New Zealand Walks: Bay of Islands Walking Weekend - Walk, wine and dine
You can Walk, Wine and Dine on the Bay of Islands Walking Weekend on the 12th, 13th, 14th October 2018. Omata Estate is one of Russell’s top spots to visit in summer, Alex Clayton one of the Walking Weekend guides shares his experience on the Omata Estate Walk.
This walk is for those who like a small reward at the end (read a few glasses of wine and some good food!).
Gathering at the Russell Bowling Club for what is usually a very light hearted walk and the enthusiasm starts to build - the walk is by no means a stroll in the park, but the destination that we are all heading for is well worth the effort!
Heading through the township, past some significant heritage buildings, then up ‘Constitution Hill’ which signifies the real start of the walk.
From there it is an easy pleasant walk down to sea level and through the mangrove boardwalk, stopping briefly to learn about the fascinating history of Tikitikiioure and its mining heritage.
The stories of manual labour and a hillside village that was, at its time, larger then Russell township. Russell was not all about whalers and wenches! – you have all heard those stories, but few know of our mining heritage.
There are tales of flying foxes and large ships in Orongo Bay, ready to carry the mining spoils to far away lands.
With this new knowledge taken on board, our walkers carry on, thankful that we live in a day and age where manually chipping away at the mineshaft is behind us.
We now stroll around the boardwalks
of Orongo Bay, taking in the extensive oyster farm operations.
One more steep climb up and over Te Wahapu ridge through well-established native bush. Plenty of bird life on offer and a rather cheery atmosphere to keep you well entertained, - your glass of wine will be well appreciated.
After a further hour of talk talk walk walk, you come to the beautiful grounds of Omata Vineyard, with its expansive views out to Paihia.
The land was purchased from the local Maori in 1831,by captain John Wright, Omata was a key destination point for European immigrants to New Zealand. This began Omata’s involvement in Russell under European ownership.
In 1883, the Deeming Family purchased 70 acres from John Wright’s estate. This land was passed down through generations until 1994 when the land was developed to make today’s Omata Estate. Omata Estate is now owned by the Cashmore Family and has established itself as one of Northlands premier wine growing sites.
Here we are met by the resident viticulturist who humorously and skilfully presents a taster of all the wines Omata Estate have in their stable.
Noting that everyone is famished, the tables fill up with the homemade pizzas fired up in their pizza oven or platters (depending on which walk you choose) – which you can wash down with a glass or two of Omata wine.
As if sent by the angels themselves, we are then ferried back to Russell by
Opposite page above: The view over the Omata Estate Vineyard. Below left: The board walk over the wetlands. Above right: Paroa Bay. Below left: A waterfall at Paroa Bay.