27th of December 2019 Judy and I left home in Takanini to travel north with about 30 vans from the South Auckland Caravan Club. First stop was One Tree Point School near Marsden Point Oil Refinery where we stayed for two nights exploring the area. Then on to the KawaKawa Ruby Club for three nights. The last night here was New Years Eve.
The vans from the SACC parked up in the grounds of the KawaKawa Rugby Club.
New Years Eve in the Rugby Club. Dress up, a few wines, music, and dancing until the magic hour of mid-night. The picture shows some of the fellow revellers. Still haven’t been able to work out who they are under their disguises. A great night was had by all.
New Years day up to Taipa. The vans were parked in a private area of the domain right next to the river inlet. Swimming was a short walk across the domain to the ocean beach or in the inlet. It was noticed that several stingrays also enjoyed the inlet and could be seen navigating round the swimmers. After some comments and some hasty work on providing a quicker way to exit the water for our more nervous swimmers, our rally captain drew the above escape route.
The Caravan Club left to go south to Matapouri Bay on the 4th Jan and we went north to KariKari Peninsula. The rest of our trip we would travel short distances stopping for a couple of days in each stop to explore. From KariKari to Pukenui up from Awanui. Here we visited Cape Reinga shown in the picture above where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. It was a blustery day with a few short sharp squalls coming through. If you want to see NZ Pippets, this is definately the place to be. About the same size as Song Thrushes and fairly non-descript, the pippets are just everywhere. I spent some time following them with my binoculars as they scurried round on the ground not 10 feet away.
Round to Spirits Bay. The road is all metal and quite rutted but a good destination. There was plenty of space in the DOC Camp at the end of the road for camping. It was quite cold and the beach was deserted. If you like an ice cream, call into the store at Te Kao on your way back south. Just get a single cone, a double will be too big. From Pukenui we headed south to Kaitaia and out to the caravan park at Ahipara at the southern end of 90 mile beach. Of course you know that the beach is not 90 miles long but it makes for a good name. The tour buses from Paihia and other places use the beach to head to Cape Reinga.
From Ahipara to Broadwood where we parked up in the show grounds. We were the only van here. Very quiet and surounded by large mature trees with abundent bird life.
We caught the ferry across to Rawene from Kohukohu.
Between Rawene and Opononi is Koutu. To get there, there is a loop road off to the right. Take the loop end closest to Opononi. It is all tar seal where as the Rawene end is metal, steep and rough. We really liked it here and spent 3 nights. I spent some time fishing off the rocks, but the fish I caught were all returned to the sea being under sized.
From Opononi the entrance into the Hokianga Harbour and the large sand dunes can be seen.
Tane Mahuta. The largest Kauri Tree in NZ, it would have been a seedling between 500 BC and 750AD and measures 15.44 metres girth and stands 45.2 metres high. Truly impressive when seen close up. DOC have put up protective measures to keep the kauri dieback at bay. It is really a worrying disease affecting the trees. Some trees as you drive through the Waipoua forest have already been killed.
Kai Iwi Lakes north of Dargaville. Lovely spot and very crowded. This picture was taken on the morning after we arrived and a lot of holiday makers had returned to their homes and work. Judy had a swim in the lake and said it was lovely and warm.
Noticed this wind-mill on a caravan just down from us. Talked to the owner and he said he had imported it from China. It took very little wind to turn it and charge his batteries. he said it made virtually no sound and no vibration. It came just as the functioning part with wires out the bottom. The mounting bracket and weather station are not part of the ordered wind-mill.
And down to Dargaville, a place rich in history. Above is a stature of a gum digger complete with his rod and spade. This particular occupation attracted a lot of people from Yuguslavia to immigrate. The north is peppered with their decendents.
Across the river are two buildings now standing on the NZMCA Park grounds and owned by them. Here, whalers were built for the Shackleton expedition to Antartica and the South Pole. The building to the right has been renovated and is open for NZMCA Members use.
From Dargaville to Whangarei where we got the Holden serviced and out the Whangarei Harbour to Manganese Point. Another NZMCA Park. We stayed here for three nights and I tried my fishing skills out again. More under sized fish. However it was a great spot to chill out, with views up and down the harbour and many small launches and yachts passing.
Back to Whangarei and out to the coast at Ngungaru. Stayed in the Shoebridge Reserve. Just us and another van for the two nights we were there. Took a trip over to Tutukaka and booked ourselves on a trip out to the Poor Knight Islands for a dive and snorkel. The Islands are a reserve so no fishing or landing. Amazing place with lots of fish and other sea life. Probably one of the best places in the world for diving and very safe. The tour company provide all equipment and a number of qualified divers to look after you. You can of course bring your own gear. Initially the price seemed a bit steep but for what they provide I thought it was very resonable.
Judy all fitted up in her SCUBA gear
About to decend along with her diving buddy.
Next stop was North Whananaki where we stayed at the School. Here we are right on the water edge. It was so good here we stayed for three nights swimming at the South Whananaki ocean beach and at the beaches further up the coast. There is a foot bridge over the Whananaki inlet joining North and South Whananaki.
South Whananaki Ocean Beach looking north.
The view from our caravan on the last evening at Whananaki. The boats belong to the Whangarei Sea Scouts who were sharing the school with us. From here we drove back to Whangarei and on to Uretiti Camp for our last night on our little trip. We got our first taste of rain for the trip that evening, and the next day a few heavy showers on our way home. Have to take another trip up there some time to go to some of the places we missed.