I've been told that dog owners in Tauranga are spoilt for choice with the large number of parks, reserves, beaches and public areas where they can exercise their dogs.
However, Mount Maunganui Main Beach, Pilot Bay, Mauao, Moturiki Island, and within 200m of surf clubs are dog-free. People are often surprised to learn that hundreds of little blue penguins live in these areas, along with vulnerable native bird life. Other dog-free zones include Elms Reserve, McLaren Falls Park, Papamoa Hills Park, inside any fenced children's playground and the Otumoetai Pa Historic Reserve in Levers Rd.
So where are the ‘spoiled for choice' dog walking parks?
Alfie Hall, the official ‘spokesdog' for Western Bay of Plenty District Council and winner of the New Zealand Office Dog of the Year 2016 clearly knows, as I discovered from his doggie Facebook profile. There's parks and reserves from Waihi to Pukehina. They include Huharua Park at Plummer's Point, Kaiate Falls Reserve, Maketu, Ongaonga Scenic Reserve, Pukehina, Puketoki Reserve in Whakamarama, Uretara Walkway in Katikati, TECT All Terrain Park, and areas of Waihi Beach and Omokoroa.
Alfie's human has organised ‘Wander Dogs Summer Walks' doggie days through the WBOPDC website and through the Wander Dogs Club Facebook group.
“I went to about four of them,” says healthcare practitioner for dogs Di Scurr, who loves to take her dog Baxter along on the walks. “They were brilliant. Plus the opening of the TECT Park dog-designated exercise area in Upper Pyes Pa. There are heaps of dog walking options around if people explored a bit.”
Alfie's 2016 summer dog walks were such a success that the council has rolled out another series. Over on the Tauranga City Council website, a brochure sets out the popular walkways and cycleways.
Waikareao Estuary takes about two hours to complete the full loop. There's Fergusson and Kulim Parks, the Matua Saltmarsh, Gordon Carmichael Reserve and the Waimapu Estuary.
Yatton Park is home to some of the city's tallest trees and is a popular dog walking area.
The Lakes provide plenty of cycle and walkways suitable also for mobility scooters and learner cyclists. Nearby K Valley has a network of tracks linking Bethlehem to Cameron Rd through bush and alongside waterways. Ohauiti Reserve has open grasslands, and the tracks through Owens Park and Waioraka Reserve in Welcome Bay are among the city's most scenic pathways.
Streams, wetlands, native bush and open grassed areas – there's plenty there to keep a dog happy. And later, a good run along the ocean beach chasing waves, with a human bringing the mandatory poop bag and leash.