Bay of Plenty Walks

Martha Mine Pit Rim Walk

By Bay of Plenty Walks, North Island

By Judy Eva
Waihi’s Pit Rim Walkway/Cycleway is a most enjoyable walk that starts at the Waihi Information Centre and also ends there.

Waihi’s Pit Rim Walkway/Cycleway is a most enjoyable walk that starts at the Waihi Information Centre and also ends there.
Only metres from the centre of Waihi township and directly across the street opposite the I Site (Information Centre) is the start of this great walk/cycle path.
You can take the stairs from the footpath or if you have a bike there is access to the right of the stairs along the footpath where you can use the concrete ramp that is designed for wheelchairs and mobility scooters. This will take you up to the beginning of the walk/cycle path.
This old gothic style Cornish pump house that sits on the top of the hill above the street was based on a design used in the tin mines in Cornwall England. It was used to house the steam engines that operated the huge pumps that kept the Martha Mine from flooding. It looks so grand and gives pleasant memories of the old history of New Zealand. So very great that it has been preserved.
Follow the fenced path to the left and around the top of the rim and as you look down you will be blown away by the size and depth of the pit which was once a hill and is now sitting100ms below sea level.
Unfortunately due to a million tonne fall of rock and earth several years ago access around the complete top area of the rim is closed off for safety reasons and operations of the mine have been put on hold so the original path that circled the top of the mine travels a short distance along the top edge where the rest of the path is netted off and detours onto the street below. This entails travelling a short distance along the street to access the new track.
You will be directed down onto the street by well marked arrow signs which you will follow for the rest of your walk/cycle around the base of the mine. Once on this street turn right and follow the well marked arrow signs where further along you will be directed up a hill on the right. It is from here that the track begins. Unfortunately the rim is now out of view until you return to the finish back at the pump house.
The gravel track continues clockwise around the western end of the mine (well marked by arrows) and meanders through native bush, acres of old gold mining relics are scattered along the way beside the path where it is worth spending some time for a bit of history of old New Zealand.
There are also scenic parklands and a small wetland area along the way. Follow the arrows which will take you back to the start on the top of the rim by the old pump house. There are many delightful café’s in the area of this quaint lovely little town where you can rest your wary legs and body and soak up a well deserved coffee or tea.
Waihi is a town with a history of mining and has adopted the name from the meaning Heart of Gold. It is well worth a visit for those who want to relive the old gold mining days. There is the Waihi Goldmine Discovery Centre that is worth a visit to learn more about this very interesting old town.
The walk is approximately 4 kms and it took me three hours taking into account my casual stopping to explore old relics, taking photos and due to the heat in January I wasn’t in a hurry.

McLaren Falls Park

By Bay of Plenty Walks, North Island

Colourful in Autumn

The best short walk ever? My best short walk has always been around the “Mount” – Mt Maunganui.

By Judy Simpson
But perhaps this walk is even better, 20 kms out of Tauranga, up the Kaimais is McLarens Falls Park.
Leaving the main highway you round a corner and there the rushing, racing waters of the two rivers make a spectacular picture and a great picnic spot but we mustn’t stop as the Park and Autumn calls.
The short drive to the first car park is through an avenue of huge plane trees. They tower above and the brown, yellow leaves cover the tarmac and make a crisping sound under the tyres.
Conveniently, no pun intended, there are excellent toilets, a large story/map board and a small indoor display/information area plus an excellent café, The Falls Retreat. Shut today (Monday)
We like to begin our walk from here as it gives us a longer short walk. Down the steps to the lake, this morning still and reflective. Yea! No wind.
It’s very noisy as the tuis and fantails chat overhead and on the lake the ducks chatter to each other. We wondered what they were saying as they scrabbled across the water.
Lots of swans too but they were silently and elegantly dipping and diving for breakfast.
At every turn we oohed and aahed and the camera clicked and whirred.
We’d missed the best of the colours, the leaves probably ravaged in the last rain storm. Maybe the gingkos are more delicate than the sturdy liquid ambers.
Oh, those liquid amber trees—the leaves so red they looked like raspberries. The path is brilliant. Wide enough for two to walk together and chat and no need to constantly watch your step for tripping roots.
Our short walk follows the edge of the lake closely with bridges and the odd gate to keep the sheep from straying.
The golden bronze of the Swamp Cyprus glowed in the sunshine. It’s strange to see such beautiful trees growing straight up out of the water. Why don’t they get waterlogged and drown?
We stopped to watch a group from a playcentre delightedly toddling around, chasing the ducks and gathering up the bright leaves. Mums, and a Dad too, bravely giving the littlies freedom to run. Phones catching the moment.
What a wonderful sound the swans make as they land on the water and why do the paradise ducks always stay on the other side of the lake? A congregation of noise.
Further on the liquid ambers drape into the water and the flax bushes make a hiding place for the little black coots. Across the lake the paddocks turn into a forest of pine trees. Their reflections looking like a spill of huge matchsticks.
The track narrows and the walk slips through a wetland where the pukekos fluff their white bottom feathers at you and dive into a hidey hole in the swamp.
The path leads into stand of native bush. It’s damp and mossy and much cooler in here. Steps up give you a good cardiac workout. (you can avoid these by taking a short cut up through the freedom camping ground).
Along the road a little way and over a cattlestop and then it’s “choices.” Climb up more steps on the right for a longer walk, views and a chat with the sheep or amble along the road for a short distance and rejoin the lakeside track.
Funny how everything looks different on the homeward journey. You always seem to see something you missed.
On a weekday morning, with few people about this is a magic walk at any time of the year. The coffee shop open would be icing on the cake.
A short walk to share.
McLarens Falls Park is managed by the Tauranga City Council. It is 20 kms from Tauranga on SH 29.

