My experience of walking Cape Brett, Bay of Islands

Kia ora!

If you missed my last blog on how to prepare for Cape Brett, you can catch it HERE.

Here is my version of what actually went down

So I decided to walk in hubby’s soccer boots! Since my new hiking boots are too small and make my toes numb! Our colleague, says they will give a better grip at least on the winter track, although I am worried about blisters. I put some gel sole inserts in them so I couldn’t feel the sprigs, I wore a sport strapping sock and a work sock on top. The boots were a little bit too big but proved to be quite useful on the downhills. No toe jarring. I have since learned that our colleague was half-joking about wearing soccer boots. Lucky for me…(and him) it worked out!

The night before was spent getting all the last minute essentials together, (or what I thought were essentials). In hindsight, I could have done with taking fewer things. I am all about being prepared for all situations. But when it comes to actually carrying it all on an advanced walk, mostly uphill, well somethings gotta give. Some things I could have left behind: an extra packet of pasta, a few extra snacks, a tin of Four Bean Mix (and really who wants to eat that anyway). I found the compromise of food a little hard to fathom! But all these little things add up in small weights…

TIP: Brother says it’s best to pack the heavier items closer to your back for balance. He told me this after my walk.

I made a tuna pasta for my lunch and filled four litres of drinking water. Having read that the water at the hut had a sea spray warning, we were advised to take our own. Though the hut water was fine to boil and use for cooking. I really wanted to make sure I wasn’t having salty water for coffee the next morning. Priorities right? I mean this girl will carry water and coffee supplies to the ends of the earth if it meant she could have a decent coffee in the morning! I nearly even took a plunger! Thankfully the Holy Spirit spoke to my conscious and told me to buy plunger coffee bags instead.

Feeling a little nervous, but knowing there wasn’t much more I could do to prepare anymore, I finally went to bed about midnight. I don’t recommend that. But that is usually how I organise myself, in the last hours of the night.

Nearly an early start:

I set my alarm for 6am. It didn’t go off, so I woke up at 7am.

Ready to walk the Cape Brett Track
Note my Sons Thomas the Tank Engine Sleeping bag cover as mine didn’t have one…

We had planned to kick off the walk at 8am.

Waited for the girls at Oke Bay Staircase. Quick pre-walk photo.

Commenced @ 8.45am.

Ready at Oke Bay for our Walk to Cape Brett

These ladies were awesome to walk with. Encouraging and positive all the way. We all had our weaknesses/strengths somewhere, where we could balance each other out along the way. Walking is a great way to get to know people. You gotta love the chats, and moments of silence, where you are just trying to focus on breathing…or taking in the views.

Dr Caroline Leaf Quote for Out and About with the Joneses
By Dr. Caroline Leaf (I mean I certainly wasn’t bored, but I often relish the rare moments of silence! Don’t you?)

The first part of the walk, I was really quite puffed. It took a while for my body to realise I wasn’t going to be stopping any time soon. Eventually, my endurance reserves kicked in along the way, and the puff narrowed out a bit…but it is all quite a cardio work out.

Pukehuia View Point on Cape Brett Walking Track

The first viewing point looks over Oke Bay, Urupukapuka Island, Moturua Island, Roberton Island, and the mainland further ahead. The Bay of Islands is such a beautiful blue serenity kinda sugar rush. I am loving getting my bearings around the place, especially at a higher viewpoint.

 

More great views along the way, and suddenly you come across a compost toilet site. So, of course, we used it. And of course, I took a photo of my view out across the land while I peed.

Compost toilet on the Cape Brett Track
Gotta love a loo with a view!

View to Whangamumu from Cape Brett Track

Out and about with the Jones at Cape Brett

View from Cape Brett Track at the 9km mark
Lunching while watching a rain cloud literally just raining in one spot out in the ocean with a rainbow under it.

From the 9km mark, the walk is actually pretty good! Right up until Deep Water cove, then she’s all a hard slog from there! I had read that the last part was the hardest. They weren’t wrong! Particularly as you are mostly spent by the time you get to this part.

Views from the Ridge on Cape brett Track
You one hundred percent can not fault these views though!

The most memorable thing my friend said to me: Are you Ok? You are looking a bit paley…Well, now she mentioned it I did feel a bit faint. She offered to carry something for me, fed me chocolate, and watered me. Such a sweetie! It was then I had realised I had not put my backpack waist strap back around, from the last stop, so my pack was very much digging deep into my shoulders! A quick adjustment and further we climbed. I was a little envious of my friend’s fitness!

