Capers in Katikati06 April 2016
Half an hour's drive or a short bus ride away from Pacific Coast Village, is the small yet bustling township of Katikati. It's jam-packed full of activities which are ideal for day trippers, from bird parks and boutique shopping, through to perusing local art works and visiting the Katikati Heritage Museum, where the town's early colonial days come to life.
Today, Katikati is a well known centre for the arts: the township's history, people and events are woven into a range of colourful murals which cover almost every available building and wall. There's also a literary trail featuring a series of 24 evocative haiku poems, etched in boulders along Uretara Stream. The main entrance to the trail is found at the south end of town, or you can access it from behind the library via a series of steep steps, or opposite Twickenham Cafe. An additional three haiku boulders are on display at The Landing, on the corner of Beach Road, where the town's original settlers came ashore.
Another popular attraction is the Katikati Bird Gardens on the outskirts of town, where ten sprawling acres of gardens run down to the harbour's edge. The gardens were created in 1976 by Chris Parker, who made good use of the site's natural water springs, and fresh and salt water wetlands to transform it into a garden oasis filled with birdlife.
Needless to say, gardeners and bird enthusiasts will be in their element here with well over a kilometre of wheelchair friendly pathways to explore. The paths meander through stands of Kauri, Rimu, Puriri, and Kowhai, as well as a profusion of exotics including giant camellias and magnolias, oaks, and golden swamp cypress. In the spring, the garden's displays of azaleas and lilies are a sight to behold. There are also several feature trees including a Japanese camphor laurel, plus a huge Australian jacaranda beside the cafe, which explodes into lavender-hued flowers every summer.
Bring your walking shoes as the stroll through the gardens and aviaries takes about an hour to complete. In the wetland area you'll have the chance to spy upon royal spoonbill, white-faced herons, shags, paradise shelducks, black teal and black swans. In other areas of the property there's wood pigeon, kakariki, tui, kingfishers and a vast array of other birdlife from ducks and geese, to parrots, parakeets and lorikeets. The cafe is a great place to wind up your visit with a coffee or perhaps treat yourself to lunch.