Category Archives: Northland

Waipu Caledonian Park

One of my all-time favorite places to stay and very good value. It’s also close to a couple of great Restaurants and Bars for later in the evening. I see too that the loos have had a bit of a do up which is great. Nice bright Scottish paintings on the outside.

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On the way back from Whangarei after topping up with fuel, we stopped in to see some of our old boatie friends from Auckland in Ruakaka. After lunch with Chris and then a pop in with Tina and Mark and their family, we decided we would just stay in Waipu in our old favourite park.

The Museum

They had just had a big festival there and some of the trucks had carved up the wet ground quite badly, so you had to be selective about where you parked! I parked on the outside edge closest to the driveway where it was unmarked and pretty dry.

Nice and safe next to the gravel.

It was blowing dogs off chains, so I set Rafe back a bit from the trees just in case and also for a TV signal πŸ™‚Β  The weather looked iffy too!

The plan was to get something in town to eat but in the end, we snacked in the van and had an early night given that we were heading home the next day.

A great 10 days or so away and nice to do the bits we’ve never seen in Northland.

Rafe’s tracker map to the Waipu Caledonian Park – Armada GPS

The Hundertwasser Art Centre

I don’t know how many times I’ve photographed and driven past the loos at Kawakawa, but Fiona and I had both seen the publicity on the new Art centre in Whangarei and it was on the must do list πŸ™‚

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Nice easy parking

We arrived in Whangarei just after lunch after stopping in at Manganui for a piece of fish and a Scallop or two for morning tea πŸ™‚

Very styley 60’s πŸ™‚

With the weather looking decidedly dodgy with wind and rain, I decided on the Whangarei Central Holiday Park which is easy walking distance to anywhere in town. It’s also very reasonably priced with very nice people running it. Everything works and its handy!

After settling down Rafe, we set off with our umbrellas towards the new art centre, about 10 minutes’ walk. It’s amazing! The first thing to do while it was not raining was to check out the dome and the roof garden. There are some really rare trees from the islands there too with curled leaves… interesting but to think how quickly this has come together, it’s amazing and on the roof too.

Back downstairs on a wavy tiled floor, you feel almost like you’re on the water. Up one floor for the gallery on Hundertwasser are lots of examples of his art and design, and basically several rooms on how he did what he did and when. Really interesting artwork but with his unique style.

Fiona in the tower. The Marina in the background

He also had an amazing motor Sailer which I think he might have sailed out from Europe.

We spent an hour or so here and then went for a coffee at the Centre’s Cafe.

Some of the art

By the time we finished here it was time for tea. We found an arcade in the main street full of Restaurants and bars and eventually settled on an Indian Restaurant called Tumeric. It would have to be the best Indian meal we’ve both had for some time and was very reasonable. Amazing food.

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It was getting dark as left the restaurant and we ambled our way back to Rafe at the Park.

Outside our new favourite Indian Restaurant πŸ™‚

A really interesting day starting in Ahipara, Manganui for Fish, ticked off the Hundertwasser building and a great Indian meal… what a day:-)

Rafe’s tracker map to the Whangarei Central Holiday Park – Armada GPS

By the beach at Ahipara

After leaving Awanui, we were going to head to Ahipara. Fiona mentioned that she’d never been to Kaitaia so we were off to see Kaitaia which was on the way. We were going to stop for a coffee but couldn’t find any easy parking. After a visit to the Dump Station, we had a quick look around and decided to head on to Ahipara which is just short of 14k’s away.

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The road entrance to State highway 1 to Cape Reinga πŸ™‚
Looking back to Ahipara and the road around to the headland.

As we entered Ahipara there were two Cafe’s which were really busy… so we checked in at the Ahipara Holiday Park being the only place to stay.

Just in front of where we were parked.. huge parking area.

Although slightly on the expensive side, the parking spots were bigger and flatter than I’ve seen anywhere so that more than made up for it.Β  The Loos and Showers were really good too and there was also free Wi-Fi if we’d wanted it. It was only 10 minutes’ walk away to the beach. You generally get what you pay for these days πŸ™‚

Check out the room!

After setting up Rafe and opening vents, and plugging in, I took the camera for a walk down to the beach…. The bottom end of the 90 mile beach! I looked around for anything that looked anything like what I could remember from years ago with the beach buggy, but it all looks very different from what I remember… it was a long time ago though.

Looking north towards Cape Reinga!
People enjoying the water.

I went back to the camp and Fiona, and I took Rafe to the Cafe we saw coming in and had a really nice lunch and then went for a drive down to the bottom end of the beach along the foreshore road.

