Archives For New Years Eve

Cooling down in the Coromandel

 —  23/12/2011

Ah, the Coromandel—summer kind of wonderful! Sun, sand, surf and sweet summer sounds; what more could a kiwi kid need? Take advantage of the numerous activities in the area while you’re in Whitianga for Coro Gold.

Woohoo for Cathedral Cove!

Cathedral Cove walk

This 1.5 hour walk is popular over the summer; the loop track takes you through a puriri grove down to the beautiful Gemstone Bay where there’s a chilled, summer, ‘I’m right where I’m supposed to be’ mood. You can relax just turning pages, lie back, frolic around, explore the caves, and snack from a picnic lunch. Ain’t it good to be alive!

Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve

Once you've finished snorkelling, just relax on this rock

If you’re after a messy beach waves hairstyle, spending time here is the place to get one. There are some primo snorkelling opportunities in Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve, especially at Gemstone Bay and on the western side of Mahurangi Island. A snorkel trail with buoys indicate what kind of marine life you’ll find below, and you’ll see plenty—from the tail of the fish, to the top! You can also hire sea kayaks, and go diving! Leave your hair to dry naturally afterwards for salty summer curls.

Hot water beach

Bathe in your own private pool

Hot Water Beach is a few kilometres south of Hahei. For two hours either side of low tide you can dig into the sand, tap into the hot springs and lie back in bliss in your own handmade spa pool. When you think ‘cool me, cool me, cool me down’ then take a refreshing dip with Ko Tangaroa he Atua o te moana. Staying in the shallows is best, as there can be dangerous undercurrents.

Historic Whitianga Rock Scenic Reserve

A summer history lesson for a more educational holiday

Take a walk back in time and visit the Historic Whitianga Rock which holds remains of an impressive pa. A well fortified Ngati Hei stronghold; rock bluffs and water provided natural defences. Although long burnt and abandoned when Captain James Cook arrived in 1769, he was well impressed and said that the best engineer in Europe could not have choose’d a better place to defend from. Leave all adversity behind and walk up to the top of the headland for spectacular views of Mercury Bay and Whitianga. If you’re there before the tide rolls in, then check out the remains of a stone structure at Back Beach.

For more information on activities to include in your New Years holiday, check out the Parks and Recreation section on the DOC website. Have fun!


 —  22/12/2011

Martinborough may only be a small town, but if you’re going to La De Da and you’ve got some time to spare, there are plenty of great activities to do… if you can pull yourself away from the vineyards.

250 steps to the top

Palliser Bay

If you haven’t planned for all of your days to involve wine and tasting it, perhaps a trip out to Palliser Bay might take your fancy. This place is one of the earliest Maori occupation sites in New Zealand, and is also the only fur seal colony in the North Island where breeding is well established. If you want to earn some cheese for that wine, or would like a little shapeshifting on your buns, there’s an old lighthouse 250 steps up a hill, with some great views of the coast.

Waiohine Gorge

Take a dip in the Gorge's swimming spots

If you’re thinking ‘I know that we’ve got only a little time, so like it or not, we’re gonna be drinking wine’, then the Waiohine Gorge has a number of short tracks suitable for quick, light exercise. There are also several good swimming pools in the river (which are popular for rafting, tubing and kayaking in) so after a splash, you can head back to Lullabye Lane feeling cool and refreshed. 

Pukaha Mount Bruce

Manukura - the world's first white kiwi

Visiting this place on State Highway 2 between Masterton and Eketahuna is a must. It’s the home of Manukura and Mauriora (the little white kiwi), tuatara, kaka, kokako and some very impressive eels! There’s also a pretty native bush track, with a picnic area at the top so you’ll be able to drink and laugh till you feel right.

Castlepoint Scenic Reserve

Don’t forget to pack a fishing rod—taking a trip out to Castlepoint is a popular place to dangle the line or pull the catch as one. If you’re into one-offs, then you’ll want to take note of the Castlepoint daisy shrub—named this because Castlepoint is the only place in the world it grows. Frequent visitors to the area include dolphins, fur seals and the odd small whale. The lighthouse here is also a drawcard. There are a few walks around the Scenic Reserve and a nice sheltered lagoon for swimming in.

Lay in the lagoon

The drive

On the road again...

New Zealand music festivals and summer; it’s hard to imagine one without the other. Once Christmas is over, kiwi boys and girls across the country will be packing their perfect summer outfits, discussing music and snack options, and double checking they’ve got their tickets before heading to various festival locations to bring in the New Year. Whether they’re On the road again, going on their first Roady, or just enjoying The Ride, music lovers will use this time to plan, prepare for, and analyse what will be happening over the course of their summer holiday.

Here are some insider suggestions for those looking to dilute the sometimes heady mix of New Year vino and vibes with something more soothing for the soul.

Just what the doctor ordered...

Getting to Gizzy is not an easy journey. It can be a long, hot drive so stopping for breaks is important. If you’re coming from Napier, grab an ice-cream in Nuhaka and stop at the near-by Morere Hot Springs Reserve (about 40 minutes before Gisborne). Along with a relaxing spa, you can take a 20 minute shaded bush walk through the nikau palms, get your palm read, or buy a $3 healing stone necklace. Bargain! If you’re coming from Opotiki, the Waioeka Gorge has seven stops along the way, with an historical story at each. Make sure you pull over at the Monument swimming hole—it’s a lifesaver when the East Coast sun starts cranking up.

Cooks Cove Walkway


If Gisborne’s feeling a little crowded and you’re looking for a break, pack a picnic, a good sunhat and your togs and drive around the coast to Tologa Bay and the Cooks Cove Walkway. This track goes through farm land and is easy to complete, while still being a decent workout. From the top, the surrounding water is an electric dream blue and shines so bright, and once you reach the bottom you can swim, eat and play in the beautiful Cooks Cove bay.

When you get back to the car, you’ll be ready for another swim and an icecream; luckily, both the dairy and the Tolaga Bay wharf (which is super-fun to jump off) are just around the corner.

Makaretu Scenic Reserve (Rere rock slide and the Champagne pools)

Good old fashioned fun on the Rere rockslide

Often referred to as one of New Zealand’s best kept secrets, the Rere falls are both beautiful and entertaining. They are 50 kilometres out of Gisborne, on the Wharekopae road. You’ll need a boogie board, a rubber tube or something sturdy and inflatable. This natural waterslide is for the brave; you may need to mentally project positive all day to prepare, but after you’ve been down once, you’ll be running back up to the top again and again. If you’re feeling “blasé blasé from last night’s party”, then further down the road are the more tranquil Champagne pools. These are sun-heated, naturally formed rock pools that are perfect for relaxing and swimming in.

The Okitu Scenic Reserve Track and hill

Keep on pushing till you reach the top

Okitu Hill is one of the best places in Gizzy to watch the sunrise from. If you want to head away from town’s main beach, hit State Highway 35 for five minutes until you reach Okitu just past Wainui. There’s parking at the end of Moana Road. The climb to the top is sharp but short—the view is amazing, the kind that reminds you it’s a brand new day today. Over the road, the Reserve has a little track that takes you through a nice 20–30 minute walk in a bush that was developed especially to teach kiddies about bio-diversity and conservation. After that, take a ‘Wainui shower’ and cool off in the sea. This beach is best before the breeze arrives around midday.

Extend the holiday

Stopping for a scenic break on the Waikaremoana Great Walk

For those that plan on making a ‘do more exercise’ resolution, why not add a few days to the trip and do the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk. This takes three days, with five huts and campgrounds (complete with hot showers) along the way. While walking, you can catch up on all the New Years Eve gossip and unwind together, taking in the clean, clear, crisp scenery.

A pearler

If you’re after some relaxation and a great sunbathing spot, the Anaura Bay campground is like an endless summer haze. At only $15 a night, this place is a treat. You can even bring your dog.