Te Puna Quarry Park Garden

By Bay of Plenty Walks, North Island, Short Walks

By Judith Simpson
My favourite short walk has always been “Around the Mount” but we’ve discovered Tauranga’s Hidden Secret. The Te Puna Quarry Park Garden.
Perhaps you need to be a little more energetic to do this walk but it’s definitely worth the effort. It’s really a treasure, full of unexpected joys.
Some people run around the main track in 20 minutes, others take all morning to investigate the side tracks that lead to all sorts of adventures for young and old.
It’s a place to take your granny for a stroll along the lower level to smell the flowers in the raised garden for the blind or to just take a rest under the flowering cherries and watch the children clamber over the enormous stone dragon or slide down the silver slide from the princess’s castle.
Take your grandchildren and let them clamber into the big digger and pretend they’re in control of filling the next lorry with gravel. They may want to climb up through the Rhododendrons and Vireyas to make music on the pipes and gongs or walk a little further to ride on a big wooden engine complete with guard and flag while you sit on a bench and admire the view.
82 acres of wilderness.
Making it into a community resource was the vision of a local lady, Shirley Sparks. With a group of willing volunteers they began cutting and hacking their way through the gorse and rubbish. They met every Tuesday morning and still do today to weed, clear and plant, turning it into a parkland.
It was opened in 2000 by the Governor General Sir Michael Hardie Boyes.
The quarry had been abandoned and over time it had become a dumping ground for any old waste, fridges, washing machines, you name it. Most of the area was quite dangerous. Today it is hard to imagine what it must have been like for those early volunteer battling  four metre high gorse and scrub.
But let’s take walk up the main track. This isn’t a garden parkland for the purists. There’s been no grand design and as groups have offered time so the garden has developed. Old Heritage Roses, the Fuchsia group, a native area, Bromeliads and a Japanese Garden with Bonsais to name a few have all organised their chosen spaces.
A family giving up as Orchid growers donated a trailer load of roots to make an unrivalled display as you walk up the track.
Take a diversion to investigate the Monarch Butterfly House.
Swan plants reign supreme and butterflies flutter everywhere. If your caterpillars are being eaten by wasps? You can bring them up to Mary who will pop them in the purpose built House to “chrysalis” in peace. And then be released as butterflies.
Onwards to the first terrace and “Brian’s Wall”. A dry stone wall built by his family in his memory and as a lasting gift to the community.
You can lean on the wall and gaze down on the butterflies and Fuchsias or out over the Bay to Omokoroa, Matakana Island and the Mount. Stunning. It’s a wonderful place to show visitors what Kiwifruit orchards look like from above with their tall, thin shelterbelts or just the green, luscious looking Te Puna landscape.
All along the way you stumble across “treasures”. A mosaic set in the pathway below the abseiling cliff wall, a cairn that reminds you of Nepal, corrugated cut-outs of bushmen and you often see groups having their photo taken with the life-sized mosaic family enjoying afternoon tea.
Up the “Lions’” stone steps. What labour went into creating these enabling a round walk to be developed. The Lions also planted a grove of Kauri trees and the local Rotary was involved in pond making and getting the old water wheel into working order. It really is a community project.
As you come off the Lions’ steps you look out over a valley covered in Ponga ferns – a sea of waving, green umbrellas? And then it’s down wooden steps to an area newly planted in Magnolias. What a sight they will be in a year or two.
Shirley and her committee have thought of many ways to be useful to the community.
Want to have a wedding? There’s a pavilion complete with small kitchen that can be yours for a donation and many’s the time we’ve seen birthday celebrations on the green lawn, a Book Club having a summer picnic lunch and their monthly meeting or our group having fish and chips under the cherry trees.
But there’s more if you have time. A hidden path behind the Pavilion follows a small stream up to a waterfall. This part is still untamed and if you’re lucky you may hear a Bellbird sing or see a Wood Pigeon lumber overhead and of course there are tuis all around.
Our Quarry is an amazing place with something for everyone to enjoy. It is my favourite place. Why don’t you come and visit our Te Puna treasure sometime soon?