ARTbop has previously featured a brief general comment about the walking tracks available throughout the Western Bay of Plenty District. This territorial authority is only a small part of the wider Bay of Plenty but it contains a number of easily accessible and walkable tracks – “there is no easier or more pleasurable way to enjoy the great outdoors of the Western Bay of Plenty than to step out for a leisurely walk. Soothing to the soul and g0od for your health, an outing on a walking track is an excellent opportunity to embrace and appreciate the beauty of the environment around you…” Over the coming months ARTbop will be featuring a walking track within the Western Bay district – there are 24 listed between Waihi Beach and rural Te Puke.
Gerald Crapp Historic Reserve & Omokoroa Peninsula 14kms north of Tauranga, two walks one 30mins one way the other up to 2½ hours. Not so long ago Omokoroa was a small beach fringe backed by dairy farms and horticultural blocks. Targeted for subdivision and development it has changed but the quintessential seaside settlement is still there.
When I get here to walk there’s a wind coming in from the North East so I pull my scarfe over my head and eat my icecream in its shelter. Someone is stoically sitting on the end of the jetty fishing; hoodied up against the cold. Surprisingly mature women walk past me in shorts and singlets – striding it out with the determination of longevity. Two young women and their children are on the playground equipment. A kite is taking advantage of the stiff wind. The biggest flock of shags I’ve ever seen fly by low over the rumpled grey sea. Mauao, the Mount, looms in the distance.
Along the beach, and up into the Gerald Crapp Reserve. There are information boards about the Crapp Family and other Europeans along the way (there’s no mention of any earlier inhabitants on the boards I pass). These Europeans were coastal dwellers, like other early New Zealand people, because the water was the highway. Clumps of walnuts are on the side of the reserve steps planted like other fruit to sell and trade. There are big old trees, many Australian. A statue of the first European settler Reverend Gelibrand dwarfed by a huge Morton Bay Fig.
Out of the Reserve I’m lost so I decide to walk and look at the houses and gardens – individualistic and groomed. There’s a grove of walnuts – The Walnut Grove – and under an old chestnut tree mounds of kina like prickly bundles are everywhere.
Back down Harbour View Road past heavily fruited olive trees lining a residential drive onto the inner shore “The Esplanade”. Gnarled old Pohutukawa screen a large carparking area. There are recent concrete works here with a seafront pathway, parking and upmarket outdoor public seating – congratulations Streetscape – it’s stylish!
The wind has dropped and the sea’s now silver grey. Ducks slide and Kingfisher (Kotare) perch on wooden piles. The ferry from Matakana Island has arrived and a collection of foreign students stand waiting to be bused away.
Omokoroa today has been unbelievably quiet and peaceful. Easily accessible from SH2 (Tauranga West Road).