It’s October. And Spring is finally here! Time for some of our adventures in New Zealand. The past couple of weeks we’ve taken time on the weekends to enjoy our surroundings and explore the area a bit more. In this blog we’ll take you on some of these trips!
The weather is starting to get warmer. We see more of the sun and it’s getting windier.. Yes, that’s typical Spring weather over here! Nice, warm (±20°C) and very windy. Plants are starting to explode. Blossom and flowers dominate gardens and the birds are more busy. We’re loving it, although it does sometimes still feel weird to have Spring in October. I can’t wait for more of this weather. It means we can go outside and go on adventures more!
Pukatea/Whites Bay & Jack Black Track
During the last weekend of September we go to Pukatea/Whites Bay. It’s pretty close to our home but we hadn’t been all the way up there due to the storm damage to the roads. We cycle our way to Rarangi Beach, park our bikes and start our hike. The first bit is quite steep through native bush up to Port Underwood Road, where you get treated to a beautiful view of Cook Strait and the Sounds (see image above).
Then you follow the road for about 500 meters and start your descent towards Whites Bay, through a pine forest mixed with native bush. We walk all the way down and arrive at a big camping site, which is very quiet today. When we read the information sign a curious little Weka comes up to us, probably looking for some food. They are really cute flightless birds with red eyes. About the size of a chicken. They are a native species of bird vulnerable to extinction. Mostly due to predation by ferrets, possums, cats and dogs. As well as the impact from habitat destruction caused by modification and degradation of forests and wetlands.
We walk further towards the beach, which is beautiful: a real beach! The rest of the beaches we’ve seen so far were mainly black pebble beaches but this is a gorgeous sandy beach: no wonder this is a very busy place during summer months! You can see the highest mountain in the area, Tapuae-O-Ueneku, from the beach, and a small river descends into the sea here. We have lunch at a sheltered spot on the beach in the sun.
After lunch we continue on and see if we can find a way on to the Black Jack Track, as the bridge has been destroyed by the heavy winter weather. We manage to find a way around and decide to walk the loop, with amazing views and interesting variety of native bush. The path is still a bit damaged though, and we have to climb over a big slip. We run-walk our way back down and all the way back to Rarangi, from where we cycle back home. A lovely trip that was quite easy to do, with great views and lots of native plants around. We walked/ran 10.7 km in a bit under 3 hours.
More adventures: Pukaka Valley Track
The first weekend of October we decide to go to Pukaka Valley. We hadn’t heard of it before, but when cycling to Rarangi last week we saw a sign on the road that said ‘Pukaka Valley Track 5km’. I looked it up online and it looked really cool so we decided to give it a go! We get our bikes out of the shed and take a left turn towards the valley. The 5k meant it was still a 5k bike ride towards the start of the track!
Immediately after we take a turn off the main road it feels like we were in the middle of nowhere. It’s hilly and quite wet in places (multiple times we have to get off of our bikes and walk a bit). We follow the river up into the valley. We get a bit of a scare when someone with a huge 4WD comes up to us, driving pretty fast. Luckily he passes us without any problems. It’s quite a challenge: trying to figure out how to cycle up and down on an open dirt road (so no tarmac, and Xander was riding his racing bike!).
It is beautiful though; the river is really clear and native bush as well as willows are surrounding it. When we arrive in the valley after about an hour of cycling it is quite windy but we decide to give the short track a go. We follow the river through the valley and then up into the mountain (only a bit, we only got up to about 125 meters).
On the way we only encounter one other person. A hunter who was looking for a boar that was supposed to be in the area. As boars are a pest, he and his three dogs were hunting for it, but they hadn’t managed to find it. It was quite funny as he has three really different dogs: a choc Labrador, a Greyhound and a mixed breed, and they are all really sweet. We run our way down and bike back home as we are super hungry for lunch after that (we covered 4.6 km in total in about 54 minutes!).
Anakiwa – The Queen Charlotte Track and kayaking
The following weekend we drive up to Anakiwa. We stay at the holiday home owned by the people that we’re living with at the moment. We arrive on Friday evening and have a nice dinner together. On Saturday we decide to start the day slowly with some reading and then hike a part of the famous Queen Charlotte Track, which is part of Te Araroa.
The Te Araroa Trail is a walking route from the northernmost point (Cape Reinga) to the southernmost point (Bluff) of Aotearoa New Zealand. It’s definitely on our bucket list!
The Queen Charlotte tracks forms a small part of this trail. It’s a quite well-known route through the Marlborough Sounds (73,5 km). It’s really cold today; I’d expected it to be much warmer so I didn’t bring any warm clothes. Note to self: you can never trust the weather or the weather forecast in New Zealand! When we start moving it’s all good and we warm up quickly. We walk down and follow a bit of the Linkwater Pathway toward the start of the Queen Charlotte. It’s overcast today, but still very beautiful.
We decide to walk to Umungata Bay/Davies Bay. The scenery is gorgeous with views of the water and the sounds as well as all kind of different native forest. You can hear bellbirds (Korimako) and Tūī and we see many Pied Shags (Kāruhiruhi) in and around the water. We run our ways back which eventually means we covered a 10.4 km distance in 2.08 hours. In the afternoon we decide to go on a little adventure up the hill near the house. We find a dead goat (eew!) but the bush is amazing: rocks, fallen trees, ferns and big supplejacks (lianes, Kareoa in Māori). It’s so much fun to explore the area without following a path.
Time to kayak!
The next day my prayers have been heard by the weather gods and the sun is out! YES! It’s so nice and warm! We get to borrow the kayak and we go out onto the water. I’m quite excited and scared as well. There’s just so much water! We have a two-person kayak and we peddle all the way to Umungata Bay. Here we have a little rest on the shore before we peddle back.
I didn’t bring my phone because I was not sure whether I could take it with me on the kayak safely (eventually I could have). So no pictures from this one… The water was quite calm today but still, it’s open water (the Queen Charlotte Sound / Tōtaranui). Sounds are actually drowned river valleys (also referred to as ria’s) which is quite interesting. In Tōtaranui you can see whales, dolphins, seals or even penguins. We haven’t seen any of these this time unfortunately. We’d probably have to go out a bit further. Which we will definitely do at some point. No worries, of course we’ll take a phone next time and write about it so you can follow along!