Forum rules: Each member may post travel stories to their own thread. You may comment on others' threads but do not take them over with your own stories. Please try to ensure these stories are entertaining and snappy. You may include a FEW pics to illustrate your story. Please don't use this as a platform for your photo albums: they are best put in (say) Picasa with a link.
 #17764  by Mark
 Sun Sep 05, 2010 1:56 pm
OK I'll kick-off (gulp) with an edited version of the trip reports we emailed to friends and family during our recent trip. If you're interested in good places north of Auckland - keep in touch with this thread.

I won't put it all up in one go so it will appear in bits over the next week or so.

It will be interesting to see if others find this worth reading (I assure you, I will desist if our circulation is too light ;) )

Headed to Woodhill forest for some mountain-biking. $6 each for entry into the forest. Hope it doesn't come to that in Rotorua. I had sorted out a 20km "INTERMEDIATE" route for us to do. The tracks are well designed with good flow and varied from ones that Kathy was "reasonably" comfortable on to those that she was decidedly grumpy about! But some of them were probably better than any in Whaka, in terms of flow. We bailed out of my pre-determined route after more than 2 hours and headed back on the road. There is unfinished business here.

Shelley Beach. Dawned fine and calm and we decided to take the kayaks out. Headed south and then turned up a tidal river. It was dead calm and the water would have been like a mirror if it wasn't so scummy. We carried on up until the mangroves eventually closed in so it was too narrow to paddle. Return trip just 7.5 kms - but enough to "blood" us for kayaking again.

Then packed up and headed further north up the peninsular to a small lake (Lake Ototoa). Workmen there erecting a faux Maori entrance way for DOC. Said there was a track right around - about 2 hours. We set off only to find that DOC would have been much better advised to spend their money on track maintenance. We picked our way around the lake for about 20 mins and found a lovely wee beach - the water was crystal clear and not cold and it was too good to resist.

Not good enough to stop the night so headed back south, through Helensville and then north up the eastern side of the Kaipara to Atiu Regional park. This is a farm with several wood lots and areas of native bush that was gifted to NZ by an English couple who owned it but had no offspring. They wanted the public of NZ to be able to enjoy it in perpetuity. The ARC now manage it.
We stayed there the night on a high ridge overlooking the Kaipara. We did a 2 hour mountain bike around many of the farm tracks - not real MTB'ing but there were some grunty steep bits that not all of us managed without pushing (!). Then we put the bikes back on the front of the bus and headed back down the gravel road to the main road.

Just as we turned onto the main road and were going up through the gears the bikes fell off the front. Well fortunately it wasn't QUITE as sudden as that, but almost. They just descended out of sight and and I drew up as fast as I could, not wanting to precipitate a complete collapse by sudden braking. Just as well we were doing only about 30kph. Turns out one of the welds on the rack had given up.
We had a bit of a job getting the bikes up onto the roof rack. I hauled them up using a rope while Kath held them back so they didn't scratch Rosie. Once up there, it was a bit tricky because there was nowhere left to stand: it all being taken up by kayaks, bikes and skylight (not good for standing on!).

Plan was to get the rack fixed at Wellsford but on the way we checked out a place on the Kaipara coast called Port Albert. They had a free domain right on the water that looked good as a base for a substantial kayak. All we would have to do is: take the bikes off, take the kayaks off, put the kayaks back up put the bikes back up.... Nah! Lets head to Wellsford and get the rack fixed first. Which we did and some shopping as well.
 #17773  by Nut17
 Sun Sep 05, 2010 5:55 pm
Hi Mark, We look forward with great anticipation to "Chapter Two"

