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
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 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.Outside 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 Park