New Zealand
Northland

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  • Day51

    Lunch in the rich people's garden

    December 27, 2019 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    We woke up to beautiful blue sky and a view of a very nice beach and some picturesque rocks with the typical diverse New Zealand plants. Making it a good habit, we had breakfast at a bench at the beach before getting ready to drive off for another road trip day in Northland. While driving, we saw two chickens cross the road. We still haven't figured out why they did that.

    Out first stop was in Oakura. We read about a possible short walk to the end of a peninsula with nice views. Unfortunately that was again only possible at low tide and we didn't want to wait that long. The beach there was still good enough for an enjoyable short walk.

    Some viewpoint stops later we got hungry for lunch. Finding the perfect lunch spot was a difficult one but we are confident to say that we found it at Jacks Bay. We weren't quite sure if it was private or public but stayed anyways as it looked just too perfect with 4 chairs facing a perfect bay with nice boats, blue water and an empty beach in front. Right behind us there were some enormous gardens and expensive houses. We were just heading back to our car and while still joking about that this is our holiday mansion, we heard a helicopter landing right where we were having lunch just minutes before. Turns out the place didn't just look expensive but apparently is wealthy enough to afford private helicopters as well.

    Our next stop was the peninsula of Russell. At the very top we went for a walk up a small mountain to Tapeka Point to have a nice view over the famous Bay of Islands. It was all so nice, Machiel had a hard time asking himself why he was born in the wrong country. While being known for not being a fan of beaches, he actually realized he wanted one of these New Zealand beach houses with huge windows and terraces facing one of the thousand bays.

    It got later so we unfortunately had to drive further. We managed to get some cash without transaction fees, so we felt very lucky. Then we got even luckier with the ferry we wanted to take from Okiato to Opua to shorten the way. Arriving at the harbour, we saw the ferry full with cars, looking ready to leave. There was a STOP sign and we stopped for it, unsure what to do without further instructions. The car behind us then thought 'what are these tourists doing?', drove around us and onto the ferry. We followed them and when we parked the car, the ferry was already moving.

    A short ride later we arrived just south of Kerikeri at a camping with very soft grass. Before having a delicious wrap dinner, we needed to get some fresh vegetables. This was an excellent opportunity for Susanne to get nostalgic as she spend several weeks in Kerikeri 10 years ago. Visiting the former Kerikeri Farm Hostel was nice and weird at the same time. The main building still looked the same with its orange trees all around that Susanne was treating when working here for a few days back then.

    When going to bed later in the evening we discovered a sandfly problem. Hundreds of them were around our tent trying to get in, and when we went in at least 50 or so of them managed to join us.
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  • Day4

    Paihia

    December 24, 2019 in New Zealand ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

    The second Destination today was Paihia.
    A small town located in the inner Bay of Islands, in the northern end of the North Island.
    Definitely a bit odd to have 25 degrees on Christmas Eve! We had a really yummy dinner sitting outside, next to the sea and listened to Christmas songs 🎅🏻🎄🛷 hope everyone is having a nice Christmas Eve!

    Das zweite Ziel am heutigen Tag war Paihia.
    Paihia ist eine kleine Stadt in der Bay of Islands der Region Northland auf der Nordinsel von Neuseeland.

    Es war sehr ungewohnt heilig Abend bei 25 Grad zu verbringen. Beim sehr leckeren Abendessen auf einer Terrasse am Meer haben wir heute Weihnachtslieder gehört. 🎅🏻🎄🛷
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  • Day56

    2020

    January 1 in New Zealand ⋅ 🌙 16 °C

    We were thinking for awhile what we should do with new years eve. Skip the celebrations and just sleep? That didn't sound too bad given that our bedtime was usually before 22:00 due to tiredness and darkness. But we also didn't want to waste the opportunity to celebrate the new decade while we're here. Even though for Susanne this wasn't the first time, as she was here in 2009 as well.

    So we bought some beer and snacks and looked up what could be potential spots for us to go where there would be anything like a public celebration. It's not as if we were in Auckland. There were only small towns around us. We figured most fireworks would take place at the beaches and that most people would head there as well, so we drove to Ahipara. On the way we bought burgers at a takeaway and ate them for dinner at a random parking lot. In Ahipara we turned onto a parking lot at the beach, but it didn't seem like there was anything going to happen there. We drove further and found another one where there were a few other cars and vans parked. Conveniently there was also a public toilet. We waited until around 23:30 and then more and more people from surrounding homes gathered on the beach, some with fireworks. While being among the first to enter the new decade, we were enjoying being at the beach watching fireworks around us in very comfortable temperatures.
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  • Day55

    Desert and paradise beach

    December 31, 2019 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Checkout time was at 9:00 but our daily schedule is early anyways nowadays so it wasn't really a problem. Today was the day we'd get to the most northern tip of the Far North District in Northland on the North Island of New Zealand. But our first stop were the sand dunes of Te Paki. Together with Cape Reinga they are the two top tourist sights in the North.

