After this amazing six day experience it was the start of quite a few NZ adventures with Pat.
We started our excursion with a stop at the Matakohe Kauri Museum, with its unique history of pioneering NZ and Kauri Gum, if you have not been there it is well worth a visit. We stayed longer than anticipated here, so we travelled straight through to Opononi that day as we were running out of daylight hours! Not to worry though we stayed 2 nights in Opononi with its stunning outlook to the towering sand dunes over the harbour. Years ago the family surfed and boogie boarded down these dunes, planing at the bottom skimming metres onto the water, such fun! On this trip however it was a little bit more sedate with a spritely 80 year old in tow!
As we had missed the opportunity to see Tane Mahuta the day before, we meandered the 15 minute drive back in the morning and walked in to see this giant beast. Its age is unknown but is estimated to be between 1,250 and 2,500 years. Take your time as there are seats to sit and reflect on the majesty of Tane Mahuta, wander all the walkways to see other magestic trees, like the four sisters! On our way back to Opononi we were not in any hurry so we detoured off the main road to the lookout over Omapere. This view at the mouth of the Hokianga harbour had stunning views of the Ocean and the Harbour looking back to the Sand dunes and town of Opononi. Pat and I love art so we both stood there entranced as the sunlight and shadows from the clouds danced over the sparkling water.
On our way up to Cape Reinga, we stopped at the town of Rawene. Where Pats love of soft material products was satisfied. A browse through the shops here is a great way to spend an hour waiting for the dinky little car ferry which takes you across the water on the way to beautiful Ahipara beach. From there the landscapes went inland to rolling hills and farmland until we made it to the huge sand hills of Ninety Mile beach. Here we stopped to watch the body surfers speeding down the dunes and nearly always tipping off and spilling onto the sand. The laughter and teasing belied the hard work getting up the hill and the hard stop at the bottom. I much preferred the softer water skimming at Opononi!
It had been years since either of us had visited Cape Reinga. The walk up to the lighthouse with views of a spectacular beach on one side, the greenery and sea on the other was very spectacular. But the best view was straight ahead when the sun glinted off the roiling water, where the two oceans met in swirling colliding currents at the tip of the North Island. Mesmerising!
Off we set to Paihia to explore our Maori and Colonial past. While this was fascinating I could not get over the beauty of the Bay of Islands which drew me out onto the water. A quick ferry trip across the water gave us a day trip to Russell, what a quaint little town with great historical buildings and wonderful restaurants for lunch.
From here we decided to take out time and travel the coastline through to Tutukaka, my old stomping ground for long summer holidays of my childhood. With its deep sea fishing and swimming and surfing beaches it was a wonderful playground for my family. While the road is a little winding, it was no more than the Coromandel on which I was brought up. We stayed in Ngunguru with my mum who was recovering from a broken leg. So we had a little change of pace, slower and more relaxed for a day or two. Again stunning views dominated, especially of the Estuary where people were gathering shellfish and boating to the peninsula on the other side. This made for a few lazy days of catching up in the most picturesque setting. Sadly before too long our Northland adventure was over and we were on our way back to Auckland. But not without some discussion on where we would go on her next visit to Aotearoa. But that is another story.