• Curious George & Me

Foxton Beach Adventure


Since moving to New Plymouth i've been dying to get out and adventure around the lower north island. With no time off work planned anytime soon, it needed to be a mini weekend vacation, just a few hours drive from home for a overnight stay. After doing some extensive Googling, little Foxton Beach looked super dog friendly for such a small area and it didn't disappoint! The drive there and back includes a few stopovers including a quick detour via Palmerston North on the way home.

Day One:

With a weekend vacay, we were taking it easy. No pressure to rush to destinations, just a chilled out relaxed holiday vibe the whole way. The playlists were picked, and so were the destinations so it all required now was some drive time. Its the first time we've given the new CX-5 a proper roadie too so I was stoked when all my junk and George's fit in the boot with ample room to spare. In the little Toyota, it would have been packed to the brim!

As with all roadies, I don't stray too far from home for our first walk as George needs to feel like we're stopping soon after getting in the car, or he barks impatiently until we do. I've learnt that lesson the hard way! So onto our first stop....

Soldiers Memorial Park - Eltham

100 Conway Road, Eltham

On-Lead

Approx a 40min drive south of New Plymouth is the small town of Eltham. There's not much here, and its fair to say Soldiers Memorial Park isn't going to make it a hot destination for travellers either. I had high hopes for this little park after reading about the walkway around it. Photos id seen online looked to show it in its best light. Sadly what we arrived to was a fabulous park for kids with skate ramps and a playground, and an added bonus of public toilets should you need them. However, the walk itself was not great. George was on his long lead for this one as it clearly shows dogs on leads at the entrance signage. The signage points you to walk to the right of the toilet block to follow the walkway so we headed up the footpath, only to realise shortly after that you actually need to be walking inside the park to access the walkway. For the first 5mins or so, this walkway follows through the trees at the park edge and alongside the golf course. You can choose the top or bottom path, both are uneven surfaces and likely to be very muddy in the wet months.

Be warned, this walkway is not maintained. We soon reached overgrown grass that was waist height on me, and I was having to carry George in parts as he couldn't move through it. There was a slim hint of a path through the grass but at one point we couldn't go any further, even though the map at the entrance shows you can walk almost to the road before crossing the water and walking the other side to get back to where you started. This was not the case, unless you're willing to try and carve your own path. George and I gave up as it was no longer enjoyable and turned back to head along the pathways we hadn't walked on the way up the hill. Sadly after walking one of the top walkways we discovered this was blocked by a fallen tree so had to turn back again and back down a track we had already walked. While it did it's job of giving George a walk, it wasn't an enjoyable one and not one we will likely make the effort to do again. As it's also On-Lead its not the best option for stopping just for a stretch of the legs as the doggies can't be let off lead to enjoy the grass space here.

Patea Domain - Patea

Egmont Street, Patea

Off-Lead

After the disappointment of Eltham, we crossed our fingers and paws that Patea Domain would deliver. Being off-lead it also meant George was in for a real chance to have a proper stretch of the legs. Although its noted on the South Taranaki website as being a dog off-lead space, buggered if I could find out exactly where it was and how to access it! Google Maps told us we had arrived at our destination only to find a golf course with sheep grazing all over it. According to the council website, the dog off leash area is bordered by Surrey Street and Egmont, however the only thing I could see here was what looked like sports fields with rugby posts and considering dogs are banned from sports fields, it was confusing to know if we were in the right place. In the end, we didn't test it out as I couldn't be sure what we were going to be walking on was the Domain. Day one was not off to the best start! However, before you leave Patea, its worth heading a few more metres up Egmont road to the lookout point to get a great view of the cliffs and the ocean below. If anyone has any information on Patea Domain, we would love to hear it.

Waitotara Domain - Waitotara

2043 Waiinu Beach Rd, Waitotara

Off-Lead

Phew, finally a space we could get out and have a stretch of the legs! Its not a huge area, more like a large paddock marked by some entrance gates in memorial to fallen soldiers but after the last two walking attempts we were pleased to finally get somewhere and find it exactly as we expected! Thanks to the ball chucker, George had a decent run and we both enjoyed a walk around and a chance to enjoy some of the rural wildlife that borders the domain. The cows had clearly been grazing in here during the wet months as its very uneven ground so watch your step as some of the holes are quite large and it wouldn't take much to twist an ankle if you aren't careful. A short stopover here, a chance for a drink and a rest in the shade and we were back in the car to carry on the adventure.

