Woodhill Forest to Kumeu and Bethells Beach Road Trip

woodhill tree kumeu

We welcome a slow start in the morning, breakfasting upon bacon, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms and a crusty loaf from the provided self-cook basket. For a time we enjoy soaking up the morning sun on the patio at the back of the cottage, before we drive to Woodhill Forest. The production forest – all 12,500 hectares of it – provides a range of outdoor adventure activities. From quad biking to four wheel driving, horse riding, paintball, hiking, off-road motorcycling and mountain biking, there is something here for everyone.

Bob and I choose to go our own ways again as he’s keen to learn to ride a quad bike. While he trains on 4-Track Adventures’ practice circuit under the expert instruction of Dan Ireland, and then joy rides his way through muddy pools and forest streams to the beach, I hike to a sign-posted lookout. It offers good views of the forest, and after watching horses depart on the popular Woodhill Forest Horse Trail, I challenge myself on the rope courses at Tree Adventures.

PLEASE NOTE: 4-Track Adventures is no longer located in Woodhill Forest and has relocated to nearby South Head - 320 Wilson Road, South Head, Auckland.

The first of its kind in NZ, Tree Adventures has 10 courses to complete, ranging from Tree Huggin’ to Tarzan’s Test. There is no age restriction as your height determines whether you’re able to do a course. If you measure more than 140 centimetres you can do them all! I get through five before chickening out and after watching others complete the course I depart to pick up Bob.

He sits in the sun wearing facial mud splashes like a badge of honour and he’s talking to Tom, an outdoorsy bloke with whom he’s obviously struck up quite a rapport, about – you guessed it – fishing. “I reckon the best surfcasting is from Bethells,” says Tom. “I’m heading out there later this arvo,” he adds as we leave. “Where’s Bethells Beach?” enquires Bob, ferreting around in the glove box for the map.

After a quick lunch in Waimauku, we drive to Kumeu where a wealth of orchards and vineyards reflect the town’s Yugoslavian heritage, and a mix of vineyards offer a diverse range of wine styles. Some wines are made from locally grown grapes, while others come from grapes grown in Marlborough, Hawkes Bay, Gisborne and Wairarapa.

We call into Kerr Farm Vineyard, a small boutique vineyard specialising in Kumeu varietals, and sample wine seated at a large oak table with owners Jaison and Wendy Kerr, then we visit Soljans Estate, Coopers Creek and Kumeu River, filling up the boot with bottles of wine as we go.

At 4pm, I indicate for Auckland, then having second thoughts, I turn to Bob. “Want to meet up with Tom at Bethells?” I ask, grinning as his face lights up.

“Sure do,” he replies, grabbing the map off the dash, “and I know just how to get there!”