We’ve been going to Paihia for years to visit my in-laws but hadn’t really spent much time exploring the Far North so we decided to venture further North over the Xmas break. We based ourselves at Whatawhiwhi on the Karekare Pennisula in the full service campground. There is a Department of Conservation campground further out the Peninsula at Matai Bay but you cant book ahead which makes planning a stay a little difficult.
I always find it hard once I am settled in to a campground and the kids are happily playing to get in the car and drive, especially when the drive to Cape Reinga was 2 hours. Oh well, its not often you get to see two seas meet head on and Cape Reinga is a magical spot to visit so we dragged the kids away from their campground friends and headed North. It was a relatively easy drive and we were lucky we set out early to get there before the crowds who arrive in buses that depart from Paihia. Thankfully we got to enjoy the magic of the upper most point of New Zealand in relative tranquillity but could not believe how many people were arriving as we were leaving.
We spent a good amount of time soaking up the atmosphere and reading the information boards. There are some walks in both directions on the coast but we had more places to explore on the way home so no time for walking on this visit.
From the Cape we drove to the Te Paki sand dunes. Bring your own boogie board or hire one there and be prepared for a wee walk across the hot sand dunes and then an almighty climb up a steep dune to get a good ride. I’m not so good with heights so I must admit it was with some trepidation that I pushed myself over the edge but there is nothing like watching your kids do something to make you brave. It was a bit hot for too much physical exertion, so we only had a few runs before we headed back for a picnic by the stream where the kids probably had more fun playing in the cool water.
Again by the time we came to leave the place was crawling but I guess that’s what you get when you holiday at peak time.
From Te Paki we drove to Rarawa, a beach on the east coast and then because you don’t often get to visit both coasts in one day we drive to Ninety Mile Beach on the west coast.
After a long day spent driving around the far reaches of the North Island we spent the next day relaxing in the campground and visited the stunning Matai Bay for a swim. It was so beautiful that we returned the next day to explore further and do some walks on either side of the bay.
Northland is spoilt for choice for beautiful beaches so be sure to leave time to explore and I think the lesson to be learned is if you want to experience Cape Reinga without the hoards get there early.
My husband and I have mountain biked for over 20 years and we have spent a lot of time riding sheep tracks because there just werent any purpose built trails. So it was with much delight we heard that as part of a government initiative a lot of money was being pumped into cycle trails so New Zealanders and visitors to NZ are now spoilt for choice.
I spent a lot of time as a child looking at the Kaimai ranges as we drove to Tarawera to camp and kayak and I always knew those mountains held lots of adventures.
With an extra day off on our weekend in Rotorua and after an early morning mountain bike ride we decided to explore a small part of the Kaimais on the way back to Auckland, and what an adventure it was.
The Waiorongomai Valley Walk (near Te Aroha) explores tramlines from gold mining days and follows New Zealand’s oldest known railway (1882-83) with the original rail still in place. There are lots of different options for walks to explore the area including walking up the inclines ( where the ore trolleys used to be lowered down ) which is a great way to experience the amazing engineering feats of the early settlers.
Near the head of the valley we turned for home and descended down a steep hill that had a warning about the descent being steep but unfortunately it didn’t say that there was a ‘stream’ crossing at the bottom that wasn’t passable after heavy rain and it had just rained heavily the night before. And then the real adventure began as we decided it was too dangerous to risk the second river crossing and had to head back up the steep hill before walking out on an unofficial side track that was pretty rough. Luckily we had our torches as we ended up walking out the last part in the dark. Quite a lot of adrenalin spent.
Such a great spot to explore – just watch out for those stream crossings.
And yes the Department of Conservation website did mention stream crossing but there are lots of walks in the area and its hard to hold all of that information in an already crowded brain. In hindsight it was quite an important piece of information to remember, and I would like the Department of Conservation to add it to the sign that warns about the steep descent.
So many things to remember when you are flying including remembering to put your power bank ( the thing you charge your phone with when you are off the grid ) in your carry-on luggage.
A power bank will be taken from your checked-in luggage and a recent change to aviation security means they don’t need you to be present to open your luggage so you don’t know before you fly that its been taken out and you wont get it back.
This happened to me when I flew to Nelson to do the Abel Tasman walk. If we had been going directly to the walk I would have had no way of charging my phone, so no way to take photos and as we all know if you dont take photos it didn’t happen. Thankfully I had the chance to buy another one but it was still a costly mistake.
Sharing family fun & adventures from the kitchen to the great outdoors