Thirty Seven Days On North Island 17

28 February 20

Posted at 2:41

Sadly we’ve completed the thirty seven days and are now back in the UK. We’ve hopefully avoided coronavirus in transit at Singapore and now down to earth with the reality of British winter and overcrowding, But I never completed the last few days of our stay in New Zealand.

As I mentioned we left Waiheke Island to meet up with our Kiwi friends Andrew and Debbie. We have stayed with them for a few days on each of our pervious trips to NZ so it is something of a tradition.

In 1997 Andrew and Debbie built an amazing house on a large plot of land and native bush they owned (partly proceeds of working in the UK for a few years). We stayed with them there at Christmas soon after they had moved in with their very young family. We have visited a couple of times since. Now over twenty years later we are here again. Three years ago our friends sold their house and embarked on, what I imagined to be a downsizing activity, building a new house with more green technology and lower maintenance still on their land. So for the last three years Andrew and Debbie have lived in a trailer and a collection of containers whilst the fought through the trials and tribulations of building another ‘designer’ house whilst working full time to fund the project. As luck would have it (for us) Andrew and Debbie moved from trailer to new house just two days before we arrived. I can’t help but think our pending arrival pushed them over the finish line. There is still much work to do but they now live in a super house on a building site not a trailer at the side of it!

New HouseThe house from the view.

New House ArielThe house from above

The house is amazing, certainly isn’t downsizing but does as I guess was the main motivation, provide a modern low maintenance and much greener home than the one they sold three years ago and in the shadow of which they have lived in their trailer. The house is something George Clarke would be proud of and it has a view that even George Clarke has never been able to achieve – a view across miles of open countryside, a massive valley below and beyond some 40km away the Auckland skyline and the sea from Pahurehure Inlet to Manukau Heads glistening in between. There can be few views as good as this anywhere.


With three days of our thirty seven left it would have been easy to laze around of the decks of our friends new house but Andrew had taken a few days off work so we could explore places we had not been in the area.. We started by making a 90 minute journey right out of the area down to a town called Raglan based on little more than we had not been there before. Raglan is in the Waikato region and is known for its black sand Ngarunui beach and the long surf break at Manu Bay. Earlier in our adventure you may remember we stayed at Oakura which is on State Highway 45 known as the surfers highway and were disappointed to see very few surfers other than a few para-surfers in New Plymouth. Well Raglan was different, here there were lots of ‘waxheads’ both experienced and beginners having lessons on the beach. We spent an enjoyable day there.

surfing lessonSurfing lesson at Manu Bay

surferAfter the lesson

The next day we visited both Maukau Heads and Lighthouse and also Awhitu Regional park. Maukau Heads is the name of the promontories that form the entrance to one of Auckland’s harbours, Maukau harbour. A famous lighthouse there was built in response to New Zealands worst maritime disaster when HMS Orpheus ran aground on the sand bar there and sank with the loss of 189 lives. The lighthouse is worth a visit with some excellent views and the history of how the lighthouse was manned and in later times restored is very interesting.

Awhitu regional park is on a peninsular within Maukau Harbour. As with the parks we visited North of Auckland the park was picturesque, very spacious, well equipped with freedom camping areas, bbqs and as always some amazing beaches. There is a 4km circular walk through wetlands and beaches taking in an early settler homestead. Some of the sea views are breathtaking.

Manukau HeadsManukau Heads

Awhitu Regional ParkAwhitu Regional Park


So our thirty seven days on North Island drew to a close with or friends in the brand new house in Ararimu. We sat on the deck in the warm evening sun and reflected on our six week adventure. We have stayed in Coromandel Township, Clive (Napier), Okoia Wanganui, Oakura Beach (Taranaki), Te Wahapu (Russell), Coopers Beach, Puhoi , Oneroa (Waiheke Island). We’ve lived in an orchard cottage, a riverbank cottage, a farmstay, a studio apartment, a hideaway on a hill with a private beach, a contemporary home with amazing views of Doubtless Bay, a tiny wooden house over 110 years old and a winemakers loft. Thirty seven days of wall to wall sunshine and just 10 minutes rain in the whole six weeks added to our enjoyment. On previous visits to New Zealand we have lived in camper vans so by default have mixed with other campers and holiday makers. Staying in a variety of rental accommodations in a variety of locations we have spent time mostly with locals and through that have gained an insight to Kiwi life and culture and I must say it has not disappointed.

