Won­der­ful Walk

Weave your per­fect walk on Tawha­ranui Re­gional Park’s net­work of tracks.

Good - - TRAVEL - Words and pho­tog­ra­phy Carolyn Ent­ing

Tawha­ranui Re­gional Park is a par­adise for wildlife and na­ture lovers

The melodic call of a bell­bird stops me in my tracks. I glance up to see if it re­ally is a bell­bird and it hops oblig­ingly into view on a nearby branch.

A lit­tle fur­ther down the path, three sad­dle­back ap­pear and I stand trans­fixed. These birds are on the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion’s ‘At Risk – Recovering’ list, and are also a de­light to see.

This parade of na­tive birds I en­joy on Fish­er­mans Track at Tawha­ranui Re­gional Park is a trib­ute to the hard work of Tawha­ranui Open Sanc­tu­ary So­ci­ety and Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion. Since they con­structed a 2.5km preda­tor-proof fence across the penin­sula in 2004, bell­birds have re­turned in great num­bers. The trop­i­cal par­adise, filled with bird­song, is also home to tui, fan­tail, North Is­land robin, ducks, kaka and kakariki.

The forested area is small com­pared to what was here be­fore the set­tlers cleared the land for farm­ing, ex­tracted shin­gle and milled the kauri trees for tim­ber. It makes you yearn for how it must have been when Māori tribes lived in the area. There are still some im­pres­sive kauri and tow­er­ing nikau palm here.

Fish­er­mans Track can be ac­cessed from both the North Coast Track and South Coast Track at Tawha­ranui Re­gional Park (a 10- to 15-minute drive from Matakana Vil­lage). Park in the main carpark by the beach and walk along the path un­til you reach a junc­tion of sign­posts point­ing to the North Coast Track and Ecol­ogy Trail. We opted to take the Ecol­ogy Trail, which fol­lows the coast­line and then wends its way back to meet the North Coast Track. The lat­ter tra­verses farm­land with a cou­ple of rec­om­mended stop-offs: Tokata Point Look­out and Māori Bay.

When you do the Tokata Point Look­out, make sure you do the loop walk that takes you through stands of na­tive flax team­ing with tui, be­fore emerging to a mag­nif­i­cent coastal view of stands of rocks pro­trud­ing from the ocean like a smaller ver­sion of Aus­tralia’s 12 Apos­tles. It’s thrilling to stand atop the cliff and look down at the rocks as the ocean swirls around them.

Re­join­ing the North Coast Track, we walk on to Māori Bay be­fore re­turn­ing to the carpark via Fish­er­mans Track. It’s a gen­tle up­hill climb from this di­rec­tion; we take care to spray and scrub our shoes to help pre­vent the spread of kauri dieback dis­ease.

The track leads us back to where we started – the beau­ti­ful golden beaches of An­chor Bay. It’s def­i­nitely time for a swim!

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