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Published: January 6th 2010
Finally a proper trip for a whole four days! As I say I have been working and as with casual work it's usally on the weekends but there it was a whole weekend off, well I had to cancel one shift to make it a long weekend. Of course the planning then had to be quick and that to be honest usually stresses me out. I had recently officially bought a car to get me to and from work so travel itself was not the problem. We decided to do two nights, Thursday and Friday, in a place which gave us access to Cape Reinga and then one night in the Bay of Islands. Our Lonely planet guide recommended a hostel in Ahipara, reviews on line looked good and they had a double room available for two nights so that was booked easily enough. Then it was where to stay in the Bay of Islands, Russell or Paihia. My husband was definitely more keen on Russell though Paihia appeared to be the cheaper option. We felt though as it was only for one night it would be easier to see Russell by staying there and I hoped to eventually
convince him that it was a good idea to drive the Russell Rd home. So we found a B&B that appeared reasonable and nice and that was quickly booked and sorted.
Accommodation sorted meant so what are we going to do when we get there. You can drive to Cape Reinga on your own but so many people online mentioned going on a bus tour and well if someone else could do the driving for a change then why not and you can learn a bit more about the history of the area then why not....so bus tour booked. Then you can't go to the Bay of Islands and not spend time on the water so we decided to book a boat tour to the Hole in the Rock and fingers crossed we would see some dolphins!
The last thing to decide was how to get there along what they call the twin coast discovery route. I am into seeing as much as possible when we can because with this whole trip to New Zealand in the back of your mind you know there is so much to see and so little time and you have to pick
and choose. We decide to go West Coast which is a bit longer but it is more scenic and I knew there were some beautiful stops along the way. My influence was borrowing a book from the library 'Northland's top spots'
by Bob McCree which highlights all the beautiful places you can see.
The Kauri Coast
So yes the weather looks good for the weekend and off we go leaving early on Thursday morning on the 17th December. We are so organised we even have a packed lunch of all the essentials: sandwiches, fruit, crisps and water with lemon. We head down Highway 1 and take a left onto Highway 12 to do the Twin Coast Discovery Route. After about 2 hours of driving on what eventually became a very straight road our first stop was just outside of Dargaville at Baylys Beach. It was our first experience of a proper driving beach though we certainly decided we were not trusting our car on the sands. Again another breathtaking beach surrounded by high sand dunes. A first place for a snack...what is it about road trips that make you munch on chips constantly! The views continuing along the
coast line were fantastic and we stopped a few times to take some pics.
Our next desitnation was driving through the Waipoua Forest to visit Tane Mahuta, New Zealand's largest Kauri tree. The road twists and winds through the forest. We decided to stop at the visitor centre first which is not necessarily the most necessary of stops. Visiting the tree only involves a five minute walk into the forest and it is definitely worth the stop. It is not necessarily tall so much as it's girth is pretty amazing. You have to look at the tree with some amount of respect and awe!
We continued along till I suddenly exclaimed, ok it's an expletive so I can't really admit what I exclaimed. We were being welcomed to Omapere and Opononi with fantastic views over Hokianga Harbour to this monolithic sand dune. It was to say the least breathtaking! We stopped to do the scenic view which has lovely views across the Harbour and walks along beaches. If we had more time we certainly would have stayed a lot longer than we did and done a bit of walking. We drove to Rawene where we took the ferry
to Kohukohu before a long twisting drive to Ahipara when I tragically started to feel car sick.
Thankfully once you arrive in Ahipara you can take a pit stop along the beach. Our first view of the 90 Mile Beach and it was pretty impressive, an endless stretch of sand, people chilling on the beach in their jeeps listening to music. We stayed at Endless Summer Lodge a hostel pretty much right on the beach. A hostel decked up pretty nice I must add and service was very friendly. I had originally been made wary of staying in Ahipara by the girls I do Italian with but seriously I have no idea what they were on about. For dinner we had some damn good fish and chips from Bidz Takeaway on a bench by the beach right in front of the hostel. Our only dismay was that we had missed the opening hours of the liquor shop and could not have a cold beer. Talking about the reality of where we were at that moment in time though definitely made up for that.
It was an early night after so many hours of driving and we looked forward
to heading to Cape Reinga early the next morning.
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