We’re staying in Te Awanga Cottages for a few days in the semi-rural settlement of Te Awanga, 20mins drive from Havelock North Village. The cottage is enclosed by bush and it provides the peace and quiet we crave. We’re here for the Cape Kidnappers Gannet colony tractor tour.
Clifton Beach is just down the road and I’m embracing each day here!
Cape Kidnappers Gannet colony tractor tour – all aboard!
It’s on our “Bucket List” to do the Cape Kidnappers Gannet colony tractor tour. The Gannet Beach Adventures company is unique for using bright red farm tractors to haul long trailers full of excited families. It’s a lot of fun and an iconic ‘Kiwi’ experience for many international visitors to New Zealand.
Tractor ride on the beach
This tour began at the end of the road at Clifton Bay Point. As with many coastal tours in New Zealand, the tides dictate the schedule. We began at 11am for a 4-hour trip. After a quick briefing by the tour leader and a few amusing ‘porkies’, we set off down the beach towards Cape Kidnappers. Fun in buckets!
The local beaches have had a few storms recently and today the tractors had to negotiate their way through stony parts as well as rather deep holes. There were a few exaggerated shrieks but we were kept dry and entertained!
Unique Limestone cliffs on the way
Mother nature has formed steep cliff faces here over millions of years, resulting many layers being established. In pre-human times, substantial earthquakes also lifted the cliffs out of the ocean.
After about 1.5 hours we finally reached the “tractor parking” area near the Cape. There is a Doc (Department of Conversation) shelter and fresh water facilities. Most fellow travellers bought their own food for a picnic lunch. We had about 1.5 hours to explore the area.
Next, we took a 30 minute one-way walk to the Cape Kidnappers Gannet colony. We greeted these photogenic birds on a sunny April day and cameras were ready.
They seemed quite unfazed by our presence. It’s was heartening to see fellow travellers quietly sitting around to view this incredible wildlife scene with the respect it deserves. The rugged magnificence of the limestone cliffs contrast beautifully with the soft green paddocks.
The tour usually returns on the same route it started but we decided to walk 10 kilometres from the Gannet colony to Clifton Bay. We’d seen a number of walkers doing this return trip on foot and thought it would be fun. It was a lovely, easy walk along the cliffs, pass gentle rolling surf. At some point we removed our shoes to cross shallow streams but considered that all part of the experience.
After many years of having the Cape Kidnappers Gannet colony tour on our to-do list, we were not disappointed. It’s refreshing to be so close to nature and an enriching experience. On a warm day, a tour like this is the ideal way to explore a beautiful part of the Hawkes Bay region.