    The Te Paki sand dunes were stunning in the surrounding area of forests and ocean. From the car park we walked uphill to get a sense of how big they were. Quite tough to walk up in the sand, and the wind blowing sand in our faces didn't help. The advantage of being early was that there weren't yet crowds of other people. Some of the few that were as early as we had rented sandboards to go down the dunes with. It was fun to watch them go down but watching them struggle to get back up the hill made us realise you pay a lot of money for tough walks uphill with a sandboard and getting even more sand in your clothes and mouth when going down. We walked a bit around, discovered some lonely grasses that fought for living in such a place and learned that even in lots of sand that isn't a big dessert you easily lose sense for distance and elevation when everything around you is sand.

    Afterwards we went to the famous Cape Reinga. As expected it was crowded there, mainly around the lighthouse, but the site offered other hiking paths as well to nearby views and beaches, and of course we couldn't be stopped. Our choice was the 20 minute walk to Sandy Bay. It was more of a spontaneous decision and up at the lighthouse it was windy and cold, so we didn't bring our swimming stuff. When the beach came into sight it was becoming clear that that was a bit of a shame. The water was very clear and in contrast to the Cape there were only a few people to share it with. Citing Machiel that he doesn't understand why beaches are painted as a concept of paradise, but if they would be then this one would be it.

    We had a long drive south checking out possible campsites on the way. The ones at the beach were totally full and overcrowded, so we ended up in Awanui. IIt wasn't our first choice as it was fairly expensive, but it turned out really great as we could use a good washing machine and drying rack, swim in an actual swimming pool, and enjoy the free WiFi. Plus it was quite small so not so busy.
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  • Day5

    Oethei Bay

    December 25, 2019 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    On the way to Otehei Bay island, our tour guide told us that James Cook discovered the islands, and in his journal described that the bird sound was so loud on the islands, they needed to go off shore to have a conversation - unfortunately he also decided he’d like to farm the land and burnt the islands, killing most of all the birds. Those that survived were killed soon after from the cats and dogs that he introduced into the island. All the birds didn’t have wings (as they had no natural predators), and all of the birds are now extinct. Can see why they’re so protective of their wildlife here! They’re really strickt about conserving the islands and they’re trying to introduce birds back onto the island.

    At Oethei Bay we had a Christmas lunch barbecue and then came back to Paihia for ice cream 🍦🤤
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  • Day36

    Day 36/72: Kayaking and Driving

    December 2, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    We woke up in our campervan feeling very chuffed with ourselves that we'd had a good night's sleep. The sky was clear and sunny and the day beckoned. We had our cereals of choice, museli and cocopops, and packed up the campervan ready for the off.

    We wanted to kayak around the bay of islands as it looked very beautiful, however the kayak tour place said the tour around the islands had been cancelled due to waves and weather, so we could only rent kayaks that day. Not to worry though, we duly hired a kayak and after assuring the guide that we weren't going to drown, paddled out into the bay, and upstream along a shallow estuary towards supposed waterfalls. As we paddled we sang and looked at the wildlife around us, herons and black and white cormorants flying around. We caught up with a huge tour group of people from a cruise, going in all directions over the river and as we paddled by we felt very glad we hadn't spent double the money on that particular tour.

    As we rounded a bend and came across the waterfalls which were surprisingly big! The water crashed over the rocks and made for great watching from the bottom as we hid behind a boulder and took photos. After we'd looked our fill, we paddled back against the tide in equally good spirits. We dodged the tour group again and came across a Maori boat, headed by a couple of huge Kiwi's in full tribal gear, grunting and calling to the 30 or so tourists paddling. As we passed by, the captain bellowed and as all paddles raised into the air, everyone turned their heads in unison and gave us a war cry!

    The kayaking finished, we got changed and got back in the van. A long drive of around 5-6 hours was ahead, so we set off, initially for the campervan hire place to pick up the satnav charger they had neglected to give us the day before. The trip was uneventful, the roads a motorcyclists paradise, and the scenery constantly keeping us alert and interested. It can be best described as driving through a mix of Scotland and Wales. Either winding mountain passed or dead straight over flat plains, they made for great driving. We picked up the cable without a hitch and carried onto next destination, Coromandel and hot water beach /Cathedral Cove. They're a long way out, as you'll be able to see on the map, but well worth the drive.

    We arrived at the chosen campsite and had a spot high up looking over the sea. We had a quick wander on the beach, and then made a dinner of spaghetti and tomato sauce (there may be a theme to our meals for a while). By then, night had already fallen, so we set up for the night and listened to the pitter patter of the rain, and the crashing of the sea as we drifted off to sleep.
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  • Day35

    Day 35/72: campervanning!

    December 1, 2018 in New Zealand ⋅ 🌧 20 °C

    This morning we left the hostel and picked up our campervan! It is really well equipped, with a bed that folds down in the back and chairs and tables and cooker and sink (and portapotty but we are ignoring that). The drive north was wonderful, very similar to driving through the pretty parts of Wales. Sheep galore, and plenty of rolling hills for good views. The van is automatic, which takes some getting used to, but at least they drive on the right (left!) side of the road here.

    A few hours later we had arrived at the Bay of Islands. We drove along the beach and checked out a few campsites before landing on one with incredible views across the bay.

