Going for a walk on Christmas Day usually means a stroll around the garden before tucking into the pavlova. But what if you were looking for something more challenging?

Many of the country’s private walks close for the festive season, but with their children currently living in the UK, Carmen and Dick Tredwell decided to keep their Whareama Coastal Walk open. 

“We thought why not share it because all our walkers are lovely. We ran the walk over Christmas last year and a family walked the track as something different to do. We already have one family booked in for Christmas this year,” says Carmen.

Located north of Riversdale, the one to three day walk is based at historic Ica Station Homestead. A destination in its own right, the homestead has been sensitively restored with plenty of home comforts – including a spa and swimming pool.

The route leads through farmland and hill country to the coast and back through stands of native bush. Most of the hard yards are done on the first day as the track climbs steadily to the top of a ridge above the Pacific Ocean. You’re rewarded with jaw-dropping views of the coast towards Castlepoint and Cape Turnagain. Then it’s downhill to Otahome Beach – where Whareama’s walkers often find themselves the only people on the dazzling white sand.

At this point, walkers are usually thrilled to be met by their hosts in a 4WD who either whisk them up the road to the comfort of Wai Ngaio Retreat or back to the homestead where that spa pool can look very enticing before dinner. All food is provided on the walk — and Christmas guests can expect a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. 

Day two is a relatively easy 10 km walk through bush, farmland and the occasional hill climb, taking four to five hours in total. And if walkers would like to stay a third day, Carmen and Dick can help facilitate other local walks.

Carmen stresses that although they ask for people to be reasonably fit, the route is versatile. On the first day, walkers can choose from 11 km, 17 km or 19 km options. 

“Most families choose to do the shortest 11 km walk on the first day. The oldest person to walk the track was a fit 83-year-old man, the youngest would have been aged six,” she says.

And if you like the sound of Ica Station Homestead but are perhaps not so keen on walking, there are homestay options available.

Whareama Coastal Walk, open from 1 October to 30 April. 

www.whareamawalk.co.nz