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One of my favourite things to do in Wellington with my kids is go up the cable car and see the view of the bay from above. What a great exhibit of our capital. But what about on the way to Wellington? Is there really nothing to do between Taupo and Wellington?
The answer of course is no! The Rangitikei Region is situated in the lower north island of New Zealand halway between Taupo and Wellington or realistically between Waiuoru and Bulls. Its landscape is changeable. You will see Mt Ruapehu on your journey through the desert road, which is covered with lovely dry grasses and stunning views of creeks and rivers. You will see green hilly farms and spy heaps of lovely white spots keeping the lawns tidy. I here it is rare these days to see sheep until you get to this part of the north island. It is all pretty spectacular.
The guide books don't really tell you this. Most of the maps I inspect do not indicate there is much for families to do on this path when actually there is and they are fun, inexpensive and so memorable. So, I want to share with you families some pretty cool things to do in this lovely part of New Zealand.
Mountain Air, Tongariro - The most popular flight climbs to 10,000 feet over all three volcanoes in the Tongariro National Park including the active crater lake of Mt Ruapehu. Great views!
The National Army Museum, Waiouru - Learn about New Zealand's legends, stories of courage, honour and sacrifice. Facilities include a cafe & gift shop. There is a Greenstone Memorial, a Research Centre, Guided Tours, a "Kids Headquarters", Group rides on M548 Armoured Personnel Carrier. It has ample parking for campervans & a wide picnic area.
Gumboot Ally, Taihape - Just on the back street of Taihape is a lane with gumboots provided. If the kids want to throw their toys, give them a gumboot instead!
Awastone, Mangaweka - This 30+ year old owned and operated family adventure business specialise in family fun river trips on the Rangitikei River, one of NZ's oldest rafting companies. Kids as young as 3yrs old can "splash n giggle" their way down the Rangitikei River. The base is 1km off SH1 with a camper van park, a licensed cafe and cedar hot tub. A great activity for the whole family.
Whitecliff Boulders, Mangaweka - Walk to the intriguing Boulders known as "cannon ball concretions" made from mudstone. The kids are free to explore and their imaginations with take them to a mystical land far, far away. Take your pack lunch and enjoy!
Family Friendly walks and reserves - There are many easy DoC walks in the area. They can take 20 min or up to 2hr depending on how you manage them. They are free to do and help get those legs moving. Try these ones: Tangimoana (where the Rangitikei meets the sea), Paengaroa Scenic Reserve (north of Taihape), Mangaweka Scenic Reserve (overlooks the township and explore old railways), Mangaweka Riverside Picnic Area (walk alongside the river or go for a swim), Bruce Park Loop Walk (just south of Hunterville).
SH1 can be a long haul. The views are great but getting out to experience the small towns is even better. Get the kids out and have some fun!