Five family-friendly walks in Waihī

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Five family-friendly walks in Waihī

Recharge like the mining old-timers who abandoned their gold prospecting pans and retreated to the sandy shoreline of this Bay of Plenty beach, writes Ceana Priest.

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

After years of chasing gold flecks in the region’s bedrock, weary gold miners descended on the small coastal township of Waihī Beach during the 1900s. Beckoning with its alluring sandy beaches and pōhutukawa-fringed headlands, it turns out the retiring old-timers were on to a good thing. There are plenty of relaxing adventures to tick off; some you can drive to, while others need snacks and a pair of sturdy walking shoes. Highlights include tackling the headlands to Orokawa Bay before going south along the narrow isthmus to Bowentown Reserve with its hidden caves and hill fort remnants. Don’t forget the togs for a refreshing dip, and finish your day by strolling the meandering dune paths. Here are five family-friendly walks to explore while visiting this laid-back destination.

Orokawa Bay Walk | Waihī Beach

This coastal pathway lopes around headlands fringed with pōhutukawa trees before arriving at a secluded bay with swoon-worthy white sandy beaches. Starting from the northernmost point of Waihī Beach, the path climbs steadily for about 30 minutes through shrubby coastal forest dappled with sunlight and the courtship tunes of freshly hatched cicadas. Cliffs add to the dramatic vistas of this walk but keep an eye on youngsters as they run ahead. Once you reach the upper exposed headland, it’s a quick 15-minute amble downhill past kawakawa and tree ferns to the bay where lofty windswept pōhutukawa trees provide pockets of shade for picnicking and whiling away a few hours. Bring a hammock to sling between the gnarly exposed pōhutukawa branches and enjoy views of wildlife refuge Tūhua/Mayor Island perched in the South Pacific Ocean. On your return, it’s a quick climb to the headland, then a leisurely stroll down to Waihī Beach.

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Need to know: The beach is not suitable for swimming because of its strong undertow. Allow 45 minutes each way and plenty more for relaxing. Parking is available at The Esplanade, Waihī Beach. Walking only. No dogs.

Five family-friendly walks in Waihī

The Orokawa Bay coastal pathway lopes around headlands fringed with pōhutukawa trees. Photo / Department of Conservation Tauranga

Bowentown Domain | Bowentown Heads

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Plenty of tribes have battled for this headland, and it’s easy to see why with its formidable views across the northern entrance to Tauranga Harbour. Two pā sites remain, including Te Kura a Maia, which appropriately translates to “the training ground for young warriors”. Many of the pā’s features, including terraces and large defensive ditches, are still visible near the car park. The steep trig path at the eastern end of the car park is only suitable for walking or buggy-pushing extremists. It flattens off after the first gut-busting paved section, and you can take a breather and watch boats navigating the churning waters between Matakana Island and the headland. Allow five minutes to the top for postcard views of Waihī Beach.

Need to know: Parking is available at the Bowentown Domain upper car park off Seaforth Rd. Toilets at Anzac Bay. Only suitable for walking. Dogs on leads.

Five family-friendly walks in Waihī

The Bowentown Heads walk includes two pā sites. Photo / Bay of Plenty NZ

Cave Bay | Bowentown Heads

Explorers will love poking around tall volcanic rock columns and small sunbeam-lit caverns at this secluded bay beneath the headland. Visit near low tide for the best experience as most caves become accessible. Steep stairs from the car park sidle past sheer rocks before emerging on a small rock-strewn boulder field which you’ll need to rock-hop across to get to the beach. Unfortunately, this is not a swimming destination; nearby Anzac Bay is a much better alternative.

Need to know: Allow five minutes one-way from the Bowentown Domain upper car park off Seaforth Rd. Toilets at Anzac Bay. Walking only.

Five family-friendly walks in Waihī

Explorers will love poking around tall volcanic rock columns and small sunbeam-lit caverns in Cave Bay. Photo / Outdoor Kid

Trig Walk and Water Reservoir Loop | Waihī Beach

The Water Reservoir Loop is a picturesque 20-minute dose of nature, and the easy flat trail is ideal for little legs. But for some glute-burning action, branch off the loop and ascend past shady pine forests and mature tree ferns to the 151m-high trig. The vantage point has impressive views of the township and offshore volcanoes poking through the bay. Allow 90 minutes return for the three-kilometre-long trail.

Need to know: Signposted off Pacific Rd. Toilets available. Walking only to the trig. Bikes and buggies suitable for Water Reservoir Loop. Dogs on leads.

Five family-friendly walks in Waihī

Branch off the Water Reservoir Loop and ascend to the 151m-high trig. Photo / Outdoor Kid

Athenree Wetland Loop Walk | Athenree

When the appeal of beach-lazing wanes, this 20-minute stroll around an ecological reserve provides a leisurely alternative. Binocular toting bird-twitchers could glimpse threatened wetland species matuku/Australasian bittern, moho pererū/banded rail or tūturiwhatu/New Zealand dotterel. At just over one kilometre, this short adventure on land gifted by a local farmer, the late Maurice “Snow” Garde-Browne, isn’t taxing. Follow the wooden trail markers through regenerating shrubs and flax and between avenues of sprawling flax fields.

Need to know: Steele Rd between Athenree and Waihī Beach. Take it easy on the pot-holed car park road. Only suitable for walking. No dogs allowed.

Five family-friendly walks in Waihī

The Athenree Wetland Loop Walk is a 20-minute stroll around an ecological reserve. Photo / Outdoor Kid

For more things to see and do in the region, go to bayofplentynz.com

Ceana Priest is the author of family-friendly Outdoor Kid guidebooks outdoorkid.co.nz

For more travel inspiration, go to newzealand.com/nz.

Check traffic light settings and Ministry of Health advice before travel at covid19.govt.nz

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