Save the bush, it's the soul of the land. - P.H. Johnson
This quote is on the plaque that welcomes you to Pioneer Park where In 1940, 242 acres of bushland was gifted to the Mackenzie District council, now in the hands of the Department of Conservation, by the owners of Raincliff Station at the time.
We are lucky enough to live just a few kilometers from Pioneer Park and have visited a few times to the main camping area but this weekend we finally went on a wee family adventure up the White Pine track.
The bush here is beautiful. Magpies, Bell birds, Wood Pigeons and Fantails are abundant in here and it proved to be a fantastic place for the kids to visit. We spent plenty of time spotting nests and learning about moss and ferns while trying to make sure Izzy watches her feet while clambering over roots and branches and up and down the steps. For a 3.5 year old she put in a brilliant effort and didn't once complain - in fact she would have kept going if we had let her!
There is a 5 minute (x5 3.5 year old minutes) climb up into the bush before it starts to even out and become comfortably rolling.
We walked for an hour and probably covered just over 2km which included plenty of stopping to look at plants and chatting about what we were seeing. The wee man seemed to enjoy himself too and stayed awake to take it all in. Fantastic weather for it too - lovely and cool under the tree canopy.
A small bridge was an exciting moment for Izzy and it felt like a real 'Bear Hunt' adventure.
For a beautiful spot that feels so isolated and bathed in tranquility it is still only 18 minutes from Pleasant Point and Fairlie and about 25 minutes from Geraldine (See my map below) It's also a fantastic and quiet place to camp with TOILETS! OK, so they are long-drops but there are the best looking ones I've ever seen plus running water.
The camping area has an honesty box for campers and respecting that is crucial to areas like these being available.
The tracks are in fantastic condition considering the tree roots and sheer number of trees.
Often people utilize the track for run training, doing the loop in around an hour - I'm yet to give it a try as with no cell phone reception I'm not keen to do it on my own for the 'twist an ankle' factor. (Please let me know if someone out there wants a running buddy!)
The decent back to the carpark/camping ground was faster than the climb and watching Izzy navigate her way down the steps and hills was impressive as her problem solving proved to be impeccable.
In a nutshell, I would highly recommend this walk for a weekend outing! Go as far as you feel comfortable as the round trip provides a few obstacles on the way back to the beginning.
Take a picnic and enjoy the peace and quiet. On your way back through, make sure to stop in to check out the Maori Rock drawings, have a shot at some fly fishing or go check out the epic playground at the Raincliff Youth Camp as it is a stand out feature for kids and adults alike - and don't tell anyone but there may just be a idyllic swimming hole out past the camp near the bridge in the Opihi River sshhhh
Pop out and explore a new area this weekend - Don't forget your towel!
P.S. If you would like some more information about this historic area - click here