Aongatete, short loop: a quick bush fix🌳🕊✌

In need of a quick bush (forest) fix? Not too far down the road from where I live, is an area of the Kaimai Mamuku Forest Park called Aongatete. There are a bunch of different walking tracks you can access from the car park + this is also the site of the Aongatete Outdoor Education Centre.

There is an amazing restoration programme happening here, called the Aongatete Forest Project. Their aim is to restore 500 hectares of native forest, by using pest control to kill the introduced predators such as ship rats, mice, possums, mustelids and feral cats all of which devastate our native bird 🕊🦇 populations. Watch this short video here to learn more on the impact possums are having on our native forests.

The short loop is really the perfect beginner #forestfamily walk as it takes ~1 hour with the kids and has a real adventurous almost “back country bush” feel to it.

Here is a short video taster of what you can expect. The kids are aged between 5 and 7 year old kids, but I have been walking this loop with my kids since they were a babies in the back pack.

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Calm peaceful stream to raging torrent 🌊 – Aratiatia Dam.

The walks near the Aratiatia Rapids offer a great little adventure for the young and old. The Aratiatia Dam is just north of Taupo 🇳🇿 and releases water 3-4 times a day, transforming the gorge from a calm trickling stream into a raging torrent 🌊. It really is spectacular to watch plus it’s entertaining for the kids and it is a nice easy stroll to the two lookout points 🔭. I would recommend going an hour before they release the water so you can take your time to explore the tracks, take in the scenery and choose a spot to enjoy the show.

Here’s a short video of our time there:



If you wanted to make a day of it you could take the 2 hour walking track from Huka falls which follows the river all the way to the Aratiatia Dam or alternately you can bike it (~45 minutes one way without kids). Why not enjoy a nice picnic along the way, you could even arrange for someone to pick you up at the other end!

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For more info check out our adventures page, or visit the DOC website.

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

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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!



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!


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.)

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