As we visited the ‘big ticket’ highlights in the area yesterday already, and we didn’t feel like driving the 100-ish kilometres again today, the first destination for us was the local visitors centre. Over here, these are called I-Site, and we quickly located one in downtown Whangamata, right in the neighbourhood of one of our favourite breakfast places: Subway.

In the visitor centre we found a little map of things to do in the area, which by the way is not much.
Yes, you can play golf every few kilometers, yes you can visit the local vineyards, but those were not on our to do list. Instead, we opted for a day of small walks.
As these generally are not strenuous or long, we figured we could fit two or maybe even three in one day before we were too tired of the sun and being outdoors to go much further.

The one we chose was in the next town, Pauanui. The brochure told us it would be a 3 hour walk along a beach, visiting a ‘trig’, a cove and several other beaches. What the brochure did not tell us was that the track up to the ‘trig’ was really steep, poorly maintained and full of loose rocks. Also, the ‘trig’ turned out to be the local peak, and after a full 45 minutes of climbing we were informed by a couple hiking the track down that we were about a third of the way up. Ouch.
Also, the track was going to bee steeper, and worse, so we decided to call it a day and go back down.
This turned out to be a really good decision, as it meant we had time to spare, to walk the other side of the track, from the end towards the middle. As this was all much more flat and hugging the coast itself, it provided ample opportunities to go to small beaches, very big rocks and even a bay with a few caves!

The best part of it was a couple of kingfishers feeding their young in a tree really nearby which we observed for a full hour, just sitting on our bench and enjoying the hard work of the birds. With this seat at about 27 degrees in the shade with a little breeze from the ocean, it could be referred to as utterly comfortable.

The second part of the day, right after lunch in Pauanui, we spent on a short walk to a sand spit in another village. This one is called Opoutere and is about 11 km from the motel. With good views of the local marine wildlife (Oystercatchers, Dotterels and much more) we had a blast!

Tomorrow, we are off again, going further down south still. Destination: Rotorua!