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.
 #17801  by Mark
 Mon Sep 06, 2010 11:43 am
Hehe. Barry, "recent" is relative. I'm 60 so "recent" could be any time in the last 6 years ;)
In actual fact, it was 10 weeks from late January to early March this year - during the drought :)
 #17809  by Vamooshe
 Mon Sep 06, 2010 4:48 pm
Hi Mark & Kathy

Thanks for a wonderful read! I have been to a few of the places you mention - it's a very interesting story.

Keep it going please.

Hopefully when we get on the road, we can reciprocate!


Greg & Dzjamilla
 #17810  by Mark
 Mon Sep 06, 2010 4:52 pm
From Rawene (undisturbed night) we went through Kaikohe and then spent the night at Ngawha springs and had a couple of soaks. The place is looking pretty run down and the proprietors seemed to be making the tariff up as they went along.

Had a look at Lake Omapere on our way past - but it is just like L. Rerewhakaaitu (drain for dairy farms) only more so. Not much to see on the way to Kaitaia - apart from a DOC camp site that looked a bit dodgy (piles of empty beer bottles) - so we didn't stop . Restocked supplies at Kaitaia and then carried on out to Ahipara at the southern end of 90 mile beach. Nice camp and we got to use the showers! :)

In morning did a bike up the beach 14km to the next beach access point, Waipapakauri. It was a good ride with a slight wind from the back quarter but no milestones to tick off. We practised doing tandem figure of 8's (as a pair of skiers do going down a virgin snow slope). We also tested how far we could ride with our eyes closed before the other had to warn of either the approaching sea or soft sand! Good fun. Kathy likes beach riding: no hills. (and back)

In the afternoon we tried to explore some old gum fields but were turned back by Maori Sovereignty signs, so retreated to Shipwreck Bay where I did my first paddle in the Tasman sea (or is Abel Tasman National Park classed as the Tasman Sea?) and then headed back to Kaitaia where we stayed overnight at the local convent school (had to recite the Pater Noster to get permission ;) ). Did a serious restock the next day as we were heading for the far far north.

First stop was Houhora Heads where we again booked into a camping ground. Asked the proprietor about fishing (which was reputed to be the best in the land - the local fishing charter guarantees snapper). "Oh, this year is a disaster. The water's too cold and no-one is catching anything: the charter guy is having to pay back his customers". Which was a bit of a downer because we were looking forward to trying our hands. Took the kayaks out anyway and within an hour Kathy had caught 2 snapper (Is THAT what they are? ) and I had caught one (legal) snapper, one other of unknown pedigree and a third fish was big enough to unwind the knot on my trace and I lost the lot. The tennis racquet-landing net was working a treat :D . So we had a big feed of snapper for dinner.

Next day we did a long walk on the beach and joined the bunch collecting Tuatuas on the beach. Just want enough for a feed - Kath had a small bag and I was just putting them in the pockets of my swim-shorts. There was a sting-ray cruising around amongst us as we collected them. Had a swim in the clear water of the harbour channel on our way back. Then headed north to a DOC camp-site at Rarawa Beach (with the water soaking the Tuatuas sloshing out of the hand-basin on the uneven roads). Shorty and Vicky who we had met at Houhora had just arrived. Turns out Shorty is a dead-keen fisherman and so he gave me a refresher course on knots that DON'T unwind when you get a big fish on. Spent an hour shelling Tuatuas and slicing them fine to make fritters for dinner. (Turns out we had collected 86. 40 would have been enough for us - we had to eat the early fritters as we made them - there was no way to keep them hot. 11 frittas in all!

Next day we made some lunches and did a big walk down the north end of the beach and over a headland via a non-existent track (we had been told at the Kaitaia iSite that there was a good track over the headland to the next beach). In the end I had to go ahead and pioneer an acceptable route back down to the beach before Kathy was prepared to take another step. Once we were back down on the beach we found this neat rocky pool with a sandy bottom, and had a dip. Had no sooner started off back around the rocks when we found an even better pool: so we had another dip! This happened 5 times with each pool better than the last - and they were as warm as: the sun had been heating them since high tide. It also became apparent the there had been no need at all to traipse over the headland: it would have been dead easy to walk around the top of the rocks. Also had a swim in the sea and in a warm stream at the southern end of the beach. Stayed another night. This is where we met Brown Bear :)
 #17823  by Mark
 Tue Sep 07, 2010 2:38 pm
Next morning the toilet had stopped working - couldn't pump it out. Looked like we would be staying in camps with toilets until we could get it fixed back in Kaitaia (about a week). We stopped at Te Kao to pick up a key for a Maori camp ground a bit further up at Parengarenga harbour. They told us there was no toilet there. Oh..... A motorhomer, who was also at the store there, let slip that he was a plumber. He had enough of a look to confirm that a pipe was blocked but wasn't keen to do any more (fair enough) but he gave me enough encouragement (They're really simple, mate) for me to have a go. About an hour and a quarter later (and a very unpleasant time it was too) we again had a working toilet. I boiled my hands for the regulation 3 minutes before we had lunch!