I remember when talking with ‘Gordon’ on Waiheke Island he said that for many, many years of his life New Zealand was seen as the ‘arse-end’ of the world, isolated, insignificant and somewhat out of touch, but, he said with some pride, not any more, “when I see what is happening in the USA, when I visit the UK and Europe I come back to New Zealand and think ‘arse-end’ of the world? not likely this is now the best place to be in the world”.


After the last thirty seven days I whole heartedly agree with ‘Gordon’.




Thirty Seven Days On North Island 16

19 February 20

Posted at 8:55

Thursday the thirteenth of February was time to leave Puhoi and head for our final Bach which is on Waiheke Island. We started the day with a short drive to Orewa for breakfast, heading for Auckland via Orewa meant we could take the more picturesque route. So a traditional Kiwi breakfast of mince with poached eggs on top, yum yum, and an internet fix via the café’s free wifi and we were on our way.


Anyone who knows me is aware I can’t stand being late so I was anxious to ensure we made the ferry terminal in time. We were taking a ferry from the city centre, Hamer Street to Kennedy Point on Waiheke, there are only three car ferries a day from Hamer street and we were booked on the 2:15pm. Most visitors go to Waiheke as foot passengers and use buses and taxis on the island. So in my true tradition of not being late we rocked up at the ‘ferry terminal’ two and a half hours early. I put ‘ferry terminal’ in inverted commas as it consists of a sort of porta cabin office at the entrance to a fairly small car park in an industrial area and at the front a concrete ramp into the water. A very helpful Sealink lady took my name at the barrier then came back from the office proclaiming our return booking and suggested we park behind one of the two cars who had arrived there earlier than we had. The bonus of arriving early is that we had free parking in the city centre which was just a short walk away. The helpful Sealink lady said we had plenty of time for lunch or whatever just be back to the car by 2pm.second in queueSecond in the queue

We exited the industrial area and walked along Wynyard Wharf passed the Wynyard Quarter of bars and restaurants and across a pedestrian bascule bridge and on to Quay Street which is in the city on the harbour. The nearer we got to Quay Street the more crowded and oppressive it felt. I found myself walking alongside what I suppose were office workers, strangely dressed in long sleeved collared shirts and formal long trousers and they exchanged ‘corporate speak, in loud and self important voices. How strange this seemed after over five weeks dressed only in tees and shorts mixing with laid back rural fishermen, farmers, hippies, Maoris and every sort of alternative lifestyle folk that North Island had thrown our way. Here there was bustle, city folk rushing past mega ocean going yachts, seemingly everyone rushing to upmarket luncheon venues and all this amongst the most horrendous noisy building works. The whole experience was a shock to the system, and not a pleasant one. We believe the building works may be for a Metro system – whatever it is a massive undertaking and for the present does not make this part of Auckland attractive. I’m sure though we will be back next week and will eventually get acclimatised to it. For now we spent some time wandering around the marinas and had a sherbert down Wynyard Wharf before returning to the car.Nice boat

The car park was now full, less than 30 cars, waiting to board the ferry. Boarding was interesting. The ferry was simply a car deck with a small two storey passenger deck at the stern. The process of boarding was interesting, as it was a small ferry with entry/exit at one end each vehicle had to reverse on to the ferry individually. So boarding was even slower than Dover will be post Brexit. Once away it was an enjoyable crossing which took about 80 minutes. The views of Auckland as we sailed away were amazing.FerryArriving at Waiheke

Waiheke Island is just over 20km offshore from Auckland, it covers an area of less than 100 sqkm and has a resident population of round 10,000.this time of year the population swells especially at weekends as it is a holiday playground for Aucklanders and tourists from much further afield. I guess the biggest attraction is the plethora of vineyards and their wineries with exotic restaurants and wine tastings. The island is awash with wine tour mini buses and coaches, taxis and electric bicycles – all full of tourists who have no doubt tasted just a few too many. There are an amazing number of people walking from winery to winery, or unable to find the bus stop to get back to one of the main towns which are all small and holiday orientated.View from loftView from the Winemaker's Loft