    The afternoon consisted of wandering down the beach and marvelling at the number of sand flies and at the wonderful view over the islands. A wonderful evening of cooking pasta and drinking cups of tea next to the water later, we are tucked away inside our van feeling very cosy (and the night looks to be threatening rain so glad to not be the people in the tent right next to us!).
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  • Day54

    Another day at another beach

    December 30, 2019 in New Zealand ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    We woke up in the dunes and had breakfast at the bench in front of the kitchen area. The wind had nicely decreased throughout the night. So our tent didn't need the car as a shield anymore. We packed and left to drive to the very north of New Zealand. We knew of two campings in that area. Of both we had heard that they were full so we were afraid that wouldn't work out. We decided to try anyways starting with the one at the end of a 15km gravel road gambling that less people would do the effort to get there. Also we went there already in the late morning hoping that would make the difference. 10km before the end we saw a sign saying 'Camping full'. We went on anyways because previously we were also already once allowed on a camp that had a 'full' sign. Our perseverance paid off. They actually had space and the camping usually gets full around 16:00.

    We found a good spot for our tent and then enjoyed the beach for the rest of the afternoon. The bay looked amazing surrounded by forested hills and came along with a smaller bay at the edge. The water was very clear and, seeing one other couple in the water, we decided it was time for our second swim. The water was cold and after encountering a quite big sea spider and stepping on something big moving under our feet, we changed our minds. Instead we laid down on the beach and watched other people who seemed to have similar experiences changing there minds about if or if not to swim.

    The camping is one of many managed by the Department Of Conservation. They usually have dry toilets and this one even had cold showers and everything seemed very new. We got rid of the sand-salt-sunscreen mix in the showers and enjoyed a tasty curry-lentils meal which would have been even quicker would we be more patient cooking it. But we are probably just missing our two chef cooks Daniel and Franzi.
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  • Day50

    Boxing Day in New Zealand

    December 26, 2019 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Boxing day meant that the ghost town was suddenly full of people shopping for discounts. And so did we. First we made sure we got enough groceries to survive a few days. The supermarket was amazing, there was so much, we hadn't had that for a while. We also got a simcard, and in another store we got beach towels, gas, and much needed flip-flops for Susanne.

    It was time for lunch when we finally had everything together. The lunch spot of the day was at the base of the Whangarei Falls, a nice small waterfall at the edge of the town. We really liked the care that was taken of the park it was in, it looked spotless, the people were nice, and it was for free.

    After some nice views we arrived to the next stop. A small hike brought us to the Tutukaka Lighthouse which is located on the so called Kukutauwhao Island. Only reachable during low tide, we were actually wondering what the definition of an island is. While the lighthouse itself isn't interesting, the views are pretty amazing. And also the walk there through some nice little jungle was very cool.

    It was getting late afternoon and we read about two free 'campings' for not self-contained vehicles/tents like us. In reality they are parking lots of which a small part is designated for overnight stays. Arriving at the first one of those, we learned that this small area was already completely full. The next one, Sandy Beach Camp in Woolleys Bay, appeared to be the same, but there were some volunteers from the district present that told us we were allowed to set up our tent right behind it on a patch of grass. That was great to hear, as it was right in front of a beach and there were public toilets as well.
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  • Day57

    Sticks and stones

    January 2 in New Zealand ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Today we wanted to see some boulders. They are visible in Koutu at low tide and a few hours around that. We hadn't really planned that but we were lucky to be there at a good time. It made a nice walk along the beach and there were lots of oysters attached to some of the boulders. Afterwards we drove to the west coast and had a nice yoghurt break at a viewpoint over the natural Hokianga Harbour. Further south the road we did the mandatory stop to visit Tane Mahuta, the tallest known Kauri tree. As expected it was very touristic and crowded. But there was a nice grass field as well which was a good lunch spot. Today's lunch was based on 'Dutch Wholemeal Grain' bread. It wasn't exactly what we know as Dutch bread but not too bad either.

    The mission of finding a camp spot took us to the Kai Iwi lakes. It didn't look bad but it was so crowded that we didn't like it too much. We drove on to Dargaville, where we found a farmhouse that offered camping spots on their huge fields of grass. The owner was really kind and gave us and some other guests a free tour of their collection of regional items. It was a great exhibition with two rooms: one dedicated to the history of kumara (sweet potato) farming in New Zealand; and the other a large collection of basically everything you can find in the ocean, from whale vomit and shark bones, to shells in all sizes. They also had swords of swordfish, and a leopard seal skeleton. Also the dining room for their guests had some interesting collected items hanging all over the ceiling and walls including a small underwear collection, a nudists suitcase, and some other rarities. A really great place to stay.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Northland, Нортланд, Nordia Regiono, Northland eskualdea, Northland Region, נורתלנד, Region Northland, ノースランド地方, ნორთლენდის რეგიონი, 노스랜드 지방, Te Tai-tokerau, Нортленд, Wilayah Northland, Northland Tōa-khu, Northland på New Zealand, نارتھ لینڈ علاقہ, 北地大区

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