The New Zealand Walks for Wimps series provides essential information about short, relatively easy hikes around New Zealand. A beautiful and very easy one was the Te Pare Point Historic Reserve in Hahei on the Coromandel Peninsula. Click on the map markers and links on the right for more great easy NZ walks!
Nearest town: Hahei, but there’s only a couple of shops. Whitianga is the next big one!
Type of track: there and back
Official distance: I don’t know. Maybe 500 metres one way.
Official time: 20 minutes return
Jenny’s time: about an hour and forty minutes
Tips: Take a hat and a picnic!
The sun glared down on me as I climbed the few steps to the top of the cliff. Suddenly the ocean was surrounding me on three sides. Ahead, it stretched out for miles, all the way to the horizon and beyond my range of vision, interrupted only by a few small islands. To my right it collided with the steep cliffs, carving narrow caves and crevasses in the soft rock. And to my left it was calm and shallow, lapping gently on the bay’s long sandy beach, and I could see right down to the bottom through the swaying kelp and stands of coral.
I stood on top of the Pa, admiring the various aspects of the ocean; its vastness, power, and serenity all at once.
This was Te Pare Point Historic Reserve, home to not just one but two Ngati Hei tribe Pa (fortress) sites, Hereheretaura Pa and Hahei Pa. Terraces, defensive ditches and storage pits are clearly visible, although it’s difficult to know where one Pa ends and the other begins.
It’s easy to see why this would have been used as a defensive site back in Maori times. With only a small area of land access and an unobstructed 270 degree view of the ocean, any intruders would have been spied long before reaching this spot.
That didn’t help, however, and in 1818 the Ngati Puhi tribe launched a successful attack on Hahei and the survivors of the Ngati Hei tribe fled their land.
These days Hahei is a holiday area, officially home to about 300 people but in the summer this number can increase by almost 10 times. Many of the homes in the area are actually just baches (holiday homes), only occupied in the warmest months of the year.
The Pa site is easily accessible from the end of Pa road, which is just a right turn off the main road going into Hahei. It’s an easy 15 minute walk, although I spent a lot longer, sitting at the top admiring the view and trying to get pictures of one of my new favourite birds, the yellowhammer.
Near the start of the track a side path goes off to the left and down some steps to the beach, where at low tide you can wander among the rocks and beneath the twisting pohutukawa trees.
So head to Te Pare Point Historic Reserve for a short, easy, and beautiful walk when you’re in the Hahei area!