South Beach - Whanganui

Unmarked gravel road, off Airport Road, Whanganui

Off-Lead

Seals! There's gonna be seals! Well sadly not, but I had been warned by a local who gave me this hot tip to visit South Beach, to watch for seals lounging around. I was excited at the chance to get to see them (although I am well aware of not getting too close), George was warned before he got out of the car that he had to be on his best behaviour and listen to me if I saw one so he could go back on the lead. Sadly no seals, but what we did get was a great walk along the rugged west coast.

South Beach is popular for testing your 4WD so although most of us parked up at the end of the unmarked gravel road that is off Airport Road, some beach enthusiasts test their skills on the sand dunes and the beach. Keep your dog on a lead until you're safely out of the way of vehicles as there are pathways through the dunes that could catch you unaware. Thanks to the local tip, id been told your best bet is to head right as most people drive left and she wasn't wrong. There were quite a few vehicles at the beach on Saturday, but heading right we only encountered one, otherwise having the stretch of the beach to ourselves. It was wild and windy, but a chance for George to have a quick paddle and a roll in the sand - his favourite reason for a beach visit is just rolling in the sand. After bringing a large portion of the beach back to the car with us, George was ready for a snooze and we were off again, this time heading to our final destination Foxton Beach!

Ferry Reserve - Foxton Beach

Corner of Seabury Avenue and Foxton Beach Road, Foxton Beach

Off-Lead

After a short rest at the accomodation (which you can find listed here), it was time to search for dinner and get in a final walk before a possible onslaught of fireworks later in the evening (stupidly booked a doggie holiday on Guy Fawkes weekend - thankful to report there were none!).

Ferry Reserve has a small gravel parking lot, just on the corner of the road as the speed limit changes from 80km to 50km. There is an alternative entrance at approx 36 Palmer Road. Parking up at the gravel parking area, a short walk to the left leads you to a mown grass strip that you can follow through well established trees until you reach the opposite end of the reserve at Palmer Road. Some of the mown grass strips lead to a dead end, I have no idea of what their purpose is but it did make the walk a little longer, exploring to see where they went. We only encountered one other dog owner here so we just got to enjoy to ourselves for most of the walk. Its a lovely walk through essentially a mini forest and George loved all the different smells and running up and down the main track.

Time for dinner, and Grumpys Takeaways seemed like the hot spot, although there are a few to choose from and White Rabbit looked equally popular. Grumpys offers lots on the menu, including gourmet options you wouldn't normally find in your local takeaway bar. Grabbing fish and chips, we ended the night overlooking Foxton Beach before heading back to the accomodation and settling in for the evening.

Day Two:

Foxton Beach - Foxton Beach

Marine Parade, Foxton Beach

Off-Lead

As with most holidays, we always seem to be up at the crack of dawn. After a quick breakfast, George was ready to go so the car was packed, we said goodbye to our accomodation and set off for an early morning stroll on the beach to start our day. Parking up at the Surf Club offers the easiest access and plenty of bins to dispose of the morning doggie doos! It was a windy start to the morning, but George met a few friendly locals, did his usual roll around to get as sandy as possible and we were set to start the rest of our adventure. Again, I was told there could be seals on Foxton Beach so I was alert that some of those large blob looking driftwoods could actually be wild animals, but sadly not on this day but do be aware of the possibility.

Cousins Reserve - Foxton Beach

13 Cousins Ave West, Foxton Beach

Off-Lead

Out of all the walks we were going to try this weekend, this was the one I was most looking forward to. Considering the disappointments on day one, I could have got my hopes up and had them shattered but im pleased to report this walk is fantastic and one I would love to do again. Just a short drive (or walk) from the beach is Cousins Reserve, a popular location for cyclists as it features many tracks through the forest. As its a working forest, it does warn you to stay on the tracks and not knowing where we were going, we were happy to oblige this time.

At the entrance to Cousins Reserve which has a small gravel area for parking, is a large grass area that allows for a bit of free play before heading along the many tracks in the forest. Following the main track clearly visible from the carpark, there are many smaller tracks that lead off it, but as you'll soon see, some are purely set up for the thrill seeker cyclists with large drop offs so unless you're willing to take your chances, you're best to stick to the wider path that leads you through the main section of the forest. Following this for about 10mins or so we soon arrived at some broken fencing that looked to block off another section of forest. It seems this is accessible also as there were areas of the fence that had gaps and visible signs of tracks throughout here too. A family on their bikes cycled through to enter that part of the forest at one point so it does look to be used by the locals to extend the area of use.

