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Published: March 26th 2008
Jude erects the tent all on her lonesome. How's that for girl power?!
Leaving the beautiful bay at Rawhiti, we had a few potential camping spots to investgate for our next stay. Up and down the winding, undulating gravel road we went again with Glynn looking worse today than he did yesterday. After about 30 minutes, we came to our first campsite candidate at Helena Bay but a quick inspection showed us a small, brown beach with choppy seas and no obvious place to pitch a tent. On we drove.
We headed back south, returning to regions we passed through in the early morning mist just yesterday. The landscapes looked totally different in the full glare of the midday sun but just as pretty as before. The small peaks we had seen peeking through the fog now formed the tips of small mountain ranges with a seemingly endless carpet of green covering it all. We drove through sub-tropical forest almost all the way, cutting across deep valleys and slicing our way through the vegetation. It almost felt like we could be back in the highlands of Malaysia.
Uretiti Beach, our next location, turned out to be a real gem. Accessible directly from the motorway, we hadn't expected much of this Department of
Campsite No. 2
Our pitch at Uretiti camp site. Not much of a view but the beach certainly made up for it!
Conservation campsite as the brochure had only showed a picture of the site itself and nothing of the location. Usually if there's a nice beach or forest to explore, that's the picture that accompanies the blurb. We pulled up at the gate, paid our $14 for the night (by this time Glynn was too exhausted to drive any further) and scouted around for a pitch. The site allegedly offers 500 pitches but it looked like half of Auckland had turned up to spend Easter here! After a couple of circuits, we found a nice, flat grassy spot and I got to work setting up camp, leaving Glynn to get some energy back. I'm proud to report that I had the tent up in less than 10 minutes!
Leaving Glynn to get some rest, I went for a wander to see what the beach is like because according to the map, the campsite is almost directly on the coast. I found a path through the sand dunes which was covered in lovely soft, white sand and just a couple of minutes later found myself face to face with over 12 km of the most heavenly, golden sandy beach. I couldn't
View from the beach looking north at sunset.
believe it. Dipping my toes into the water, I found the sea to be warm and extremely inviting. I quickly stripped down to my togs (swimming gear) and plunged straight in. Fabulous!
A couple of hours later, I dragged myself back to base to check on Glynn, stopping on the way to admire a steel plated campervan. For those of you who don't know, I'm rather a fan of metal things and this was easily the coolest bus conversion I'd ever seen. When the owner, a middle aged man called Keith, popped his head outside, I couldn't resist paying a compliment and was rewarded by a guided tour of the inside. All decked out in wood and metal, it was the epitome of cool. Keith told me he lives in the bus on his own and makes a living creating funky greetings . What a great life to have.
Back at base, I found Glynn wide eyed and eager to take a peek at our new found slice of paradise. We took a stroll north along the beach and with the sun setting and the warm waters lapping against our bare feet, it felt like a truly romantic
Glynn just can't function without his morning cuppa!
place to be. We spent the remainder of the evening chatting to our fellow campers including an older chap called Errol who is a Hash House Harrier. He described the HHH as being a 'drinking club with a running problem' and went on to describe his many adventures running with fellow enthusiasts in various exotic locations around the world. He also informed us about the unwritten zones on Uretiti Beach. Apparently, there's a far-off bit that's widely accpeted to be for naturists, another section for gay campers (did I really just put those 2 words together?) and the large, central slice of beach for everyone else.
We slept surprisingly well that night, given the volume of people on the campsite. Everyone seemed mindful of the 'no noise after 10pm' rule and when we awoke bright and early next day, Glynn was looking much, much better. While Glynn brewed himself a cuppa, I took myself for a really long morning walk along the beach, hoping to find some intact specimens of the big but sadly broken seashells I had seen yesterday. Alas, the oystercatchers and seagulls had beaten me to it, breaking open every shell in sight to get at
Catchers in the Tide
Oystercatchers combing the beach for a feed in the early morning sun.
the flesh inside.
Not longer after, Glynn joined me on the beach and we spent a happy morning running in and out of the sea and splashing about in the big waves. It was as perfect a beach destination as you coul possibly want, with a few rocky islands dotted along the distant skyline and jagged pinnacles rising up from the headlands on either end of this long stretch of sand. On our way back to camp to get showered, I decided to do something I haven't done since I was a holiday rep in Fuerteventura - rolling down a sand dune! It was loads of fun and Glynn managed to capture it all on video. (I tried to post the video on here but it didn't work - sorry)
Reluctantly, we decided we would leave Uretiti at lunchtime to try and avoid the traffic jams that we were warned would begin later on today and all day tomorrow. To our surprise, the motorway was free-flowing and we needn't have been concerned. In fact, having monitored the traffic crossing smoothly over the harbour bridge since we got back, (the bridge is the only way in and out of
Remnants of an early morning feed on the beach by the gulls and oystercatchers.
the Northland by road), we regretted leaving so soon. Another day would have been perfect. Still, it only took us 1 hour 45 mins to drive home so we know we can always go back again for another weekend break any time we like. Magic.
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