Day trip ideas

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  • #32644 Reply


    There are great trip reports on this website (refer Newsletters). However, the majority are overnight and multi-day trips. The intention of this forum post is to share day trip ideas. From the easy to difficult, short to long, near or far. The more variety the better, to cater for a wide group. Posts might offer options when the “What shall we do this weekend?” question is asked.

    These might be outings just to get outside. Perhaps options for overseas visitors coming our way this summer or mini adventures great for young families. They may assist in planning overnight trips for those new to venturing into the backcountry, or for those wanting test their fitness level or work out where their limits might be.

    A short account of enjoyable day trips in any part of NZ are welcome. Urban, rural or backcountry, on water or around the coastline, with bike wheels or without, below the bush line or along it, kid or pet friendly – or not. Feel free to post day trip excursions or ask questions on somewhere you might want to head out to.

    #32650 Reply

      Battle Hill and Puketiro Loop with Transmission Gully in between (Wellington)

    Battle Hill Forest Farm Park, on Paekakariki Hill Road (6kms from Pauatahanui) can cater to many. The website link below sets out what it offers including lots of walk and cycle options for all ages and levels. It’s a working farm with a variety of animals.

    With Transmission Gully running through the farm, it’s also a destination for anyone interested in the construction of a four-lane motorway. There’s a good vantage point to check out its progress, an easy 20-minute walk from the car park.

    Puketiro Loop (through a pine forest) is one of the many walks within or accessed from Battle Hill. It’s a fairly steep uphill climb to the lookout at 464m elevation. The lookout provides 360 degree views including Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbour. Plus, you’ll see the South Island on clear days. If there has been rain, expect wet feet crossing the creek at the start of the loop. The information board says the loop takes four hours to walk (or 2.5 hrs to cycle). For some it might take half that (subject to the number of stops). In terms of distance, the loop walk is just under 14 kms from the carpark.

    There are good opportunities around the loop to teach young ones some navigation basics such as how to follow track markers (the Puketiro Loop uses yellow triangles). With the forest being quite open, it’s also easy to point out what a spur is (albeit small ones) and where the head waters of a stream might be. Taking along a Topo map to compare it to the surrounding terrain might be fun and educational. The open areas around the lookout provide an opportunity for compass practice too.

    Battle Hill Farm is kid-friendly but unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed. Some tracks are also closed to all during lambing season. Puketiro Loop however is open year-round.
    NZ Topo50 map BP32 (Paraparaumu)

    #32681 Reply

      Te Ara Utiwai track

    (Porirua Scenic Reserve, Wellington)
    There’s a new track in town. Actually, it’s 18 months old but you might not have heard of it.

    If there is a dual-purpose track in Wellington that suits just about everyone, the Te Ara Utiwai track (6.1kms) might be it. It’s worth checking out and can be enjoyable even in inclement weather.

    It’s suitable for small children finding their tramping legs. It’s great for a jog as well as a worthy trail run. It’s suitable for a gentle stroll or a robust walk.

    It’s the easiest way to get more than half-way up to Rangituhi-Colonial Knob summit (468m) yet you might hardly notice you’re climbing the 350m in elevation. There are no steps. From start to end, the track is through mature tawa and kohekohe forest of the Porirua Scenic Reserve, up to a fantastic lookout. Rangituhi-Colonial Knob summit is further up the farm road, a summit that competes with having the best views of the Wellington region.

    When the track opened, Mana Cycle Group got a shout out in the media for their vision of this track. So a big thanks to them because it’s an awesome track designed for biking, walking and running as well as all levels of fitness.

    The track has two sections. The first 1.4km section of the track allows two-way cycling. (I’m no mountain biker but this first section looks like it might be great for children starting out biking on a trail.) The second section of 4.7km is for uphill biking only. Walkers and runners can use both sections of the track in either direction.

    There are several options to return from the lookout. If you’re on a bike, then take one of the bike tracks. The farm road for bikers and walkers, or the main track up through the reserve to Rangituhi-Colonial Knob for a loop trip. Walkers and runners can also return the same way they came up by going back down the scenic Te Ara Utiwai track.

    The track begins at the Camp Elsdon carpark on Raiha Street. Cross the little bridge and turn right. The track is well sign posted.

    Dogs are not allowed in the Porirua Scenic Reserve.

    Estimated times on the Te Ara Utiwai track to the lookout:
    • a stroll (e.g. young child’s pace) – two+ hours
    • a walk (with the heart rate up) – 90 minutes
    • Jog – 60 to 90 minutes
    • Run (no stopping) – 25 to 45 mins
    • Biking – 20 to 40 mins?? (I’m guessing)

    #32826 Reply

      Kāpiti Coastal Cycle Route – Shared pathway

    (Greater Wellington/Kāpiti Coast)

    Each time I drive along the new Kāpiti Expressway, I tell myself I must ride the adjacent cycleway sometime. I’ve now done so.

