So shock horror we had a week of annual leave!
And, being the proud owners of a completed Basil, we set off for Northland for the week.
DAY 1 – Given that the weather was meant to miserable for the first few days of the week and then improve we decided to circuit clockwise and head up the west coast. After a brief stop in Dargaville for lunch (home of the kumara aka sweet potato, but not a lot else) we headed to the Kai Iwi Lakes.
Stunning view as you round the corner, perfect, we thought for a bit of van posing…
Beautiful place, we stopped and had a little paddle! Its a fresh water lake with a dropoff quite far from the shore creating the colour change.
So after a cup of tea we headed on to our first campsite, in the Trounsen Kauri Forest.
We picked this particular campsite because of their night time walk through the forest trying to see a wild kiwi! And we were successful! We’d been wondering around in the dark following Bob with his red light for about an hour and a half, and had heard a kiwi but no visual, just as we were about to head back we looped back in for a last look and there he was, wandering along the side of the walkway, minding his own business, foraging!
Now, kiwi’s are odd. And huge! I honestly thought they could fit in your hand, but they’re football sized! Shocker. I’m still reeling from this.
Great first day!
DAY 2 – We woke up to TORRENTIAL rain, but never the less bundled into the van to head north. Our first stop was in the Waipoua Kauri Forest. Kauri are really big, hardwood trees, perfect for logging, so there’s not that many left. They’re also under attack by a fungus, poor kauri.
Anyway we battled the elements to see the Four Sisters, Tane Mahuta (largest livkng Kauri -Lord of the Forest) and Te Matua Ngahere (older and fatter – Father of the Forest).
We got DRENCHED, despite waterproofs.
Anywho, continuing up the coast we made a quick pitstop to take a walk out to the the South head of Hokianga Harbour.
Before continuing up to take the 15mintue ferry from Rawene to Kohukohu.
We carried on up, finally reaching the southern end of 90 mile beach! Now, having read the guide book and the many MANY signs on the approach to the beach, we decided it best NOT to drive the beach in our rear wheel drive Basil.
However after a few minutes of wandering on the vast expanse of beach, a Jucy Campervan made its way onto the sand, turned, and promptly got stuck. The Spanish driver then proceeded to rev the living crap out of the van and get the rear wheel even more wedged. We, along with the Spanish couple and another couple from the UK then spent the next 45minutes digging and rocking the van out of the hole before it finally drove onto solid ground.
We class that as having the ‘true’ 90 mile beach experience with none of the stress.
We ended the day driving up to the Northern most tip, well almost, camping about 10km south of Cape Reinga, at a lovely Department of Conservation campsite, ready to face the next day.
More Northland adeventures to follow…