I was looking for an excuse to head up to Mangawhai to explore a walk the Mangawhai Walking Weekend group had let me in on. Mothers Day seemed like the perfect excuse to take George and Maisy on a roadtrip.
Bundling the fur kids in the car, Mum and I enjoyed the short drive North to Mangawhai.
Our walk was based in the bush behind the Mangawhai Park. There are a few entrances to the bush tracks, either at the Museum or behind the Information Centre further up the road. We parked up at the Information Centre and joined the walk there.
As you enter the carpark to the information centre there is a parking area to the right hand side which is next to the Bowling Club. You can park here, or head straight ahead down the driveway between the Golf Club and the Bowling Club to another parking area.
If you park at the first carpark, you'll want to walk the driveway thats between the Golf Club and Bowling Club to access the tracks. You'll reach a boardwalk that leads you up to a lookout and also branches out to two walks. On your right hand side is Paul's track, on your left is 'Last of the Summer Wine'. We headed right with the intention of doing a loop and finishing on the Last of the Summer Wine track.
The tracks here are all on sand, so perfect for a day after some significant rain as the tracks were quite clean. They are tracks through bush though so watch your footing as its very easy to trip on tree branches, as unfortunately Mum found out. The dogs loved this first part of the the tracks, running at full speed up and down them trying to get us to keep up with them. With Maisy being on lead this wasn't particularly pleasant for Mum but the dogs were loving it. Now interestingly ive read a few places that dogs are meant to be on lead here. The brochure at the information centre says so. However upon checking with Mangawhai Activity Zone which is where the tracks are located, they advised the following "On lead if the dog needs it, otherwise off lead if under control. The only area in the park which is off limits to dogs is the small children's playground, that's within the snake pathway. Enjoy!" so I was quite happy to have George off lead and it was definitely easier to navigate some of the paths without having to worry about holding onto him.
Some areas of the track are harder to navigate than others, there are a few hills, some steps and areas of the track as we got closer to the museum did get a little muddy as they were no longer sand. Following Pauls track was easy as it was well signposted. However at the edge of the Museum, chosing to take Last of the Summer Wine back was not so easy. We seemed to take a wrong pathway at some point along here and got rather lost trying to find it again. We walked a few parts of a track that probably weren't necessary but soon enough found signs pointing out the track again and managed to rejoin it. Although it does feel like sometimes you're going around in circles by the way it loops through the bush. If you're not too concerned about following a particular path, just enjoy the walk and use your GPS to navigate back to the start if needed.
Other than Mum falling over at one point, we both really enjoyed this walk and the dogs definitely loved it. It took us an hour to get back to the carpark and a total of 4.4kms but if you managed to stay on the right track all the way, then you could probably do it quicker than we did!
Now as it was Mothers Day, lunch and refreshments were part of the plan for the day. We headed off to Bennetts Cafe, located next to the famous chocolate shop for a spot of lunch. The cafe has two dedicated dog tables, positioned out of the front by the carpark. While it was nice they accommodated dogs, the tables were in the shade and positioned very close together so had others wanted to sit there with their dogs you have to hope everyone got along! As it was a cool wind, sitting in the shade wasn't too pleasant. After lunch and a quick nosey round the chocolate shop, we headed back up the road to the Museum cafe.
The Museum cafe is more of a coffee stop, than a full cafe so best as a quick stop for a cake and coffee than lunch. However we knew they had outdoor seating in the sunshine and after sitting at Bennetts we needed to warm up and were ready for an after lunch treat. Enjoying another coffee at the cafe, we met a few local ladies who suggested we should check out the Surf beach.
The sun was out and the dogs were ready to go again so we headed to the beach to have a nosey. The locals had told us you can walk your dogs on the left side of the beach, past the rocks. Reaching the beach there is a sign showing you where dogs can be off-lead.
George and Maisy enjoyed some fun on the beach together and then it was time to head home. The perfect day out, not far from Auckland but with lots on offer!
Mangawhai Activity Zone: Molesworth Drive, Opposite Awatea Street (Information Centre entrance)
Mangawhai Heads Beach: 147 Wintle Street, Mangawhai Heads