70. A Well-Kept Secret: Orokawa Bay

From Matamata we drove in the rain and fog over the Mamaku Kaimai Ranges to Tauranga; going over big hills and small mountains always makes the day seem huge when you’re towing a caravan.
We both liked Tauranga which is sprawled in and about the arms of a large sea harbour. Of course we looked for a wild part of the city and found one here at Maunganui. The wind was still blowing, my least favourite kind of weather, and it was making me still breathless, so we didn’t walk up it. It was a very enticing prospect though, with tracks that go around and over it in several directions.
Local iwi Ngai te Rangi know this area as Mauao and care for it along with the Tauranga City Council, weeding and trapping to protect the native plants and animals that live here.
Mauao was once a separate volcanic island that is now joined to the mainland by a tombolo or sandspit.
Here we are just a few hundred metres further south along the coast from Maunganui. Another place to admire and enjoy. The usual coastal regeneration is going on here, as it does in many places, optimistic human efforts to counteract wave and weather action against the land. You can’t see it, but if the camera was turned the other way you would see that this beach is lined with cafes and houses.
That’s still Maunganui in the distance, standing out, not letting itself be forgotten too quickly!
From Tauranga, we drove to Waihi Beach, where there’s an NZMCA park up. You might call this point the eastern gateway to Coromandel Peninsula. And there’s no wind! There are several walks in this area situated in a picturesque environment, making them completely irresistible.
We headed off to Orokawa Bay, a walk of about an hour or so. The Orokawa Reserve is on land that was once privately owned by a Mrs Shaw, who donated it to the community in the 1940’s.
Looking back on Waihi Beach township from a high point.
Mayor Island is the barely visible outline under the clouds.
MUD! So much of it, almost the whole way.
A squall passes over Orokawa Beach.
We find a hideout that keeps us nice and dry.
Out came the sun, followed by us, and we had a good long play on the beach, looking at stones, wood, shells and birds.
Another view of Mayor Island, standing out more clearly now.
Back near the carpark ran a tiny stream where we washed the thick gluggy mud off our shoes and feet.
A new day and we drove out of Waihi Beach in the opposite direction to the one that took us to Orokawa Beach. This time we reached Bowentown, which is situated on a promontory of land, which, like Mauao/Maunganui, was once a volcanic island that is now joined to the mainland by a build up of sand. This spit reaches far into the same harbour that Tauranga calls home, many tens of kilometres away. Bowentown was once commonly known as Katikati (or nibbling) and was one of several Pā sites along this part of the coast.
This is the sandy island and forestry block of Matakana Island. It’s a long island which you can also see from Tauranga.
Thick middens that show we are walking on ground where Māori lived in past times, eating kaimoana – food from the sea.
Geographically altered by past Māori – more evidence that this is an old Pā site.
We are now in a big picnic area, looking back on the hill we were just on – it’s the lower peak to the right.
The beach by the picnic area has these great pohutukawa tree growing out from its banks – I would love to see these in flower; everyone says how spectacular it is, the trees all dressed up in red spikes. Unfortunately, we are going to miss that particular display as we’ll be back in the South Island for the summer.
Feeling excited about moving on around Coromandel Peninsula!

2 thoughts on “70. A Well-Kept Secret: Orokawa Bay”

  1. You are having such a wonderful exploring time. Aren’t the pohutukawas amazing the way they grow right to the sea. I guess it’ll have to be the west coast next year when you get to explore our coastline.


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