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Published: March 22nd 2010
One of the many gorgeous views along the route to Ocean Beach.
The weather forecast for the weekend was not looking good with storms predicted to bring plenty of wind and rain. So when we woke up on Saturday morning, we were delighted to see blue skies and sunshine instead. We had been hoping to spend a day at one of the local beaches so needless to say, we wasted no time packing up the car with our beach gear and off we went!
Our destination today was Ocean Beach, about 30 minutes' drive east of Onerahi where we're staying. Yesterday we had stopped off in the Whangarei DOC office (Department of Conservation) to see what walks there were in the area and picked up a map for a trail around Bream Head, a rugged headland right by Ocean Beach. Our plan today was to go for a nice long walk and then splash about in the sea afterwards.
All along the way to Bream Head, the road twisted along the coast affording us some stunning vistas across the water and mountainous landscape. Then suddenly, just as I was about to pick up my camera to take a quick snapshot, a wasp flew in throught the driver's side window, hurtled past
Throw in a few mountains by the sea...
Glynn and ploughed straight into my neck! I felt the sting instantly and watched in horror as the wasp went on to collide with the passenger-side dashboard in front of me, killing it outright.
Within seconds, an angry red welt had formed on my neck and I began to worry whether I might suffer a more serious reaction but thankfully that was the worst of it. When it was safe to pull over, we fished out an antiseptic wipe from the first aid kit which alleviated some of the nasty stinging sensation and seemed to stop the swelling from getting any worse. I was determined not to let it spoil our day.
Arriving at Ocean Beach, we were immediately captivated by the fine white sand dunes leading out to the sea. Armed with our DOC map, we headed off in search of the Bream Head walk but couldn't for the life of us find the marker indicating the start of the path. Seeing a trail leading steeply uphill approximately where the map suggested the marker should be, we started climbing up only to find after about 10 minutes that it just led to someone's house. Dead end. Back
Life's a Beach
Our first glimpse of Ocean Beach.
down the slope we went.
Frustrated, Glynn strode off further down the beach to see if he could spot any other possible routes and found a trail leading up an even steeper grass-strewn sand dune. It was tricky getting up this bit as the sand simply slid away beneath our feet as we pushed upwards but after a few minutes we made it up onto the plateau at the top and hey presto - there was the damn marker we had been looking for!
The view from the top of the dune was breathtaking, allowing us to see all the way along Ocean beach to the left of us, out across a rocky peninsular straight ahead and along to another sandy beach to the right. Further to our right, the path wound up another very steep incline and in the distance we could see a white glint amongst all the greenery. This was the radar station which was where we were aiming to reach. The full Bream Head trail actually takes around 5 hours for experienced, athletic hikers to complete which is way more than we wanted to do.
up the hill, we quickly understood what the
Glynn checks out the view from about a fifth of the way up the hill.
DOC leaflet meant when it called this part of the trail a lung-busting walk. The track was so steep that we had to stop every few minutes just to catch out breath. It was seriously hard work but every stop afforded us ever more expansive views of the beaches, sea and back across the mountains looking inland. The higher we climbed, the more amazing it was.
It took around 45 minutes to reach the same level as the radar station but we couldn't find a safe path leading to it. We tentatively tried working our way through the gorse towards it but found the ground springy and loose beneath our feet. Not wanting to damage the landscape or end up falling down the hill, we backtracked and continued up the path to see if perhaps there was a way down to the radar station from higher up. We set our goal as a little tree on the brow of the hill and carried on up the steep incline. On reaching the tree about 15 minutes later, there was still no sign of a proper path to the radar station. By now we were pretty tired and content to congratulate
Out on a Limb
Jude enjoys the view out across the rocky peninsular at the beginning of Bream Head.
ourselves on managing to get this far. We turned around and headed back down again. It took us 70 minutes hard slog to get up the hill but only 10 minutes to fly back down!
The sun was still shining brightly so we quickly changed into our togs (swim stuff) and headed to the sea. We were amused to see 4 lifeguards on duty when there was probably no more than 8 people on the beach! Stepping into the water, it felt pretty cold at first and we inched our way in slowly. Moments later though, a big wave crashed over us, soaking us from head to toe! We spent a good hour paddling about on our body boards and surfing the metre or so high waves as they rode into shore. It was so much fun that we could easily have stayed there all afternoon but the clouds began to roll in and a cool breeze picked up, making us feel pretty cold whenever we were out of the water for even a few seconds. Reluctantly calling it a day, we went back to the car to get changed - and just in time too as the rain
How's that for a fabulous beach? Taken from about a third of the way up the hill.
began to fall.
We spent the evening at the local cinema watching Alice in Wonderland which we thoroughly enjoyed and made for a lovely end to a very challenging yet fun day!
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