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by Siobhan File

So like eager beavers (after some small packing issues), we headed down the road towards the start of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track, got a little bit lost in the DOC car park, and eventually found the National Park entrance.

Siobhan stands in front of the DOC sign on the Abel Tasman Coastal track before an 11.8km walk.

A leisurely 11.8k stroll for the first day

I know there must be some decent synonyms for ‘golden’ and ‘sparkling turquoise’, but they’re actually the colours of the sands and waters that the track meanders through. Although they don’t do it justice. As we made our way into the bush and climbed a little bit higher, we got warmer and warmer, and all I wanted to do was jump into the sea and bask in the sun.

Instead, we started playing ‘who can guess how long DOC thinks it’ll take till we get to the hut?’ before reading each signpost, and making bets on who was closest. In the end we arrived around an hour sooner than DOC predicted we would.

Siobhan in front of a scenic view of Abel Tasman Coast.

Not a bad spot to spend a Friday arvo in

After about 2 hours in, we started getting pretty sore feet and felt a few blisters forming—despite wearing comfy shoes/boots that’d been fine previously. We figured the extra weight of the packs, and walking on the harder sandstone rather than mud were the causing factors. I had taken a 50 pack of sticking plasters with me. I definitely recommend others do the same. I returned with only 2 left.

After 3 hours walking, we arrived at Anchorage Hut. The sun was still out, there were people eating dinner on the beach and at picnic tables around the hut, and there were only 3 bunks left. We bagsed our beds, cranked out the wine and cheese and headed down to the shore. Bliss. As the sun went down, the sandflies came out so we headed back to the hut area to fire up the gas cooker. After dinner we went inside to play cards and realised we hadn’t brought any candles! We played by torch light for a while but headed to the bunk room shortly after. Ear plugs were a good thing with about 16 people in the room (lots of sleeping bag rustling and a few snorers).

Stopping at a beach along the Abel Tasman Coastal Track.

Making Sam’s pack half a bottle of wine lighter

The next day, Sam had an early morning swim (I wasn’t so brave) and we prepared our gourmet breakfast—squashed croissants with camembert, avocado and ham. Delish. Before we left, we got talking to a Mexican guy who was also walking to Awaroa Hut that day. One thing I noticed was that there were no other kiwis on the trip! Lots of Germans, some Austrians and Americans. But no locals.

The walk on the second day was amazing. There was only one difficult bit—a lengthy hill just after our lunch stop—but most of the time it was pretty flat. For this reason I reckon it’s the best Great Walk to go for if it’s your first time, or if you’re worried about your fitness levels. The track is really well maintained—there’s no figuring out where you’re going to put your foot next like in some tracks. You can also choose to break it up into just 3 or 4 hours of walking a day. We skipped Bark Bay hut on day 2, and as such, our feet were aaaaching. In the second half we actually took as long as DOC said we would because we were plodding along so slowly.

Siobhan on the famous swing bridge along the Abel Tasman Coastal track.

Hanging out on the famous swing bridge

We had taken the slightly longer route because we weren’t in tune with the low tide, but it didn’t matter. We crossed a few little streams, and I was lucky enough to be carried over a few by Sam, who took his pack, my pack, and me all at once (before you leap to conclusions about my wuss levels, I hadn’t whinged or made any complaints—I merely accepted the offer). Seeing Awaroa Hut in the distance as we turned the corner was the best sight ever, and even I was game for a swim after arriving.

Afterwards we got straight to work on the remaining wine, cheese and crackers, and had a yarn with the friendly DOC hut warden who lives in a house nearby for 7 months a year. What a great spot! After dinner we got chatting with the others, including our new Mexican friend who’d arrived late after walking the low tide route despite it being high tide. There were only 12 of us all up, and there was a more open, chatty atmosphere among us, compared to the first hut that was full. The sandflies here were like nothing I’ve experienced before. They took no notice of the fact I’d drenched myself in insect repellent. The only option was to cover up or go inside. One tramper said coconut butter kept them away, so I’ll have to try that next time.