A local friendly Goat

It’s amazing looking up the beach, you can see the bend of the land going right up to the cape. There were a few people having a swim and enjoying what is probably the end of Summer. A great spot.

After an hour or so we motored back to the Holiday Park and blobbed for a bit.

Later in the day.

The wind had died down a bit later on and the sun was shining so it was nice with the stereo on and with all this space, no neighbours πŸ™‚

Rafe’s tracker map to the Ahipara Holiday Park – Armada GPS

Bus Trip up Ninety Mile Beach – Cape Reinga

This was just such a treat and Fiona and I had been looking forward to it.. the highlight of the trip if you like. We met the bus I was later told; was a 400 HP beast that was once a Petrol tanker but was custom made for its current purpose of ferrying people like us up to the Cape on the sand.

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The driver picked us up outside the Awanui NZMCA park along with a neighbour in the park with his two grandsons and we were off.

Jason the driver and guide was a scream and very good with the flow of interesting information that went all day.

After turning off the main road north at Waipapakauri, we headed a few k’s towards the beach before we got to the sand. The weather for the trip was perfect and once Jason had changed into 4-wheel drive, we were off up the beach… all 56k’s of it apparently πŸ™‚ As Jason said on the commentary β€œ It’s the only state highway that gets a wash twice a day β€œ:-)

Getting out for a stretch

About half an hour or so of cruising up the beach, we stopped and got out for stretch and a look around. It’s an amazing beach with nothing really in either direction apart from the sandhills behind.

Looking South. the hole in the rock.

There was a rock of the beach with a hole in like the one off Cape Brett.

Jason running the Bus up the Te Paki stream for the sandboarding.

A bit further on, we were heading up the Te Paki stream beside the massive sand hills where we stopped to let to let those younger and more adventurous than us to boogie board down the sand hills. Jason gave them all a few safety lessons and they were off.

Jason doing the safety briefing.
Jason doing the safety briefing before they head up the dune.
Sandboarding !

They all seemed pretty happy with the occasion and about 45 minutes or so later, we set off again up the stream to rejoin the highway up to the Cape.

After Lunch

Next we were heading up to Tapotupotu Beach for lunch which Jason had stashed away. The road wasn’t for the faint hearted in a big vehicle and although there were a few Motorhomes there, it definitely wasn’t for me.

Looking towards Maris van Diemen

About an 1 hour later with a great lunch by the beach, we all headed back to the bus and Jason then took us all up to the Cape Reinga carpark to walk down to the lighthouse.

The oceans meeting

It’s about a 45-minute walk down to the lighthouse and back and quite steep in places but on a really nice track. As you go down on the left you can see Cape Maria van Diemen where the lighthouse used to be, Cape Reinga in front and the beach that we had lunch at off to the right with North Cape way off in the distance.

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The last time I was here, I think I was 13 years old or thereabouts. We were on a family trip with a 4-wheel drive with a beach buggy on an A frame. It was a trip for a photo shoot with a friend of my Dads who was a specialist Motor Racing photographer for a magazine article. The beach buggy got stuck on top of a sandhill… think all wheels off the ground so I got to learn how to drive it while we got it unstuck πŸ™‚

Back to the trip… it was fantastic to see it all again and all the improvements that have been made for easier access.

At the pub on the way home.

We were all back in the bus heading down the road for an ice cream stop and to the famous Waipapakauri where Fiona and I had a G & T to celebrate the end of a great day. We were only a few K’s north of the Awanui NZMCA park.

Back at Awanui.. great day !

A fantastic day and I’m really pleased we took the option of a guided bus trip. It wasn’t expensive given what was involved and a lot of fun and entertainment. Thanks, Jason, for the great commentary and a brilliant day out.

Rafe’s tracker map to the Awanui NZMCA park – Armada GPS

Awanui – almost the centre of Northland!

It is a really handy spot and this is where one of the most recently opened NZMCA parks is.

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Plenty of flat room

On one side is the main rd northwards to Pukenui and beyond up to Cape Reinga and the other side has a river winding its way past. It’s a lovely flat site.

Fantastic spot to park

I was intrigued by the sign in hut or cupboard as it really is. The face on profile looks like a significant small building but if you look at the side profile, its looks very different πŸ™‚ Very clever.

The front profile πŸ™‚
The side profile of the “shed”

We had spent the previous two nights up at Pukenui intending to drive up to Cape Reinga but after coming across a company based in Kaitaia only 7 k’s or so down the road, they suggested that we get ourselves here before 9am the next morning so they could pick us up before heading up the beach to Cape Reinga. They had a modified Truck which was a Petrol Tanker in a past life and modified it for use on the beach with 4-wheel drive and sand tyres. .. so here we are..

