By AMANDA BOWES
The Hurunui district is blessed with having a huge natural playground, with rivers, sea, lakes and forest within easy reach.
From Waipara to Kaikoura, the possibilities to explore are endless. For those not wanting to partake in the great outdoors, but who would still like to chill out in the country, there are plenty of farm stays, bed and breakfasts, and private accommodation where people can relax and enjoy the ambience.
When dining out, customers are spoiled for choice, with cafes, bars, restaurants and vineyards to visit.
Waipara has a multitude of places to eat at the various wineries. Many have walking tracks which are suitable for all ages. Towards Kate Valley there are walks which go as far as the coast, and the Waipara River has safe places to take a dip.
Motunau, half-way between Waipara and Cheviot, is a popular coastal settlement where people go for the fishing, safe swimming and boating. There are private baches which are sometimes rented out and the area boasts lots of fossils in the rocks.
Further up the coast is Gore Bay, a surfers hangout, Port Robinson, with Cathedral Gully and Nape Nape.
Cheviot is a convenient place from which to access the beaches, and has all the facilities needed for camping provisions. There are also many boutique places to stay.
With the road open to Kaikoura again, Cheviot is an ideal place from which to make day trips.
Going inland from Waipara, the Hurunui River is a mere half-hour drive. West from Hawarden, is the Lake Sumner Forest Park, popular with trampers and fishing people. The Hurunui River can be walked, swum, rafted, kayaked or jet-boated. There is a camping ground right on its banks at Balmoral.
Further north is the Waiau River, which is eventually crossed over to reach Hanmer Springs.
Along with the Thermal Reserve, Hanmer Springs has great places to stay, dine out and explore. It is the gateway to Molesworth Station and there are many walks through forest in the town’s immediate surrounds. The St James Station is nearby. The magnificent high country DOC-owned property can be tramped or explored by mountain bike.