We are staying in a Bach described as a winemakers loft, my romantic mind pictured something a little different to what we have. Although it is indeed a loft and belongs I suppose to a wine maker it could also be described as a small apartment above the rear of the wine estate owners large detached garage and office. Having said that it is bright and modern with magnificent views, its just not quite what my mind conjured up. It is well positioned though, a twenty minute walk or two minute drive to Oneroa one of the islands main towns and very close to three or four wineries. We won’t die of thirst!OneroaOneroa

Winemakers vineyardWaiheke Vineyards

We’ve spent a couple of days here now and it has been fun. As ever we are meeting interesting folk as you do when you settle at a place for a few days. This morning in Solar Solar a sort of coffee shop cross pub cross eatery we met a couple, I’ll call them Gordon and Anne as I never got their names but the monikers seem to fit. Anne struck up conversation talking about muffins and from there we discovered that she hailed from the UK but came here 52 years ago not knowing why or even where New Zealand was. Never got to the bottom of that but again my romantic mind assumed she was just a child of the sixties who sort of drifted here. Anyway it was enjoyable to hear her and Gordon’s view of the world from their NZ with UK links (their son now lives in the UK). Having complimented Gordon on my impression how passionate Kiwis are about preserving their ecosystem. Eradicating imported species like possums, stoats, ships rats and Argentian ants – all of which heave few if any predators and are between them destroying New Zealands native plants and trees along with birdlife – including the endangered Kiwi. Alongside that there are massive initiatives to prevent the spread of diseases like Kauri dieback which threatens these massive ancient trees. There is tremendous pride and concern with people at all levels to preserve the flora and fauna and indeed the Maori culture and traditions. I have been struck by this and told Gordon so. My mistake was to comment how the Chinese appear to have a total disregard for these efforts and the rules and regulations in place to make them a reality. It was an off the and comment based on my disgust at what I have observed many times over recent weeks. Whereas Gordon wholeheartedly agreed Anne became incensed and began loudly berating the Chinese for everything and in particular how they were rude and arrogant, didn’t understand queuing be it in the supermarket of at a pedestrian crossing. She had a real issue and began relaying her experiences of them jumping queues, pushing with their utter rudeness. It took sometime to steer the conversation back to something more genteel.

On many occasions we became involved in quite deep conversations with long term Waiheke residents. There appears to be an island mentality there which we have not come across elsewhere. I found it enjoyable.

After four days on the island, mostly sampling wine and doing beach walks it was time to leave and commence the very last leg of our journey. We took the little car ferry back to Hamer Street and headed for the country near Drury, south of Auckland where our friends Andrew and Debbie live (the ones who spent time with us at Coopers Beach). I will tell of our time there in the next post which as today is actually day 37 I will have to make in the UK!



Thirty Seven Days On North Island 15

14 February 20

Posted at 9:16

Today, 11th February, we’ve spent exploring little Puhoi a bit more and learning its history (more later) and we took a short drive out to Mahurangi national park and then down to Orewa. Puhoi is actually closer to the SH1 than I said previously, it’s only just over a kilometre which makes the seclusion all the more remarkable. The national park can be accessed via a road about 3km north and then it’s about ten kilometres to get to the Mahurangi west entrance. There are only two vehicle accesses to the park the other being 16km south. All other access is via boat. The park is quite massive with picturesque walks, sea views and beaches and it seems precious few people. We spent a couple of hours walking a loop there, it was great if a bit steep in places.Mahurangi West 1Mahurangi West

Mahurangi West 2Mahurangi West

Leaving Mahurangi we drove a few miles south, avoiding the toll road which starts close to the Puhoi Road, through Waiwera to Orewa. Orewa is a seaside town consisting primarily of restaurants and bars along with a lovely sandy beach which slopes gently giving a lot of shallow sea for paddling etc. There are so, so many beaches on North island it is difficult to take in, there are thousands and most seem deserted, or they are so big the people using them are dwarfed. So we spent a couple of hours there, it was bustling compared with Puhoi but in reality quiet and we had a long walk on the beach with few other people.

