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.

Two pukekos in a paddock - Lake Okareka Walkway

Two pukekos in a paddock – Lake Okareka Walkway

Lake Okareka Walkway starts on Acacia Road where you will find a car park and … 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.

Tane Mahuta in Waipoua Forest

Tane Mahuta in Waipoua Forest

Some people may be tempted to wrap their arms around the majestic giant, but Tane Mahuta is fenced off from his thousands … 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.

Yellow-eyed penguin at Roaring Bay, the Catlins

Yellow-eyed penguin at Roaring Bay, the Catlins

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’, … 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. Whoop Whoop – the sound of a dream coming true. The Ranges Trips are organised by Kaimanawa Heritage Horses, I was going in November, so there were two months to wait, and like any trip, the anticipation added to the excitement. I spent time wondering  …

How far would we travel to see our first horse? Not far at all. How many wild horses would we 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 charity. The 45 minute walk is also pushchair and wheelchair friendly with the exception of the 10 minute uphill detour to the lookout.

Close up of the snowy mountains in Tongariro National Park from Craters of the Moon lookout

Close up of the snowy mountains in Tongariro National Park from Craters of the Moon 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 … 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.

The Champagne Pool at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

The Champagne Pool at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

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

Yellow sulphur mounds

Yellow sulphur mounds

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

Walkway to Lake Ngakoro waterfall

Walkway to Lake Ngakoro waterfall

Miniature Lake Ngakoro waterfall

Miniature Lake Ngakoro waterfall

You can’t see the boiling mud at the bottom of Inferno Crater but you … 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).

Orakei Korako - photo taken from geothermal area looking back at the Visitor Centre / MudCake Cafe

Orakei Korako – photo taken from geothermal area looking back at the Visitor Centre / MudCake Cafe

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 … Read the rest

Ohau Stream Walk – Seal Pups

Update October 2018: You can no longer walk to see the seals as the walkway is closed due to earthquake damage. We drove through the area and saw a tunnel which we were told by a local has been built to give the seal pups access to Ohau Stream from the sea (yay). A large seal viewing area is being built on the sea side of the highway and the highway continues to be repaired following earthquake damage. In places the highway is one way only and there is a lot of road works going on so there is waiting … Read the rest

Wingspan Bird of Prey Centre, Rotorua

2018 Update: Wingspan closed on 23/3/18 and is moving to a new site. A fundraising effort is underway to open the doors of the new facility.

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 hand … 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.

View of Mauao from the Mount Maunganui Beachside Holiday Park

View of Mauao from the Mount Maunganui Beachside Holiday Park

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 … Read the rest