

  • Pa Kereru Loop
    • Perfect short 40 minute loop for little legs 👧👦 – The Blade, Whakamarama

 

 

  • Aongatete Swimming hole
    • Awesome swimming hole at the end of a 30 minute walk – Aongatete (there are plenty of other walks in this area to get your bush fix 🌳)

 

Click here for info on more walks and huts within the Bay of Plenty area. If you tried any of these walks or others, we’d love for you to share about it – comment below 👇

Nga mihi, Anita 🥜✌️🌿

 

 

Okere Falls Track, Rotorua

My family and I stayed in Rotorua for a few days recently and I was itching for us to try out a new walking track. So on our return journey back to Tauranga I convinced everyone that we should try the Okere Falls Track, a sweet little one hour loop track- easy peasy😉 While researching the Department of Conservation (DOC) track information for Okere Falls, I discovered the added bonus that this track is a part of the DOC/Toyota kiwi guardians outdoor activity programme, where the kids follow clues to find an answer along the track and then they can “claim their medal”. There are heaps of activities and tracks out there that are a part of this neat incentive.

At the very start of the Okere Falls track there is a hydroelectric turbine (which I didn’t really look at) because opposite it were some really flash new toilets!😂

Okere Falls is actually off the main track right at the beginning – follow the sign, it’s a one minute detour and the view of the Kaituna river is fantastic! We happened to time it perfectly with a raft coming down the rapids!

We were so caught up with watching the river and rafters that we chose to walk the loop towards “Trout pool Falls” in an anti-clockwise direction, the “un-recommended way” according to the sign  😜. This worked out fine but meant a bit of an uphill slog on the way back. You can find out more about the track details here.

The highlights for us were:

  • walking down all the little side tracks to get to the viewing platforms, watching the rafters go over the Okere falls (famously the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world),
  • walking down Hinemoa’s steps to reach Tuteas cave, where apparently women and children hid during the Maori wars!
  • Following the stunning Kaituna River along the track
  • Finding a wallaby sign on the other side of the bridge🦘(they are a pest species in the region!)
  • Loop tracks are always a👊 winner in my books!

We didn’t go at night, but if you do apparently there are glow worms!

So grab the whanau and check it out for yourselves!

P.S Okere Falls Scenic Reserve has significance spiritual and cultural significance to Maori you can read more about that here.

Happy adventuring, Tammy.

Te Whare Okioki – New DOC hut in the Kaimai Ranges

It is so awesome to have a new DOC hut in the Kaimai’s. Te Whare Okioki is situated at the Ngamuwahine Shelter along the North South track (southern end) and is accessible from heaps of tracks.

My sister and I decided to meet up and take the kids for an adventure. We ended up booking the whole hut and having 5 families enjoying the experience together – for 4 of the kids this was their first overnighter 💪.

3 adults and 5 kids (5,6,7 and two x 8 year olds) walked in along the Ngamarama Track from Whakamarama in the East 👇

3 adults and 3 kids (10,11,12) walked in along the Te Tuhi Track from the West 👇

We made a plan to meet at the North South track junction and had also made arrangements to leave a signal or note if your group decided to head off to the hut if the other group took longer than expected (no cell phone reception). But we did meet up and walked the last 1-1.5 hours together.

For more information about the hut and the tracks we took, click the links above 👆

The west-side team’s walking time fitted in with DOC signage, but the east-side team’s walking time was 1.5 hours longer than stated on the sign – always longer with little legs.

We used plenty of distractions for the little ones coming in from the east:

  • Giving your group a name – We decided on “Team Amazon” – the boys had machetes (sticks) and were at times up the front “clearing” the track for us (this came from one of them seeing this being done by farmers in the amazon on a walk there once, pretty choice alright 👍).
  • Pedometers – this was the first time I have tried these with the kids, and though some enthusiasm was shown at the beginning, they were not all that bothered at the end as the excitement of the hut out-did how many steps were taken.
  • Walkie Talkies – these gave us 2-3 hours of distraction = Brilliant!. The leader had one, and the last person had the other. We were quizzing each other along the way and were able to communicate if the front pack got too far ahead or in this one case, to stop and come help when one mum got stuck in the mud 😂 – the rest of us had gone around the bog not straight through it 🤦‍♀️.

Click here for other tips on walking with kids over and under 5.

I think next time I would plan to stay 2 nights at the hut, then the kids could have a day to play, rest and just be before walking out. I’d recommend this, especially with younger children (<10) walking in from Whakamarama.

This hut has been fully booked out every Saturday since it opened. It goes to show – “Build it, and they will come” Awesome mahi by Kaimai Ridgeway Trust  💪🥾🔨

Enjoy! Anita 🥜✌️

Pa Kereru Loop track updated!

Hi, we just wanted to let you know that this neat little ~45 minute forest loop track has been updated with a whole heap of great new signage!😁 Woohoo! So if you live in the Bay of Plenty or happen to be passing by, kiaora, stop by and check it out! The lion’s share of the work has been done by the Mahi boys.👊

👉For the latest on track details and to find out more about the Mahi boys project check out the trail info

Enjoy!

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We’d love to hear how you got on if you head out and do this track! Happy adventuring!

Tammy

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