NZ Lifestyle Magazine Group



Pekapeka REGIONAL PARK Swampland once made up much of Hawke's Bay flat land before it was drained for farming and housing. The 98ha Pekapeka Regional Park, south of Hastings on SH2, is a chance to experience these palustrine wetlands as they might have been before Pākehā settlement. This ongoing conservation project to replant native flora and fauna and remove invasive willows started in the 1990s. A wellmaintained boardwalk allows visitors to explore the 4.5km of wetland, home to native birds including new zealand dabchick (weweia), marsh crake (koitareke), shining cuckoo (pīpīwharauroa) and kingfisher (kōtare). Eagle-eyed visitors might even spot the extremely rare australasian bittern camouflaged between native grasses. The wetlands have wāhi tapu (sacred) status under The Historic Places Act. There are three known pā sites and Ngāti Kahungunu iwi claim kaitiakitanga rights over the park, which historically provided an essential source of eels for food. The public car park for the wetlands is located 12km south of Hastings, off SH2. Sunrise TRACK & ruahine forest park Sunrise Track in the mid-eastern section of Ruahine Forest Park is one of the most family-friendly overnight tramps in New Zealand. It's also a good option for inexperienced trampers trying to build up their fitness before attempting a big walk. It's an easy two- to three-hour stroll to the summit on this well-graded track, a walk that is doable in a day, but many spend the night at Sunrise Hut to see the glorious dawn over the Hawke's Bay plains. From the hut, it's possible to walk an additional 15 minutes (if it's not too windy) to Armstrong Saddle where, on fine days, Ruapehu and Tongariro are visible in the distance. In winter, the Ruahines are often snow-capped, but the track is safe in most weather conditions (bring clothing for all situations, the wind can be icy cold). The hut has no cooking facilities but has 20 bunk beds. Booking is required between Labour Weekend and 30 April. Sunrise Track is an hour's drive from Hastings. Follow SH50 and turn right into Wakarara Road and left into North Block Road where the car park is well signposted at the end of a farm gate. Book the hut at doc.govt.nz Holt Forest Arboretum A walk beneath nature's giants at the Holt Forest Arboretum is a grounding experience. The mighty californian redwoods and douglas firs in this public forest were first planted by Dorothy and Harold Holt (of Carter Holt Harvey fame) in the 1930s and have now reached impressive heights. For 45 years, the couple continued to fill the 15ha land with more than 500 species of trees, shrubs, ferns and flowering plants before gifting the land to the public in 1962. It's an easy walk through a series of looped tracks with tree species well-identified for eager botanists. This impressive park is often deserted, but it's worth a visit year-round. In summer it's a cool walk, in spring it's blooming with bluebells, primroses daffodils and rhododendrons, and in autumn, the deciduous trees show off their colours. Drive north on SH2 and, after Tangoio Settlement Road, turn left on Kaiwaka Road, then Darky Spur Road and Holt Forest Road. The trail entrance and car park are close to a picnic area.