Hike in Orton Bradley Park

Published on 26 February 2023 at 18:00

Cows, Waterfalls and Harbour Views

Waking up to a sunny February morning, we decided to get out into the great outdoors. After a coffee we filled our day packs, packed a picnic lunch and, with a shared playlist pumping on Spotify, we drove south thorough the Lyttleton tunnel and along the coastal road that winds its way through Governor's Bay to Charteris Bay.

Orton Bradley Park is a privately owned park that includes picnic areas, camping facilities, mountain bikes tracks, and 25kms of trails for walking.  During the summer there is also a cute cafe onsite in amongst the rustic farm buildings for a cuppa and piece of cake.

Tip: As the park is privately owned, there is a small entrance fee of $5 per person, or $10 per car, so remember to bring cash.  Outside of peak times they rely on an honesty system, where you put your cash into an envelope and deposit it into a lock box, so it pays (pun intended) to have the correct change on hand. Pay your way to have good karma working with you for the rest of the day. 

We parked the car under some shady trees and headed off to walk the appropriately named Waterfall Gully Track, which is a 2.5-hour trek that boasts two waterfalls along the way.

A short distance along the trail entrance we came across a red door, complete with a painted brass knocker, taking up the middle of the trail. This artwork is perfectly symbolic.  As we walked past it felt like we may indeed be stepping across a portal into a new land and heading towards Narnia or The Shire. 

The trail starts off flat but, as you would imagine, you eventually have to earn the views with some consistent uphill effort.  There is plenty of beautiful scenery along the way and spots to stop for a rest and few gulps from your water bottle (remember to pack water!). If you have hiking poles, bring them along too as they will help.  As we walked along the trail that follows the boundary of the neighboring farm, we took the time to chat to small herds of cows, and the occasional sheep.  Both looked equally delicious, I mean cute (sorry, not sorry vegans).

We meandered our way down through the native riverside bush.  The first waterfall on route is quite small, but still pretty.  The fact that we were visiting towards the end of a dry summer meant that we were probably quite fortunate to have any water present at all.  Great spot for another water break, because the next section of the journey was the steepest.

Tip: We use the excellent All Trails app to browse and select walks in our area, then use the GPS feature to both get driving directions to the start of the walk and to track our progress along the route.  It also includes the incline chart that you can tap into along the way.  Use this info wisely as where some people see a fun challenge just around the corner, others see an insurmountable obstacle that puts them off pushing ahead to the best bits.  

After a steady climb, the main waterfall is located after a short downhill section that takes you back into the bush where you will find a lovely shady grotto.  The fall is around 25 meters high and has a small pool at its base.  Not large enough to swim in, but ideal to dip your feet.  A great spot to rest, eat a snack, and listen to the water.

Once we had literally soaked in the scenery, we headed up a steep goat track that led to a great lookout point back over where we had come from.  You can't yet see the sea as it's tucked around the corner, so we put the drone up to capture the image at the top of this blog.  Little did we know that the view would present itself within 5-10 minutes further along the trail which leads along the plateau.  From there the final third of the trail is all downhill.  A just reward for the effort earlier in the day.

We eventually made our way back to the car.  The park area is too lovely to rush off home, so we took the time to have ourselves a picnic in the shade next to a family of ducks who did not seem to mind. In fact, think they enjoyed our company...or the bread.

- February 2023

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