Mimiwhangata, Whananaki, Matapouri & Otito. Mimiwhangata, Whananaki, Matapouri & Otito. Mimiwhangata, Whananaki, Matapouri & Otito. Say that three times fast! Heck, if you can pronounce it correctly once, then you deserve a prize!
Today was an activity-filled day! Ben had us going all over the Tutukaka Coast. On the way to the coast, we drove through miles and miles of farmland.
We started our adventure at Mimiwhangata Coastal Park. According to a local travel guide, the park is a marine and bird reserve and home to “one of the world’s rarest water fowl, the Brown Teal or Pateke.” It’s also a working farm.
We set off down the beach. Unlike the other beaches we’ve visited, this one is covered in rocks and seashells. A shell lover’s paradise!
The rocky beach was not easy on the feet!
We saw a few birds, but none of them were Brown Teal.
From a hill at the end of the bay, we had a good view around the other side of the bay.
Having saw all we wanted to see, we hopped back in the car and headed to our next stop, Whananaki.
Whananaki boasts the longest footbridge in the Southern Hemisphere. The bridge spans 1296 feet across an estuary. It was a bit rinky-dink, but that only added to its charm.
When we got to the end of the bridge, there was a group of school children having swim class. There were twenty or so kids in the water, splashing and having a good time. There was also a small group taking turns jumping off the bridge into a deeper area where a teacher was floating. It was refreshing to see such a carefree school activity.
Based on the bridge jumping, I’d say this country’s love for extreme sports definitely starts at an early age!
After Whananaki, we made a quick stop at Sandy Bay. You may be tired of beaches by now or wondering why we visit so many. First of all, we’re on a small island and beaches are one of the main attractions. The other main attraction is tramping, which we also spend a lot of time doing. Second, beaches are almost free. All it takes is the gas to get there and a picnic lunch, and you have a recipe for a nice day. Third, we love beaches. Not all beaches are created equal – even ones on the same coastline. Some are better for swimming and snorkeling, while others are better for surfing and sun bathing. The best part is almost all beaches offer beautiful views, especially in New Zealand where the water is gorgeous. For all those reasons and more, my posts will continue to be full of beaches.
Back to the current beach, Sandy Bay. Sandy Bay is “one of the east coast’s most popular surfing destinations.” There was a surf school in session when we arrived, and there were plenty of surfers practicing on the small waves.
Other than watching the surfers, there wasn’t much for us to do; so, we headed to our final (and best) stop of the day: Matapouri Bay and the Otito Scenic Reserve.
Matapouri Bay is a tranquil swimming beach in a large estuary. There are very small waves, and the soft sand is perfect for sitting or lying down.
Today, we weren’t here for sitting or lying down. We were here to visit the Otito Scenic Reserve. To get to the reserve, we had to wait for low tide. At low tide, we were able to walk across the beach to a sandy trail head.
Higher up the trail, we got a good view of the bay.
After a 20 minute barefoot tramp, we got to the ocean side.
Eh, not impressed. Where are the huge mermaid pools we heard so much about? While we were scratching our heads, a nice German woman directed us around the corner. “The view is better over there!” she said. And she wasn’t kidding. I’ve never seen anything like it…
Ben wanted to see what was hiding in the nooks and crannies of the pools.
According to Ben, the pools were full of starfish, small fish, crustaceans, and “cool looking seaweed.”
Snorkeling marked the end of the long, well-planned (thanks Ben!) day.