On returning to Puhoi we visited the tiny museum and of course had an obligatory visit to the Puhoi pub.Puhoi ChurchPuhoi Church

Puhoi was founded in 1860 by a Captain Krippner, who retired from the Austrian cavalry and emigrated with his family to New Zealand. James Krippner came from German speaking Bohemia (now the Czech Republic). In 1863 he sent for more Bohemians to come and settle here. It was a 110 day journey by sea for them. They had no idea how difficult farming would be in New Zealand compared with their homeland. Over the following years two more groups of Bohemians came to Puhoi, by 1872 200 had emigrated here. The story of how the community developed, how they enhanced forestry skills is all quite fascinating and the history is evidenced in all the buildings here many of which have hardly changed over the years. In the Puhoi Pub there are massive two man saws on the walls which were used to fell the giant kauri trees the trunks of which were transported by oxen and some fascinating contraptions for hauling the timber.

The population today is only 450 so it hasn’t grown a great deal, if you remove motor transport and of course some of the newer designed buildings it is not difficult to imagine how it was back around 1900.

We only came here by accident I was looking for a Bach to stay in after Coopers beach and before we go to Waiheke island (on Thursday) I came across Puhoi Cosy Cottage which seemed ideal for two and far enough from Auckland city but until we got here I had no idea what a charming little find it would be.Cosy Cottage BathOutside bath - the cottage had a shower in the bathroom but the bath is outside! the second time we have had such a feature on our travels.

So tomorrow is our last day here, we may go to Waiwera and checkout the cheese store (they make a lot of cheese there apparently) here in Puhoi and no doubt the pub.

The following day we did indeed head for Waiwera, after checking out the Sugarloaf as a potential lunch spot (it appeared to be a cross between a night club and a pool hall so we gave it a tentative tick) we headed back to visit the Wenderholm Regional Park that we had passed on the way. It turned out to be better than we expected so we stayed for some time. It is a massive country park with numerous beaches and country walks. It was popular and clearly is a favourite place for BBQs. There are many brick built BBQs, well spaced out as the park is simply so big. Unfortunately the BBQs are all taped off with warnings from the fire service. There is a total fire ban here at the moment, after over two months without rain the whole area feels like a tinderbox and with so many massive eucalyptus trees the area would be like Australia was recently if fire broke out. Never the less there were a lot of people around (for New Zealand) and one or two school trips. Having spent much of the day there we headed back to Waiwera to sample the beer and food at the Sugarloaf. It was indeed an odd place but the beer and food was good. It is situated opposite a spa centre (Waiwera is famous for its hot spa). Chatting to a couple of blokes playing pool (and consuming copious amounts of beer) we discovered the massive spa centre was closed down at the moment, apparently it was purchased with Russian mafia funding and soon after it was purchased it closed down due to investigation into its financial situation. This explained to us why Waiwera in general, and the large establishment opposite the spa, the Sugarloaf were quite quiet. This did mean that before leaving we could have a pleasant walk along yet another near deserted beach.Wenderholm Regional ParkWenderholm Regional Park





Thirty Seven Days On North Island 14

11 February 20

Posted at 1:10

Puhoi (population 450) is situated just north of Auckland and just off of the SH1, for New Zealand a busy road which is under a lot of development but as soon as you turn off the road you are in a sleepy rural area. Within a few kilometres is Puhoi, a hamlet really centred around a ford on the river Puhoi and a grand pub dating back to 1879. The large impressive colonial building , originally called the German Hotel, is now appropriately named the Puhoi Pub and Hotel. It is a proper pub and prospers from day trippers out from Auckland along with construction workers from the tunnelling and road improvements on the SH1.Puhoi PubPuhoi Pub

Puhoi dronePuhoi from above

Other than the pub Puhoi is really quaint with a little general store, library, community hall and a couple of quaint tea rooms and tiny shops and of course a school. The houses are spread around the surrounding hills, lots of farms etc. Along Krippner road (named after the Bohemian who originally owned all the land on which Puhoi stands), is a small farm where Pete and Debbie have their home and where Puhoi Cosy Cottage also now resides. The cottage is where we are staying.puhoi cosy cottage 2Puhoi Cosy Cottage

Pete and Deb bought the cottage on New Zealand’s equivalent of Ebay in 2008 for $7,500 (£3750). It was built in 1915 and located in Fleet Street, Newton, Auckland. Originally used as the office for The Pelican Club, a whorehouse. It now had to be removed from its site to make way for a parking lot.

