Lake Okareka Walkway, Rotorua

Lake Okareka Walkway is around 5.5 km return. The first 2km to Silver Beach is flat and easy going, the last .5km or so to the Okareka outlet requires some uphill climbing  including stairs.

The last .5km of the track is narrower, it’s not too difficult but it’s not accessible for pushchairs and wheelchairs. It took us about 2 hours return to do the walk but we dilly dallied watching birds with binoculars and taking photos.

Lake Okareka Walkway starts on Acacia Road where you will find a car park and an information panel. The walk is for people only, … Read the rest

Kauri Walks and Kauri Dieback Disease

Travelling State Highway 12 in Northland takes you through Waipoua Forest dotted with kauri, rimu and northern rata trees. Department of Conservation (DOC) list seven walking and tramping tracks in Waipoua Forest including Tane Mahuta.

Tane Mahuta (Lord of the Forest) is New Zealand’s largest known living kauri  tree and he is an awesome sight to see. The tree stands over 50 metres tall and has a girth of more than 13 metres.

Some people may be tempted to wrap their arms around the majestic giant, but Tane Mahuta is fenced off from his thousands of admirers for his own … Read the rest

Yellow-eyed penguins in the Catlins

If you see something that looks like a duck in the water at Roaring Bay* in the Catlins, chances are it’s a hoiho, or yellow-eyed penguin. By the time you realise that ducks don’t belong in the sea, the penguin may be upright on its bubble gum pink feet and swaying across the stony shore.

The yellow band that stretches around the top of a hoiho’s head and into its eyes marks it as one of the world’s rarest penguins, and a breed unique to New Zealand. Hoiho translates to ‘the noise shouter’, the name given because of the birds’ … Read the rest

Kaimanawa Wild Horses

I opened the envelope of one of the best birthday presents ever last year – I was going on a bus trip to see Kaimanawa wild horses roaming on NZ Army land in Waiouru. The Ranges Trips are organised by Kaimanawa Heritage Horses and while waiting for the trip I spent time wondering  …

How far would we travel to see our first horse? Not far at all. How many wild horses would we see? We photographed 57 but I’d estimate we saw around 100. How close could we get to the horses? They kept a safe distance but often … Read the rest

Craters of the Moon Geothermal Walk, Taupo

One of the best reasons to visit Craters of the Moon is price – at $8pp it’s affordable, and the good folks at The Craters of the Moon Trust donate part of the income to good works in the Taupo community including scholarships to students. The 45 minute walk is also pushchair and wheelchair friendly with the exception of the 10 minute uphill detour to the lookout.

Craters of the Moon is part of the Wairakei geothermal field. The steaming craters came to life in the 1950’s with the development of the Wairakei Geothermal Power Station. The opening of the … Read the rest

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, Rotorua

The star attraction at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is The Champagne Pool with its sun burst orange edges and tiny champagne like bubbles on the surface.

Elsewhere in the park sulphur colours the landscape yellow and adds a pungent and uniquely Rotorua smell to the air.

Kanuka grows wild along wooden walkways that hug cliff faces and take you over steaming ground to the miniature Lake Ngakoro waterfall.

You can’t see the boiling mud at the bottom of Inferno Crater but you can hear it swishing violently like an angry washing machine. In contrast the delicate and pretty Primrose Terraces have … Read the rest

Orakei Korako Geothermal Park, Taupo

There are a number of geothermal sites in Rotorua and Taupo and they all have their own claims to fame – ‘Orakei Korako is arguably the best thermal area left in NZ’ (Lonely Planet), and ‘Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland – one of the 20 most surreal places in the world’ (Trip Advisor).

It makes it hard to decide where to go if you have to choose. My aim with posts about geothermal attractions is to highlight what we think are the best reasons for visiting a particular site.

Orakei Korako is about 45 minutes drive from Rotorua and 25 minutes from … Read the rest

Wingspan Bird of Prey Centre, Rotorua

2020 Update: Wingspan’s new site at 1334 Paradise Valley Road is under development, check the Wingspan website and Facebook page for up-to-date information about visiting times etc.

You may handle a form of the New Zealand falcon or karearea every day without realizing – it’s the bird on the back of our $20 note. If you want to handle a falcon for real you may get the chance at Wingspan Bird of Prey Centre in Rotorua.

Mike’s hand shot up with the rest of the crowd when there was a chance for Atareta the falcon to perch on the gloved … Read the rest

Climbing & Camping in Mount Maunganui

When we read that around 900,000 people walk or run around the base of Mauao (the dormant volcanic cone) in Mount Maunganui every year, I have to admit we were sceptical. It just seemed unlikely, but a few days camping at the base of Mauao at Mount Maunganui Beachside Holiday Park showed us just how popular the walk around (and up) the mountain is.

We chose a camp site closest to the beach, just in front of the caravan was a path to one of the walking tracks, the people flow was constant. There was no way we could have … Read the rest

Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari

I knew before we went out on the Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari that winter is the best time to see whales and dolphins. However it was such a perfect February day we took our chances, and blimey we were lucky, it was a sensational day out on the water.

I love being outside in the salty air and sea spray, so missed a lot of the commentary which was easier heard inside, consequently I’m light on information but big on photos. There were two marine biologists onboard so anyone with an interest in sea life gets a chance to … Read the rest