Walk status: Off-lead
Wahoo, summers here! Well ok, not quite but sunshine and tshirt weather on the weekend makes it the perfect time for a road trip. I'd like to say id pre-planned this trip, but really it all came together over my morning coffee, and by lunchtime we were in the car heading to our first destination. We started in New Plymouth and headed towards Opunake, but you could start this trip from wherever you're based as you're doing full loop around the mountain so will end up back where you started.
1. Cape Egmont Lighthouse - Pungarehu
Located on the southern coast about 50 kilometres out of New Plymouth, it was a must-see on the way to Opunake. Dotted on the hilltop surrounded by farmland, its a strange sight. It's a piece of history that now looks a little out of place amongst the modern world, but I think that gives it charm. I couldn't find any record of whether dogs were actually allowed here, so have assumed it was ok to have George there but I kept him on a lead. This is the only part of the walk that does need to be on-lead, all other spots documented are officially off-lead to doggies. Access to the lighthouse is on Cape Road (off State Highway 45) and you need to climb some short stairs to reach it. The property surrounding the lighthouse is private farmland so be respectful of the area. *Note: We visited Cape Egmont again about a week or so later to show a friend and it now has a 'no dogs' sign at the entrance. As it's a short stopover, it's one your dog can still come to if they stay in the car but you can't take them up to the lighthouse now.
2. Middleton Bay - Opunake
Middleton Bay is just one of the many spots located on the Opunake Walkway - but if you're not keen for the full walk then this is the perfect stopover for a stretch of the legs and a cool off (doggies only though, as its not a safe swimming beach). Middleton Bay is officially off-lead for doggies with no hour/day restrictions. Located at the bottom of Heaphy Road, it is surrounded by the cliffs making it quite a contained area for those doggies who like to explore a little too far sometimes. You can drive down the end of Heaphy to the ample parking area and for easy access to the beach itself. There is a boat ramp here and also a public toilet. It's not a large beach, but a decent size for a walk to the end and back and a play in the sea. George and I spent about 45mins here which sufficiently wore him out enough for him to be happy to jump in the car for a quick snooze until we reached our next stop.
3. Manaia Domain - Manaia
Considering how small Manaia is, it was quite surprising to find an off-lead area here so as it was on the way, it was worth a quick stop for a look. Pulling off South Road, onto Hassard Street you could be forgiven for thinking you're heading down someones gravel driveway to get here. Especially when there are cows grazing the grass verges like there was today. Google Maps won't even let you view this part of the road, but trust me, you're not trespassing and it all becomes a little clearer once you pass the large trees blocking the view on the right. Once you get past the trees, the open space is clear to see and a sign clearly states the domain is off-lead when the sports fields aren't in use. The domain borders the golf course, but is a large enough area for a good run around. George and I played ball for a bit, and then it was time to move on to our final destination before heading home.
4. Waihi Beach & Reserve - Hawera
Hawera marked the halfway mark around the mountain, and our final destination on this mini roadtrip. So it turns out, although Hawera is the second largest town in Taranaki, it doesn't have its fair share of off-lead dog areas. It was quite slim pickings here, but thankfully one of the most scenic spots has been made dog friendly. Just on the outskirts of the main centre is Waihi Beach and Reserve, located at the end of Denby Road. Although its called a reserve, don't interpret that to mean a large grassy area. Its a small patch of grass in the centre of the carpark. The main attraction here is the beach itself. However access to the beach is down a steep gravel path and although George was keen to tackle it, you should know by now how much I hate hills and stairs, so I decided to flag it this time. Its one I will definitely revisit though and take the hike. Its the coming back up you've got to prepare for! There is still plenty of scenery to see here though, with a little lookout point at the top of the hill above the carpark which gives you a view of the mountain to the right, and the ocean in front.
So this marked the end of our journey, heading straight from Hawera to home. Although I have noted some alternative stops you can make below if you want to break up this part of the journey. I always deem an adventure a success when George wants to do nothing but sleep at the end of it, and as I type this he's peacefully snoring so I think id call this one a success!
1. Cape Egmont Lighthouse - 377 Cape Rd, Pungarehu
2. Middleton Bay - Heaphy Road, Opunake
3. Manaia Domain - 1 Hassard Street, Manaia
4. Waihi Beach & Reserve - 280 Denby Road, Hawera
Other locations that are dog friendly on route:
Note: We haven't visited all of these, but they are noted on the council websites as being off-lead unless noted otherwise.
Tapuae Country Estate
Beach at end of Ahu Ahu Road (not officially noted as off-lead)
Te Ngutu O Te Manu (except adjacent to the play area)
Ohawe Beach (except for town area and camping grounds)
Taumata Park (except for playing surfaces)
Cardiff Centennial Walkway
PG Nops Scenic Reserve
Lake Mangamahoe (not off-lead and dogs prohibited within 200m of lake)