    The Kāpiti Coastal Cycle Route is stated online to be from Paekakariki to Peka Peka. But as with many trips, you can start at either end. The signpost at Peka Peka indicates the route continues even further – onto Otaki.

    Dusting off my 25-year-old bike, I took to the cycleway. I started from Paekakariki – Beach Road. You can get to Paekakariki by train (Paekakariki Station is on Wellington’s Kāpiti rail line) or by driving. Parking is available on any of the streets.

    The Kāpiti Coastal Cycleway is promoted as a ‘shared pathway’. I came across cyclists of all ages, dog walkers, a wheelchair user (the sporty type of wheelchair), runners, parents pushing buggies and of course walkers. Horse riders are also allowed on the bridleway sections of the route.

    The pathway is 25 kms from Paekakariki to Peka Peka. A decent ride for a recreational cyclist, especially if the plan is to turn around and return to the start. But the route can be broken down to whatever suits your group, level of fitness, the weather or how much time you have.

    From Beach Road, Paekakariki, the first 2kms are along residential roads. For the most part, that’s along Tilley Road leading to a sports field (and a car park) on the edge of Queen Elizabeth II park. Tilley Road Reserve car park is perhaps the better starting point for those who want to avoid riding on roads.

    From the Tilley Road car park, it’s a nice ride through QEII park on the sealed Te Ara o Whareroa trail. You’ll pass a mix of sand dunes and paddocks. There are several side tracks for exploring – a possible distraction for any younger members of the group if their legs are getting tired from biking. The Te Ara o Whareroa trail is generally flat with a few gentle ups and downs. There’s nothing steep.

    The start of the ‘Kāpiti Expressway Shared Pathway’ or ‘Kāpiti Coastal Cycle Route’ starts at the SH1 end of Poplar Avenue, Raumati South. It’s easily accessible and there’s plenty of parking here. If driving from Wellington, it’s right at the end of the Raumati South SH1 off ramp.

    This shared pathway is sealed, a good width and is very easy to ride for all levels. There’s good signage that provides information about the area each section runs through. There are seats and grassy places to takes breaks.

    From Poplar Avenue to Peka Peka, the pathway is just under 16 kms. If the full length is too far there are several junction points you can aim for then turn around and head home (or head inland for food or drink). There are about six roads to cross along this 16 km stretch. All but one have either traffic lights with the green man/green cycle or a button to alert road users there are cyclists up ahead. The only road section (other than Tilley Road) is less than 500m on two very quiet no exit residential streets just after Waikanae river.

    The scenery along the route is quite varied. The several wetlands are a standout. There’s a lot of restoration planting alongside the path and a good presence of birds. The path ties in with local roads and other tracks and walkways for exploring, including trails along the banks of the Waikanae River. The route also links up with the Paraparaumu and Waikanae railway stations if you started from Paekakariki but don’t wish to cycle back. The route is very well signposted.

    More details on Kāpiti’s cycleways, walkways and bridleways (and a whole lot of other activities in this area) can be found here:
    https://www.Kāpitiāpiti /attractions-and-activities/

    Distances between particular sections of the Kāpiti Coastal Cycleway are below:

    1. Beach Road, Paekakariki to Tilly Road Reserve 2 kms
    2. QEII park’s Te Ara o Whareroa shared walkway to SH1 end of Poplar Ave 7 kms
    4. Poplar Ave car park to Kāpiti Road, Paraparaumu 4 kms
    5. Kāpiti Road to Waikanae River 4.5 kms
    6. Waikanae River to Peka Peka Road roundabout 7.5 kms

    Total distance from Paekakariki to Peka Peka is 25 kms.

    #32989 Reply


    Dobson Loop (Southern Tararua Range)

    Historical records tell us that in 1859 Captain William Mein Smith came up over a saddle above Kaitoke to find a more direct route to the Wairarapa than the Remutaka hill. Today, many take this same path (one we know as the Puffer Saddle) to access the beautiful lower Tauherenikau Valley.

    The Dobson loop in the southern Tauherenikau Valley offers some typical Tararua terrain. It’s a good day ‘tramp’ for most ages. Although most of the loop is within the bush, there are sporadic clear patches along the way to enjoy vistas of the Kaitoke farmland and Tauherenikau Valley.

    The road end for Dobson Loop (and the Southern Crossing) is easily accessible and the road is sealed. From SH2, turn onto Marchant Road at the YMCA Camp Kaitoke turnoff. In just under 2 kms, turn right onto Kiwi Ranch Road. The carpark for Dobson Loop is on the left of the YMCA camp gate, 700m along Kiwi Ranch Road.

    The first section sidles beech forest before climbing to an old and overgrown 4WD road (that comes up from the disused Marchant Road carpark). Another kilometre further on, you’ll come to the turnoff up Marchant Ridge (and to Alpha hut). This is where the actual loop begins.

    Being a loop, it can be walked either direction. If you prefer going up the steepest section (a climb of 450m over a distance of 1.6kms midway on the loop), rather than down it, then anti-clockwise might be the way to go. From the Marchant Ridge/Alpha Hut turnoff and going anti-clockwise, it’s a further kilometre around the hillside to the top of the saddle. This is around 45 mins after leaving the carpark. On a clear and sunny day, the Kaitoke farmland below is eye-catching.

    From the saddle, the track meanders gently down into the Tauherenikau Valley. It’s an easy walk but does have the odd muddy patch. As you get closer to Smith Creek Shelter, several small unbridged side streams are crossed. Close to Fell Creek and just under two hours from the carpark, the track is diverted with a large orange triangle marker directing track users to the left, up a steep bank and away from the creek. There is no signage that there is a diversion at this southern end, so the original track which goes straight ahead may not be obvious to all. The diversion has been in place for many years and is an alternate route up and around an old small slip. It’s an unpleasant diversion and one section is dangerous where a trail of sorts leads to a 5-foot drop. The surface is loose, and it looks like track users have been climbing down it, presumably thinking it’s part of the diverted trail. The original track, across the bottom of the slip, is much easier and should be fine to use 9/10 times. At the northern exit of the diversion, there’s an old DOC sign informing southbound users of the ‘Alternate Route’ strategically installed across the original track.

    Minutes later, you will reach the track junction where the Dobson loop takes a left and heads up to Marchant Ridge. However, before heading on up for the return back to the carpark, Smith Creek Shelter and where travel up the Tauherenikau valley begins, is only a few more minutes along the track. While the shelter is a decent size it’s literally just walls, a roof, and a floor with a sleeping bench (no doors or glass in the windows). There’s a toilet less than 100m along the track on the left from shelter. The only water source here is the Smith Creek and the river.

    Smith Creek Shelter is one location for a lunch stop but there are much better places further along the track by the river. One in particular is within 10 minutes of the shelter. It’s a large grass clearing on the right between the track and the river. You can’t miss it – look out for a DOC sign announcing you’ve arrived at Joe Gibbs’ memorial cricket crease. Another five minutes further along the track is Marchant Stream. This might be a fun spot for children where you can show them how to cross a stream holding a single cable. (After heavy rain, Marchant Stream can be uncrossable even with the aid of the cable.) From Marchant Stream, it’s an easy 15-minute walk back to Smith Creek and the Dobson Loop track junction for the return to the carpark via Marchant Ridge.

    The track up from the valley to Marchant Ridge is very good. It’s a steady climb of about 450m. After 60-75 minutes, you’ll pop out on a clear knoll where you will get some views on a clear day. It’s then a short and easy descent to a small saddle before one final short rise. Once you hit the track junction on Marchant Ridge (around 90 minutes from Smith Creek), and the site of the old Dobson Hut, take a left (South West) and head down the ridge for 60-75 minutes to where it joins with the Puffer Saddle track. At this point you’ve completed the loop. Here you’ll take a right and in another 30 minutes be back at the car park.

    This is a good day’s walk for family groups with easy access to creeks and the river for some fun. It’s equally attractive for those new to tramping and keen to get a taste of the Tararua terrain. Sections of Dobson Loop are muddy, so tramping boots are best if you have them. Allow five hours for this loop. Longer if you take an extended break – a relaxing picnic by the river, a dip in a swimming hole, or to play some cricket on Joe Gibbs’ cricket crease.

    Dobson Loop has three big siblings – Block XVI, Omega and Bull Mound. Block XVI Track loop is a full day walk (10-12 hours) for those with good fitness. To note, the track along the true right of the Tauherenikau River between the bridge to Tutuwai Hut and Block XVI track is unmaintained. Navigation and route-finding experience may be required along this section. Omega and Bull Mound might be best suited for overnight trips (unless you’re a fit and experienced trail runner). There are campsite options as well as Cone and Tutuwai huts along the Tauherenikau Track on the true left of the river.

    Dobson Loop Track walk is approximately 14.5kms. Approximate times for sections of the loop are:
    ~ Carpark to Puffer Saddle – 45 minutes
    ~ Puffer Saddle to Smith Creek Shelter – 1 hour (may be longer if you take the alternate/diverted track near Fell Creek)
    ~ Smith Creek Shelter up to Dobson Hut site/Marchant Ridge track junction 1½ hours
    ~ Dobson Hut site/Marchant Ridge track junction to carpark – 1½ hours to 2 hours

    Trail runners can halve the above times.
    NZ Topo50 map BP33 – Featherston covers Dobson Loop Track and the Tauherenikau Valley

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