Cheers Chris
 #17776  by lynrog
 Sun Sep 05, 2010 7:26 pm
The next installment can't come soon enough. Come on Mark don't keep us hanging too long.
Thanks Lynn.
 #17777  by The B's Hive
 Sun Sep 05, 2010 7:41 pm
Thanks Mark, this is what we are looking for, have followed your post re 'Good places nth of Auck" followed by your link to pics etc of your journey and together with my post it is helping with my northern plans for our first outing. Good posting.
 #17786  by Mark
 Sun Sep 05, 2010 9:37 pm
Thanks for the feedback :)
Port Albert
Thursday we planned a long kayak up one of the (many) protected reaches of the Kaipara. Made lunches and headed off up harbour with the last of the incoming tide. I decided to troll a lure thingy (that we had found at Marfells beach on our last trip) but did not expect much as our trolling speed was a bit erratic. I must say it was a pretty boring paddle. Km after Km of mangrove lined shore and the water a muddy brown.

Kathy was none too impressed. It was very difficult to find somewhere to pull up and have lunch. In the end Kath sat on the only bit of dry land we could find and I stood in ankle-deep water with my feet turning to white prunes!
The best thing we can say about the trip was that no-one drowned and we caught the tides perfectly, coming back on a 4kph outgoing tide! Just before we got home we had our own private rainstorm (only about a 100m in diameter) that escorted us the last km home - all around us was clear! We did not have fish for dinner.

Friday morning we headed back to Wellsford and SH1, north to Brynderwyn, west to Matekohe and south down a peninsular to Tinopai where we stayed at an NZMCA Park Over Property (POP) (Don Ovens) our second ever. It was right on a point and after going for a walk along the beach and then back through some pine forest watched the sun set over the far ridge with trees on skyline set out in stark silhouette. Very quiet. The owner of the POP gave us excerpts from a diary written by one of his ancestors describing their impetus to emigrate (failed business) and then preparations for and voyage to NZ, back in 1858. The writer's name was Sarah Jane Howard who had a daughter called Marion! (Two of our daughters' names)

This morning as I was putting Kath's chair away in the boot, my back went SPASM! WOAH! - only a week into the trip. Before leaving we went for about 3/4 hour walk and I did some stretches before driving back to Matetoke where we spent 1 1/2 hours looking around an excellent museum - mainly about Kauri (gum and trees) logging and milling.

Then we did a walk up a volcanic "needle" called Tokatoka peak. It was very narrow and very steep.
Back still holding out. On to Dargaville where we restocked our food (fridge is struggling to keep the milk cold in this heat - having to drink a litre in two days. Now buying only 600ml when we can) and refilled all our tanks. We are now at another POP at Glinks Gully on the ocean coast at the top end of the Pouto peninsular.

We COULD drive up the beach to Bayleys beach tomorrow, but then we'd have to find somewhere to hose down the underneath of the bus - and we couldn't leave until mid afternoon - so might just be boring and head back along the roads.

Too detailed for you?
Are the photos the right size?
 #17794  by bazzanz
 Mon Sep 06, 2010 9:38 am
Hi Mark

If you can get hold of a book from the library titled "The Albertlanders" am sure you
would enjoy reading it.

Someone ( a reverend if I recall correctly ) gained title to large tracts of land in the general area
returned to England, formed a land co. selling blocks to would be settlers who immigrated enmasse.

Unfortunately on arrival it became obvious the reverend had had no idea what was required to
develop farmland & had been sold then onsold sight unseen "a pup".

Reports of the struggles those that persevered endured makes for interesting reading. Eventually
one by one they gave up leaving only a handful of stalwarths remaining.

Cheers Barry
 #17796  by Mark
 Mon Sep 06, 2010 9:58 am

Had a day's rain at Kai Iwi. We decided to walk out to the coast, even though it was wet. Out there was a waterfall coming straight
down onto the beach. Kathy wasn't keen but, you've got to do these things, so I had a shower. Didn't really want to walk back with
wet sand in my socks so left my shoes on. The bus got pretty steamed up as we dried our clothes and read in the afternoon.

