Burgess Park - Burgess Hill, New Plymouth
Walk status: On-lead
You've probably passed the entrance of Burgess Park many times on your way South, but travelling down Junction Road at 100kms its one thats easily missed. On the hunt for places George could swim, and after a tip off from a local we gave it a try. We've been here a few times now and most of the time the carpark off Junction Road is completely empty and you can have the entire place to yourself....unfortunately though, although you may be the only one here, it does require dogs to be on-lead.
Coming off Junction Road into the carpark can be a bit hairy, especially if cars are following closely behind but once you make it into the carpark area off the road, there is plenty of space to park and you can choose a couple of directions to head for your walk.
Heading down to the gates that officially mark the entrance lead you to the handcrafted sign (photo 2) that shows you the options for the walking tracks through the bush. They all lead to the same spot which is the lookout point at the top of the hill. On this particular day, I parked up at the top end away from the gates as shown in one of the photos and walked the open grass area to the opposite end which opens up to a small bush track which leads you uphill. After our New Years adventure, nothing really feels like a hill anymore but it is a reasonable steepness to start the walk off. It's short lived though and has a few steps to contend with too. Starting in the other direction is a hill and a few more stairs so really you're not better off either way.
Reaching the top of the hill you follow the bush track and approx halfway up there is a track to your right, you'll take that on your way back (or come up that way if you started from the handcrafted sign). Carrying on along the track you'll again reach a slight fork, straight ahead takes you out to the road, so you'll want to head right at this point which will lead you to the seat and the lookout point.
Sadly everyday we've visited so far the mountain has been hiding behind cloud, so I haven't managed to get the perfect shot from this viewpoint but I imagine its a beauty! Even just getting to look down over the canopy of the trees below is quite the experience, many times ive watched the local hawks circling the treetops.
After enjoying the view, head back the way you came until you get to the fork in the track that will now be on your left. This leads you downhill and down some steps so you could choose to come up this way instead if you want to vary the walk. You start to get sneak peeks of the water from this section of the walk and soon enough you're back to the open area of the park which is equipped with a couple of picnic benches and also has a toilet on a separate bush track.
It takes about 10-15mins to get to the lookout point, depending on how fast you walk and how many photos you stop to take so its around a 20-30min loop. It's all shaded under the canopy of the trees which makes it a great option for a hot day, but note that there is heavy leaf cover on the ground in places which can be quite slippery after wet weather.
Once you reach the open area of the park, head towards the waters edge and in the direction of the toilet block if your four legged friend is in need of a cool off. Along that strip of the waters edge is the perfect entry point with a small area of sand perfectly positioned for the human to keep their feet dry. My little otter loves this little swimming spot. Its not too fast a current and although its rocky, there are some deep spots where he is getting a proper swim. A big dog might struggle to actually swim in this area as its possibly not deep enough for long legs.
An alternative spot we found in the same park is at the opposite end, closest to the road. About the one and only time someone else was here with us and I was trying to stay out of their way I explored the edge of the park to find a well trodden path through what looks like weeds to an access point to the water thats actually under the bridge. It's not as nice as the sandy little spot I mentioned above, mainly because its been overtaken by the local pigeon population and under the bridge means it can be a bit noisy but its a good backup swim spot if we get to the park and need to keep out of others way.