Rotokawau aka Virginia Lake

Being new to Whanganui I was wondering why this 4.5 hectare public space was more commonly known as Virginia Lake and not by its Maori name of Rotokawau. The answer to which I found in very small print on a rather large plaque hidden in a corner of the front entrance of the neighbouring Winter Garden.

Unfortunately the land was purchased for development by white settlers in the mid 1800’s. The Māori legend of the lakes origin can be found written on the plaque beneath a bronze sculpture of the beautiful Tainui.

The legend explains that the lake was formed from the tears of the grief stricken Tainui and the rain from the angry gods over the murder of Turere, Tainui’s love. Turere had been strangled by the jealous suitor Ranginui. Notice her tears as she gazes out towards the lake.

Rotokawau means ‘roto’ – Lake and ‘kawau’ – blag shag

Walking around the lake, the kids disappeared down a bamboo bush tunnel. Waiting at the end of the track I could hear a weird rather loud chattering. It sounded almost aggressive. I looked across the lake but couldn’t see the cause. The kids soon gathered around me and joined in the search for the sounds source. Then we looked up, and there in the trees were several nests with kawau fledglings. We watched as they continued their persistent squawks, calling out to their parents.

The lake offers a rich habitat for many bird species. Take your time and open your eyes

The rather large metal lily fountain sculpture was donated in 1970 by Mr Henry Higginbottom, a local philanthropist.

Don’t forget to spot the rather odd Peter Pan sculpture, who my kids found quite entertaining as it looked like he was peeing, complete with a puddle beneath him.

virginia lake rotokawau whanganui wanganui nz metal bronze peter pan sculpture

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Gem of the Boom Creek

So back up Puketui Valley Rd Doug and I went! Today we were just after a short walk, after my epic 14km walk completing in the Surf 2 Firth ; )

6.5km in from the main Highway 25 is the Bridge Carpark. I walked back along the dirt road until I got to the bush entrance (the opposite direction of the white bridge). The Broken Hills  Gem of the Boom track is an easy walk of 20min. It’s really fun for adults as it gives a couple of good opportunities to scare the bejezzes outta the kids!

Take the lower path…

puketui valley broken hills walking track coromandel nz

which leads to a bridge…

puketui valley broken hills walking track coromandel nz gold mining glow worms

and onto the first tunnel, where you can see cave weta. The track is easily followed by locating the orange triangles. The old type are equilateral triangles which are just nailed to a tree, while the new type are more pointed and actually indicate the direction of the track! Much better! Thanks DOC.

Further along you will come across another cave. Now this one is pretty deep. It goes in an L shape, so if you can get ahead of your party and hide, it makes for a good heart attack ; )

It also has a few glow worms. What I like about this cave is that the worms are low down, so you can easily show children the droplet chains that these creatures create to trap bugs, which are attached to the glow worms glow!

More on glowworms

The damp walls glistening with what is probably insect poop, looks like silver and gold!  Very magical ; )

Then, not much further along is the dug out jail cave, where lies a naughty miner!

For more information on New Zealand tourist attractions and walks

call in and see the volunteers at

Tairua Information Centre

 223 Main Rd Tairua, (07) 864 7580

Find them on Facebook too!

Playing in Puketui Valley

One of my favourite places to play is the Puketui Valley Broken Hills walking tracks. The turn off is pretty much opposite the turnoff to Pauanui on State Highway 25. Morrison Road turns into Puketui Valley Rd, which takes you past the Te Timatanga earthship, and onto a scenic stretch of gravel road. Don’t mistake this road for Puketui Rd, which comes off the Kopu-Hikuai Rd, State Highway 25a.

Make sure you let someone know where you are going and what time you are due back, as there is no cell phone coverage once you’re in there!

Drive across an amazing bridge and you will soon see the tranquil DOC Campsite at Broken Hills (which unfortunately does not allow dogs.) The Broken Hills tracks  do tho, so I took my boy, Doug along for the day.

Further up the road you will come to two different track entry points, and roadside parking. The first offers two short walks, both easy walks and are child friendly.

At the end of  Puketui Valley Rd is the entrance to an array of tracks of varying distances.

I like to photograph the maps if I didn’t already have one, so that once in there I can look back on my phone to see which way to go, or what it is I’ve stumbled upon.

I had about 2 hours to play, so decided on the Collins Track, taking the Water Race Tracks.

As with most New Zealand bush walks, the protection of the native Kauri tree is of great importance. Kauri Dieback refers to the disease Phytophthora agathidicida. The spores from this fungus-like disease live in soil and are spread with soil movement. That is why they ask you to clean your gear after venturing into one of New Zealand’s native forests and to keep to the tracks, staying off the Kauri roots. These tracks however did not have the sanitising stations which I’ve seen at other bush walks.

In the 1900’s Broken Hills was a site for Gold Mining. This type of alluvial mining was tough. It involved digging and sifting through mud, sand and gravel using shovels sieves, or even bare hands. Batteries were built to process the quartz found. The quartz was battered into powder by massive stamper which released the gold particles so they could be chemically recovered using cyanide. This process required water and that’s what the race tracks were built for. To ensure a good supply to the plant.

Gold mining in New Zealand

The track lead through three short tunnels. If you are afraid of the dark, or not keen on weta , I advise you to clamber over the tunnels following the narrow paths!

I took the 3rd Water Race Track, and added an extra 20min to my trek, an awful lot steps but some pretty amazing views!

Then, the descent, which took me past some pretty scary looking old mines and thankfully back to the double tunnels! Oh yay, wetas again!

 

By that stage I was well ready for some open space and enjoyed the fresh scenic walk along the rivers edge….

back to the short bridge I crossed at the start.

But this time I notice a little path just to the right of the Water Race Track. I had a quick peek and saw a cute little stream, and Doug had a drink. The underside of the bridge was pretty cool too. Even if you aren’t into big bush walks, at least park at the end of the Puketui Valley Rd and walk 10min to this little bridge, check out the waterfall, and then 5 min further up are the amazing river views. You won’t be disappointed.

 

For more information on New Zealand tourist attractions and walks

call in and see the volunteers at

Tairua Information Centre

 223 Main Rd Tairua, (07) 864 7580

Find them on Facebook too!

Pauanui to Tairua Trail

Had a great run/walk today, checking out the newly completed 4.2km stretch of the Pauanui to Tairua Trail. It was awesome! What a great feature to offer locals and visitors to the area. This part of the track can be entered from Waterways Parade, or from Tangitarori Lane, on the right as you head out of Pauanui.

I had previously walked it with the family a few months ago. Back then it was just a narrow dirt track edged with newly felled trees. Today it is beautiful! A real treat. Not just for the keen cyclists, but for runners, walkers and pram pushers. You are welcome to take your dog too, as long as its on a lead at all times. Young children could even manage a dawdle along the harbours edge.

There is pest control in full force so pets and children must be supervised. The location of bait stations and stoat traps are easily identified by colour coded triangles.

It took me 30mins to walk to the end, where if you brought your wallet, you could carefully cross the road a have a look around the Pauanui Art Gallery!

What’s really special about this walk is that its surrounded by trees which have been dedicated to soliders who fell in the Great War. There are seven World War 1 Memorial Forest sites across the Coromandel. This particular site represents the 640 killed in the Sinai-Palestine Campaign. If you are interested in giving a donation or gifting a tree contact the Thames-Coromandel District Council Customer Services on 07 868 0200

WW1 Memorial Forest

WW1 memorial forest pauanui tairua cycle trail

You can help support this project by making a donation to:

The Hikuai District Trust

03 0458 0277108 00

www.pauanuitairuatrail.org.nz

pauanui tairua cycle trail

#goodforyoursoul

#thecoromandel