Next day we drove to the largest of the lakes and did a bit of a walk around it - the weather was still showery. We had planned to head on early but, by the time we got back, it had fined up and so I went for a paddle (kayak) while Kathy went for a paddle (swim).

Then we headed for the Trounson Kauri park which had a DOC camp attached, stopping at the Top 10 Holiday Park to do our laundry
"Sorry it's against our policy to allow casual use of the laundry" so headed back 5km to the Kaihu pub where they happily accepted our dollars (and even more happily accepted $13 for two double G&T's !) and we were regaled by a customer - who had been there a while - about what a great place the Top 10 park was to stay.

After 9pm (at Trounson) we headed out on a track into the park to try to see a Kiwi (with red-shielded torches). After shuffling along the path for 45 mins - stopping frequently to listen - we heard the call of a Kiwi only about 30m away. We headed further around the track in that direction but heard nothing more. We passed a couple of chattering groups of 10 or so with "professional" Kiwi-spotters ($20 a pop) who apparently had no better luck.

Walked the track in daylight next day and amazed again at the magnificent Kauris. We headed to Waipoua forest where we intended to stay in the DOC camp, do some biking and see some more (even bigger) trees but when we got there we discovered that the DOC camp and information centre has recently been taken over by locals who were hoping to relieve us of $28 for the privilege of parking Rosie (not even any power, which I need for the first time to re-charge the house battery) so we gave that a miss - but DID call in to see Tane Mahuta, Yakas and Te Matou Ngahere - the last of which is a real stunner, particularly the way they have routed the track to it. You come around a corner in the track and - "Far Out!! What a massive tree - perfectly framed by two juveniles (only about 200 years old!!).

On our way to Omapere we stopped off at Waiotemarama and did a short walk up to a waterfall where I had a quick dip in the pool.
Image Stopped and gorged oursleves on blackberries on our way back.

We over-nighted at the lookout carpark above Omapere last night. It's a big shingle carpark with a 10m wide entrance flanked on either side by 20m of tank-trap: big concrete troughs with large boulders set into the concrete on the inside lip. About 10pm a Nissan Skyline entered and proceeded to do donuts in the shingle. Because we were there, they evidently decided there were probably better places to be practising/demonstrating their prowess and decided to leave (at speed) having completed only about 3 of the said donuts (2.9 as it turns out!) .

Well, they missed the 10m wide entranceway, by 4 metres!! and ended up stranded up on a rock under the driver's seat: front and back right hand wheels off the ground. Once we stopped laughing I went and had a chat (lest they feel it necessary to vent their frustration and embarrassment on the only obvious target). They were four girls and it was a boyfriend's car. She was hoping that he wouldn't notice that his car had been mounted on the top of a rock (!)

It took several cell phone calls, visits from three other vehicles (increasingly large), 10 helpers, the loan of our torch and 2 hours before it was free. As it came free the girl driving it was sooo pleased to be free that she accelerated hard backwards - and smack into the 4x4 tow vehicle that had stopped because he had run out of carpark - re-arranging the shape of the back of the Skyline.

Wonder if the boyfriend will notice that?

I hope I was imagining the accusing looks from arriving tourists when they regarded the donuts this morning. (They were far too small: a Rosa does MUCH bigger ones :D )

This morning we walked down to the beach from the lookout point and walked around the end at about mid incoming tide. There were all these wonderful little sand pools amongst the rocks so we decided to go back up to the van, get a lunch and come back down and enjoy them before they become flooded by the next high tide.
What a neat couple of hours we had.

We have now traveled on to Rawene where we are stopped behind the "Rawene Fitness Centre" on some grass, by the harbour.
 #17800  by bazzanz
 Mon Sep 06, 2010 11:12 am
Hey Mark

You initially say this was a recent trip then go on to mention all the places you went swimming
or had a dip.

Given the weather we have endured of late ( even the so called winterless north ) can but
wonder about the time of year or if you have antifreeze running thru your veins.
Pay with Paymate Express