Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Land: Tora Coastal Walk.

 New Zealand is noted for it's walking tracks and hiking trails through pristine native forest and mountainous scenery. We really are blessed with a country that is so easy to get around, such varied scenery of mountains, glaciers, untouched native forests, active volcanoes and unspoilt rugged coastlines and beaches. And with no dangerous wildlife to bother you, we can tramp our trails not having to care about snakes, or surprising a bear, and we can swim in any lake or river without fear of crocodile attack. It truly is a trekkers paradise. 1,000's annually tramp the Heaphy Track,  the Tongaririo Crossing, or the Milford Track  all known as some of the top rated hiking tracks in the world. But there are plenty more, and in this series of My Land topics on New Zealand, together we'll explore a few of the shorter, less arduous tracks.

 If you're like me, you may be getting on a bit, and finding the trail is getting tougher with 3 days food and gear on your back, but you are certainly not yet at the stage for hanging up your boots and mouldering away in that zimmer frame, chasing the old girls around the rest home. With that in mind there are some very pleasant walking tracks, developed to allow all age groups and abilities to stay on the trail, merely by portering your pack for you between each night's accommodation, leaving you to lightly wander the forests and hills, with just a daypack for the essentials of water and a packed lunch. So much easier. Cheating almost?

 In 2005, three entreprising farm couples commenced Tora Coastal Walk, situated on the Southeast Wairarapa Coast at the bottom of our North Island, an easy walk through farms, native forest, rolling hillscapes and coastal scenery. And the best part is they arrange for your main bags to be portered to each night's accommodation, and  they will have your beer and wine chilled ready and waiting in the fridge for quenching that thirst you have worked up. It's a 3 day and 3 night walk, fully catered with gourmet local food. "Depending on weather conditions and the farming calendar you may dine on venison, paua fritters, fresh blue cod or succulent lamb."  Lip smacking scrumptious.

Accommodation these days has been much upgraded since our group of friends had a team bonding session on the trail 6 years ago. Old shearers and farm labourers huts were used then, basic but clean and cosy once we'd stoked up the fire to heat water for the showers. I can remember no electricity in the second nights stay, but candles made the place very cosy. Today  facilities have been upgraded to ensure you'll enjoy your experience even more.

 Day one is 19.3 kms of about 7 hours walking through open farmlands,or  native bush clad gentle slopes, but with a couple of steep high hills. You'll be wandering through small herds of cattle or flocks of sheep. Don't worry, they are just curious, and if you get down on all fours and bark like a farm dog they'll round themselves up and keep their distance. 
 Towards the final stage of the day's walk there is one high hill to climb, being the toughest challenge of the whole walk.But the 360 degree views from the top are worth it

Standing on the top there are amazing views right along the rugged coastline, with hardly a human settlement in sight making the climb to the top well worthwhile.

 Day 2 is an easy coastal walk of 8 kms along a shingle road but you'll be able to beach walk some stages also. We were were not lucky enough to see seals but there was plenty of marine bird life.

 And cheaters.
 Yes cheaters. Not the long legged, spotty, furry African kind but a unique weird kind of feminine wiley beast, that challenges their males to be first to the next roost stop. Then when miles behind and out of site, dangles a gamey leg at a passing prospect 4WD, piles aboard their host and hunkers down and whizzes past their males to scoop all the chilled beer at the next stop!

Night 3 dining. Note the empty bottles and 4 flushed faced women!

Day 3 is an easy walk of 4 hours, with an extra option to do a 1 hour return walk up to the ‘Bugler’ for stunning 360 degree views of the area. The rest of the walk takes you back to your start point of 3 days earlier and you'll finish around 2.30pm.

Overall our group of 10 Kiwis and 1 stray Australian, Terry from Sydney, who had flown over to join us, had a thoroughly enjoyable walk, and no sore backs or shoulders either. Food was excellent. Those ladies know how to present good fresh food and cook it well. And there was more than enough. A very memorable experience, and one we keep meaning to repeat!

For more images and information on the Tora Coastal Walk, go here  Tora.

Happy hiking!



Red Nomad OZ said...

HHHMMMmmm... must factor in a trip to NZ - maybe when I've finished 'doing' OZ! Only problem with THAT scenario is I'll be one of the zimmer frame/retirement village people by then!!

Happy travels!!

Robin said...

This really is a fantastic blog for hikers, perfect balance between information and inspiration. We do a bit ourselves but have been lazy this year, need to get out there again.
Have you ever hiked in Ireland?

Jim said...

Hiya Red. Let me know which rest home so I can chase you!

Jim said...

I see you popped in from Spain Robin. No , haven't been to Ireland. Will one day. Recently did some walking in Scotland.
I see you love Granada....fantastic.
Have you done any of the walks around the Cuenca gorges?Loved that time.
Thanks for the comment. I'm trying for that balance of our actual experience and being informative to readers.

Jools Stone said...

19kms is an easy hike? I'm with the cheaters! ;-)

Jim said...

Jools, you young guys should be able to keep up with us over 19kms, but running up that last hill was a challenge.LOL.

inka said...

If someone is a hiker, there is no better place where to look than your posts. I enjoy reading it although hiking is not my thing.

inka said...

Thanks for your comment. Now I understand the benefits of Coca Cola. I told you, hiking is not my thing, but I nearly went on a 9km one around a lake in the middle of Lebanon, but couldn't because of the food poisoning. You must have inspired me!!!

Jim said...

Those cola drinks will kill anything.I only ever drink coca or pepsi cola when travelling . It helps.