I think this is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to.

Are we there yet (x10)? The others were a bit nervous walking along the last ridge. I don’t blame them! But for me, this is where I came alive again. I literally stood on the edge of a very high drop off, comfortably taking photos of the sunset, making sure I looked all around me. This is what we climbed for I thought. This is it!

View from Ridge Line on Cape Brett Track

16km

I found the girls with their packs off, looking rather disheartened, getting torches out of their bags. We still had another 1.2km to get to the actual hut. Surprise! But just over the hill from the highest point, we see the lighthouse, views to die for (which by now you kinda feel like doing), and the red roof of the hut. Hooray! We followed a nice grassy Zig-Zagged path all the way down to the bottom of the hill, where 4 other trampers greeted us with smiles, well dones, candle lights (as there is no power there) and their aromas of dinner cooking over the gas stoves. The old lighthouse keepers cottage was very reasonable. An area to kick off your shoes, which we couldn’t do fast enough! 3 Bedrooms filled with bunk beds, a kitchen, and compost toilets out the back. (They were even well stocked with hand sanitizer)

The hut at Cape Brett for your overnight stay

This group of Mums put together what we had brought for a shared dinner. A cream cheese tomato pasta, with salami, spinach, and herbs, topped with parmesan cheese and avocado. Followed by Chocolate and a HOT Cuppa.

Sleeping was OK – Considering my body ached all night and the fire alarm went off at 2am. Either everyone was fast asleep or too dead to get up and check, I found my body achingly leaping out of bed to see what was going on. Only for the alarm to stop on its own, leaving me puzzled, and the others asking what I was doing?

I was up at 6.50am to walk halfway up to the lighthouse, to see the sunrise. It was a cloudy morning, so not much to view. Still, the thought of being way out here on my own was really quite satisfying.

Lighthouse at Cape Brett from the hut or lighthouse keepers cottage, sun rise

I returned to enjoy a hot brew of coffee. The girls were making a healthy overnight soaked porridge with dried fruits for breakfast. 4 other trampers wanted to catch the Water Taxi back with us, and 2 of our girls championed on walking home after breakfast. We took some gear for them, and waved them on their merry way!

Out and about with the Joneses friends leaving to walk back on Cape Brett Track next morning

Bob and Louise were so great to deal with for the water taxi back to Rawhiti.

Plus Bob gave us a history tour on the way home which was just brilliant. Having originally planned to catch the water taxi back from Deepwater cove, as it is 90% more chance of a pick up there with the sea conditions, we were stoked we could catch it at the landing of Cape Brett this time around. They literally pick you up off the rocks there, so not always ideal, and pick up there is not always guaranteed. Always proceed with caution when trying to board the boat. You will at least get wet feet. Back at Rawhiti, you can pay for the taxi with Cash or EFTPOS.

Rawhiti water Taxi picking out and about with the Joneses and friends up from Cape Brett

Off the boat, I was greeted by my Hubby and two darling boys, who apparently missed their Mummy very much. Mstr 5 cant wait to do the track with me sometime. Hmmm…one day son, one day very far away in the future for you.

Good on ya Cape Brett. You were a great challenge, and a pearler to visit.

I will be back again.

Out and about with the Joneses friends at Cape Brett next morning of tramp

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Preparing for the Cape Brett Walk, Bay of Islands

I was added to a facebook group chat, by some lovely local ladies, who I am very grateful to have met here, inviting me to join them on the Cape Brett walk in a few week’s time.  For those unaware, websites will tell you, Cape Brett goes through rugged terrain for 16 km through native and regenerating bush.  (FYI: it is actually about 17.2km to the hut!  This is very important to know if you are a number tracker and like to countdown your milestones.  The last 1.2km to the hut was quite hard when you mentally expect it to be over at the 16km mark) Expect dramatic coastal views; steep cliffs and drop-offs to the side of the track are a feature.  They say it is for “Advanced Walkers”.

Can anyone do this?

Part of me was like, yeah I could do that, the other part went, who are you kidding, you are way too unfit for that.  I was quiet in the group for a while, as were a few others, before I took the plunge and said:  “Yes I’d love to come, thanks.”  I’m not sure why we thank people for putting ourselves through potential torture, maybe it’s a Kiwi thing, saying “thanks” for everything.  “Yes, Id love to go on something that I know could potentially kill me, thank you, thank you very much”.  But YOLO, (you only live once) I thought the opportunity to go with local friends may not come up again in a hurry, and I would love to know how it all works.  A few more days went past.  Before we knew it, the walk was two weeks away.  Pictures of the walks the girls had been doing, training for Cape Brett started to come through.  I could see these ladies were the type to get ***t done, so I knew I had better get my A into G.  I proceeded with a few walks myself.

