Kia Ora days three and four: a walk in the woods

2014-11-27 10.43.29

Wenderholm Regional Park

Everyone we asked, when we said we were going to New Zealand, said ‘You must go to the South Island’. When we said we were going to visit both that said ‘Ah yes but spend most time in the South’. Of course the famous Southern Alps, the wine growing regions and Fiordland are all there as are the main centres for scenery, slurping and wacky outdoor activities involving long drops and knicker elastic.

2014-11-27 10.52.11

Oh pretty fantail!

But just because the South is sumptuous, sozzled and shit-scary it’s not a reason to poo-poo the North Island. After all we landed in Auckland the most northerly of the main cities so it would be churlish if not downright rude to set the compass to the south and head into the midday sun (unless the sun is in the north now we’ve changed hemispheres? I must look that up.)

2014-11-27 14.54.32

Uretiti Beach – the name caught my attention but it had a character beyond the titifallacious

2014-11-27 15.04.26

Beautiful seabirds; here an oyster catcher


That’s why we left Auckland on Highway 1 heading towards Whangerai near which we are staying before heading for Cape Reina to experience Ninety Mile Beach. And that’s meant to be spectacular (see below).

And to be honest the scenery has been wonderful. Rolling hills, one or two quite sharp – Brynderwyn especially – has to be Welsh doesn’t it? Apparently in 1964 a bus lost its brakes at the top and by the time it stopped 15 of its 35 passengers were dead. The body of one wasn’t found until a few years ago. I can believe it.

2014-11-27 15.13.29

abundant wild flowers

2014-11-27 19.04.32

View from our room for the night.


We stopped a lot, not because the drive was long or difficult but because we could. Our B&B, Appledore Lodge in Paihia was perfect. Colleen and Ashley, the perfect hosts. But they would have to work hard to go wrong with their setting, on the above beautiful river and near to both the Bay of Islands coast and the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.

And btw the food has been great.

Here are a couple of examples.

2014-11-28 16.20.38

Fish and Chips – NZ style. Not really much different but very moreish

2014-11-28 20.17.04

snapper and prawns – you can’t overdo the fresh seafood


And they were telling the truth when they said the coffe here is excellent. Petrol is about 95 pence a litre which is very cheap by British standards. And the roads are pretty empty. All of which makes for a grand drive. Better still the Lawyer wanted to do the bulk so while I watched and read and snoozed he listened to a football podcast and then the Economist. Hmm nice!

After a day of travels we joined a group going to Cape Reina via 90 mile beach. This was formed centuries ago linking what had previously been the North of New Zealand with an island off shore. The land adjacent to the beach is rolling countryside that once was peat. The ginormous Kauri trees that fell over hundreds or thousands of years are still pulled from the bogs for carving.

Here’s a video showing the beach from the coach.

This video doesn’t exist

Back when NZ was first colonised the early settlers thought it useless because it couldn’t be farmed. However they discovered, attached to the branches and roots of fallen Kauri, gum or Amber. This was salvaged in a gum rush and used in the nineteenth century to create varnish like products and was much prized (again see below).

The 90 mile beach is in fact about 60. You could blame Captain Cook for his poor cartography. Instead it’s a more modern confusion. He saw this beach and the bays and coves to the south and called it the 90 mile desert coast (which is more accurate) but the term was adopted by the 60 mile section. Lost? Check wiki!

And here’s a panorama of the beach. Note at this point the ‘add media’ facility deserted me so it’s old fashioned links for now. Hope they work. I will try and update later when I have a stronger wifi.

Still it feels wrong, somehow, driving onto a beach and setting off – in a coach – at 80 kph. But that’s what we did.

Apparently we are lucky. First because the tide is on its way in which can stop the coach. Second because the waves are small which can also curtail the ride. And third because it rained overnight and the sand dunes will be epic. For sand surfing. If Poland is the land of the plumber, New Zealand is the land of the plummeter.

The dune surfing is excellent if you are able to shut your mind to the consequences of hurting down a one in three slope of sand on the bottom of a pram. I can happily. I went about third having schlepped up the hill losing consciousness tough the effort so I hadn’t seen the ridge two thirds down the slope. But I sure found it. The landing was encouragingly soft. At least that might explain the open mouth, calling out my relief. Sadly the sand I had tossed up by my undignified somersault had to come down somewhere. And I tore my trousers. Silly old fool.

I went twice more, slowing for the ridge and ending up at the feet of the spectators. I managed to film the Lawyer’s last run, sitting upright which makes it slower. See what you think.

As we travelled further north we headed into scrubby rough land. The wind picks up the closer to the north point we go and the lands are now Maori owned. Their first settlements in the fourteenth century were here. They named it Waitangi and they renamed the place of the Treaty that settled the British Maori conflicts in the Bay of Islands the same to show respect for the new beginnings. Neat.

The Cape itself, Muri Moti is as bleak and inspiring as other similar points I have visited. The Cape of Good Hope off the bottom of South Africa is probably the most spectacular with the meeting of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans but here the turbulence is less as the Tasman Sea bumps into the Pacific. I like ends that are beginnings depending which way you look.

After that it poured with rain. We visited a gum mine still showing some of the amber and the ancient Kauri. We ate fish and chips alongside an inquisitive local and caught the ferry across to Russell the first capital of New Zealand for the British settlers for more fish, this time snapper. As so to bed.

{and more pics inc a cormorant at the chip shop, a wellie fence, a gum diggers hole – spot the Amber if you can – and an arty one into the sunset one off the back of the ferry- don’t hold your breath: David Bailey it ain’t}



About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in New Zealand and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Kia Ora days three and four: a walk in the woods

  1. Dylan Hearn says:

    I’m really enjoying these travelogues and so pleased you’re having such a great adventure in Middle Zealand


  2. Amazing travelogue! Thanks for sharing 🙂 … It lets us couch potatoes, but nomads at heart, live vicariously.


Comments are closed.