We headed for the very top, a DOC camp at Tapotupotu bay, just east of Cape Reinga.

Got there to find Shorty and Vicky there, Shorty was going out fishing in one of their sit-on kayaks. Kath and I did a walk around the coast (big up, big down and big up again) to Cape Reinga about 2 1/4 hours - our biggest walk so far.
There were great views looking down on the water at the Cape from very high up. And it looked reasonably calm as well - would have been neat to be in a Kayak down there. On the way back I resolved to try it the next day if everything looked right with the weather. When we were coming back we could see Shorty out there in his little sit-on still fishing. When we got back I went and left a message with Vicky that I might be paddling up to the Cape if Shorty was interested in using Kathy's kayak. No sooner was he back than he was over to see us, keen as mustard. I was very pleased as I was a bit anxious about doing it solo.

The marine forecast was good so next morning we headed off (leaving our tearful loved ones on the shore).
It was only about 5km and we did that in about 50 minutes. Quite lumpy but great fun and we got far enough west to see down the west coast of the Reinga peninsular and snapped a couple of "reverse tourist shots": showing the gnarled old Pohutukawa clinging to the cliff edge in the foreground and the lighthouse in the background.
I was a bit curious as to why there did not seem to be any sign of the notorious tidal race (that I'd read about in Paul Caffyn's book about circum-navigating New Zealand). Only took 40 mins to get back as we had the swell and the wind behind us.

Spent a good part of the afternoon in Shorty and Vicky's bus (she baked us scones - they have an OVEN). Had a great swim in crystal clear surf and also in a very warm and clear stream. They left for Spirits Bay and we moved into their (prime) spot.

The wind was still quite light and I decided to put the awning out (as S&V had done). Just as I had fully extended it (a 4m x 2m sail)and before I could peg down the stays a gust of wind came from nowhere and I could do nothing but watch in horror as it lifted gracefully (but powerfully) skywards, folded itself backwards over the top of the bus, over the kayaks and tore itself out of its mountings, spraying shattered smashed bits everywhere.


Time for lunch.

After lunch I dismantled as much as I could and tidied it up to a state where I could lash the components to the roof rack, between the kayaks. What a day: talk about the agony and the ecstasy (other way around!).

Next day we drove to Cape Reinga and did a long walk. (Before we left I had a good look at where we had been and spied that the tidal race was streaming out at an angle of about 11 o'clock rather than the 12 o'clock that I had imagined: so we hadn't been far enough west to be affected by it) Down onto the west coast beach of Te Werahi - 40 mins long and completely deserted (although there is obviously a sizeable pig population, given the routings we saw on the beach), across the Te Werahi stream (reputed to be crossable, waist-deep, only after mid-tide (for which we had carefully timed our trip). Didn't even get our shoes wet! :roll: Up over a big sand dune with clay outcrops on a polled route and down the same sort of terrain for another 40 mins to Cape Maria Van Diemen. Whole area completely deserted. The track up onto the cape was overgrown which caused Kath to grumble a bit. (Please note that these gumblings etc attibuted to Kath are purely for effect) The cape had nothing going for it really so we retreated to a beach we had spied on our way in and had a dip. There was no shade anywhere to have lunch so we headed off to some rocks we could see at the eastern end of this beach. Well! We found some shade under a big rock but we also found this fantastic sheltered little cove, protected by big rocky islands with clear, warm sheltered waters.
ImageWe had lunch there and then another dip. It was perfect: worth the trip all by itself. Stinking hot all day and only a bottle of water each, it was good to get back to the tourist center at Cape Reinga and have a long draught of their disgusting bore water!!