Nice safe spot

The Caravanner next door had his two grandsons with him and was catching the same bus. The park is fantastic and makes life very easy to plan your way around Northland. Well done to the volunteers who set it up.

Rafe’s tracker map to the Awanui NZMCA park – Armada GPS

Pukenui on the edge of the harbour!

While were cruising north, we stopped in to the Pukenui Holiday Park to find they had some room and at a reasonable rate. The wind was blowing, and the rain was threatening so power was a must. A nice park spread out over two levels with little plateaus of space for both Caravans and Motorhomes. There are also some cabins too.

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Neat Paint job

They also had some very tame small ponies and sheep helping with the grass and entertaining small children. Jo the owner has been here for 20 years or so and with Tania, they were both very helpful.

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A really interesting park with handy access to the harbour and lots of places for walking.

Down by the water

5 minutes walks down the road is a nice cafe, 4 square and Bottle store and a bit further on is the jetty overlooking the Houhora harbour. Very popular fishing spot and they tell me that a Kingi can be caught in minutes πŸ™‚

Great Cafe, 4 Square and Liquor shop a few minutes walk
Great big parks

A nice park but while we were there, I got on to a company in Kaitaia that did 4-wheel drive bus trips up to Cape Reinga with a guide and went up the beach. Thats us we thought but we had to get back to Awanui (The NZMCA park) where they could pick us up on route.Β  .. Fantastic!

Rafe’s tracker map to the Pukenui Holiday Park – Armada GPS

Mangonui, the Home of great Fish and Chips

Years ago, we had friends up here who lived in Hihi. We used to come up here and stay over the New Year period with them and other friends.Β  We stayed in a pup tent under a Ti Tree:-)Β  Β It was always heaps of fun and Mangonui was the local big town if you like.

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The Famous Mangonui Fish Shop

So, Mangonui was on the must do list for this trip. We stopped at a parking area just as you enter the town with Toilets, a dump station and is also a freedom camping area between the trees. A nice spot.

The parking by the water.. Toilets, and Dump station along with freedom camping.
The Old Oak Boutique Hotel

We then walked about 15 minutes around to Mangonui Fish shop passing all the lovely historic buildings, the Pub, a big shopping building, the over the water 4 square store, and lastly the fish shop.

Walking along the waterfront
The 4 Square shop

It’s a great spot and the fish is so fresh having the boats come in right next door. Some of the Lemon fish is actually caught from the shop.

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After an hour or so of indulging in this delicious food, we walked back via and ice cream shop opposite to Rafe and started heading north again.

The Treaty Grounds

After watching the Shakers with the Olives, we set off for the walk along the waterfront to the treaty grounds.Β  We’ve been here in the Bay of Islands so many times but haven’t really spent any quality time here at the Treaty grounds, so were well overdue for a visit.

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The Shakers getting the Olives off the trees.

At the entrance, we made our first priority a coffee and something to eat so headed towards the Cafe. We were really early for the guided tour so had plenty of time to kill.

Fiona on the new boardwalk up to the Treaty House

We decided to go on ahead anyway and walk up to the Treaty house and have a decent look, something I have never done and it’s really interesting. There is part of it at the back which is partly stripped to show how it was built as a kitset in Australia to be put together here. Really interesting.

Who knew there was a back courtyard!

I didn’t realise either that there was quite a big courtyard at the back of it which you never see.

Fiona decided to walk back down to the entrance to catch the guide for the walk back up. I walked over to the Meeting house just in time to catch the previous cultural show. They’re a fun bunch! Lots of humour but with a serious educational theme as well.

The very talented group doing the cultural shows.

There were about 30 people in the group and one person was volunteered to be the chief. He had to receive the challenge and then be accepted into the meeting house on behalf of all of us. He was Dutch and although his English was OK, he did really well as they had primed him to do a 5-minute speech which in the end was lucky if it was 30 seconds but all in jest but I’m sure he had some anxious moments thinking about it πŸ™‚

Our “chief” being welcomed onto the Whare

A great show and well worth doing and great performers.

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The show had just finished when Fiona turned up with her group, so I went into the show again with her πŸ™‚

We wandered back down through the grounds checking out a wonderful new Museum largely dedicated to the Maori Battalion and the contribution they made over the years. Both Fiona and I come from a strong Army background, so we found it really interesting. During the war, the Germans found the Maori Battalion to be fearsome warriors and extremely effective soldiers. It’s great to see them getting some recognition for their efforts.