I have no hiking gear.  Completely amateur.  Even the shoes I bought and had been wearing in, were two sizes too small for me.  I had looked at the US size, not the UK.  Number 1 rookie mistake!  When trying on shoes!  Check the sizing is in the correct country size you usually wear.  It also pays not to put your self under pressure by having two small kids running riot in the shop, making you break out into a sweat as you ignore them, hoping they don’t break anything or pull a shelf down, whilst hurriedly trying to pick a size that will suit your feet.

I borrowed a hunting backpack from our new neighbor friends and a sleeping bag.  Hubby’s colleague used to work for DOC, (Department of Conservation) and he repeatedly kept saying, I hope you have trained for this hike, it’s very hilly, it goes straight across the mountain ridge and it will be muddy as there has been a lot of rain recently.  I know I am going to be underprepared for this walk, especially carrying a pack for an overnight stay in a hut when we finally reach Cape Brett.  Other people I talked to, were a little more optimistic thinking I would be fine.  In the end, I put it down to this.

  • It is ONE day of my life.
  • I have given birth twice.

I think that is going to be my go-to for everything hard that I face from now on.

But in answer to the actual question, can anyone do it?  I’d like to say if I can do it, pretty much anyone can.  That is one of my main reasons for blogging about this stuff, as I’m not one of those cool outdoors people who have all the gear and all the know-how.  I am just here figuring it out as I go, to encourage anyone else on the fringe of trying to get outdoors more.  But you should consider your current fitness and strength.  It is an “advanced track” for a reason.  I know people do just do it out of the blue.  Some even do it there and back in a day!  I honestly don’t know how that is possible but apparently, it is!  Common complaints are the knee, ankle and other joint pain, blisters, and toe jarring with all the downhill walking. (Wearing bigger shoes helped me on this!)  Oh and carrying a pack uphill if you are not used to that, definitely train for it.  Did I mention uphill?  So yeah there are a lot of uphills!  Know your limits and be realistic.  If you need to book a water taxi for the return trip, certainly no shame in doing so.  The ride on the water is actually very beautiful looking back over the Cape Brett track, plus the driver is very informative on the local history.  HOWEVER, Some people find the walk back is much faster, and with a lighter backpack and good fitness, it is achievable.  It really is up to you!

Some people want to take their kids on the tramp.  Id love to hear from anyone who has done that?  Personally, I would not!  Well, not with really young children anyway.

How to Book:

When we first moved to the Bay of Islands, we were very puzzled about how the Cape Brett Track worked.  There is not a huge amount of info about it online, or if it is, it is very bitsy on different sites.  It is not till you book your walking permit, that you actually get sent more information. But some of it is useful to know BEFORE you book.

So I am going to give it to you…

First of all, it starts at Oke Bay, in Rawhiti.  Estimated time to the final destination, allow 8hours.  There is car parking available on private land for a small fee, near the Oke Bay entrance.  They are usually signposted. (You can also start at the Whangamumu Track before Rawhiti, and there is safer off-road car parking for a small fee there too.  Also signposted.  Both starting points vary in the distance it takes to get to Cape Brett) There is more of a blurb for parking on the actual Cape Brett walkway website.

Accommodation: There are some accommodation options available.  Since we live here, we haven’t actually stayed in any so can not personally recommend any yet!  If you want to give a shout out to any, let me know and I will pop it in this blog.

To book your walking permit click here.  Some websites will direct you to Russell Information Centre to make your bookings for the walk and a water taxi.  As the track crosses over private land that is maintained for walkers, it will cost you $40 for the track walk, and $15 to stay in the hut.  (The old lighthouse keepers cottage.) (Check on the Department of Conservation site for up to date info and any current track warnings).  It is winter at the time of our walk, the hut is obviously not overly populated right now, so different ones in my group waited till up to the last day even to book their walking permit and hut stay.  But it does tell you online how many beds are booked already, so for those warmer months, you may want to plan ahead to ensure you can book the hut for the day you want to go.  There are 23 bunk beds, with a mattress supplied.  Some cooking equipment is supplied like pots and pans, cutlery, and a few plastic plates and bowls. In a busy season, I would recommend taking your own plates, as these do look like they were left by previous trampers.  So it is not overly supplied in this area.  Cooking is on Gas.  Limited tap water at the hut, should be boiled first before drinking.  Be sure to check the cancellation and booking changes policy.

There is a Water Taxi, based in Rawhiti.

“Bay of Islands Water Taxi”.  I and one other lady in the group, have opted to book this for our return trip, the next day.  We felt this was sensible for us this time around.  We were still able to get the experience of staying in the hut overnight, and not be under pressure to catch the taxi back the same day.  Fortunately four other trampers we met at the hut, also wanted to catch the taxi back.  So we could all split the costs.  You can book through their Facebook page, or call them.  They take cash and EFTPOS.

Cost: $200 pick up from Deep Water Cove or $250 pick up from Cape Brett, per boat ride for up to 5 people, one way.

(Costs subject to change, see actual supplier for up to date costs).

Being a trusted service, we think it is worth it.  (They have been running this service since 2004) Some people find this cost quite steep, so they do not book, but then make an SOS call from Cape Brett to be picked up.  Something to keep in mind.  There is a print out with their phone number at the hut on the noticeboard.  There is cell phone reception at Cape Brett.  If you have reserved your battery life that is.

What to Pack:

Once booked, print out your walking Permit / Have ID with you as proof of identification, if asked to be shown to any DOC ranger, representative or contractor upon request.

There is a KeyPad code to open the door at the hut.  The code will be emailed to you once you book your walking permit.  Note this down.

Pack some Anti-Flamme ointment or Tiger Balm!  It is an absolute saviour at the end of the walk!

Items DOC recommends taking:

  • All food
  • Torch or another lighting source
  • Sleeping bag, pillow
  • Matches, toilet paper
  • Personal clothing and toiletries
  • A first aid kit. Visitors with medical conditions must take all their medical supplies with them, and note that in the event of an emergency, services could be a minimum of 2 hours away.
  • Rubbish bags
  • There is no heating inside the hut.  (And no power) Ensure you have warm clothing especially if you are visiting during the autumn/winter months
  • There are basic cleaning supplies (We took our own small dish wash liquid tea towel and cloth)
  • Gas and cookers are provided
  • All pots, pans, cutlery, plates are available for use in the hut (They were a little light on plates when we were there)
  • There is no shower at the hut (There are two sinks outside the hut)

Property rules:

  • Fire: Open fires and fireworks ARE NOT PERMITTED at or anywhere near the Hut. 
  • This is a shared hut please respect other people
  • No camping at the Cape Brett Hut
  • No more than 23 people per bookable day
  • No smoking in the hut – please extinguish carefully
  • No dogs or other animals due to the threat they pose to native wildlife
  • The Cape Brett Hut operates a “Pack in, Pack-out” policy.  You must take all your rubbish with you when leaving the hut
  • Please leave the hut in a tidy and sanitary condition for the next visitor
  • Water can be limited at the hut in summer months and can get salty. You may be required to carry in your drinking water please check the website for updates.
  • Please use water sparingly and boil before drinking
  • The toilet provided is a composting toilet, to work efficiently only toilet paper is to be placed in it. Please do not put any materials that are not biodegradable in the toilet
  • All damages must be reported to the Pewhairangi/Bay of Islands Office in Kerikeri 09 407 0300
  • Safety: The weather can change rather quickly both on land and the water. Always let someone know where you are going when you will return and what you want them to do if you have not returned by an agreed date and time.

Now we are ready to go, see my next Blog on how it actually went HERE.

 

When NOT to do the Whangamumu Track

Whangamumu Walking Track, a track steeped in history with an old Whaling Station at the end of it…

After a good day’s work, and feeling under the pump to get some training in for the big Kahuna of walks in the area this weekend, we thought we would go down the road and attempt the Whangamumu track, with the kids.

Now, this track is totally doable with a young family in my opinion, (not super easy but with a bit of perseverance, doable)  preferably when the track is dry, and you have more daylight to just go at your own pace, and you can handle going in an upward direction, for…quite some time, whilst maybe carrying any young pre-schoolers for a bit.

The track was wet, it’s winter so less daylight, and well thankfully we could take turns carrying Mstr 3, as flashbacks of being stuck carrying a sleeping toddler in a bush on a loop track for 5hrs once, came flooding back to me.

This Whangamumu track takes you about 1hr 15 (according to the sign), to an old Whaling Station.

Whangamumu Walking Track

It was 4.30pm, and we knew we wouldn’t make it all the way and back before dark. So with a pack, and a torch, and 2 kids in tow, we hurried along the track. After a windy night last night, and a bit of drizzle today, the weather was looking rather ideal at the moment!

WARNING – Slight tangent incoming…

What I was really impressed with, was the toilets at the start of the track, and how well maintained they were. Yes, these are the things you think are amazing when you have small children. We only live a short drive from this track, and Mstr 3 saw the toilets and decided he needed to go no.2. Really? You couldn’t go before we left? Of course, that would make parenting far too easy. So yes, thumbs up for providing a necessity such as a toilet, when there are no public toilets here for miles. Save everyone having a need to defecate somewhere nearby along the way. Which does seem to be a common complaint on walking tracks!

To start with the track is nice and grassy, a Lil mushy due to the recent rain. A friend did say that planting programmes have been in place here to try to slow any flooding.

Cross a little bridge over a small creek and the track leads you through an aisle of Manuka either side of you. The floor laden with white Manuka flowers.

Mstr 5 on start of Whangamumu Walking Track

Then the track turns into a bit of a clay track,

Start of Whangamumu Track with outandaboutwiththejoneses

quite level with some gravel stamped into it, the steep climb begins, we pull out the songs, and ways to make the kids giggle when little complaints started to come in, “The ants go farting two by two, hurrah, hurrah…” distraction is always key for stretching attention spans…

and then … Mstr 3 falls asleep on Dad’s back,

Mstr 3 asleep on Whangamumu Walk

we look up…and we see the track turns into this.

Slippery patch on Whangamumu walk

NORMAL people would turn around and go home. We are not normal. With both our stubbornness combined, and having known a few of my other friends had done this track with children too, we powered up, and up, and up, and up, this goat track, till we came under the cover of bush, and the track got a bit more level again, however still going up. Contemplating if we go any further, looking at the time, we had been going about 40mins. We could hear the ocean, and we were so sure the top would be near here, surely. And it was! 5 mins more and we came across this sign.

Whangamumu Walking Track Scenic Reserve

We knew we weren’t going to make it all the way down to the Whaling Station, but if we could just get to a lookout we would be happy.

Another 5mins walk in the Whangamumu direction, we arrived at the lookout! YAY! High fives all around, the kids cheered, and Mstr 3 asks for his treat. Mate, you were asleep, but Ok, umm here’s a slice of apple. Luckily that age is easy to please, most of the time!

And what a view it was! The moon was up, and the sky had a soft glow, that water looked incredible. Taking photo snaps, and feeling very pleased with ourselves, we thought, we really needed to head back. So we will have to come back for Part 2 of this track.

Whangamumu Walk with a View

Whangamumu View looking to Elliot Bay

Boys at Whangamumu look out

Mum and her boys at Whangamumu look out

Couple at Whangamumu look out

On the way down was a little trickier, pretty slippery, and surprisingly, everyone except me slipped over. Sillyness set in, and I said to the kids, “Man I’m so glad you guys like going for walks”, to which Mstr 5 replied, “We don’t Mum, you make us go on walks”. Ha! This one was actually his idea, he had been harping on about going to the Whale Station all day. As I thought about what treats I might be able to give the kids when we got home, I realised there weren’t a lot of options, as I am due to do a grocery shop, but hey they have been sneaking the cooking chocolate chips lately these holidays, so I’m sure giving them some of those will set us back to even stevens again.

I think my growing like for walking, is that you never quite know what you are gonna get. There is an element of surprise, and moments of choosing to persevere, but also knowing when you have reached your limits. Especially on a family walk. If you have to stop and try again another day, for even just one person’s sake, so what?  Although my competitive side, always just wants to get to the end, that shouldn’t always be the main focus point.

I’m not sure if the track was just super washed out from some sudden recent rain, or if it always looks like that in some parts, either way, maybe avoid that track after a recent rain! Unless you have some super grippy shoes, and you are OK with the odd mudslide here and there.  Also, the gradient is quite steep, so if you have cranky knees, that is something to consider for the downhill walks.

Before long we were at the bottom and on the easy ground again. The torch had been useful on the way down, but now the full moon, was a light to our feet.  We all went home with that accomplished feeling, adding to an already messy house, and beginning to make Mstr 3’s request for dinner, a good ol Kiwi fave, Mince on Toast.

Until next time!

Over and out.

For more detailed info on this track, you can find it here

Getting some hill climbs in my steps

Yes, I’m puffing, I’m not your usual Gym Junkie.  But I still believe we can get out and about, and explore our backyards.  Just to show this page is most certainly NOT about glorifying the Joneses.  Far from it.  Think of me as your guinea pig, trialing some things out to do in the bay of islands, check out my no.1 rookie mistake here in trying to get kitted out for hikes…

The Winter-less North, It seems it might really be a thing here…

Hey! Thanks so much for following my blog! As a summary of our experiences of winter in the bay of islands, I thought I would put a small vlog together to celebrate a successful move North so far! Long may it continue!

I have a blog with a vlog! Ha!

 

“Twin Kauri” – They make the perfect team

I often hear people say there is nothing to do in Russell over winter…

so I am prepared to challenge that theory.  Even in the wetter months, I reckon there are still some pearler locations awaiting someone to explore them.  And perhaps in a little more comfortable temperature!  We had the best summer just gone, but wow some days were just too hot to go exploring.  The “Twin Bole Kauri Track” is one of the pearlers that I bet is a great little thing to do any time of the year.  Walking a track in the rain, puts a different spin on being in nature, as the canopy shelters you mostly, like a big umbrella stretching across the treetops.  So with a good raincoat, a beanie, and some good footwear, we soldiered on through the drizzle to find the forest gems set out before us on this walking track.

Twin Bole Kauri Tree Walk
Beautiful Canopy, I bet this also provides a lovely shade in the Summer too.

I’m not gonna lie.  The kids did moan and wondered why they were out here in the bush, in the rain, when they could be home watching tv and eating far too many crackers.  The good old Kiwi saying, “you’ll be right” was repeated throughout the walks, and we even broke out some songs for distraction, which is kinda uncommon in our family.  Stopping to look at different things along the way, a couple of mandarins and some chips and drink breaks also helped.  But really, it’s not a huge walk.  Very do-able with small children. 

How to get there:

We came from Rawhiti, so a short drive on Manawaora Rd, we turned left onto Russell/Whangarei Rd, straight ahead would take us to Russell.

The drive out to the “Twin Bole Kauri” tree, is a very pretty, but windy gravel forest road, a road you need to be wary of with oncoming traffic.  (You might think you are alone, but there is bound to be another vehicle at some point) Awesome trees tower over you along the way.  More Rimu, Puriri, Totara and Kauri trees galore.  The birdlife here must be amazing particularly come Summer.  I look forward to coming back in warmer months to see if the wildlife is more active around these parts.  However, I enjoyed the quiet, cool, stillness of the forest all rugged up with the odd droplet of rain on our shoulders.

There are two walking tracks down this road, the first from this end is a 45-minute loop walk, and the second track further on is the “Twin Bole Kauri Track”, which is only a 5min walk!  Easy peasy.  So we went to this one first.

The Twin Bole Kauri track

is a short 200m loop walk for viewing and getting close to an ancient kauri tree which has naturally separated into two huge trunks.  I learned that the “Bole” in botany is pretty much the bottom of a tree trunk.  (I told you in a previous blog I nothing about these things, ha!) Actually, there was the talk of this track being closed down to public due to the spreading of the Kauri dieback disease devastating our native Kauri at present, to protect the Kauri here.  But at the moment it seems to be open, with signs on how to tread carefully to limit the spread.Twin Bole Kauri Tree Walk with Kids

Tall trees in the Russell State Forest
Tall guardians of the forest waiting to greet you on your arrival     

Twin Bole Kauri Tree Walk with Kids

Twin Bole Kauri Tree Walk with Kids

This track is kind of like your instant gratification, scratch and win lotto ticket, short and sharp, wowed with a prize at the end, take a photo and nearly back at the start again.  But it is pretty impressive and a nice introduction into the Russell State Forest/Ngaiotonga Scenic Reserve.  A quick google showed me that the nearby rotting trunks of other nearby trees aren’t a natural phenomenon, but are a result of the damage inflicted by workers bleeding the trees for gum.  The natural healing process once interfered with has lead to this damage and ultimately, the early death of the trees.  You can see the huge ugly scars and holes in the trees from this along the track.  Department of Conservation (DOC), says “This destructive process was outlawed many years before the gum was no longer sought for profit.”

So that was fun!  Who isn’t fascinated by a set of Twin somethings!?  This twin legend, a double whammy of our giant Kauri Tree species, so tall, strong and sure of themselves!  Waiting for a visitor to admire them.  So go and admire these two strong heads you must.  They make a perfect team.

Twin Bole Kauri Tree Walk with Kids      Twin Bole Kauri Tree Walk with Kids

Next, we pile into the truck and drive on to the next track.

The “Kauri Grove Walk”.

