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Road Trip time!

sunny 29 °C
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Day 1
We got to the car rental agency at just past 9 to collect our rental car. We had been upgraded to a fancier, bigger car (a Toyota Corolla) with a reversing camera and everything! It was a very useful upgrade as Laura brought a large and heavy suitcase with her. I was the first to drive, and I have never driven an automatic before, so before even starting we had to look up in the booklet how to change from park to drive... I kept reaching for the gearstick and trying to press the clutch. Driving out of Auckland was a little stressful but I did it! Our first stop was Mangawhai heads which is a beach area with some large cliffs. The waves are great for surfing and we saw loads of people either surfing or body boarding. At first it was quite cloudy however within 15mins sunshine came out and this set the precedent for our whole trip

Our next stop was a quick stop to buy food and then just 5 minutes from the centre of a small city are Whangarei falls. What was great was that there is a pretty view from the top and then you can walk down to the base of the falls too.

Waitangi Treaty grounds is the place where the first treaty between Maori people and the British Crown was signed. It was one of the places I really wanted to come to on this trip, however unfortunately we only had 40 mins there so we didn't get to do a tour or see the cultural performance. The museum was great and really informative.

The last stop of the day was Haruru falls, another beautiful waterfall.

On the drive to Mangonui Laura pulled over to let some people pass, and I spied this church through the window, so had to take a picture!

More views on the way:

We stayed the night in Mangonui, was really lovely peaceful place with a fantastic and well known fish and chip shop. I had a fish called hoki. On the walk there we saw the harbour, which was absolutely stunning.

Day 2
I got up really early today as we were leaving at 8am to drive up to Cape Reinga, another important place in Maori culture and also at the tip of the Northland. Waking up so early meant that I got fantastic views of the harbour.

The drive up was long but very pretty (also very windy in places a bit like on a rollercoaster). Cape Reinga is said to be 'the place where spirits go home'.

There is a tree at the bottom of one of the cliffs which survives despite sticking out into the sea, which can get very rough at times. It is said that spirits use the roots as steps into the underworld.

Cape Reinga is also cool as you can see the point where two oceans meet, leading to the waves you can see in this picture.

We took a brief little side trip to Rawara beach which was absolutely stunning and much nicer than I had expected. It's the sort of place that you could spend all day at, but unfortunately we didn't have all day!

We broke up the drive back with a quick stop at Omapere just to see the harbour.

Our final stop was the Waipoua forest to see the kauri trees, which is another stop that I really wanted to do. These are ancient NZ trees that are currently endangered due to 'kauri dieback disease'. This means that many of the pathways through the forest are blocked off, and when they are open there are stations for cleaning and disinfecting your footwear before and after you enter the forest. We got to see Table Mahuta, the largest kauri tree in New Zealand, also known as the 'lord of the forest's. Tane is known as the 'life giver' and all living creatures are his children. The total height 51.5 m (with a trunk of height 17.7m and girth 13.8m)!!!

Once we arrived at the holiday park we had a quick dinner of soup and bread, and then went to the beach for sunset. Baylys beach is part of New Zealand's longest drivable beach (obviously rental cars are not allowed). The cliff walk was already pretty special, but sunset was something else.

Day 3
This was the last day of our car hire, and we had to get back to Auckland. We stopped off first after 2 hrs of driving just to have a little break at a waterfall called Omeru falls. It was quite weak due to the lack of rainfall around recently. A woman with a dog started chatting to me, and she said that she is moving somewhere where there is a waterfall and water hole nearby!

We got to Karekare at about lunch time. First we walked up to the waterfall which was really tall. It was an easy walk for such a great view.
We were going to go to the beach too, a black sand beach, but I injured my foot a few days before and so had a wound that I didn't really want to get sand in (I'll spare you all the slightly gory details...).

The final stop of the day was another surprise hit. We stopped at the Arataki visitor centre which has amazing views over the Wiatakere ranges, which are absolutely beautiful. We learnt lots more about the Kauri trees and the problems the forest's have faced, as well as all the work being done to preserve this amazing environment.

I was so exhausted by the evening that I didn't go to the Chinese lantern festival on in Auckland. Instead I crashed at about 9 (after very nearly choking...) ready for the long journey tomorrow.

Posted by pkaplicz 22:13 Archived in New Zealand Tagged cape_reinga mangonui baylys_beach arataki_visitor_centre Comments (0)

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