And then on to Spirit's Bay - out towards North Cape - and another Doc camp. Spirits Bay has nothing much to recommend it (unless you are a keen fisherman) and we only went there because it would have been rude not to. (15km of gravel road) I'm convinced we stopped in S&V's spot (later confirmed) - we retrieved a rod holder which had been left there. I might be able to sell it back to him! (Payment was a delicious meal which we enjoyed just a couple of weeks ago :) )
 #17824  by Nut17
 Tue Sep 07, 2010 3:36 pm
Mark, I din't realise that you paint your toe nails :lol: :lol: :lol:

Cheers Chris
 #17828  by Mark
 Tue Sep 07, 2010 4:31 pm
I don't. Can't get down that far anymore. Kathy does them for me. :)
 #17831  by Nut17
 Tue Sep 07, 2010 4:40 pm
Good answer - now I'm lost for words.

Cheers Chris
 #17853  by Mark
 Wed Sep 08, 2010 5:24 pm
I'm aware that sometimes the tense I'm using doesn't make sense now that I'm publishing this stuff, in one hit - rather than as a series of catch-ups - some months after the event. I hope you'll forgive me for not correcting that.

Today we headed south again with the intention of stopping at the Maori "camp" at Paua (the key for which we'd picked up once I'd worked my wonders with the errant dunny). The charge is $5 per night, but since the shop is about 3/4 hour south, you have to buy the key for as many days as you intend to stay north: just have to suck it up. The "camp" is a big field with no trees and 3-5m high banks down to the harbour. After we got there we decided to try our luck fishing off the wharf. After getting 3 snags (2 of which we retrieved and one of which claimed another trace - note: the nylon broke - not the knot :) ) and with the wind rising and the tide going out, we decided maybe there was not too much to be gained by staying another night up there - particularly since I had stuff to do with getting the awning replaced or fixed in Kaitaia. We are now parked in a rest area about 20kms north of Kaitaia, beside a small lake (Waiparera). We hope we don't get any visitors during the night. Being a Sunday we should be OK.

This time last year we were in Lawrence, with three layers of clothing on. We have had 1 day of rain so far this trip :-)

PS. Bikes are getting a bit grumpy about not getting outings. Will have to try to rectify this.

We headed into Kaitaia with the main purpose being to sort out the replacement for the awning. AMI SEEM very willing to get it sorted with no unnecessary pain. We have organised to have it replaced in Whangarei on our way through in a couple of weeks.
Watch this space!

After spending the best part of the day there refueling us and the bus etc we headed off to the Karikari peninsular. We'd heard of a reserve on the east coast (Ramp Rd).
Even though there is supposed to be no freedom camping in this district there were about 10 other MH's there so we decided to stay. Spent the afternoon playing in the surf and got the boogie board out for the first time. Big long curved beach (Tokerau) with an off-shore breeze kept the waves quite low.

Headed off at sparrow's towards a much recommended spot, a DOC camp at Maitai Bay, and got there mid morning. Lovely small bay well protected and with a track across a short headland to a similar adjacent bay. We had a good frolic in great surf in the morning and and I took the kayak out in the afternoon and explored both bays and a bit of the coast in either direction. BIG swells!
Next day we did a walk to and around the next bay and up over a further headland (to the south), up to a trig and back down a valley to the beach where there was a very sheltered part, protected by an island so we had a swim. Forecast is for rain setting in tomorrow so we decided we'd rather sit out rain at a free camp rather than pay for the privilege (besides we'd pretty much "done" Maitai Bay - particularly after another long session with the boogie board! - and Kathy having to have a "wee lie down" after witnessing a young ("Wicked" no doubt) tourist doing a nude board surf) so we headed back to Ramp Rd. The sea has been MUCH rougher than when we stayed a couple of days ago. The rain has stayed away and we did an hour and a half walk on the beach this afternoon as well as taking some photos of the damage to the awning which AMI are now asking for.

With the short drives, I'm finding it difficult to keep everything charged up and the computer is about out of energy.
Might have to look at getting some solar before next trip.

From Ramp road we headed south into Doubtless Bay having a short paddle at one beach and then stopping at Taipa Beach. We
did a walk on a dodgey track up over a headland to the north and down into a very cute private little beach.
The beach was quite steep with "dumpers" so not good for swimming. After lunch we had a swim (back at Taipa) and decided we would stop there the night and found a good spot out of the way down the end of the beach by a tidal river - near the yacht club. At about 4-5 pm some local yoof arrived in a car and proceeded to do donuts (seems to be a standard pastime for yoof up here). What with increasing numbers of them and all drinking we decided to stage an orderly retreat to a POP (NZMCA park over property) which was right on the river bank and a good spot. We had dinner out at the Taipa Beach Resort (first dinner out this trip). Next morning I did a kayak up the river as far as I could go - 15 km round trip. Kathy had a walk around the hills.
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