Days Bay is fantastic stretch of beach where you can rent kayaks, buy yummy ice cream, or go for a bush walk. Even better – to celebrate the ‘International Day of People with Disabilities’, Hutt City Council is launching an access mat for people with mobility issues in December.
Days Bay is an out-of-the-way beach that is worth a visit (Jeff McEwen/Capture Studios)
One mile north of Eastbourne is Days Bay, named after the Day family, who lived there in the 1840s. The tiny hamlet is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic, unwind or chill on the pretty beach. Soak up the magic that inspired acclaimed Kiwi author Katherine Mansfield to write her uplifting short story “At the Bay” about loneliness, family, and death. Ahem….
If you want to do something different (but not Peka Peka beach different) the ferry between Queens Wharf in the Wellington CBD and Days Bay (approximately 20 minutes one way and was $11 each way last time we did the trip) runs regularly, and you can hop across the harbour, get a good coffee or have a meal at Sea Salt, walk in the bush and go for a swim all in one day. There are 2-3 good treks if you want to get off the beaten track and meet some birdlife amidst New Zealand’s flora and fauna.
Water sports are available (kayak hire, e-bikes etc), and there are a few interesting little artisan shops, cute cafés and art galleries in which to while away an afternoon.
There are always lots of enthusiasts jumping from the jetty to provide some visual entertainment or you can take the plunge yourself and we can assure you that you definitely won’t look as silly as everyone else who jumps off.
The shoreline has lots of pebbles which can be a bit uncomfortable when first entering the water but just a short few metres in and you’re standing on luxurious, soft, silky sand.
Some good news is the Hutt City Council is launching an access mat this summer at the bay which will provide a temporary surface to support people with disabilities or mobility challenges who generally cannot get on to the beach or struggle to move across the sand safely.
The mat can accommodate a wide range of users, including people with mobility and visual impairments, the elderly, those using wheelchairs, mobility scooters or strollers and other groups with special access needs.
Tauranga tetraplegic Amanda Lowry trialled a similar mat last summer at Mount Maunganui and said using the mat to get down on the sand to play with her children was “just amazing”.
“I want the opportunity to get some sand in my togs and lie there next to my kids. It’s not just about disabilities, it’s about everyone. It’s about living a full life with no restrictions – no barriers. It’s about being on the beach and celebrating what it is to be a Kiwi.”
We think that’s just brilliant.
Scorching by name, Scorching by…well, you know the rest
The trip out to Scorching Bay is one of our favourites and on a beaut day, is one of Wellington’s hidden gems.
An overwhelming view of Scorching Bay will greet you as soon as you come over the hill and into the Miramar Peninsula. Small – but perfectly formed – this is arguably the most stunning beach in Wellington. It’s a favourite spot for picnics, beach cricket or just hanging out in the sun and watching the inter-island ferries pass by. Great coffee and icecream can be found at the bay’s resident cafe, Scorch-O-Rama.
And off we trot to ‘Scorch-O-Rama!’
Scorch-O-Rama is one of Wellington’s most iconic cafes, which means it’s usually packed – so we recommend booking ahead if you are planning on sitting down. I’ve been numerous times but have never waited more than 5 minutes – because I am a greedy guts who would rather scarf down an ice cream than wait for a meal.
The next step is to sit on the beach and enjoy your goodies. Scorching Bay has a myriad of things to do, but with lovely soft sand it’s also the place to just sit and chill if that’s more your vibe.
If you feel like an adventure though, take a left at Scorch-O-Rama and wind around the bay for about 2 minutes where you will discover a walking path up to Fort Ballance, which is a piece of Wellington history sitting on top of the hill.
At the top there are old army bunkers from a military fort. The top also provides a killer view to catch your breath. Once the haunt of soldiers, the bunker is now a fortress for creativity with street art and graffiti jumping off the walls.
Get your bloomers off at Peka Peka’s nudist beach
‘Born free, as free as the wind blows….’ A rallying cry for Wellingtonians to shrug off the oppression of day-to-day life and shake our thang as the Good Lord intended. As the weather warms up, check out Kapiti Coast’s nude beach at Peka Peka, and frolick with the reckless abandon of a recent retirement home escapee.
North of the Te Haupa access track at Peka Peka beach has a long history of being a gathering place for bare-skinned connoisseurs; it is noted as one of New Zealand’s first nude beaches.
The area is well away from the madding crowds but still quite exposed, so can be windier than other Kapiti Coast beaches. But with fine soft sand and decent waves it is definitely worth a trip to show off your bumps and stretch marks to their full glory. There is something liberating about sunbathing in public wearing nothing but sunscreen and a smile, and we encourage more people to kick off their bloomers.
As with every new endeavour there are certain precautions to take before whipping your clothes off. For example, make sure you are at the correct beach, unlike the Featherston man who was ‘awkwardly’ asked to cover up by a female police officer in 2011. The man assumed all Kapiti’s beaches were nude beaches, and proceeded to ‘hang out’ at Paraparaumu beach. An ‘infuriated local man’ approached him, the Featherston man said: “He said ‘hey mate, this is a family beach, get your shit and f**k off’.”
The Featherston man decided to ignore the angry comments and continued to sunbathe as a crowd of young onlookers formed around him. He did not notice two police officers approach him, as he (rather ironically), had a t-shirt covering his face.
“I heard a woman say, ‘excuse me sir, would you mind putting your pants on…?”
As lifestyle properties and developments continue to pop up in the area, there have been complaints to the local council arguing the beach is nothing more than a ‘gay hook up spot.’ Furious letters have been written to the local papers, fuming about ‘Meerkats’ (gay men who ‘observe’ the goings on by popping their heads up from the dunes) in the area.
We can safely report that the bears, otters and meerkats that frequent the beach are there for the same reason as everyone else – to have a relaxing day away from the crowds and grow their moles and sunspots.
The greatest danger sunbathers face are the notoriously ruthless seagulls, so keep your fish n’ chips away from any delicate bits and pieces.
The beach can be approached from two entrances. If you park at the end of Peka Peka Road, go right when facing the water. If you park at the end of Te Haupa Road, go left when facing the water. Either way, most nudists walk the better part of a kilometre before stripping down.
All in all, the area is peaceful and well protected. What are you waiting for?
Find the ‘People’s Turbine’ at Makara Beach
If you head out west towards the edge of Cook Strait and the top of the South Island, you will eventually hit Makara Beach.
Makara Beach can be windy, even for Wellington!
It’s a windy little place, known for its stony beaches, wind turbine and loop track leading around the coast.
It’s a sturdy footwear and packed lunch mission, rather than bikinis, booze and full moon dancing, but on a good day the views are stunning and it can feel like you’re the only person left on earth.
The walkway has a 6-kilometre loop that starts from Makara Beach and heads up to the wind turbines and back down to the coastline, although there are other routes you can take – another path heads inland to the old gun placements from World War II.
The wind farm has 62 wind turbines which generate enough electricity each year for about 62,000 average New Zealand homes. There is one turbine that the public can access – it’s the ‘People’s Turbine’ and in the summer there can be quite a crowd paying their respects.
There are gentler track options for older and younger visitors and plenty of places to explore on the beach that don’t require hiking poles. There is also the Makara beach cafe which is open on the weekend should the urge for a hot chocolate become overwhelming.
If you have a spare 12 hours and are feeling particularly Bear Grylls, you could even walk/dive/swim (depending on the tide) the entire 36km around the coast and end up at the south coast’s Red Rocks carpark.
We are of course not recommending this or setting a challenge – but do let us know if you manage it!