New Zealand has a number of great walks: The Milford Track, Routeburn Track, Tongariro Crossing; to name a few, but I did not realise that there was such an excellent and varied walk in our own back yard here in the Bay of Islands. The walk from Pahia to Russell is only a one day event but there is the opportunity to combine it with other walks in the area to create a multi day walk. What impressed me, was that it was a combination of kiwi wilderness with an urban twist, similar to the Cotswold Way yet so different.

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Walking towards Opua along the coastal track

We started in Pahia and walked around the coast to the next settlement of Opua. That walk was a combination of wandering along the beach and, then a track that was higher up in the bush and which afforded excellent views out across the Bay.

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Approaching Opua, our ice cream stop and ferry connection.
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No seats for foot passengers on the short car ferry crossing from Opua to Okiato

After a couple of hours we arrived at Opua, time for a cone ice cream to eat while we took the short car ferry connection across to Okiato, New Zealand’s first capital. These days it is a case of ‘blink and you miss it’  but no doubt back in 1840 it was full of bureaucrats bustling around the village with the equivalent of today’s smartphones in hand, or something like that.

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The walk from Okiato to Orongo Bay was through an impressive stand of native bush

The second leg from Okiato to Orongo Bay was through one of the better stands of native bush that I have seen in the area. It was a little up and down but a very pleasant walk along tracks that have been carved out by local volunteers. The last section lead us onto the beginning of  a board walk through a mangrove covered tidal flat but before we got onto that, it was time for a stop for lunch on a very pleasant pier setting complete with comfortable seats. As far as lunch spots go, it does not get much better than this.

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Our lunch spot – there were well positioned seats all along the boardwalk section, again, all built by volunteers.

The last section through to Russell takes you across an extensive boardwalk before the final, somewhat less impressive, walk into Russell for a well earned beer before catching the ferry back to Pahia and picking up the car.

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Taking the boardwalk across the tidal flats

A splendid 19km, 5 hour walk that provided varying scenery, wilderness, coastal walking and the chance to linger for the odd treat in the towns along the way. A bit of everything, something you don’t usually get in New Zealand.

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The old Church in Russell, complete with musket holes from a early 19th century shootout in the ‘hellhole of the pacific’

 

 

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