Sam takes a break instantly upon arriving, but perks up enough to help prepare the nibbles.

Sam takes a break instantly upon arriving, but perks up enough to help prepare the nibbles

On Sunday morning we woke to rain on the roof. We’d had to change our plans to taxi back from Awaroa instead of Totaranui because of a slip, so we headed to the lodge where the taxi comes in (via the skyline route for one last view). The ride back was about an hour and a half long. Seeing the land from the sea highlighted how far we’d actually walked! Our taxi driver doubled as a tour guide and we learnt heaps about the area, and stopped to see some sunbathing seals on the islands.

Sergio and Ingrid head back from the Abel Tasman Coastal track on the boat.

Sergio and Ingrid enjoying the ride home

We arrived back in the Abel Tasman Aqua Taxi car park pretty exhausted but happy we’d made it back in time and in one piece—even if we both had limps from blister overload. I told Sam I didn’t think I could handle another day, and therefore some of the longer Great Walks, but actually, if I’d had better shoes it would’ve been fine. I think you can even hire them so that makes things easy. Since putting the photos of our trip on Facebook, I’ve had 4 different people tell me they now want to do the walk. I hope I’ve inspired some readers to get booking too! It’s definitely an amazing walk and now that I know what to expect, I’ll be getting a group of friends together early next year for the Waikaremoana Great Walk! Fun times ahead!

For info on all of the Great Walks, check out www.greatwalks.co.nz, and follow the Great Walks Facebook page.

Every Friday Jobs at DOC takes you behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation.

Today we profile DOC Visitor Centre/i-Site Ranger Ivy Willmott.

A good day at work

Name: Ivy Willmott.

Position: Ranger, DOC Visitor Centre/i-SITE. 

At work…


What kind of things do you do in your role?

Being one of the front line laydees of goodness and joy at the Franz Josef Visitor Center and i-SITE, I answer phones, radios and lots and lots of questions every day. I chat about everything from the weather, DOC projects, campsites, tramping, day hikes, Great Walks, hunting, fishing, the glaciers, travel, New Zealand, Franz, Fox, eating, drinking, jumping out of planes, riding horses… the list is endless!

We are constantly learning—thank goodness for the awesome DOC website with the answers to nearly any DOC-related question.

I help book people onto whatever activity they want to do, find and book accommodation all over New Zealand, sort out travel plans… basically help folks have the best holiday/trip possible. I LOVE IT!!!


What is the best part about your job?

Helping people smile and enjoy their day and remove the stress that many folks seem to find on holiday! Crazy Moogs!

Every day is a happy day!

Watching the wave of relief wash over folks as bookings are made, travel plans are sorted, and watching the good holiday juju work it’s way back onto their faces as they trot off to enjoy this beautiful country.

Followed swiftly by getting to sample all the amazing activities on offer in the area in the name of research… Yeeaaaaaooooooow! AWESOME! You gotta know it to sell it!

Franz Josef Glacier hike


What is the hardest part about your job?

Trying to convince people you have no control over the West Coast weather. Rude people, impatient people, and trying to keep the ability to smile over it all. Not being able to wear bright colours! Ha, nah, it’s all sweet… not much to not be happy about here!


What led you to your role in DOC?

I’m originally from Scotland with a career as a Theatre Stage Manager. Nine years of fun and mischief worldwide led me to New Zealand, where I have been for eight years. Working with environmental community groups in the resource recovery field for the last three years, but having a yearning for the West Coast, led me to Franz Josef.

As well as having a good crew of mates that worked within the department, but mostly the awesome Kiwi team here on the coast and their enthusiasm for their work. The opportunity arose to join the wonderful Visitor Centre/i-SITE team and here I am… BooOm!!!

Quadbiking in Nelson, Happy Valley


What was your highlight from the month just gone?

Well, research this month was pretty spectacular. Going on two glacier heli trips was pretty amazing, hmmmmm, so was horse trekking on a crispy sunny spotless winter morning with breathtaking views over Mount Elie De Beaumont….

