My day would not be the same without a walk somewhere, sometimes nowhere in particular. It can be just a matter of opening the door and seeing which way I turn, left or right, will indicate what will be included in my walk. Sometimes even a mode of transport is needed to take me further afield as in today’s photographs.
If my walk includes a tree or even more preferably, a bunch of trees and a few breathtaking views, my walking enjoyment goes up a notch or two.
With this in mind, let’s head on down a path or two that has a few of the above qualities.
Papamoa Regional Park – Te Rae o Papamoa
Firstly, Te Rae o Papamoa means ‘the forehead of the woman who is the hills’.
I introduced to this area a few years ago via a group 5km walk that took us through the Papamoa Hills to Summerhill Farm via an amazing night walk with a fun cake and coffee greeting us at the end. Much needed as both years it was a coolish night due to being held in winter [June]. The event was organised to raise funds for Breast Cancer Support Service Tauranga Trust.
Previous walks that I enjoyed were started from the car park, located on Poplar Lane (off SH2 between Tauranga and Te Puke). The park entrance is somewhat hidden beside a Fulton Hogan quarry, though that hasn’t stopped the 80,000 visitors that visit every year.
The first segment to the 224m summit is steep at first which includes weaving through the welcome shade of a pine forest and native bush. Then opening up to farmland which part of it is leased to a local farmer whose family, the McNaughtons, have worked the land for more than 100 years.
One of the main attractions of the park, aside from the 360-degree panoramic views at the summit, is the seven historic pa sites that dot the hills.
Built over 300 years from the 1400s, there used to be 17 pa sites in the area, all surrounded by deep trenches.
Karangaumu Pa, at the summit of the hills, was a defensive pa. It was in times of attack and battles when it used to be densely occupied, and there’d be over 2000 warriors here. One of the other pas, Patangata (towards the ocean from the summit), was where the women and children would head in times of battle.
If it’s all going completely wrong, they’ve got some perfect escape routes to get them off the hills and away to safety.
Not all the pa sites were occupied at one time. Apart from the ones where their job was to grow kumara. They would be on-site and in one particular spot the whole time.
The local information guide notes say it takes about 45 minutes, I took longer and enjoyed the vistas, and of course, take a few photographs, there is no hurry on a lovely weather day. If I was honest, I did require a few stops to catch my breath as the path does rise relatively steeply then levels off.
There are several other tracks which allow you to explore the cultural heritage of the park and make the most of the expansive views, with most trails leading you to each of the six pa sites within the park boundary.
Points to Remember
Sunscreen and hat – so important in New Zealand’s harsh sunshine.
Water, especially during summer. No water supplies during the walk or carpark.
Good walking shoes.
A reasonable level of fitness.
Be respectful of the Pa sites and land by leaving nothing but footprints.
It is an operational farm, close all gates as indicated.
Toilets are only available at the carpark.
The most important note to remember is to enjoy viewing our coastal area from above with the added bonus being a slice of the countryside so close to Tauranga City.