People inside the whare after the show.

We checked out the other museum too which was more about the Treaty grounds and the early settlers. Really interesting and very well displayed with some great audio-visual displays as well.

Looking back on our walk back to the park.

It was back to Rafe at Jan’s Motorhome Park after that and a G&T to finish off the day.

Rafe’s tracker map to the Bay of Islands Holiday Park – Armada GPS

Lunch at the Duke of Marlborough from Paihia

From our spot in Kaikohe, we rang ahead and booked a spot for a couple of nights at the Bay of Island campervan park which is nestled in between Olive trees on the main road into Paihia. Its a perfect spot for walking to Paihia and to the Treaty grounds, both only 15 minutes away and it is very reasonably priced too.

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Paihia Wharf

The first day we were there we walked about 15 minutes into Paihia to catch a ferry over to Russell. The ferries were flat out so there were three ferries shuttling people across but there was plenty of room and it’s only a 15-minute trip across.

Leaving Paihia

We had booked into the Duke of Marlborough for lunch but were a bit early so walked around the waterfront, ate ice creams and drank coffee and eventually went to the Duke for a G&T. The β€œDuke” as it’s known apparently is NZ’s oldest licensed pub. There are several others that claim this title but as Russell was NZ’s first capital and one of its first settlements, they’re probably right πŸ™‚

Fiona ready for lunch πŸ™‚
My Snapper and Chips
The Group across the road enjoying their lunch

Fiona and I came to a wedding here several years ago and they’re slick operators where the food and Beveridge’s are concerned. There was a table setup for a group of about 10 across the road at the top of the beach having their meal out on the edge of the water… lovely!

The Duke of Marlborough behind the trees.
The Russell Ferry that was sunk after a collision with a boat a few days later. The boat in the background is a Classic called Wild Duck. It used to be a Flying boat tender in Mechanics Bay.

As the time crept on, we crossed to the road to the jetty and caught the ferry back to Paihia.

The ferry we caught back was being skippered by a lovely guy who also collected the tickets was the ferry that was sunk a few days later, by an alleged helmless 600hp go fast boat that hit the port side. He was badly injured and airlifted to Auckland in a critical condition. A terrible situation and from my past boating background, being hit on the port side means the ferry had right of way. Witnesses say there was no one at the helm. I hope after the investigation that the transgressor has the book thrown at them.

Leaving Russell

After getting back to the camp, I had a great chat to Jan who owns the camp and previously ran another bigger camp at Haruru Falls. It turns out that Jan is the big sister of an old Auckland Star colleague of mine who was a subeditor and used to lay out my photos on the fashion pages… Small world πŸ™‚ She was ex media too but in Televison!

Click on the Gallery below for an Enlarged Slideshow of the Park

The camp is a little pearler with very tidy loos and showers and some apartments, some of which go up the hill. The camp sites are separated by Olive trees which is nice and the next morning, we were entertained by the β€œShakers” shaking out the Olives from the trees. The Oil is bottled along with the Olives and donated to charity.

The crew get stuck in.
The Shakers in action

A great park in a lovely spot and so handy!

Rafe’s tracker map to the Bay of Islands Holiday Park – Armada GPS

Heading North – Kaikohe

We were up early on Good Friday in an attempt to beat the traffic heading north. Transit NZ had opened the road over the Bryndrwyns just for easter. By 9am we were filling up at the Whangarei Caltex truck stop!

After a trip out to the coast to see if we could squeeze into a pop out there, we decided to keep going North and stopped in at The Kaikohe A&P and Equestrian centre.

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Oodles of room

I stayed here years ago and its extremely good value on asphalt with plenty of powered sites with Toilets showers and a laundry. Just down the road is Ngawha Springs Hot Pools.Β  Kaikohe is just 5 k’s or so away. Amazing!

The check in box used to be an old red Telephone box which is still here but barely red anymore but replaced with a small shed. The Laundry had an old washing machine and wringer is now replaced by a modern automagical machine so big improvements.

Ye olde Telephone box with cabin

A lovely quiet spot and a great place for 24 hours while we got our ongoing itinerary sorted πŸ™‚

A local with their horse

There was lots of comings and goings and our neighbours from Matamata were telling us that they are having an Equestrian celebration in the hall the next night which they are setting up for.

Toilets, showers, Laundry and Dump Station !

A lovely safe, cost-effective spot for a day or three and nice people too.

Rafe’s tracker map to the Kaikohe A&P and Equestrian centre – Armada GPS