Curious George & Me
Walk status: Off Lead
On another trip to New Plymouth, I marked two stopover points in Te Kuiti as a halfway stopover. One on the way down and one on the way home.
Free Dog Exercise Area - Esplanade, Te Kuiti
On our way down to New Plymouth, I marked a quick stop at an off leash area just at the end of town. I'd found it thanks to the local council website. Note that there are other areas near this reserve that you can take your dog, but all of these require your dog to be on leash. If you put 137 Esplanade, Te Kuiti into Google Maps it will bring you to this reserve which is off lead and just off the main road so easy to get back onto the main highways. Previously an old BMX track through a small forest area, its now a large area of grass alongside the forest that your dog can enjoy a stretch of the legs.
George enjoyed a run around on the grass, before we headed into the forest area to have a nosey. It's pretty hard going on the feet for George as there is a lot of fallen branches and tree debris here. You can still see the remains of jumps and tracks in the forest from its previous use. Its not large, so doesn't take long to walk around. George and I headed back out to the main grass area and noticed what looked to be water running along the bottom of the reserve. A quick stroll along the edge of the reserve and I soon spotted the perfect area for George to have a quick swim. A small area of pebbles creates almost a beach area for the dogs to enter the water. The current was a bit strong here though so if you don't have a confident swimmer, keep an eye on them. Better still, attach a long lead so if they do get into trouble you can pull them back in.
Mangaokewa Gorge Scenic Reserve, Te Kuiti
Thanks again to the council website, this is another that was noted as an off-lead walk in the area. Noted as only 5 minutes from Te Kuiti, I planned for us to visit on the way home and make a decent walk out of the this one. After what felt like a long drive to Te Kuiti, coffee and a break was a must before we headed for this reserve. A stopover at Bosco Cafe is recommended. They have a outside area out the back that your dog can sit in while you dine here. There is also a on-lead reserve directly behind the cafe, which is a good option for a quick stretch of the legs and a pee break for your dog before heading into the cafe.
After topping up our energy levels with some lunch and caffeine, it was time to head to the reserve. Now a word of warning, Google Maps did not give me the correct directions originally so we ended up driving some random roads around the back of Te Kuiti before I googled again and found out that the main entrance is actually on State Highway 30 towards Rotorua. It really is only 5 minutes out of Te Kuiti on State Highway 30 and there isn't signage telling you you're coming close, so you'll see a large wooden sign on the left hand side of the road that says Mangaokewa Scenic Reserve and thats the entrance. It could sneak up on you if you're not paying attention, so keep an eye out for it.
You'll head down a long driveway and soon reach the carpark, you'll want to head right towards the overbridge as this is the entrance to the walks. There are a couple of walks here - 20mins to Cascades and 45mins to the Waterfall. As mum was with us on this trip we just did the Cascade walk which was 40mins in total there and back. Most of the walk is flat, but there are some areas of steep stairs, and some muddy areas of path to navigate. Some areas of the path where also not very wide so you had to keep an eye on your footing.
The sign ive photographed is the end of the Cascades walk. It points you up the hill to see the small waterfall here, but it really is just climbing a few stairs to reach it. We didn't carry on to the main waterfall this time. I think looking at previous online photos of the Cascades, that the foliage looks to have grown over and covered most of the view, as you can see from my photo, you don't get to see much of it. You then turn back and return the same way you came. There were a couple of entrances into the water along this pathway. However like the other reserve in Te Kuiti the water was fast flowing here and it would be easy for a dog to get swept away in the current. I let George paddle in the shallow area around the rocks at the waters edge, but wouldn't let him go any further. He seemed content with that. I think during the time we were there, others were letting their dogs swim at the main entrance by the bridge, so its possible you could find somewhere suitable for the dogs to cool off here that might be a bit safer.
The sign at the entry bridge shows a dog on-lead symbol, but it clearly says on the council website that dogs can be off-lead all through here. I walked George on lead over the bridge and a short distance along the path, and then he was off-lead from that point. He wasn't keen on walking the swing bridge at the entrance, it does sway quite a bit so I carried him over this. I was careful to watch him through the bush as they do mention there are bait stations, so if your dog is likely to be inquisitive about these, perhaps best to keep them on lead. I've put some links to the council website that shows you these two walk options.
Location: Free Dog Exercise Area - 137 Esplanade, Te Kuiti
Location: Mangaokewa Gorge Scenic Reserve, State Highway 30 Te Kuiti
Location: Bosco Cafe, 57 Te Kumi Rd, Te Kuiti (On-lead reserve located directly behind)
Things to know:
There are toilets at the Gorge, no toilets at the Free Dog Exercise Area
Plenty of parking at the Gorge, street parking at the Free Dog Exercise Area
Details about these two walks on the council website: