Day 54 – 57 – Off Trail In Rotorua

This morning our last ditch effort at booking accomodation through Auckland failed. I’m not sure what’s going on but the entire region is practically full. After a bit of a ‘think outside the square’ operation we decided to hire a campervan and run away till Monday. Not an Auckland fan at the best of times this quite appealed.

We found a trusty wee camper and left Stillwater bright and early to collect it, then head for Rotorua. It was a side trip we originally had planned from Hamilton but we made the most of the things and took cue of the situation to do it now.

We arrived in Rotorua late afternoon and headed up to the luge for a few runs. We booked dinner at the luge for later on and booked in at the Blue Lake Holiday Park before coming back for dinner.Β Dinner was an amazing buffet with a cracker view of Rotorua from the top of the gondola.

The next day we spent the morning at the Polynesian Spa soaking in the pools and I got a massage. I love this place!

After leaving the hot pools we headed out to Wai O Tapu thermal park where we had lunch and looked at all the crazy steamy volcanic stuff. Very cool. We had a nosy down the Waikite Valley on the way home also. Good spot down there for camping beside the natural hot pools. We will be back.

The next day we just chilled out at the campsite mainly. We had a wee drive down the road to look at Lake Tarawera and spent the afternoon walking the track around the Blue Lake. We had a hot tub at the campsite early evening then bunkered up for the night.

The next morning we headed off back to Auckland ready for rejoining the trail. We booked into Takapuna Holiday Park for 2nights so we can finish the North Shore then beeline through and out of Auckland. We are staying in a very cool little on site caravan and we have a stunner view of Rangitoto Island. I’m hoping to get up early for some sunrise shots of it.

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View of Rotorua from the luge.
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Luge track below the chairlifts.
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Riding back up the chairlifts after our first luge run.
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Polynesian Spa lakeside pools.
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Entering the Wai O Tapu thermal park.
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Volcanic Crater.
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‘Artists Palette’
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Bridge walk through the thermal park.
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Thermal park walkway.
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Beautiful green lake at the end of the thermal park walk.
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‘Champagne Pool’
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‘Champagne Pool’ again.
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‘Inferno Crater’
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‘Devils Bath’
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Boiling mud pool.
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Campsite at the Blue Lake.
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Lake Tarawera.
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Along Blue Lake beach to the start of the walk.
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Start of the Blue Lake walk.
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Along the Blue Lake track.
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Blue Lake from the lookout.
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Green Lake from the lookout.
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Day 53; Red Beach – Stillwater

3 hours.

Today we headed off back to the Orewa Bridge where we picked up the trail again. It took us along the estuary side on a nice path through to Silverdale.

We passed through Silverdale and continued roadside along the highway a few km’s to the turn off for Stillwater. The roadside walk down to Stillwater was really nice and we arrived at the Stillwater Boat Club at 3pm. An hour before they opened.

We sat on the picnic tables here and brewed a coffee while admiring what an amazing little spot this was. We were set to go through to Browns Bay today but given the cracker spot I was determined to find a way to stay here.

Across the estuary was a little campsite which I did know about but was as far as I was aware a private NZMCA motor camp. I found the number online and rang anyway just to try our luck at putting up a tent.

Success! In fact – the guy who owns the place allows Te Araroa hikers to stay free and even offered us a spot in the hall. How amazing!! Well, with this sorted we cancelled our Browns Bay accomodation and took our gear over to the campsite where we were made right at home.

After settling in we headed back to the boat club where we signed in as visitors and enjoyed a lovely meal and a few brews. Everyone here was so friendly and we chatted to them all. We even thought we may stay a few nights extra here to stay for the rafting event on the Sunday but on the way home we decided to continue on.

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Rejoining the trail at Orewa Bridge.
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Alongside the Orewa Estuary.
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Looking towards the campsite at Stillwater.
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Looking up the Weiti River from the Stillwater Boat Club.

Day 51; Waiwera – Red Beach

3 hours.

We set off today just before the low tide for the walk around the rocks from Waiwera. It was a brilliant walk and a really nice day.

After about an hour and a half we arrived at the beginning of Orewa Beach. It was low tide and it is a wide beach – very beautiful. The walk took us along the beach and took about an hour. At the bridge we had a short walk through the streets to Pinewoods Holiday Park. It was a brilliant spot and we had booked in for 2 nights at a tent site.

We set up camp and set off for some supplies from the 4 square down the road. We spent the evening here just relaxing and enjoying the good spot.

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Setting off from Waiwera around the rocky coastline.
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Small sandy section between Waiwera and Orewa.
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Really cool folds in the cliffs.
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Rocky coastline before Orewa Beach.
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View south along Orewa Beach.
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Really cool letterbox.

