Edit Blog Post
Published: January 24th 2014
Monday 13th January, 2014. Drive to Auckland, North Island, New Zealand.
We left Dargaville and continued our drive along the north west coast the North Island. We headed for a pinnacle called Tokatoka Peak that we had seen in the Dargaville blurb. We could see it clearly from the road but continued on and turned up to the start of the walking track. The scenery was very boring (we couldn't see the peak anymore) and it was a steep climb. We decided we had bigger fish to fry, so we returned to the road and drove back to where we had some good views of the peak and took some photos before continuing on our way.
We came to a sign off to our left for Pinoa Falls along the Gorge Road. We weren't in any hurry so decided to go and take a look. Piroa Falls are located in the Waipu Gorge Scenic Reserve. The sign said it was 6 km (along a gravel road), but we were sure it was more. We reached the parking area and found a space. We started off down the track which is a short and steep zigzag down through bush
into the gorge. You cross the Ahuroa River on a concrete slab bridge with “Rotary 1983” engraved on it (the track was built and upgraded courtesy of Maungaturoto Rotary Club).
About five minutes after crossing the bridge, we came to the bottom of the picturesque Piroa Falls. The falls are Horsetail falls, 20 metres high (a Horsetail waterfall is one where the descending water maintains some contact with bedrock). There was a great swimming hole at the base of the falls. We thought it would make a lovely picnic day out for a local family. It was a worthwhile deviation and when we measured the distance back to the main road it was more like 8 km!
We continued on our way towards the beaches to the west of Auckland, rejoining the Twin Coast Scenic Highway (TCSH). We stopped at a view point where we had a fantastic view across the farmland to Kaipara Harbour. Continuing on the TCSH we drove through the town of Helensville. Helensville is an historic town on the Kaipara River at the southern edge of the Kaipara Harbour. It is just 40 minutes from downtown Auckland. The town was originally known as "Te Awaroa"
(The Valley of the Long River). Helensville features scores of fine old buildings, especially kauri cottages
and villas situated close to the town centre and some excellent commercial structures such as the Old Post Office building.
Following the TCSH south we turned off right towards Muriwai Beach. We parked in the car park and had a quick look at the beach which was fairly wild - all the more so because the weather was very grey and windy. Then we headed back to the town centre and turned off following the signs to the Gannet Colony which is why we had come here. We parked in the car park and followed the Otakamino Trail to the Gannet colony. There were several fantastic viewing platforms where you could get close to these elegant birds. There were thousands of them spread out before us and in the
distance on the rocks. It is the breeding season and the doting parents were all attending to their fluffy chicks. It was fantastic to get so close to the action.
We reluctantly left the gannets and rejoined the TCSH until we came to the turnoff for Piha which was D's chosen destination for
the day. This west coast of the Northland region of NZ was occcupied by Te Kawerau a Maki (the local iwi) for many centuries. Most of the area was purchased from the Maori in the mid 19th century and allocated in Crown-Grants. Whites Beach and Mercer Bay are named after local landowners. From the late 19th century, this coast became a holiday destination and coaches brought some holidaymakers to boading houses while others preferred to camp informally. Roads were imporved by relief workers during the 1930's depression and bus services began. Piha and Karekare now have busy seaside communities with permanent residents joining the significant number of holiday bach owners.
Piha Beach has a large rocky outcrop sitting in the middle of it called Lion Rock. It is possible to climb this rock, and the AA guide said there are fantastic views from the top. The weather was very iffy so we didn't fancy this climb much - might get blown off! In fact we didn't even go down to the beach. We stopped on the road where we had some fantastic views and took some photographs.
Instead we turned around and took a fork off the road
to Karekare Beach. Karekare is called "Wai Kareka" (the bay of the boisterous seas) in Maori. We wandered around the Karekare Conservation Area which is adjacent to the car park. Here there is a carved Maori Pou. This symbolises the manawhenua or spiritual guardianship of Te Kawerau. Then we walked up the steep incline until we found the track down to Karekare Falls. We waked down to the waterfall through native bush which was lovely and shady. We took some photographs and then returned and took the track to Karekare beach. This was a surprisingly long tramp, and quite hard going through deep sand and over sand dunes. Once we arrived, we found a spectacular, almost deserted beach. The weather had improved too. We took some photos and returned to the car via an alternative track.
We continued in to Auckland and found the YH without a problem. There was, however, a problem with the parking. We were on a 5 minute slot so M stayed in the car while poor D humped all the stuff into the hostel. We were on the 7th (top) floor of the YH which was in an old hotel building - lucky there
was a lift. By now it was 6 pm and we could park on the metered spaces for free. In the evening we drove out to Hillsborough (an Aucklan suburb) to visit our friend Debbie's brother in law. Unfortunately, we couldn't meet Angela, Debbie's sister as she was out of town. Chris made us very welcome and we met Deb's neice and a few of her mates. We had some nibbles (a lot of nibbles ) and some nice wine. It was a very pleasant evening. We returned to the YH and decided we didn't need to cook as we were full of nibbles. Tomorrow we have the day in Auckland.
Tot: 2.287s; Tpl: 0.052s; cc: 12; qc: 30; dbt: 0.028s; 2; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb