Tramplite Walks came into being in October 2000, the brainchild of Maureen Baker. With her knowledge of the tracks in and around the Bay of Plenty, through belonging to the local tramping club, she knew that she could give people the experience of a stress-free, back to nature 3 day walk. The very best of beautiful all weather tracks have been chosen, and combined with warm hospitality and delicious home-cooked meals it is a chance to see "the other New Zealand."
She has utilized spectacular public tracks in the Lake Okataina, Lake Tarawera area, also taking in the Nga Tapuwae O Toi Walkway in and around Ohope and Whakatane.
The Western Okataina Walkway combined with the Northern Tarawera Walkway feature on the first day. Pristine lakes greet the walkers at Okataina with not a house in sight. This area was formed by volcanic upheaval and eruptions with the last of these being Mount Tarawera 130 years ago. The beautiful bush walked through on day one has only regenerated since then, and bird life is in abundance at certain times of the year. Walkers will hear tui, with its lovely clear organ like sounds, bellbird, pigeons, warblers, fantails and others. The beautiful clear lakes are home to waterfowl, ducks and swans, with trout making good fishing in season. The track is well benched and defined, not a hard walk, and follows the length of Lake Okataina, then crossing an isthmus over to Lake Tarawera, and Humphreys Bay, a good place to have a break, the dormant Mount Tarawera filling the skyline on the far side of the Lake.
This mountain erupted in 1886 with devastating results, about 150 people lost their lives, and the famous Pink & White Terraces on Lake Rotomahana, were destroyed forever (claimed to be the 9th wonder of the world). Today Mount Tarawera dominates the landscape, but is thankfully, tranquil. Walking on along beside Lake Tarawera, there is much for the eye to see, luxuriant mosses and ferns make for a pretty pattern over rocks and on the ground, if you're lucky you may come across a wallaby or two, these unfortunately were released earlier last century and have increased now to the extent that they are a pest, eating the forest floor. But never the less it’s a special surprise to see one. Eventually walkers arrive at the Tarawera Outlet, so called as this is the only surface outlet Lake Tarawera has. Trout will be seen, most times of the year under the swing bridge, and while looking down on them you begin to realize how pristine and clear the water is from the lake. There are not to many rivers left in New Zealand as clear as this.
Walkers can be picked up here if they are tired and want to call it a day. You will have walked about 6 hours, away from the everyday hustle and bustle, just a total back to nature experience. If walkers decide to continue on to the Tarawera Falls, this is another hour and a half to two hours0 walking. The water features on this part of the track are wonderful and not to be missed.
For those continuing on, after about 40 minutes or so the track passes a series of rapids, waterfalls and sinkholes. When Mount Tarawera had an earlier bigger eruption hundreds of years ago, huge rivers of lava flowed down the same route as the Tarawera River now does, and over hundreds of years, and, as the lava broke up, the river started flowing into cracks and fissures eventually emerging out the middle of a cliff-face as the Tarawera Falls. It is quite unique, and will have you mesmerized, so take your time to savour this unusual phenomenon. From the Falls it is only 10 minutes to the car-park, it will have taken about 8 hours to get to this point, making it a big walk.
We have a third option on day one and that is to walk from the Tarawera Outlet and down to the Tarawera Falls and back to the Outlet. 4 hours.
Walkers are transported from Edgecumbe to Ohope on day two, walking part of the Nga Tapuwae O Toi Walkway. The first hour of this walk you walk through one of the biggest Pohutukawa forests left in New Zealand, once again walkers experience the New Zealand way of "getting away from it all." The trail winds up and through Pohutukawa, which is also known as the New Zealand Christmas tree, as its beautiful crimson flowers bloom around Christmas. Again walkers will be rewarded with birdsong, and no traffic noises, just peace and quiet. A local family, (Melvilles) donated 16 hectares of pristine bush in the middle of this walk and walkers will know when they reach it as a boardwalk has been built to protect the fauna and forest floor. Quite a few old trees standing, Pukatea, Karaka, Puriri, and usually a lot of birdsong on this section, at the end of the day it’s a good satisfying 4 hour walk.
Day three sees the walkers on the breathtaking Kohi Point Walkway, a scenic coastal walk, starting in Whakatane and finishing in Ohope. Views are spectacular, as is the history on this track. The Climb from Whakatane up to the ridge behind it is about 20 minutes, but the scenery from the "Kapu te Rangi" trig will blow you away (Kapu te Rangi is also one of the oldest Pa sites in New Zealand).
To the South: Mounts Edgecumbe and Tarawera. To the West on a good day you can see Mount Maunganui and the Rangitaiki Plains, out to sea: Whale Island, and just to the right is Whakaari, (White Island, our active marine volcano). We are lucky to have tours out to this Island and people can be transported out and spend time on the Island experiencing what it is like to be near an active marine volcano.
Continuing on the walk and along the ridge from "Kapu te Rangi," is a large 300-year-old Pa Site, "Taumata Kahawai", with a notice board and all relevant information. Once past that the walkers emerge from the bush and follow the track around and down into Otarawairere Bay, a good place for lunch, and as it’s a safe swimming bay. Then it’s up and over the last headland before Ohope Beach and the finish of this section. Today’s walk is about 3 hours in duration, and most groups are back in Edgecumbe by 1:30 p.m.
Maureen says that most people meeting her on the last day are just overwhelmed with what they have seen over the three days, hadn't realized what a beautiful area the Eastern Bay of Plenty was. "We have had people walking who are in their 70s and 80s." Maureen’s constantly surprised at how fit older people are. It’s true when they say you are only as old as you feel, people are much more health & exercise conscious. Most do the walk because there is no hassle of carrying heavy packs. and another big plus is coming home in the evening to a home-cooked meal and hot showers. Just a get-away-from-it-all three days, cell phones turned off, people in total de-stress. The other big plus factor is having the cars parked in a safe-zone, a big weight off people’s minds. The accommodation is excellent, a home away from home.
Tramplite Walks provide a service where accommodation, transport to tracks is supplied, and warm good old fashioned hospitality with delicious home-cooked meals.
[This article was written by Tramplite Walks.]