Day 50; Wenderholm – Waiwera

1.5 hours.

We woke up this morning and decided we wanted to stay in Waiwera another night. The place we were staying in was nice and Waiwera is lovely. So we shuffled some accomodation bookings to make it happen πŸ™‚

We actually had some heated pools on site as well so we had some lunch and then went for a bit of a dip in them. So nice and relaxing. After lunch we chilled out doing some planning and blogging.

About 4pm we set off to do the Wenderholm section we’d bypassed on the way in so that we didn’t have to pop back and do it tommorow with full packs. It was a short walk through the park and over a hill back to Waiwera again. We had a look around while we were down there and there’s a campsite, bbq’s, a nice beach and heaps of little walks.

After arriving home we popped down to the little bar & grill in Waiwera for dinner and then headed home for a last soak in the villa’s hot pool before retiring for the night.

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Entrance to Wenderholm Regional Park.
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Looking up the Puhoi River from Wenderholm.
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Historic house in the Wenderholm Regional Park.
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View over Wenderholm Beach from up on the hill track.
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The Perimeter Track over the hill.
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Emerging off the track back on the Waiwera side.
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Back over the Waiwera bridge.

Day 49; Puhoi – Waiwera

1.5 hours.

Today was a super short day through to Waiwera so we set off at a leisurely 10am. Stopped at the Puhoi general store for a sandwich for breakfast then hit the road. The whole of Puhoi has a lot of history and we passed by a cute little library and a cool church on our way out.

We had to walk along the highway a few kms today just prior to Aucklands toll road. It was a bit epic but we were fine. This section is supposed to be a kayak but due to tide timing we weren’t able to do it. Nevermind.

After the wee highway walk we dropped into Waiwera after a good view into the Wenderholm Regional Park which looked quite nice. The little villa unit we were staying in was right at the entrance to Waiwera across from the dairy.

After settling in we chilled out for the afternoon, had some yummy spaghetti on toast for dinner, then headed down to the hot pools. I used to come here as a kid and it was kind of the main reason for our stay in Waiwera πŸ™‚

The pools were nice, unfortunately there is only a couple of water slides here now, as a kid there was like 10! What a shame. Anyway, other than the loss of the slides it was just as I remembered it.

We bought some Waiwera water as we left (all water seems not created equal – either this stuff is delicious or we’re super thirsty) and headed home for the night.

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Tiny wee library building.
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Puhoi church building.
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Getting closer to Auckland …
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Bit of a highway walk.
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Looking down on Wenderholm Regional Park.
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View down into Waiwera.
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Waiwera hot pools!! πŸ™‚

Day 48; Nanekoti Farmstay – Puhoi

5.5 hours.

We got up at 8am today and headed over to the main house for breakfast. We had the yummiest bacon & eggs with fruit, toast, and coffee. It was a real treat. It has been a lovely place to stay and we’d definitely come back. After breakfast we popped back to the loft to pack up our bags, then said out goodbyes and thank you’s.

We set off with a decent sized day ahead of us but with a historic pub to look forward to at the end of the day, which always helps with the motivation. The first part of the day took us along a forestry road to the summit of Moir Hill. It was a good climb with some beautiful views from the top. We stopped at the top for a brief Moro bar break before we continued.

We then passed through a real nice bush track that took us down to the road and then through some new suburb streets to the Dunns Bush track. It took us through some nice patches of native bush and over farmland to the beginning of the Puhoi Track.

The Puhoi Track is quite new (just recently opened in December I think), and is of a good standard. It was a real nice walk with a small climb through native bush. It continued along the top for a while till it made its last descent (after a brilliant view at the top) to bring us out directly across the road from the historic Puhoi Pub.

The pub was unreal. Stuff on the walls everywhere!! You could spend hours exploring the walls of the Puhoi Pub. It had a fantastic outdoor area. Sadly the band was just finishing up :/

We had dinner in the pub which was very yum, and a few beverages before retiring for the night. It has been a great walk today with a very cool little destination.

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Road leading out towards Moir Hill.
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Forestry road up Moir Hill.
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Continuing along the forestry road to Moir Hill summit.
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View from Moir Hill summit.
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Half dead, half alive tree.
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Roadside walk to Puhoi Track connection.
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Beginning of the bush track.
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Bush track.
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Beginning of Dunns Bush.
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Through the Dunns Bush section.
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Swing bridge at the beginning of the new Puhoi Track.
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Puhoi Track.
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View from the Puhoi Track.
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Puhoi Pub from the end of the track.
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Inside the Puhoi Pub.
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Upstairs in the Puhoi Pub accomodation’s hallway.
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Historic stables across the road.
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Outside the Puhoi Pub.