By SHELLEY TOPP
Waimakariri has many picture-postcard-perfect outdoor areas for play and relaxation, but the Tuhaitara Coastal Park is the standout star.
The 575 hectare park stretches from the Waimakariri River to the Ashley River and includes 10.5km of stunning coastline.
The park can be accessed from Woodend Beach, Kairaki, The Pines Beach, Pegasus Town and Waikuku Beach. It has parking areas at all the beach carparks with access to walking and cycling trails.
The jewel among them is the Tutaepatu Trail which links Woodend Beach, Pegasus Town and Waikuku Beach, and includes its lovely namesake, the Tutaepatu Lagoon.
The Tutaepatu Trail track is suitable for walkers, runners and cyclists of all fitness levels. It is also accessible for wheelchairs, prams and pushchairs.
Dogs are allowed but they must be on a leash and any litter they leave must be removed. Make time to walk this trail, up to the lagoon at the very least, these summer holidays for a relaxing, free, outdoor activity the whole family can enjoy close to home.
Take a sunhat, sunscreen and water with you because although parts of the track are shaded, it is a sheltered area and can get hot.
Listen for native birdsong from bellbirds and fantails along the trail and watch for quail. Enjoy a leisurely pace and the peaceful, relaxing sounds of nature. Spend time at the lagoon and reflect on the cultural and ecological significance of the area. Have a swim to cool off and then enjoy a picnic in the Woodend Beach Domain.