After a quiet night camped surrounded by bush at the Pukeiti Gardens followed by the group morning tea I mentioned in the previous blog it was time to set off for an explore of these world famous gardens. Sarah and I planned to walk some of the back trails so for the first time in ages we also dug out our tramping boots just in case the trail got a bit muddy.
It’s a very imposing entrance to the gardens with what must be millions of dollars spent to make this part of the gardens accessible to people of all sorts of fitness or mobility levels with huge steel framing walkways and ramps that surrounds the main building making access very easy to this part of the gardens.
For those in the safari less mobile than Sarah and I there was also the escorted tour of the gardens running every 20 minutes or so. With space for 10 or 12 people in the back of the stretched golf carts. These where free of charge as was admission with costs met by the Taranaki Council and private donations.
I cannot say that we really needed our tramping boots at the start of the walk with lush lawns and well formed paths around this part of the garden. What I thought was really special were the number of pink rhododendrons that they had grown especially to match Sarah’s pink raincoat in fact sometimes it was hard to tell where the plant stopped and the raincoat started.
While Rhododendrons and Azaleas form a huge part of this garden it’s not all it has to offer with other offerings like the orchid above growing in between branches of a pohutakawa or the plastic beetle sitting on top of one of the information boards.
Most people visiting the gardens would be content walking through the garden area admiring the plants but there is also the walking track at the back of the gardens and the reason we had worn the tramping boots. Following a gentle stream the track which was quite muddy in places leads you down towards the swing bridge which crosses the stream and should you wish take you to the summit of the hill behind the gardens.
On the day of our walk though there was a huge mud puddle at the far end of the swing bridge with no easy way around and although we had our tramping boots on we didn’t feel like walking through such a muddy mess. So we didn’t get to walk to the summit which is according to the brochure about an hours walk each way. Maybe next time.
Back at the main buildings there was a display of all the different rhododendron flowers growing in the garden. It must be quite the task to get out and pick these every couple of days to keep the display fresh or maybe they had just done it the once and we lucked in.
There are many tranquil scenes amongst the gardens and the waterwheel is one of those. Hidden away behind the main buildings and down a rather narrow track it’s a moment of stillness admiring the water. It was here that we called our visit to Pukeiti Gardens to an end returning to the carpark to move our vehicle so other visitors might have somewhere to park.
Looks like we got ourselves a convoy! heading back to the coast from Pukeiti it seemed like most of us had the same idea about leaving at the same time with 5 of us heading down one of the narrow country roads. Thankfully there wasn’t a lot of traffic coming up the hill, in fact I think only 1 car.
While the others heading towards the beach at Okato we carried on and arrived first at the Cape Egmont Boat Club where the group was spending the night. Since it was such a nice day we thought we would jump on the bikes and ride to the other lighthouse a few kms up the road to fill in a bit of time but also to enjoy the coastal ride as the road hugs the coast here.
Sadly we never made it as far as the other lighthouse as the road turns back inland where this stream outflows to the sea and although we could have taken off our shoes and crossed it. There didn’t appear to be a path to the lighthouse. So I have inserted a picture of Sarah taken in June last year when we happened to be in the same area. The weather then wasn’t as pleasant as it was this year as you can probably see by the large rain coat she is wearing.
Returning to the camping area which was beginning to fill up with fellow travelers we wandered up to the clubrooms for the boating club to see the sign in the window about the honesty box being stolen. Pretty sad to think that some lowlife would go to the trouble of stealing this for a few bucks when they are depriving the local community of it’s income. I thought about suggesting that our group all chip in to help fund a new one but it turns out that they already had that sorted with a hole in the wall of the building. So much more secure.
You wouldn’t want to be launching your boat here unless you knew what you where doing with even on what was a semi calm day the sea was bigger than I would feel comfortable going out in. We came also across this little green monster who had been cemented into the boat ramp someone’s bit of fun I guess.
There were locals out whitebaiting in both of the streams with the ones next to the lighthouse having had quite good success. Given the sea conditions this is probably more my sort of fishing around these sort of coasts.
It was a busy time at happy hour that night with Neale running the raffle to help raise funds for the EBOP NZMCA. I had the pleasure of drawing the winner which of course was neither Sarah or I but the club was a few bucks richer and a bit of fun for all. After the rain the previous night it was nice to be sitting back out in the sun enjoying a cold class of whatever you are drinking.
The wind on the west coast can be a bit of an issue and so it might have been here during the night but with the camping area surrounded by a 3 metre hedge there is really good protection and the expression slept like a baby applies it was so peaceful.
The following morning one of the guys from the boat club and marine rescue unit invited us into the clubhouse to view the rescue craft. It was impossible to get a good photo of the boat and tractor as it’s inside the garage but it certainly was an impressive sight. Talking about good photos if you are having trouble with viewing some of them on this blog I have all sorts of problems loading them and wish to apologize but I just haven’t been able to do anything about it.
Probably most impressive in the clubrooms is this world record Bluefin Tuna weighing in at an incredible 303 Kgs sort of puts my 5kg snapper to shame. I honestly think my arms would have fallen off trying to wind that one in.
Other than that it’s your usual sports clubrooms with tons of photos and leader boards making for some really interesting viewing. If you are staying here over summer they do dinner on clubnights (Friday) and we where told the plates are large and full while the prices are low. Just how most motorhomers like things. @$10 per van per night which goes towards club funds it was a great place to stay. So not quite freedom camping but still a cheap place to stay.
From here the plan was to head towards the Hollard Gardens another place were they didn’t want us to arrive before 3.30 pm so Sarah and I took the day at the boat club to just relax, read and chill out rather than scoot off to look at another place. The camping ground at the boat club is just that sort of place and I can quite easily see us coming back here for a few days.
Continuing my feature of who is on this safari with us are Neale and Kay who live just out of Whakatane and purchased their Autotrail Comanche about the same time we brought our Dethleffs last year. They have moved down in size from a much larger motorhome and initially found the adjustment quite difficult but now love the Comanche. At the time of writing they still own their old motorhome so if you are in the market for an 11.5 metre custom built check motorhome out their listing on Trademe.
To view the places we have visited click here to see them on Google maps. You can click the links to read the blog about that area.
To view the ratings for other places and camps we have stayed click here