Having bought the cottage Pete and Deb had the challenge of transporting it to Puhoi, then when the finally got it on a low loader to their land they discovered that it would not fit up the long, very steep drive. So the cottage was cut in two and transported up the hill to its current site, down the hill from their own house and next to an unusual tin house. It then took nine years of blood sweat and I’m sure some tears for the cottage to be restored to the amazing and unique quirky cottage it is today. We will spend the next few days exploring the area including Orewa, the nearest coastal town.Puhoi Cottage DronePuhoi Cosy Cottage from drone

Yesterday Puhoi’s small population of 450 increased significantly when there was a days filming here for a new BBC series called Mystique. The general store was closed all day and its signage, along with that of the library opposite changed. From dawn till dusk the place was bustling with everything and everyone that goes with a film production. It was interesting to see and of course the pub did well out of it even if it doesn’t feature in the programme.Mystique Film set

Puhoi changes for a day to the film set for BBC series Mystique





Thirty Seven Days On North Island 13

11 February 20

Posted at 1:02

Today, Sunday 9th February, we left Coopers Beach along with Andrew and Debbie. I’ve been upset to leave all of the six places we have stayed so far on this trip but I think most upset to be leaving this area, I love it and there is so much more we could experience here. Only thing for it is we will have to return one day!

We are heading south to a place called Puhoi in North Auckland, a good way north of Auckland (60km or more) in UK distances but not so far for Kiwis. We decided to go south via the West coast as opposed to the more direct SH1 East coast route. This enabled us to take in the Hokianga harbour, which appears to be a lake but is actually the estuary to the Waihou river. We stopped at Opononi and Omapere to admire the views and especially at Arai te Uru where I took some drone photos. We then went down to the Waipoua forest and saw the magnificent Tane Mahuta, a kauri tree some two thousand years old, 51.5m high and with a trunk girth of 13.8m. The trunk volume is estimated at 244.5 cubic metres!! This is the biggest of many massive ancient kauri trees in the forest. The trees are threatened by a disease called kauri dieback – the lengths the conservationists and everyday Kiwis are going to stem the spread of this awful disease is commendable.Tane Mahuta 2Tane Mahuna

Tane Mahuta 1Tane Mahuna with Marilyn for scale


After leaving the forest we said goodbye to our friends for a couple of weeks, we will stay with them at the end of our journey, they headed home to the Bombay Hills and we set off for a cosy 100 year old cottage in Puhoi that once was the office for a brothel in downtown Auckland. More of that in the next instalment


Thirty Seven Days On North Island 12

08 February 20

Posted at 5:22

We are now staying near Cooper’s Beach in the Far North. Our Bach is well posh compared with previous ones (although we’ve loved all of them). This one is bigger as we are being joined here for a few days by friends Andrew and Debbie who live south of Auckland. We have no wifi here which is most strange and means I can get on with writing more than I usually get time for.


So I’ll go back to Bay of Islands first of all. The drive there from Hamilton was long and tiring, not what we’ve been used to. It is the first time we’ve been north of Auckland. To get to the Russell peninsular there is a 10 minute ferry ride which eliminates a long drive. We were staying a couple of kilometres outside of Russell overlooking a bay from a high bush area. There were lots of houses hidden in the area. The track to ours, Fern Tree Cottage was steep. We missed it first time and ended up at the end of the track where an extrovert looking old chap with a beard and a wide brimmed sun hat was messing about with an outboard motor outside his wood cabin. He looked at us and wandered over, when he spoke he had a German or maybe Scandinavian accent and he spoke slowly. I told him we were looking for Fern Cottage. He scratched hic chin, shook his head and repeated Fern Cottage? He looked back along the track and shook his head and looked back at me. We seemed to have reached an impasse and he didn’t appear too impressed that we were there. He then said, “you see that blue tarpaulin on the right?” “ Fern Cottage is there” “Bab’s place isn’t it?” It was as though his brain was operating in slow motion and his face gave nothing away. He seemed happy now though and so were we!

Babs had left the key in the door of the cottage which was down a really steep drive (we walked down) then a path and steps through bush to a wooden cottage built on many levels in the trees. Going in it was quirky and quaint, had multiple decks and nooks and crannies with seating areas amongst the trees. Also magnificent views down to the bay dotted with yachts. Bab’s then arrived and gave us a tour, she also had a German accent and looked like an ageing hippy. Then from the bush appeared her partner, a portly suntanned gent with a broad hat, off white singlet and sporting some extended hedge clippers which we found he spent ages pruning the various trees in the bush around our houses. He was a well jolly fellow full of anecdotes and irony. He wasn’t German. They made an amazing couple, they told us they had a yacht moored in the bay and also two kayaks and a canoe down on out little beach that we were free to use. Also down on the tiny beach was a hut and a shower. A set of old wooded steps led to the beach down a very steep path.

It is easy when staying in such unusual settings with interesting folk to just stay and chill but at each of our eight stops (well nine now counting Hamilton) there is so much to see, explore and do you have to make the effort to drag yourself away. We only have four or so days at each place and it has become abundantly clear that is nowhere near enough time.

Russell is a nice little town, not as busy as Piahia on the other side (across the ferry), the sea views are incredible, cafes restaurants and bars all good. For the first time on our travels we met quite a few Brits in Russell, youngsters working in the restaurants, others, older who have emigrated here living a bohemian lifestyle without a care in the world and of course there are the yachting set which is really what this area is all about. We met more Brits when we did the Hole in the Rock boat trip. We had a great time chatting with some lads from Dorking who are doing a six month trip covering OZ, NZ and some of Asia. They told us of their journey, by bus, which will cover most of both North and South island in a whistle stop tour. We were able to swap lots of stories and tips. One of them was so envious of the places we were staying in, he said he could wait for the night when he can go into his own room and shut the door after weeks of sleeping six, seven or more in one room, sometimes having to take turns to us the single power point they share!


So we’ve now said goodbye to the mixed bag that live and holiday in the beautiful Bay of Islands and moved a couple of hours North to Coopers Beach. Mangonui is the nearest, I suppose you could say town, a kilometre or two away. It has a very popular fish and chip shop which is ‘world famous’ as are so many things I’ve never heard of before that I have come across on this trip. Our friends have arrived to join us so I’m now getting facts about the local; area instead of having to make them up!Mangonui Chip ShopMangonui Fish and Chip Shop

Magonui PaView from Mangonui Pa


A couple of days ago week took a trip from here in a four wheel drive bus right up to the northern most point of New Zealand where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman sea meet. It is called Cape Reinga and there is a lighthouse there and although it’s not claimed as such I’m sure it actually is world famous. The journey in total is about 120km, we were due to do part of it along a beach known as 90 mile beach which is actually 57 miles long – still a fair old beach though.Buzz's BusBuzz's Bus

The journey up there by road went through predominantly Maori owned land. Our driver, Buzz, was Maori and fiercely proud. He was great and gave us a really informative and passionate insight into Maori culture and tradition and what is happening today. About 30km form here we entered an area where as far as you could see in either direction were avocado plantations. Buzz explained a situation where positive actions/decisions taken can have some unexpected and self defeating results. An example of I’m sure similar situations around the world.

There is and has been a tension between Maoris and the NZ government about returning land to Maori tribes that is rightfully theirs. This is achieved through years of debate negotiation and treaty making. On a positive note more and more government owned land is slowly being returned to its rightful owners. The area we were driving through, which is vast, was such land. Massive swathes of it had some years ago been given back to some local tribes. The term tribe refers to cultural heritage, the people are 21st century folk not what the imagination might conjure up with the word tribe. Any once title of the lands was restored the owners naturally wish to prosper economically form their ownership. So far so good. Throughout the world there are moves to address climate change and the impact the human race are having on the planet. One currently popular theory is that consumption of meat is a massive contributor to climate change so there is an drive to vegetarian even vegan diets. Personally I have an issue with this as the methane produce through farming can easily be 100% eliminated but currently I haven’t got my point across! So there is now a massive demand globally for the production of vegetarian essential products. Avocado is one such product, its even popular with those on a balanced diet and avocados need a semi tropical environment. There are simply not enough avocado plantations available so while in South America they destroy rain forests to grow avocados here in the Far North New Zealand the Maoris were tempted with untold riches to lease their newly acquired land on long contracts to global avocado producers and they did, thousands of hectares of it. On the face of it all is well, the veggies in Islington get their avocados and fairness is restored to the Maoris. Ironically climate change means there is a lot less rain in the far North that there once was. Avocados require a hell of a lot more water that pasture land or natural bush. So today the avocado plantations, which are still expanding are using up massive amounts of scarce water. According to some this has gone past the point of no return and the whole area could become a barren, uninhabitable desert. Some Maoris, who are descendants of tribes living here for centuries are up in arms and protesting others in the age old tradition can only think of making a buck today. The outcome of all this is of course unclear at present but it showed to me that there are unforeseen consequences of what appear to be fair and positive decisions.