As George and I are quite bad at wanting to veer off the beaten track and go for a nosey where we spend hours exploring, I refrained on this walk knowing we had other places to be and instead just followed the edge of the fence line. However, had we had hours to spend here I would have been keen for a nosey around, but I think GPS is definitely advisable here! After doing a loop alongside the fence line and back, we ended up back where we started and ready to set off on our next adventure, saying goodbye to Foxton Beach for now. This walk is one we are definitely keen to do again, and I would use it as a stopover for travels further south in future too.

Ruamahanga Wilderness Area - Palmerston North

79 Ruamahanga Crescent, Palmerston North

Off-Lead

As we waved goodbye to Foxton Beach ready to start the journey home, we took a short detour to Palmerston North. Being only a 30min drive from Foxton, I thought it was worth seeing what was here to enjoy. I had bookmarked a few different places in Palmy we could visit but after enjoying our time at Ruamahanga so much, I ended up calling it a day. I'm not sure anything else could beat it?!

Parking up on the quiet suburban street of Ruamahanga Crescent, you would be forgiven if you thought id sent you to the wrong place, but trust me this is one you want to hunt out. Alongside the local kindy sits a concreted path and the wooden sign alludes to a Wilderness area - fancy name for a park really but its a park and more down here so it deserves it's fancy title.

The concrete path soon opens up to a wide open space of well established trees and a chance for the doggies to get a real stretch of the legs. George had a great time just in this space, sniffing lots and running around like a lunatic that hadn't been off-lead in a whole 30mins! After exploring the open space, we followed the concrete path downhill to what quickly became a view of the Whanganui river and a picturesque walk along the rivers edge. We headed right at the bottom of the hill, but you can choose either way. Theres also the option to follow the main concrete path or take one of the many small dirt tracks that are off to the side. With our sense of adventure, George and I can't stick to a concrete path for long so soon enough took one of the dirt tracks and discovered access to the river and a chance for George to get his feet wet. It looks to be a popular spot with the locals as a few other dog owners followed us in shortly after.

Heading back up the dirt path we reached a wide open space grass area, which you could continue to follow the dirt track along as this walk goes for miles, or take a detour right to head back to the concrete path. As I wanted to explore the other end as well before we headed back to the car, we turned around at this point and headed back down the tree lined path until we reached where we had started and then continued on further down the path to get a different view of the river.

There are many access points to this area, so you can choose somewhere else to start and finish from but from here is the added bonus of being just down the road from Cafe Soskys on the corner of Limbrick Street. After an early morning start and quite a bit of walking in just a few hours I was in need of caffeine and some sustenance before carrying on this little adventure. George and I recommend trying one of their yummy Cinnamon scrolls and the coffee wasn't shabby either. Just what we needed to complete the final leg of our weekend getaway. Unfortunately due to some construction it was hard to know if the Cafe offered outdoor seating so I just got a takeaway this time, but you could get coffee first and enjoy it down at the park if you prefer a scenic view with your caffeine hit.

Riverbank Walk - Whanganui

73 Taupo Quay, Whanganui

Off-Lead

The options for starting and ending this walk are truly endless, so ive linked below the PDF that shows all the different circuits you can take. With this being the last of our walks before home, George was keen as to get out of the car but about 5mins in he was giving me that look of 'please can I just sleep now?' so we didn't make this a long one. The PDF will show you just how many options are available and the varying lengths. For this particular walk we started at the entrance that is alongside the BP on Taupo Quay and walked to the bridge and back to the right. The whole path was concreted and wide enough for a few people to walk past comfortably. You're walking alongside the Whanganui River the whole way so its a lovely scenic walk and one you can make suit your time and length. We will definitely be bookmarking a few others to try next time.

Link to PDF of walks - note the green dog icon for dog friendly walk options: Click here

So thats us, all that remains is the road trip home from Whanganui. A time for George to snooze, and for me to sing at the top of my lungs to old 90's pop with just the occasional glance from George to tell me my singing isn't great. Aside from the day one that didn't start off great, we really enjoyed this little mini getaway and many of the destinations will be ones we are sure to visit again.

Places visited:

Soldiers Memorial Park - Eltham

Patea Domain - Patea

Waitotara Domain - Waitotara

South Beach - Whanganui

Ferry Reserve - Foxton Beach

Foxton Beach

Cousins Reserve - Foxton Beach

Ruamahanga Wilderness Area - Palmerston North

Riverbank Walk - Whanganui