Waiorongomai Valley Walk

I spent a lot of time as a child looking at the Kaimai ranges as we drove to Tarawera to camp and kayak and I always knew those mountains held lots of adventures.

 

With an extra day off on our weekend in Rotorua and after an early morning mountain bike ride we decided to explore a small part of the Kaimais on the way back to Auckland, and what an adventure it was.

The Waiorongomai Valley Walk (near Te Aroha) explores tramlines from gold mining days and follows New Zealand’s oldest known railway (1882-83) with the original rail still in place. There are lots of different options for walks to explore the area including walking up the inclines ( where the ore trolleys used to be lowered down ) which is a great way to experience the amazing engineering feats of the early settlers. 

 

  

Near the head of the valley we turned for home and descended down a steep hill that had a warning about the descent being steep but unfortunately it didn’t say that there was a ‘stream’ crossing at the bottom that wasn’t passable after heavy rain and it had just rained heavily the night before. And then the real adventure began as we decided it was too dangerous to risk the second river crossing and had to head back up the steep hill before walking out on an unofficial side track that was pretty rough. Luckily we had our torches as we ended up walking out the last part in the dark. Quite a lot of adrenalin spent.

 

Such a great spot to explore – just watch out for those stream crossings.

And yes the Department of Conservation website did mention stream crossing but there are lots of walks in the area and its hard to hold all of that information in an already crowded brain. In hindsight it was quite an important piece of information to remember, and I would like the Department of Conservation to add it to the sign that warns about the steep descent.

You will want to know this before you fly

Passport ✔️

Adventure gear ✔️

Phone ✔️

Power bank ✔️ 

So many things to remember when you are flying including remembering to put your power bank ( the thing you charge your phone with when you are off the grid ) in your carry-on luggage.

A power bank 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.

This happened to me when I flew to Nelson to do the Abel Tasman walk. If we had been going directly to the walk I would have had no way of charging my phone, so no way to take photos and as we all know if you dont take photos it didn’t happen. Thankfully I had the chance to buy another one but it was still a costly mistake.

How to save $200

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 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.

I have since heard that police are cracking down on obscured plates and handing out the $200 fine. I know I would rather keep the cash in my pocket so jump online and order supplementary plates in NZ

To read more about supplementary plates requirements in NZ.

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Westport – so much more than just seals

You know when you go on a road trip there are some places you are excited about and some places that you just figure you will stop at seeing as you are passing through? Well Westport was the latter, we were passing through on our way down to Franz Joseph from Kaiteriteri and figured it was as good a place as any to stop to see some seals if nothing else. But we soon discovered that the area around Westport has lots to explore – once again we discovered lots of the off the beaten track adventures in the NZ Frenzy Off the Beaten track guide ( available to buy on line, not sponsored in any way just love the guide )

 

Anyhow back to Westport….Just getting there from Kaiteriteri is a breath-taking drive through the Buller Gorge. After setting up camp our first afternoon there we drove out to see the seal at Cape Foulwind which was indeed foul but very scenic with great views of the seals and lots of information boards about the wildlife in the area.

The next day we were up bright and early as it turns out there is lots more to do in Westport than just look at seals so we headed North to Mokihinu where there is a 100 year old ship wreck on the beach.  West Coast beaches are pretty rugged, add to that a ship wreck and you have a great photo shoot.

From here we drove to Chasm Creek walkway which we couldn’t go far on as it was closed. Turns out it was probably lucky we couldn’t go too far on that track as we still had lots to explore. So on to the Charming Creek walkway, near Ngakawau, which was on an old tramline up a gorge. We walked for about 1 hour through tunnels and across a swing bridge before we reached a clearing where there had been a sawmill and found a spot close to the river to have lunch. There was lots of train relics, stunning native bush and even a waterfall along the way so lots to keep everyone entertained on this walk.

From here we drove up the Denniston Plateau, a very steep climb in the car up 600m to a spot where coal miners lived over 100 years ago. Some people never even came down from the Plateau and when they did it was in the coal wagons. On a clear day you would get great views from the Plateau – although am just not sure its ever a clear day on the West Coast of the South Island. There are a lot of relics and information on what life would have been like on the Plateau. We would have liked to have spent longer but the temperature was dropping which made us realise what a hard life the coal miners would have had up there.

Westport – so much more than seals!!!

 

Links to more information:

Cape Foulwind

Charming Creek Walkway

Denniston Plateau

 

How I took my mountain biking to the next level

Initially I wasn’t sure I had the energy or the time to get back in to mountain biking after having kids but I was so pleased that I did as its become a big part of our family’s life. My husband and I call it a date if we are out riding by ourselves but quite often we are riding with friends. I am not the fastest, in fact I call myself the turtle – slow and steady, just not winning any races. In fact the only time I might be faster than someone is when we are riding with our kids but I have the greatest time when we are mountain biking and really to me that’s all that matters.

So I wasn’t really looking to take my mountain biking up a notch – it all began when my husband upgraded his bike and it had a dropper seat. I had always looked at dropper seats as something for extreme downhillers but turns out that it was a game changer for this middle aged mountain biking mamma.

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It took a lot of convincing from my husband that I should get one. I’d never been one of those mountain bikers who put there seats up and down depending on where they are riding so I just didn’t see the point in being able to adjust your seat at the push of a button. But husband persisted, in fact my husband bought a dropper seat and installed it on my bike himself ( clever husband ) and then I discovered the joy of the dropper seat. It isn’t just for extreme downhillers.

Turns out its not just about putting it down as you ride downhills, although the dropper seat does change the way you ride downhill because you aren’t so high and you don’t feel like you are going to go over the handlebars, giving you more confidence in your ability. I have found I can ride over bigger drop offs now as I can put my seat down quickly at the push of a button. OK now I am sounding like an extreme downhiller – trust me I am not but I can definitely ride downhill better now I have the dropper seat.

Its not all about the downhills though and the dropper seat is also great for switch backs, riding narrow ledges on the side of cliffs, riding across narrow bridges and getting back on your saddle when starting on an uphill – anywhere you want your seat down and feet closer to the ground for more stability and safety but don’t want to get off and manually adjust it.

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The dropper seat is also great for riding uphills too because you set your seat as high as possible to get the best leg extension and cranking power without worrying about the seat being too high for downhills coming up later in the ride.

And I recently discovered on a slightly muddy NZ cycle trail ( the Great Lake trail near Taupo ) that the dropper seat is great for getting through muddy puddles and round slippery corners.

So even if you don’t think you are looking to take your mountain biking to the next level you should consider a dropper seat, I totally love mine and how its changed my mountain biking.

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