Twin Bole Kauri Tree Walk with Kids, Kauri Grove

Twin Bole Kauri Tree Walk with Kids          Twin Bole Kauri Tree Walk with Kids          Twin Bole Kauri Tree Walk with Kids

As we stopped the truck and piled on out again, the kids, saying, “oh not again!” To which we reply, “yes again”.  We begin to meander along the path.  There are some signs dotted along the way, telling you more about different tree specimens.  Which the kids really enjoyed pointing them out to us. “What this one say, guys?” Mstr 3 would ask.  Cutting us off again when we tried to read it.  Hard to stay focused when your 3.

Twin Bole Kauri Tree Walk with Kids, Silver Fern         Twin Bole Kauri Tree Walk with Kids

Twin Bole Kauri Tree Walk with Kids

TWO Trees that really stood out to me, the Rata, and one that was growing ears on its trunk! (Jews ear fungus) For real! Apparently, we ship the ears off to China! OR used to?  It is a Chinese delicacy that often grows on dead wood or a dead part of a living tree.  In the 1800s a Chinese man in Taranaki came across this fungi and knew it to be a gourmet and medicinal food.  His name was Chew Chong, and he settled in New Plymouth, as a storekeeper, buying fungus for export to China and selling imported Chinese goods.  In Taranaki, he would mainly find this “Jews ear fungus”, on a Tawa tree, Mahoe or the Pukatea trees. If you know anything about this I would love to hear your comments.  I found it quite fascinating, and the ears really did feel like ears!

Twin Bole Kauri Grove Walk, Jews ear fungus

That Rata though, its a little bit cheeky I thought.  Instead of standing firm in its own rooted foundation, DOC says, “The Northern rata usually begins life as an epiphyte, a plant perched on a host tree.  Its roots grow down
to the ground, finally enclosing the host tree and producing a huge tree up to 25 meters tall with a trunk of up to 2.5 meters wide.”

A good reminder, that if you do not stand firm in who you are, and what you were created to be, a vine is usually nearby waiting to take root in your system, and make you into what they want you to be.  Given that, you could also see it as a positive, that vine could be there waiting to help build you up from the inside out, adding some fruitfulness to your life.

What’s your take?

Twin Bole Kauri Walk
View in an opening on the Kauri Grove Walk

 Verse of the day – John 15: 16  You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

  • Help stop kauri dieback
    • Stay away from kauri tree roots.
    • Clean your footwear and gear before and after visiting kauri forest.

7 Top things to do at Oke Bay through a child’s lens

Discovering Oke Bay is like putting on a pair of pants that you haven’t worn for ages and finding a $20 note in the pocket. Woo-hoo! A sweet little pocket surprise. Whether it’s the first visit, or you have been there before, that view as you come across it gets you every time. It is winter now and it is still a beauty. Come summer we will be swimming, snorkeling, and dodging the paddle boarders in these crystal clear waters. But here is our take on a winters day out.
Getting there:

You know those times, where you feel like you have spent the last few days, repeatedly saying, “in a minute” every time your kids ask you to do something with them? If you don’t have those days, then I salute you! Given that, this trip was guilt driven, to put things down, and go and do something for and with Mstr 5 and Mstr 3. It’s in these times, that I am reminded, the blessings that come from being in this season of having a small tribe.

If you haven’t been to Oke Bay, in Rawhiti yet, (and I might be in trouble with the locals here, but) you should definitely put that on your bucket list to visit. It is often written in the different articles, that global opera star Kiri Te Kanawa, who has a holiday home nearby, considers this her favourite beach. No idea if that’s true, but we understand why it would be. It is not uncommon for Dolphins and Orca Whales to frequent Oke Bay. My ultimate dream would be to swim with the dolphins! If that ever happens, I will certainly be blogging about it!

Oke Bay, Rawhiti, is quite out of the way for most though, so make sure if you do visit, you come prepared, as the next nearest town is Russell, 30 mins away. Rawhiti itself has a lot to offer for the usual holidaymaker. You will notice all sorts of activity if you arrive in the peak season, of summer. With water taxis, boaters, campers, hikers and beach-goers, it can be quite the hub for the leisurely. There is a pop-up shop at a very popular and busy Marae/campsite in Rawhiti, selling a few treats like Ice-creams, Ice-blocks, Coffee, some cool drinks, Hot chips, etc. I am pretty sure I saw a few portaloos’ around here, over the summer months, otherwise, yep good luck with that one.