Coopers Beach 290 Mile Beach


Anyway off the politics and world issues and back to travelling round North Island. Having got to Cape Reinga and experienced, and indeed photographed, the awesome views there, learnt about how after death all Maori souls travel to this point to then return to their origin and dwelt on that belief we departed to drive along 90 mile beach. On arrival at the North End of it there are some massive sand dunes. In fact there would be moving sand dunes for miles but parallel with the beach there are 5 or so kilometre deep tree plantations which serve to stop the erosion but at the top point the dunes are allowed to form and move. The massive dunes provide a brilliant environment for dune surfing. So long as your legs and lungs are strong enough to climb the dunes in the first place surfing down is an exhilarating experience, even if occasionally you fall off!Dune SurfingI fell off but I went back up again

Cape Reinga 1

Cape ReingaCape Reinga 2Cape Reinga

A drive along 90 mile beach is an experience, you see surf casters, torpedo fishing and others enjoying the thrill of driving along a never ending beach. 90 mile beach was so called because in times gone by it was said a horse would travel 30 miles in a day and it took three days to travel end to end along the beach. Well it’s 57 miles long so somewhere along the way someone got things wrong. It is though a great experience and there is far more to see and understand than is immediately obvious.


Since then we have spent two days with our friends visiting just a few of the often deserted beaches and bays in this area, Enjoying the local cafes and bars and enjoying chillin in our Bach. As ever we don’t have enough time here, tomorrow we go south to Puhoi. Despite it being at the extreme top of New Zealand I’m sure if we are lucky enough to spend time in NZ again we will make sure this area is on our itinery.

Puheke BeachPuheke Beach (drone photo)

Sunset from the BachSunset from Cooper's Beach Bach - Bay View Retreat (drone photo)




Thirty Seven Days On North Island 11

03 February 20

Posted at 8:23

Well we are having so much fun and so much to do it’s difficult to fit the blog and photos in!!


We are now in Bay of Islands in what is known as Northlands. We’ve been here three days and tomorrow drive two hours further to Coopers Beach in the Far North. We have been staying in a Bach close to Russell. It is a quirky house built on many levels and with multiple doors, its own little beach and has the most brilliant views across the bay. It’s all really about boating and sailing here and the house actually feels like a boat.Sunset from the DeckSunset View from Fern Cottage


This is the area that Captain Cook was the first European to visit NZ. It is also the area of the original capital of the country and also where you find the treaty grounds where the Independence treaty was signed. Next Thursday, 6th, there is a big festival at the Treaty Grounds commemorating the signing. We may come back down for it.


To get here there is a short ferry ride which saves a long and windy route around the coast. Russell is a sweet town, preferable to Piahia across the bay and nearer the Treaty Grounds. It is easy just to idle away the time watching the boats, visiting little beaches etc. but today we took a boat trip around some of the islands and included the ‘world famous’ hole in the rock.

Hole in the RockHole In The Rock

It was a great way to appreciate why it’s known as Bay of Islands and an interesting view of life and nature here.Russell FerryThe Russell Ferry runs every 10 minutes each way


This morning we walked up Flag Staff which is famous in that when the Waitangi treaty was signed bringing together the Maoris and the British. The story of what transpired with the Flag staff between 1840 and 1857, with one party of the agreement continually breaking their word and cutting the staff down is somewhat like a pre run of Brexit – there are so many similarities. On a positive note ultimately there was a coming together and unity which has now lasted over 150 years.Sail ShipSailing Ships everywhere here

We move on again tomorrow, just two hours further North, yet again we have no real desire to move on, just like all our previous stays we could do with a few more days. It is becoming clear that thirty seven days is nowhere near long enough!

Russell at SundownRussell