The melodic call of a bellbird fills stops me in my tracks. I glance up to see if it really is a bellbird and it hops obligingly into view on a nearby branch.
A little further down the path three saddleback come into view and I stand transfixed. These birds are on the Department of Conservation ‘at risk of recovering’ list and also a delight to see.
This “native jungle” on Fishermans Track at Tawharanui Regional Park is a tribute to Tawharanui Open Sanctuary Society and Department of Conservation. Since the construction of a 2.5km predator-proof fence across the peninsula in 2004 bellbirds have returned in great numbers. The tropical paradise filled with birdsong is also home to tui, fantail, north island robin, ducks, kaka and kakariki.
The forested area small in comparison to what was here before the settlers arrived and cleared the land for farming as well as extracting shingle and milling the kauri for timber in the 1870s. It makes you yearn for how it must have been when Ngati Kui, Tutumaiao and Turehu lived in the area. There are still some kauri here, and towering nikau palm which make it quite a sight to see.
Fishermans Track can be accessed from both the North Coast Track and South Coast Track at Tawharanui Regional Park (a 10 to 15 minute [check] drive from Matakana Village).
Park in the main carpark by the beach and walk along the path until you reach a junction of signposts pointing to the North Coast Track and Ecological Trail. We opted to take the Ecological Trail which follows the coastline and then wends its way back to meet the North Coast Track. The latter traverses farmland with a couple of recommended stop offs – Tokata Point look out and Maori Bay.
When you do the Tokata Point lookout (highly recommended) make sure you do the loop walk which takes you through stands of native flax teaming with tui before coming upon a magnificent coast view of stands of rocks protruding from the ocean like a mini version of Australia’s 12 Apostles. It’s thrilling to stand atop the cliff and look down upon the rocks as the ocean swirls around them before washing up on the beach.
Rejoining the North Coast Track we walk on to Maori Bay before returning to the carpark via Fishermans Track. It’s a gentle uphill climb from this direction, and we take care to wipe and spray our shoes to help the park prevent kauri dieback [check spelling] disease.
The track leads us back to where we started – the beautiful golden beaches of Anchor Bay. It’s definitely time for a swim!
Walk time: 3 hours (leisurely)
Dogs are not permitted