Coromandel – Waterworks and the Driving Creek Railway

When you think of the Coromandel you usually think of stunning beaches and they are definitely worth a visit but we recently found two fun family activities not involving sand.

It’s a while since I’ve been to the Coromandel Peninsula and I had forgotten how stunning the drive of the Firth of Thames was – hair raising and stunning. The road is quite narrow and was definitely built before big trucks and big cars were ever thought of. Watching the gannets diving in to the sea took my mind off just how close we were to diving of the edge of the road ourselves.

Our first stop was Waterworks, a place built with children in mind by someone with an amazing imagination. There were lots of interactive water features and what kid doesn’t love playing with water. It wasn’t just for the kids though and there was lots of interesting facts along the way to keep the adults entertained. We spent a fun filled afternoon enjoying the many activities at Waterworks.



We stayed overnight in Coromandel and then next day explored The Driving Creek Railway. And it turns out that the Coromandel is not home to one amazing imaginative individual but two ( well probably a whole host of creative individuals ) Barry Bricknell originally developed the narrow gauge railway to get clay out of the hills for his pottery.

Today, the railway carries more passengers than materials. Its not ordinary railway though; its New Zealand’s only narrow gauge railway with examples of Barry Bricknells pottery and artistic flair dotted along the journey as you climb the mountain to enjoy stunning vistas over the Hauraki Gulf.

The beaches of the Coromandel are always worth a visit and we headed over to explore Whangapoa with the intent of walking to new Chums Beach but the tide was in and we couldn’t safely cross the stream which gives us the perfect excuse to return.

Tarawera Waterfall walking track

My Uncle has explored nearly every nook and cranny in New Zealand and rates the Tarawera Waterfall track from the Tarawera Outlet campground as one of his all time favourites and I think he might be right.

Its one of those walks where the trail has as much to see as the final destination; stunning Indiana Jones style native bush, walking beside the gorgeous Tarawera River with waterfalls along the way and then watching the river disappear into rock crevices to emerge out of the side of a cliff a little further down.

There are two ways to experience the waterfall; drive through the Tarawera forest to either the main waterfall carpark and walk about 20 minutes to the waterfall or drive to the Outlet campground and walk down the track beside the river. ( The Department of Conservation website says this track is 5km one way and the sign at the start of the track says 3.5km – it took us 3 and a half hours to walk with our kids and we spent a lot of exploring and enjoying the waterfall )



You need a permit to enter the Tarawera forest – available on line or at the information centre in Kawerau.

Wairere Falls track

We have driven passed the Wairere Falls in the Kamai ranges many times, so when we had a bonus extra day at Easter we decided to stop in on the way back from Rotorua and explore. Its only about 10 minutes off State Highway 2, just out of Waharoa. We were surprised to find the car park nearly full and hoping it emptied by the time we walked the track so we could turn the car around with the camper on.



It’s a beautiful walk straight up the Kamais for 45 minutes through gorgeous bush, beside a river swirling down around boulders, to the base of the waterfall. Then another half hour straight up to the origin of the waterfall and some spectacular views over the expansive plains.

Department of Conservation rates this as an easy walk but I would say its anything but – its lots of climbing at times using tree roots as steps and right to the top was about 1 and ½ hours straight up. We did see some people with young children and 2 ladies with babies in front packs but it wouldn’t be at the top of my list for a track suitable for young children.

Tips & tricks

IMG_8024This one is hot off the press after I had my power bank ( you know the thing you charge your phone with when you have no electricity ) removed from my checked in luggage last week when we flew to Nelson.

Lots of us now fly with power banks so be aware they need to be in your hand luggage. They will be taken from your checked-in luggage and a recent change to aviation security means they don’t need you to be present to open your luggage so you don’t know before you fly that its been taken out and you wont get it back.




As I pack for the 4 day Abel Tasman tramp next week I am aware of every gram going into my backpack but I still want to be prepared for a headache, hay fever, allergies, sore muscles or one of my random medical conditions so I grabbed this canister from a $2 dollar shop and labelled each section with the medication. The containers that hair clips and hair ties come in could also come in useful.


Plan and know your public holidays.

If you never have enough annual leave to do all the exploring you want, then you need to make the most of your public holidays.

When I get a new diary, writing in the public holidays is the first thing I do.

In New Zealand Easter and Anzac weekend are very close together this year and by taking 5 days annual leave you can get 12 days off – think of the exploring you could do with that.

Now go book an adventure!!!


Have you heard of Rawhiti Caves?

No? Neither had I until we got given a copy of NZ Frenzy off the beaten track guide. Full of well known and not so well known NZ adventures.

So three tips in one; add Rawhiti Caves to your South Island itinerary, check out NZ Frenzy guide and follow us as we explore off the beaten track


The new bike rack got the thumbs up from the third footman ( aka my husband ).
It didn’t bounce around on the towbar and the bikes didn’t rub together. Still takes a while to strap all the bikes on but I guess that is unavoidable with 4 bikes.
Bit hard to see in the pic. Its the Towball Mount 4 Bike Channel Rack.


20170212_152746

We love the Waeco chilly bins, and not just for keeping your drinks icy cold when you are camping. Also fab for post adventuring picnic lunches.
I reckon we have got our money back on the cost of the chilly bin with savings in food not being wasted and being able to travel with your own picnic complete with icy cold drinks.
They come in a range of sizes but as yet I haven’t found one that I can take on the mountain bike.


41A345DC-4797-4961-85DA-E2B146D8304DMy 9 year old recently starting riding an adult sized bike and it got me thinking about the importance of riding on the right size frame. Its natural to think that a smaller bike is easier for kids to ride when in fact it can give them less leg power and smaller wheels don’t roll over bumps as easily. While your child may be a way off an adult sized bike, do take a look every few months to check their bike size and whether they need their seat put up .


