I’ve mentioned before that pretty much every road in New Zealand takes you through countryside with beautiful serene pastures full of grazing cows and sheep. Usually you just drive past them, but not today.
After yesterday’s exploration at Ripiro Beach and Dargaville, today we headed a bit further North to the Kai Iwi Lakes. The lakes are crystal clear and so blue they look almost psychedelic — with lots of bird life and easy access for boats they would be a kayaker’s paradise. Motorized boats and dogs are not allowed though to protect the native kiwi bird and other wildlife.
After driving around the lakes, we decided to try the Kai Iwi Lakes Coastal Track — a 2.1 kilomoter hike from the lakes to the coast. When we pulled up to the trail head, I was a bit confused about how to get started — the trail takes you across private land which has stock and electric fences that are active, so the ‘trail head’ is a wooden step called a stile that allows you to climb over the electric fence to access the pasture!
We grabbed our jackets and water bottles and off we went over the fence. From there, the rest of the trail is marked with orange triangles that are either posted on metal poles in the ground or (more often) on the fence posts themselves. If you want to take this hike, I would recommend not doing it after it rained as some of the land was pretty boggy. The walk itself is pretty easy for the first part of the trip, each time you cross from one section of pasture to another there’s another wooden stile to enable you to climb over the fence. In some spaces we could hear the fence hum from the electricity so we knew it was live but we didn’t have any issues.
As you get closer and closer to the ocean, the walk becomes a bit harder with some sections that are somewhat steep — one in particular was steep enough that they put in stairs in the side of the hill to help out the walkers. Once you get to Ripiro Beach, the trail goes through a short forested section that also has stairs built in for you and then you come out on the beach itself. Beautiful!
We didn’t encounter any livestock on the way out, but on the way back a few bulls decided the grass in the area the trail goes through was better than the rest. They didn’t seem to love us going through their land but it wasn’t an issue. And again toward the end of the walk we encountered a bunch of cows with a calf that were in the trail where we needed to walk. They mostly dispersed when we got there and the calf was crazy fluffy and adorable — I’ve never seen a fluffy calf before so it was odd.
Walking through the paddocks was a huge highlight for me though and really makes you feel like part of New Zealand. I loved it!