It was a 337 km drive up through Auckland and part of the Northland to the Kauri museum. We made a lunch stop in Orewa, just above Auckland, to visit Libby. She was delighted to see us again and had homemade lentil soup ready.
Just 1 hr before closing time we reached the large Kauri museum with diorama’s and machinery of the Kauri wood cutting history. Sad but a fact that these mighty 1000+ year old trees have almost vanished completely from the island. The wood has a light colour and was used for houses, furniture and wine barrels. It grows straight up and very slow. This gives it very narrow growth rings and a fine grain. The tree can extrude a gum which is also quite valuable. Since it was getting late we drove down to the Pahi bay and found a lovely campsite on a grass field running all the way into the bay. A large fig tree stands watch over the campers.
The next morning we went back again to the museum to have a better look at the outside equipment and the local post telephone exchange. It rained heavily while we were inside. In the museum shop we took the opportunity to purchased a shoe cut out of old swamp kauri wood as a memento.
It rained heavily again as we drove further along the winding coastal road to the Waipoua forest where the last remaining large Kauri trees are. It is on a steep ridge with a stream in the middle. No doubt they were saved because the land was not easily accessible for farming. It is a real “4D”forest. There are a large number of huge kauri trees and they are of all ages. Young saplings, might 1000+ year olds and dead ones still standing and others toppled over and now overgrown by young trees. A boardwalk leads you past all the interesting large trees. Breathtaking and it also makes you feel small and humble. It was reasonably dry during the walk and in the end the sun even made an appearance.
We drove out of the park further along the road to another large long inlet and found a campsite just in time before it became dark and the wind picked up as well as the rain. The camper is shaking with the wind. Throughout the night it kept blowing and raining.
The next day the wind stayed but the rain stopped and the sun was shining. We continued our route to the North Cape of New Zealand. After a ferry crossing and some nice small winding roads we reached the south end of the “90 mile beach”. In the surf below us people were wave surfing despite the strong wind. We settled for lunch in the camper with a view of the beach.
The wind was too strong to sit outside. In Kaitaia we paid the road tax for another 2000 km. This should last us to the end. The 104 km road over the land spit up to Cape Reinga leads through wide hilly grass land with ongoing planting and harvesting of trees. Every now and then there is a lovely view of either the “Great Exhibition Bay” on the east or the Tasman Sea on the west side of the spit. It was sometimes difficult to keep the camper on the road due to the strong wind gusts. At the cape it was even worse and Jamaliah had to hold on to Rudy in order not to be blown away. Just below the cape there is a well visited DOC campsite on a small inlet where we spent the night (238 km). Again the wind is blowing hard outside.
As predicted the sun was shining the next day but the wind was still strong. We drove back down from the top of New Zealand initially on the SH1 before turning off onto the SH10 towards the coast. Along the 90 mile beach there are several sections with large sand dunes. We drove off the main road to one of them (Te Paki sand dunes). Being New Zealand there were sand boards for hire to slide down the dunes. Jamaliah does not like to get sand in her hair so we passed up on the sliding, but Rudy still had a climb up the dunes.
SH10 towards Kerikeri winds over hills from one beautiful bay to the next. In Kerikeri we finally visited a Maori PA site (fortified town) and also saw the oldest stone house in New Zealand (1836) which is now a curio shop. A bit further down the road at Paihia we camped just before Waitangi, which we wanted to visit early in the morning (238 km).
Waitangi is the site where the treaty between the Moari chiefs and the British representative was signed. It was the start of the legal colonisation of New Zealand and brought it under control of the British Crown. Ever since the signing there were misunderstandings on both sides as to what the purpose of the document was. The Maori thought, that by signing, the British Governor would protect them and keep the emigrants under control so that both people could live peacefully side by side. The British however took total responsibility for the whole country and its people so also over the Maori chiefs. Land could be sold but only to the British government. Up till today the Maori are still fighting in court the titles of land and their fishing rights. The issues have almost all been solved primarily because both parties want to put an end to these disputes and move own as one nation. It was a lovely sunny day and we fully enjoyed the strolls through the site looking into the Bay of Islands and visiting the treaty house as well as the cultural show in the Marae.
The night was spent off the beaten track at a campsite on the shores of the Whangarei bay (242 km).
Just before skypeing with the boys in Holland Rudy managed to dislodge one of his crowns while cleaning his teeth with a toothpick. So the first port of call was finding a dentist willing to squeeze him in-between other patient. Found in town 2 dental clinics. The first one was fully booked but the second dentist had a delayed patient and in no time glued the crown back into place. After that the holiday could continue with a visit to the clock museum in Whangarei. A very helpful lady showed us around and let the clocks do their tricks (chime, cuckoo, gong, and even play Mozart).
After that it was the long haul down the SH1 past Auckland. This time we paid the toll to speed things up, only to got caught in the traffic at the harbour bridge. It looked like more and more people were coming on to the motor way and not much were leaving it. After 1 ¾ hr we made it past Auckland and were on our way again. Not far up the SH2 to the east coast we turned off towards the Firth of Thames and settled down in a busy, touristy, 4 star, Hot springs, Holiday Park at Miranda (268 km). To get value for his money Rudy went into the Thermal pool while Jamaliah prepared dinner.