Lets talk first world problems today – how to comfortably run or walk with your mobile. I have tried a lot of different options over the years but this tiny bit of lycra (an SPI belt )is the most comfortable and convenient option I have found. And yes I probably should be in the moment when I am out running or walking but I do like to take photos and honestly you just never know when you are going to find a lost puppy and need to call the owners


Of course we all know that the license plates on our car have to be visible at all times and if you have your bikes on the back of the car the license plate might not be so easy to see, but did you know in New Zealand its a $200 fine for obscuring your license plate…eekkkk.

We have driven round for years with bikes on the back of the car without even thinking about the license plate. Thankfully a mountain bike park did a windscreen flyer drop highlighting the issue and we jumped online immediately and bought the supplementary plates.

When you head out adventuring this weekend you are going to want this one….especially if you are in NZ where its been very wet and consequently muddy out there!!
I like to think I plan for things but I never plan for mud, let’s just call me an optimist, so when we finished the Timber Trail I was very pleased to find these plastic bags under the seats of the car.


Much as I would like life to be all about fun and adventuring sometimes its about boring admin and today’s tip is about admin, but if it saves you from the stress we are going through with credit card fraud then you can get back to fun and adventuring.
I wont get into the boring details of our on-line credit card fraud and of course you never think its going to happen to you but when it does its very stressful.
There are several things that could have happened differently to stop our credit card fraud getting so out of control. I will put them in the comments and if you have any tips I would love to hear them


OK this isnt 100% my tip…. Cycle Coach – Janet Stark shared a tip in Cycling in New Zealand biking tips, that when you are training for an event or a longer walk or ride you dont have to travel for miles to do the training – just walk or ride out your front door.
With Old Ghost Rd ride and Abel Tasman walk coming up I have lots of training to do, so this was a very timely reminder. Its actually the way we trained for the Tongariro Crossing with the kids a few years ago and most of our trail rides – just around the streets of Auckland .
So what are you waiting for, book in that hike or ride and hit the streets for some training


If you find that the family cant quite keep up with whats happening, then the self-adhesive white board could help keep everyone in the loop. Ours is on the sliding door into our kitchen so we can slide it away when its not needed but should anyone not be able to remember what the next adventure is then it’s all there for the whole family to see. Also useful in the school hols when the kids keep asking whats happening.


20170206_085505Summer in NZ is officially over today and some would say it never really fired. However, we have had some fab camping adventures and its been very sunny & hot. Sometimes you might not have trees on your site so it pays to take lots of shade.

The Tasman Region

My husband and I were on our way to mountain biking the Old Ghost Rd on the West Coast of the South Island.  We decided to head back to Kaiteriteri which we loved on our South Island camping trip, revisit some old favourite spots and explore some new ones in the area and head over to Nelson with the kids before we hit Old Ghost Rd.

Here are our the highlights from our recent trip.

MOUNTAIN BIKING AT KAITERITERI

This mountain bike park is in such a great location – right beside the stunning Kaiteriteri beach. Love the trails and the views from the top are stunning. The trail shown in the video is Jaws – an awesome trail, you just have to make it to the top to enjoy the never ending downill.

RIWAKA RESURGENCE

NZ Frenzy travel guide does it again with a recommendation for a stunning 10-minute bush walk through lush native bush to the Riwaka Resurgence where the river emerges from under the Takaka Hills.



I was expecting to be amazed by the water rushing from under the rocks ( and I was ) but it was really the mesmerising native bush that made the whole experience truly amazing and all only 15 minutes from Motueka and a 10 minute walk from the carpark. New Zealand you never cease to amaze me!!!

P.S. if you are looking for off the beaten track adventures check out NZ Frenzy travel guide by googling it online.

FEEDING EELS AT JESTERS CAFE ON THE WAY TO MAPUA

Sometimes it’s the completely unplanned things that turn out to be lots of fun. When we saw that AA (NZ’s Automobile Association and chief sign poster) were signposting tame eels on the Mapua Peninsula we thought it was worth a visit and even from the entrance it was a little bit of a different experience having to cross a Ford.

The eels are in a stream beside Jesters Café so be prepared for the kids to want to buy something but the whole experience of feeding eels and the lovely grounds for kids to play in not to mention great food and prices at the café made the whole experience a worthwhile investment in café and eel food.

P.S. we actually went in the Eel Festival (who knew that was a thing?) so the eel food was free in the October school holidays.

EXPLORING THE MARLBOROUGH SOUNDS BY CAR

The Marlborough Sounds coastline has 1/5 of the length of New Zealand’s coasts and is mainly accessible by water so heading out to French Pass is one of the few places to access the Sounds by road and view massive tidal flows through French Pass.

It’s a 4 hour plus round trip from Nelson on a narrow windy, at time gravel road and initially we were disappointed as the bush obscured the views but the last 20km to French Pass is through farmland with unobstructed views on both sides of the peninsula. As we were there in Spring we also had unobstructed views of lambs and very excitable children so it was sensory overload with squeals of delight from adults and children alike.

The last shop is at Okiwi Bay so take your supplies, check the weather forecast as the views are best enjoyed on a clear day and set aside a full day for the drive – you wont be disappointed.

TAHUNANUI BEACH AND NELSON MODELLERS

Not only is Tahunanui Beach a stunning spot, it has a great range of playgrounds and activities for the kids including the Nelson Modellers which has an outdoor and indoor model railway which runs on

We had such a great time in the Tasman District and there is still so much to do – we cant wait to go back,

Read about our first visit to the region;

Other biking in the area;

Tasman great taste trail

Mountain bike at Dun Mountain

 

Sharing family fun & adventures from the kitchen to the great outdoors