Most pics taken from deck of Lumley building
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
After breakfast we left Kaihu to start our trip back home. We followed State Highway 12, joined up with State Highway 1 at Brynderwyn and then at Wellsford decided to continue along State Highway 1 as the traffic did not seem too bad. Within a few minutes that supposition was proven wrong. So we took a sand road detour to Tauhoa and then onto State Highway 16.
This new route allowed for a stop at the Kaipara Coast Sculpture Gardens. This was a nearly two hour walk through native plants that had been cultivated on a previously barren plot of land. Included was a clearing set up with post boxes – locals had crafted their own ideal post box and these were put out for display (see first pic as an example). Some great modern sculptures, some whimsical, some political, some very technical.
The stop did not do much for getting back to Auckland on time. We had to get home, unpack the van, then drive it back to the rental place before 4pm. So due to my taking much time in the sculpture garden we had to forego a stop for lunch. But we were able to create something to snack on from the leftovers in the fridge. Successfully delivered the van back. And home to lovely long hot showers and comfortable bed.
Day 10: About 300km travelled
Notes on holiday parks / campsites:
- Always specify a powered site. You may think that you don't really need the electricity, but it boosts your comfort levels tremendously.
- Sites that separate campervans, tents and caravans are best. This way, when in a campervan, you tend to be surrounded by couples, rather than families. The joy of a night without screaming brats cannot be overestimated.
- The majority of holiday parks have very decent facilities for meal making. Some have large gas BBQ’s set up, toasters and kettles are around, all have some form of stove top cooking device. However many of these stovetops are in dismal shape and cannot keep a pot of water boiling. We were pleased to have our van’s gas hot plates on a number of occasions.
- Some holiday parks charge to use the shower. This ranged from 50c to a dollar. This fee gave you 5minutes of hot water. I did not mind paying the fee too much, it meant that people did not hog the showers forever and a day.
- Where possible ask to see the campsite layout and check where your site is located. A night spent alongside the kid’s playground was rather unpretty. Even more so because of a continually in-use squeaky trampoline.
- Campers are a jovial bunch, always willing to lend a hand (e.g when you don't have anymore tokens for the shower, or helping you find your dropped contact lens). Say hello to your neighbours.
Notes on campervan envy:
We had a budget van. We could not expect much extravagance from it. The options on hand were (in a simplified way): budget, expensive, absurd. This is what our van looked like according to the website
- Of the campervans we saw along our journey, it seemed Britz had a good range.
- We saw vans that had sleeping room for 6. Two ‘downstairs’ beds and an ‘upstairs’ bed. Amazing
- We saw vans that incorporated a built in marquee/tent that came out from the side of the van. Damn that would have been useful for rainy braai times!
- Campervan accessories are indeed a whole new range of things to be explored. I was most impressed by triangular wedges to go under your tyres to level up the van. Nice!
- We had a basin, cold water, 2 gas burners and a fridge. All of which we used and all of which were lovely. Some vans have monster fridges and microwaves too!
- I think completely unnecessary unless you are really travelling into desolate wild lands; are vans with showers and toilets. But of course you do get them. With hot water at that.
- Our van had a tape player. Oh yes! It was that old! We had no desire for music or radio along the way. But perhaps an iPod dock would have changed that? Not sure.
- Something that would have made quite a difference would have been 4WD. Quite obviously to have avoided getting stuck on 90mile beach. But also to allow exploration of some more ‘off the beaten track’ areas.
- Our van only had a 30litre fuel tank. This forced stops in towns where we may have rather stayed rural in same cases.
It was a holiday of many firsts
- First roadtrip
- First campervan
- First exploration of Northland
- First jet ski
- First sand dunes
- First crayfish
- First wetsuit
- First pink sheep!
And just wonderful!
Monday, January 17, 2011
We left Houhora and travelled south towards Ahipara. In-car action shots:
Ahipara seemed to be a pretty small town, lots of houses but very few facilities. We saw a school but no supermarket? There was a cafe called ‘Gum Diggers’ that was run by four young girls. Stopped in for a beverage and blue berry pancakes. Went to have a look at Ahipara Bay. A beautiful stretch of sand and some big waves.
Next a drive through forest areas and some seriously twisty roads. This took us near to the town of Kohukohu where we queued up to catch the Hokianga vehicle ferry. Quite a jovial place for the waiting. Music playing, drinks for sale, some ball being played. We missed out on getting onto the ferry that arrived about 20 minutes later by zero cars. Thus we were first in line for when the ferry returned about 30 minutes later. A family appeared to have produces a set of twins, a single girl and a set of girl triplets (left pic, second row). I was fascinated. The ferry trip across the inlet took about 10 minutes and dropped us in the town of Rawene. Pretty little place. Probably deserved a stop rather than the drive through that we did.
In-car action shots. Saw plenty of bee hive farms (are they called farms?) on all the days . The wood crates always painted in different pastel shades. Wondered about the pastel colours. Why not red and yellow and purple?
Next stop was Opononi. Beautiful little town with a massive Info Centre.
Stopped for a walk at Omapere (just a few km south of Opononi). Went to the Arai Te Uru reserve to check out the look out point. Quite beautiful.
Even further south towards the Waipoua forest. Quite a change in scenery as we got closer.
The Waipoua forest is filled with Kauri trees. These grow to be pretty massive. We stopped to take a look at the largest living Kauri tree. A monstrous 212m tall. Photographs just don’t explain how majestic this tree is.
Out of the main forest and on the road again.
Stopped at a Kauri shop. This place sold ‘Ancient Kauri’. These are trees that fell thousands of years ago into peat swamps. Trees over 45000 years old have been dug up and converted to furniture, art and household items. These trees grew for about 2000 years before falling down.
A bit further south and a detour off to see the Kai Iwi lakes. These are a set of lakes a few km from the ocean. Usually these lakes are surrounded by pine trees, but these have recently been logged. Maybe it was the lack of scenic pines, or maybe we were saturated with beautiful-ness; but these lakes left us a bit underwhelmed.
A stop in the biggish town of Dargaville. Not the prettiest town you’ll ever come across. It has a brown river (the Wairoa) and is the Kumara capital of NZ. More importantly for us it had some shops and we stocked up on a few things for supper.
A back track drive northwards took us to the Kaihu Holiday Park. We set up our mini BBQ/braai and put together (more!) prawns and sausages. Together with coleslaw that made a lovely supper.
Day 9: about 320km travelled