But what did take the biscuit was my first Area day. Getting to put faces to the names and voices I deal with daily. Getting to see what all the different groups have been up to for the past year. Awesome jobs all round, and that’s just our Area!

The rule of 3…

3 loves

  1. My dog Munter.
  2. Having dreams and ambitions and having them coming true.
  3. Good recyclers. 


3 pet peeves

  1. Litter on the roadside… actually litter anywhere it shouldn’t be.
  2. Rude people.
  3. Lateness.

3 foods

  1. Pizza.
  2. Rock and roll chick pea gravy and mash (recipe available on request!).
  3. Roast chicken and veg cooked in the camp oven on the beach at sunset!

3 favourite places in New Zealand

  1. Any of the wonderful South Island West Coast beaches…. The salty wind on your face, the sound of crashing waves, sunset, wine and good friends—heaven.
  2. The summit of Treble Cone after a big snow dump, bluebird day, good friends, chocolate and mulled wine. The snowy mountains and Lake Wanaka feeding the soul.
  3. I have to say, sitting up at Almer Hut having a picnic with the laydees on Boxing Day, looking down the Franz Josef Glacier and out to the Tasman sea was ridiculously special! 

Hmmmmm I feel a theme… nature, fine food, fine wine, and fine friends, and I’m a happy gal.

Snowboarding up Treble Cone summit


Favourite movie, album, book

  • Movie: Oooh a toss up between Big Fish and Cinema Paradiso.
  • Album: The Band – The Band.
  • Book: The Power of One.
     

Deep and meaningful…


What piece of advice would you tell your 18 year old self?

I would love to think sense has got the better of me and I would say ‘Do something that will make you money’. Ha, but nope, I think it would be ‘Follow your dream, don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it, but maybe learn a skill like welding, or cheffing or hairdressing to help you out of those tight financial spots!’ Hmmmm…. also, ‘Don’t leave it until your mid 30s to try Brandy Alexander’s!’

Me and my juggling clubs


Who or what inspires you and why?

My mum…. Not only did she teach me the joys of self sufficiency, she always taught me to follow my heart; that no dream is too big, and it’s never too late to change. Always do what makes you happy. She definitely taught me to keep my cup half full.


When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A Stage Manager… from as soon as I knew that was actually a job!


And now, if you weren’t working at DOC, what would you want to be?

A bread baking, veggie growing, cheese making, goat milking, fine feast making mum.


What sustainability tip would you like to pass on?

Less is more! Reduce and reuse before you recycle, and if you have to buy something, buy a good make—more expensive, but will last a lot longer than most of the plastic nonsense about these days.

Picnic lunch up Almer Hut

Which green behaviour would you like to adopt this year—at home? At work?

I definitely want to get my veg patch cranking! I finally have a garden space to do this. Wooohooo….


If you could be any New Zealand native species for a day, what would you be and why?

Definitely a kereru. So plump and happy, hanging out getting drunk on rata berries all day, trying to fly my plump self about, and such beautiful colours!

What piece of advice or message would you want to give to New Zealanders when it comes to conservation?

Reduce, reuse then recycle. Stop driving when you don’t have to… and when you recycle…WASH and SQUASH!!!

By Herb Christophers, 30 December 2011

In the North Island, gold mining was a key part of Coromandel’s early development. Similarly, in the South Island, Otago was the centre of the gold rush in the 1800’s. Today, both Coromandel and Otago offer great family camping and sight seeing, and a golden opportunity for those who like to get off the beaten track.

We had a look at Coromandel camping on Monday. Now let’s have a look at Otago.

Central Otago

Bikers on the Otago central rail trail

Dropping into Central Otago from the Mackenzie Country marks a change in many respects. Apart from the colour of the rugby jersey, the colour of the land changes too. The typical schist rock begins to show itself and the sun, if it is possible, gets hotter in summer. The Lindis Pass is usually a thoroughfare to further down to Wanaka or around to Alexandra in the Cromwell Gorge.

Lindis Pass Hotel

9 Mile Historic Reserve

To get some insight to the gold mining history of the Otago region, the disused Lindis Pass Hotel that dates from the late 1800s, provides an opportunity to see how isolated the Central Otago region was and how difficult it was for travellers over the pass.

Located at Nine Mile Historic Reserve, the building is undergoing restoration work as the stonemason stabilises the rock in the remnants of the hotel that sits in the middle of the campground.

Keep an eye out for the turn off because the campsite is not signposted, nor is it visible from the road. From SH8 take Old Faithful Road opposite Timburn Road and continue alongside the Lindis River until you get to the campsite. For those who persist, the rewards are worth the effort of going down the six kilometre gravel road—even for smaller camper vans. The road is part of a working farm, so be wary of other users. At the campsite there is a loo, water is from the Lindis River, and an interpretation panel that keeps the memory of the hotel alive.  On a hot dry, sunny Otago day, this is a perfect place to camp. And it’s free.

St Bathans and Naseby

If you are down in Central Otago doing the rail trail, there is a golden opportunity for side trips to historic mining sites in the region. St Bathans is an old gold mining town near the foot of the Hawkdun and Dunstan Ranges, 60 kilometres north of Alexandra, on the road to Ranfurly. Established in 1863 to service the area’s goldmines, St Bathans is a place that time has passed by and the streets are straight out of mining history. There are no facsimiles here.

Oterehua frost Otago Central Rail Trail

St Bathans was typical of a gold mining town because the first buildings were probably not intended to last very long, due to the fickle nature of gold mining. Unexpectedly, some have survived and form an eclectic mix of mud brick and timber buildings including the town hall which has been restored.

Camping is available at the St Bathans Domain campsite. It’s a basic DOC site with toilets and water from a tap. There are nine tent sites and it’s free to stay there.  You can always stay in Ranfurly, or in any of the small towns like Wedderburn on the way around the Central Otago rail trail or even Naseby, another former gold mining town where DOC manages the old Post Office. The building contains much of its original fittings and equipment and is currently leased as a craft shop and information centre. A camp ground at Danseys Pass coach inn has the basics of camping on hand and sits adjacent to an old arboretum (tree collection to those who had wondered). The site provides access to Oteake Conservation Park at Buster diggings with gold mining relics like mine tailings and water races.

Oteake – Homestead campsite

Golden hills in Oteake

Getting into a Graham Sydney landscape can be as easy as a visit to Oteake Conservation Park. Over 64,000 hectares of the St Bathans, Ewe, Hawkdun, Ida and St Marys ranges form the park with outstanding landscapes including mountainous high country, rolling tussock hills, scree, wetlands and shrubs.

There is a network of huts in the park but for those driving around and looking for a less adventurous access to the park, the Homestead Campsite is a good starting point. This basic campsite has water on tap and toilets. Like many of DOC’s more obscure sites, it’s free to stay there and provides an ideal platform for exploring options for mountain biking, 4WD, fishing, and easy tramping in the nearby St Bathans and Hawkdun Ranges. From SH85, turn into the Ranfurly end of Loop Road, then into Hawkdun Runs Road and follow the road to the campsite. There are two unbridged fords to contend with but these are not an issue in summer.


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!

By Herb Christophers, December 22nd, 2011

Between Picton and Nelson on State Highway 6 in the Rai Valley, a turn off to the north that looks relatively inconspicuous opens up a world of opportunity. For some people in the know, it is an annual summer pilgrimage to access the calm waters of Marlborough Sounds and to get on to the bushy tracks that link many of the less accessible beaches. No wonder the area is popular among those who enjoy time by the sea. It’s all about adventure around every corner and camping opportunities in some lesser known locations. Once you are off State Highway 6 heading north, a turn to the right takes you to Tennyson Inlet (following the main road takes you through Okiwi Bay and beyond to French Pass).

