Distance & Time: 8.5km, 2.5 hours
Take: Water, snacks, sunscreen, and insect repellent. If you have them, take binoculars as the views are spectacular.
Amenities on route: Tutira dairy for anything you’ve forgotten/ice-cream post walk.
Cost of the walk: Free, although the start of the walk is one hour north of Napier, so will need a car/petrol to get there.
If you’re afraid of heights, cliffs, rocks, or being out of cellphone coverege – stay away from this walk. If those four things excite you greatly, then this walk is for you. Well, at least until the fun police turn up and fence everything off.
Bell Rock is an hour north of Napier, with the last 20 minutes being on gravel road. Make sure you stop at the Tutira Dairy for any last minute supplies as once you’re out there, there is nothing else around!
Google maps had directed me to the below spot for the walk, but once we got out of the car, got ourselves sorted, took the obligatory starting line photo, and then started reading the information boards, we realised we had to drive a bit further up the road! So back in the car we went.
You’ll want to get to this walk relatively early as there isn’t a lot of carparking (and there’s no other way of getting here yet). Fortunately, we were the second car of the day, which bode well to seeing hardly anyone else during this walk.
I knew we were going to have to go up, I just hadn’t realised quite how far up we’d have to walk right at the very beginning – there was a bit of puffing come from myself, Mum & David during the first 15 minutes or so! But once our bodies got used to it, we were fine.
The bush is glorious, Boundary Stream Mainland Island is doing a lot of work with pest trapping, and encouraging lots of native wildlife – my knowledge of native bird calls is still in its infancy, but I could recognise a few!
While hiking I’ve been trying to make the effort to stop and look up – the view is always gorgeous and I find it calming to think that these giants have been here for far longer than I’ve been alive, and will hopefully still be here long after I’m gone.
We rounded a corner and suddenly there was farmland in front of us. Just a slight difference from what we’d been walking through for the past 40 minutes!
This is a really good time to stop and reapply sunscreen as you’re going to be out in it for the next couple of hours and trust me when I say the Hawke’s Bay sun is strong. Take sunscreen, a hat, and loads of water. And chocolate, because chocolate is always welcome.
Amy’s Advice – go with someone. The rock formations are incredible but if you slip/something happens (which I sincerely hope it won’t) you need to have someone there who can get help. Plus, it’s always good to have someone who can take photos – selfies just won’t cut it here!
Climbing over a stile, we continued on and found this sign to point us in the right direction. You can’t really get lost here – just follow the orange arrows and you’ll be fine!
Even the view from here was incredible, and we weren’t even at the main attraction yet! I’m sure that on a perfectly clear day you’ll be able to see the snow covered peaks of Ruapehu and Tongariro.
Heading down a slight downhill we could see a small rock sitting on top of a slightly bigger, that was sitting on an even bigger rock. However it wasn’t until we got right up to it that we realised we could get right up on to it!
There are no fences, not even any signs warning visitors of potential dangers with the cliffs, and I love it! Just trusting that people will use common sense and won’t be idiots.
Mum, David & I spent a good hour here, soaking in the view, taking many, many photos, and savouring in our fortune in having the whole place to ourselves (the lady who was ahead of us was just leaving as we were coming into Bell Rock – talk about perfect timing!)
There isn’t really much point in writing much else here as I think the photos speak for themselves!
Maybe just one more.
After a chocolate break in the grass, we made our move – and just in time as the sun was seriously starting to scorch us and we needed to get back into the shade.
I was surprised how quiet this walk was – it was the first Saturday of summer, a stunning day, and a relatively easy walk for most people (it was uphill, but not a hard uphill). Mum was telling me that it’s just been made one of DOCs short walks, so no doubt its popularity will be on the rise now.
Instead of going back the way we came, at the sign we headed back down the road way…if I did this walk again, I’d go back through the bush. The track wasn’t particularly interesting and there was ZERO SHADE. You also have to do a bit of gate climbing which made me wonder if we weren’t supposed to go this way…but then there were information boards for visitors so they obviously expected people this way. It was all a bit confusing, really. But we made it to this gate, climbed it, and we were back on the road – just a short 10 minute walk back to the car.
When you’re heading back to Napier, make sure you stop at Tutira Dairy for an icecream, and take it down to the lakefront to eat. Pretty perfect end to a hike, wouldn’t you agree?
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