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Beehives

Image of the February 2018 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more articles from the
February 2018 Issue
Four places to see curious mounds all going by the name beehive. 

Summer has arrived, the sun is warm, the birds are singing and the bees are buzzing. Shouldn’t you see more beehives?

My friend Darryn Pegram recently organised a sea-kayaking trip in Kawau Bay, north of Auckland. When we examined the map, I was immediately drawn to the name Beehive Island. ‘Another one!’ I exclaimed, to Darryn’s surprise.

The Tararua Range’s famous Southern Crossing sports two rounded mounds known, appropriately enough, as The Beehives, and I also knew of some curious hillocks of the same name beside Lake Dive in Egmont National Park. That piqued my interest in other places with the same name.

Beehive Island, also known as Taungamaro, proved to be a fascinating destination. At high tide, a skirt of blinding white sand surrounds the tiny rounded island, but at low tide its size dramatically increases as the surrounding reef becomes more and more exposed. We landed at dead low tide and enjoyed wandering around the striated reef, festooned with oysters and periwinkles. Its atoll-like appearance, most unusual in New Zealand, makes it a superb sea-kayaking destination – especially when combined with several other accessible islands in the area.

1- Beehive/Taungamaro Island, Auckland

Beehive Island lies a kilometre from the south-western point of Kawau Island. It’s possible to reach the island from several directions, but Martins or Scandrett Bays (near Snells Beach) offer the best launching places. Access is highly dependent on tides, winds and sea conditions, and landing would be dangerous in rough seas.

2- Beehives, Egmont National Park

Lake Dive, the only lake on the slopes of Mt Taranaki, lies nestled below one of two features known as the Beehives (952m and 869m). Both are cumulo domes, congealed lava that welled up during past volcanic events. Trampers can visit either as part of the five-day Round the Mountain Track, or as an overnight trip to Lake Dive Hut from Dawson Falls, using the upper and lower tracks.

3- The Beehives, Tararua Forest Park

These two distinctive features (1480m and 1485m) must be negotiated by trampers on the Southern Crossing. While straightforward in summer, winter snow can make them a challenging alpine experience.

4- Beehive, Lake Manapouri

Arguably the most beautiful of all New Zealand’s large lakes, Lake Manapouri is known for its many islands and convoluted shoreline. Trampers walking the Kepler Track have good views of the lake from Shallow Bay, and some of its rounded islands. Rona Island is one of the most prominent, beyond which rises the mound-shaped feature on the mainland known simply as ‘Beehive’.

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