Some people connect with Oke Bay as it is the start of the famous, Cape Brett Walking Track. Have you walked this track? I would love to hear from you what your experience was on it! That is on my bucket list one day, but minus the children. Sorry, I love my kids, I just don’t want to walk with them for 8 hours each way. I have actually walked with them unintentionally for 5 hrs on a loop track that I misjudged the length of once. Mstr 3 won’t remember, as he slept in my arms almost the entire way, I still remember the dead arm, and Mstr 5 continues to stop in his tracks before we start a walk, asking me If I know where this walk will take us. (Insert the emoji laughing but breaking out into a sweat right here) Mstr 5 actually did incredibly well, and the amazing scenery is still very vivid in my mind. We were not totally put off from that expedition. Actually, its the main reason for my drive to get “out and about” with the kids. A bit of perseverance was learned, and some amazing opportunities to chat with each other about all sorts of things. I have had many compasses as a joke sent my way. #liveandlearn

The Adult vs Child view…

Are you a beach person? Not everyone is. And that’s cool. My husband is not a fan of salt water and sand everywhere, whereas I love it. The beach is by far my happy place, but it usually involves, me on a towel, in a sunny spot, soaking up some rays. Because of this, I was sparked by my children’s own creativity, and how they chose to appreciate this natural playground.

Lately, I have learned a lot about “child-led play” through our wonderful playcentre, (I highly recommend playcentre for your preschoolers, if that’s of any interest to you, go check one out near you). Part of a course we have been doing lately on what child-led play looks like has really challenged some of my thinking on how we go about this “play business” daily.

So as I let my children lead the way on today’s adventure, here are some of the clever and FREE ways of play they initiated us on.

7 TOP simple things my kids love doing at Oke Bay…

1) Run up the stairs.

The kids love these stairs. Its a pretty good climb, and they love to try outrun each other. Show who’s the strongest and all that…I am especially proud of Mstr 3 for NOT asking me to carry him up those stairs now, getting my self to the top is effort enough.

Entrance to Oke Bay Staircase

Staircase to Oke Bay.

Respectfully, this staircase is also the entrance to a local Urupa, (burial grounds where their tupuna rest and other sacred and historic sites.) Being mindful of this, and where you park your vehicle, at the bottom of this staircase, allowing traffic to still get past either side of the road, I know will be appreciated by many.

Then Bam! at the top of the stairs, just as you catch your breath, your breath gets taken away again, when that view hits you! (That pocket surprise effect)

Oke Bay with outandaboutwiththejoneses

Race you down the other side!

Oke Bay outandaboutwiththejoneses

Oke Bay track down to the beach

Oke Bay Beach from the rocks

Proceed with caution here, this is a track carefully steeped into the side of a cliff. Remembering also, what goes down, must then again come back up…

2) If you are lucky enough, most likely in the quieter seasons, be the first ones to walk and doodle all over the pure white sand. Writing in the white sand at Oke Bay
3) Discover treasure! Treasures weaved into Oke Bay Washed over glass turned into treasure at Oke Bay Oke Bay Sea Shells and Waves

Someone had woven this beautiful flax flower (or putiputi) into some of the dry flax. The boys thought it was pretty cool. We left it there for someone else to enjoy. They also enjoy finding things like refined sea glass, you can find all sorts of colours, and of course some pretty cool shells.

4) Rocks! Climb them, hide under them, who’s the king of the castle? They are!

Hiding at Oke Bay

Mstr 3 playing peek a boo

Mstr 5 sat up here for quite some time, “enjoying the view”, he said, while twiddling a stick through his fingers.

Maori Rock Oke Bay

5) Go rock pooling #DiscoverAllsortsOfAmazingSealifeRock pooling at Oke Bay
6) Playing with natural elements

The boys wanted to bring a toy down to the beach, but I am kind of glad they didn’t. It was so much fun watching them conjure up ideas with how to play with rocks, sticks, and water. Mstr 5 is always looking at what he can construct next, so he began to make a rock dam to stop the waves coming up, (as unsuccessful as it was, it was pretty amusing) then he turned a stick into a drain pipe so the water can drain out of it. When Mstr 5 wasn’t looking, Mstr 3 grabbed the stick and turned it into a fishing rod, claiming his next big catch of that cheeky Kingfish that keeps getting away.

Playing in the elements at Oke Bay

7) Go home with happy and full hearts

Sunsetting at Oke Bay

Swinging around at Rawhiti    Rope swings along the Rawhiti beaches.

Until another day, thank you Oke Bay for providing a minefield of fun, enabling my little tour guides to show me the way. And thank you to my children, who teach me there is Joy in every day, we just have to go out and find it.

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Psalm 127:3