Tararua District: An exciting place for visitors and locals alike

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Since the end of the Covid-19 lockdown Dannevirke’s Camping Ground has been a popular destination, with people keen to get out and about once more.

“It’s been very busy, with a lot of people in campervans and caravans,” Manager, Kim Spooner-Taylor, said.

The camping ground, owned by the Tararua District Council, is in a tranquil setting, surrounded by native bush and trees. Top class amenities include a renovated community kitchen, dining room, guest television lounge and playground.

“People have been getting out since lockdown and many have come to Dannevirke to catch up with relatives and friends. They love it here because it’s clean, quiet and cost-friendly.”

Kim is also seeing many new visitors to the camping ground and she’s happy to direct them to places for meals, while many are keen to visit Waihi Falls too.

Bookings have been coming in for the school holidays and Kim expects them to pick up even more.

“People didn’t get away last school holidays because of lockdown, so this time they’re determined to get on the road and visit,” she said.

With the popularity of the camping ground and the great hospitality offered by Kim, 80 per cent of visitors are staying longer than they initially planned.

“We’ve just had holidaymakers leave after a seven-day stay. They had originally intended to stay for just two nights,” she said.

Tararua District Mayor, Tracey Collis, said it has been incredibly heartening to see the number of stays returning to normal levels.

“With large projects being undertaken in the district and specialist teams requiring overnight stays, this has added to our usual mix of travellers,” she said. “We also have the advantage of being in the middle of everywhere for visitors travelling to Hawke’s Bay and Wellington with an increase of people on State Highway 2.

“Our campgrounds are renowned for their hospitality and affordability with the added attraction of being centrally located and set in beautiful surroundings. They provide the perfect option at an affordable price. 

“Pukaha National Wildlife Centre has shone with their innovation and enjoyed many visitors over Queens Birthday Weekend. They have launched a new offering to motorhomes with an overnight experience including a dawn or night tour.

And don’t be put off by the weather, there are winter wonders galore at Pūkaha, Marketing Advisor Alex Wall says.

“Believe it or not, winter is actually a wonderful time to visit the wildlife reserve. Not only are there less visitors to compete with, there is also an array of new sights that only happen with the change in seasons. Wild kererū are prolific at the centre right now. This is due to the flowering of lucerne which is found in abundance there. It brings the birds out in great numbers. A visitor in the carpark reported looking upwards and seeing more than 30 birds swooping into the reserve all at once. The sky was full with them apparently.

There are other things to see too and the usual suspects like cheeky kākā and tuna (long-fin eel) are also lurking in wait within the forest but in a different setting. If it’s slightly damp or wet then the forest feels very alive and magical. You can smell the rain and appreciate nature in a completely different way, it’s almost like looking through a new lense. You’ll likely notice things you never saw before because the forest sounds and looks different. New sights come into focus like the emergence of forest floor fungi. It can be hard to explain so the best way to experience this is just to go along and feel this natural environment for yourself.”

The wildlife centre places great emphasis on ‘community’ so it offers local residents from Norsewood to Featherston, a 50 per cent discount on general admission.Pukaha Walk Love Local.jpg

Entry for a family of six (two adults and up to four children) is just $25 with the discount, making it exceptional value for money.

The centre is also running a July school holiday programme for kids called Junior Rangers.        

“Perfect for young nature lovers aged 5-14 years, activities are tailored to the weather conditions on the day and can include preparing food for the manu (birds), feeding the tuna (long-fin eels) and learning about the ngahere (forest).        

“They include lunch (for all diets) and parents and caregivers can enjoy a free coffee at the Kākā Café when dropping off a junior ranger,” Alex said.

Pukaha is open daily, 9am – 4.30pm. To find our more visit www.pukaha.org.nz or call them on (06) 375 8004.

Mayor Tracey said Tararua’s advantage is the natural beauty of our landscape, our friendliness to visitors and affordability.

“We have a rich history in our towns, all showcased in our museums and we offer great attractions for visitors to enjoy like Middleton Railway and Dave’s Den. Did you know we even have a butterfly sanctuary which opens in summer?

“I thoroughly recommend trying a staycation in our district and experiencing all we have to offer- Love Local Tararua! On my bucket list is a drive to Wharite, a site I view each day but have never journeyed to and the butterfly sanctuary in Pahiatua. Thank you for your friendliness and being so welcoming to our visitors. I often receive this compliment about our district and it really makes a difference when people receive great service and remember Tararua as a beautiful place with such friendly people and they share that with others.” 

In Pahiatua, district councillor and Bush Multisport Park Facility Manager, Raylene Treder said it’s great to see the Park alive with the hype of sports and recreational activities happening over the last few weeks.

“It’s great to be back. During lockdown staff worked behind the scenes with Sport Manawatu on what the return to sport would potentially look like,” she said. “During this time a policy was developed and lots of report writing happened. It was especially pleasing to see how many families were out being recreational together during lockdown. I’m sure a few laps of the Bush Multisport lime track were completed. It was great to see this asset so extensively used during this period.”

Raylene said Sport Manawatu have been a terrific during these unprecedented times, providing support and guidance to the Bush Multisport Trust.

All sports and recreational activities have now returned post Covid-19.

“It’s very pleasing to see junior numbers for winter sports have increased from previous years,” Raylene said. “Two new sports teams have affiliated to Bush Multisport this season with a Bush women’s rugby team and a Bush women’s hockey team. It’s approximately 18 years since a women’s rugby team from Bush was entered in the Manawatu Women’s competition. Sam Tipene and Abby Rivers have been the stalwarts to get this back up and running for the Club. A women’s hockey team hadn’t been entered in the Manawatu competition for approximately 15 years, so thanks to Natasha Bailey who took the initiative and rallied up ex Tararua College and current Tararua students to revive this team.”

Aside from sports, if you are looking for something active for your children to in the school holidays Tu Meke Kidz have a holiday program running - check out their Facebook page.

Remember to #LoveLocalTararua these school holidays and explore our very own backyard! Call the Tararua i-SITE Visitor Information Centre on 0800 TARARUA (827 278) for information about the local hot spots, must sees and fun family activities – or visit www.tararua.com.

Read more #LoveLocalTararua Media Releases here 

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<< Back to News(Posted on: Wednesday, 8 July 2020)