Nydia Lodge Jetty

Elaine Bay

Getting to Okiwi Bay and beyond to French Pass is a journey that many campers take. On the way, there are other less distant camping options. One particular place is Elaine Bay that faces into Tennyson Inlet. This is an ideal place to launch a boat or kayak into the calm waters of the inlet and to cruise around the wider Pelorus Sound.

Elaine Bay

From Elaine Bay to the south east is Penzance which is accessible via a 10km walking or mountain bike track that hugs the coastline around the steep hills.  The views are great out to Maud Island and beyond, and hint of potential adventure around every little bay in the inlet. You can get to Penzance the easy way by road too – it’s that earlier right turn after you leave State Highway 6 in Rai Valley.

Elaine Bay is a standard DOC campsite with water on tap, toilets and other basic facilities for 20 tent sites. Cheap at $6.00 adult ($1.50 child)/night.

View from Red Point near Elaine Bay. Maud Island in the background

Closer in

There are great paddling daytrips throughout the Sounds. There is always somewhere sheltered to paddle and the trip can be as easy or hard as you like, determined by the distances between stops. One option from Elaine Bay would be to paddle out into the sheltered part of Tennyson Inlet to Tawa Bay campsite and explore further down the inlet to Matai Bay or further into Duncan Bay at the head of the inlet.

Duncan Bay

There are campsites at Harvey Bay near Duncan Bay and Tawa Bay. Like Penzance,  Harvey and Duncan Bays are accessible by road.  Tawa Bay is only accessible by boat or kayak. If you decided to stay overnight, there are tent sites at $6.00 adult ($1.50 child)/night.

Further out

Those of you who are a bit more adventurous and well prepared for longer overnight camping trips can paddle out along the Tawhitinui Reach and turn into the entrance of Pelorus Sound. From here it’s a haul to Jacobs Bay campsite which has 8 tent sites tucked in out of the prevailing wind at the sheltered northern end of Fairy Bay Scenic Reserve. After some time in the boat it is a great way to stretch your legs by walking around Dillon Bell Point into Fairy Bay. There is water and a loo at Jacobs Bay campsite and if you don’t want to go for a walk, you can paddle around exploring the adjacent shoreline or just fish off the jetty.

Nydia Track start at Duncan Bay

Next day, it’s a relatively sheltered paddle to Nydia campsite at the head of the scenic bay with further opportunities for walking.  The Nydia Track winds its way from Pelorus Sound to Tennyson Inlet and passes through Nydia Bay. A walk up to Kaiuma or Nydia Saddles will be rewarded with views back into the bay or beyond.

The view of Tennyson Inlet from Opouri Saddle

This is a shared track so don’t be surprised to see mountain bikers taking advantage of the great scenery and riding opportunities.  There are 8 tent sites at Nydia Bay and because there is only boat access or people on foot or bike, you will feel a lot more isolated without vehicles nearby. The campsite is on one side of the bay and Nydia Lodge is opposite. The bookable DOC lodge is particularly popular with school groups who have the chance to get away from the rigors of school life for a bit of time in the outdoors. Sounds good?  Sounds great!

The view into Nydia Bay from the Kaiuma Saddle

If the weather is favourable a paddle out of Nydia Bay to scenic Pipi Beach on the Hikapu Reach is on the cards. Pipi Beach is a great place to stooge around in the kayak and explore on shore and watch the boat traffic coming and going from Kenepuru and Pelorus Sounds. There are four camp sites at Pipi Beach and it is at the heart of what it means to get away in the Sounds.

A return paddle north across Nydia Bay to Jacobs Bay will put you in a good place to get back to Elaine Bay the following day.

DOC manages about 40 camping opportunities in the Marlborough Sounds – many not accessible by road.  Much of the information about accessing these facilities is available on the DOC website, and Visitor Centres or i-Sites at Picton and Nelson can provide advice in person if you are looking for a bit of time on the water.

La De DOC

Siobhan File —  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

Idyllic

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.