Revisiting Napier for a lovely autumnal weekend brought back a flood of memories from our time in Taupo. We used to travel here for weekends on the Kawekas and the Ruahine. I need to dig those old photos out and write them up.
I first walked this fifteen years and we walked most of it again. This is now a DoC Great Day Walk so it will be busy. The tide plays an important part so check the tide tables before you set out or you could be in for a lengthy swim.
The start wanders through the campsite and the washed out road gives an idea of the power of climate change induced erosion. It is a 9km bimble along the beach below tall cliffs that don’t look that stable. The layers of rock and sand provide a graphic geological history lesson. Watch out for stray golf balls, lost from hooks and slices on the challenging cliff top golf course.
New Zealand beach walking is a unique experience as the reefs emerge and disappear into the sand, bigger boulders lie on the beach and driftwood provides startling shapes. The sea lives it’s own rhythm of crashing surf, whilst the air is often astonishingly clear. You forget this clarity until you go overseas and return. Nowhere else has the same light.
At the right time of year gannets nest at the tip of the peninsular and are great fun to watch before you head home, dodging the tractors giving less energetic people a ride along the beach.
Te Mata Peak
This little beauty packs a real punch in just under 6km. Half an hour or so from town this park has walks for all ages. The two longer ones explore all the park and give an exhilarating walk along the top of the escarpment, a wave of rock which echoes the nearby surf.
We opted for the Giant Loop which threaded its way down steep inclines in thick non native forest. In a dry autumn these trees are a gorgeous riot of red and yellow and the ground is an intoxicating crunch through piles of leaves. A grove of redwood trees is unexpected and wonderful. Tall trees arrow their way to the sky as the tracks divide.
After the North Island this is very different, deciduous and pine trees are left behind as the track wanders gently up a valley through lush lawns and between steep crags.
At the head of the valley steep zigzags head up to take to the ridge and an airy rocky traverse to …….. a car park!
Despite the cars and the tourists this is a lovely spot with views east and west over vineyards. The track wanders along the ridge and then down a spur to the car. Wonderful.
30 minutes North is a little section of native bush that had escaped fire and the clearances. White Bush car park, on the highway north to Gisborne, offers a lovely loop track with informative signs.
After that a track across the road finds a wY through forest and past two waterfalls to a big swing bridge. Make sure someone picks you and enjoy the contrast between this little treat of native New Zealand and the pseudo European hills of Te Mata.