Two long weekends in a row makes for a lot of time to get out and explore local areas.
Te Awamutu residents may be surprised to find there is an abundance of activities to do in a nearby town, not even 20 minutes away.
Pirongia may be small but there is plenty to do there says the Pirongia Community Association chairwoman Ruth Webb.
"Anything you really wanted to do you could give a go here," says Ruth.
The market is hosted by Pirongia Lions Club and occurs on the last Sunday of each month. The first one for the year is on this Sunday, coinciding with the long weekend. On average there are 35 stalls at the indoor-outdoor arts, crafts and food market. It runs from 9am to 2pm at the Pirongia Community Centre, 574 Crozier St.
Last year a junior playground, designed to be utilised by under 5-year-olds, opened in the village. It has slides, climbing frames, balance beams, a basket swing and an expression swing which is an adult and baby swing combined. There is also a concrete pad suitable for riding and scootering. It is located at Rangimarie Reserve, Crozier St.
Te Ara Wai: Journeys Pirongia
Pirongia is a part of the Te Ara Wai: Journeys, a free self-guided tour of culturally significant sites throughout the Waipa District. Using a smartphone people are able to take a tour of the landscapes, learning about their past and present. The Pirongia zone includes five stops and takes about two hours. Stops are made at redoubts, pa and settlements. Visit tearawai.nz to do the mobile tour or find out more information.
Pirongia Heritage and Information Centre
A variety of displays in the centre tell the story of the Pirongia settlement from its military beginnings to present day. There are artefacts and stories displayed of local families, institution and the landscape. It is at 798 Franklin St and is open on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10.30am to 3.30pm.
"It's quite a small building but they have so much information in there about the area and they have a lot of local artefacts, you could spend all day in there really," says Ruth.
Pirongia Esplanade Walkway
Waipa District Council made upgrades to the walkway last year, a new section of the track was created from Crozier St on to Franklin St and upgrades were made to timber bridge, boardwalk and existing track. The walkway goes through a reserve and wetlands. On Sunday mornings there is a dog meet up. It can be accessed at either the corner of Crozier and Parry streets or Belcher St.
"People who have got social dogs can go along and the dogs can all have a play together – it's a really big space," says Ruth.
Mountain Bike Tracks
For the adventurous inclined there are over 15km of mountain bike tracks in the Sainsbury Rd forest. The tracks are managed by the Pirongia Mountain Club but are free to use, donations are welcomed to maintain the tracks and to develop new ones. There are easy, intermediate and advanced tracks as well as kids track and a pump track. They are accessed at the end of Sainsbury Rd where there is also a carpark.
There are a variety of walking tracks in the Pirongia Forest Park on Mt Pirongia. Durations range from 15 minutes to two days. There are three options to get to the Pirongia Summit, the shortest being via the Hihikiwi Track which takes four to six hours ones way. The Mangakara Nature Walk is a great option for children, the one-hour walk loops through the ancient forest. Information about the walks can be found on the Department of Conservation website.
Here there are opportunities for swimming, hiking and exploring caves. Right at the Kaniwhaniwha carpark is a great spot for swimming, there is a shallow part, a rope swing into a deeper area of the stream, a toilet and picnic tables. From here you can also do the Nikau walk, a two and a half hour loop. Along the walk are places to swim, picnic and camp. Add another 30 minutes onto the walk and you'll find yourself at the Kaniwhaniwha Caves, you can walk through the 20-metre-long main cave. Alternatively you can start the walk to the caves from near the Bell Track, five minutes from the Nikau walk junction. These tracks and the carpark are accessed from Limeworks Loop Road.
There is an 18-hole golf course on the border of the village. Green fees are $20, except for on Monday's when they are $10. It is located at 31 Kakaramea Rd.
Where to eat
Pirongia Village has a range of eateries to choose from, whether you're after just a quick bite or a sit-down meal.
- Great places to grab a coffee, brunch or something sweet would be from either the Persimmon Tree Café or Café on Franklin.
- For a sit-down meal, head to the Five Stags Pirongia and Alexandra Hotel on the village's main street. The pub offers an all-day, lunch and dinner menu including burgers, pizzas, salads, curries, ribs and much more.
- Every Friday night, starting from tomorrow for the year, The Beach Hutt food truck serves up meals outside the Pirongia Community Centre on Crozier Street. The food includes burgers, fish and chips, wedges, buffalo wings, seafood, wraps and a range of desserts and kids meals. They are parked up between 4pm and 7.30pm.
- Grab a quick bite or food for a picnic from the Mountain View Bakery.