We’d been lucky on our journeys around the north of the north island, until last Thursday. At Te Paki Sand Dunes, the sky suggested impending darkness – and that night the weather changed dramatically! It brought howling winds and driving rain most of the night and following morning. Eventually blobs of blue, “enough to make a pair of sailors trousers“, as my darling departed friend Therese used to say, started to appear. However, it was a taste of things to come for a while longer.
Tokerau Beach NZMCA Campground
Our parking location for the night was at the NZMCA campground at Tokerau Beach, a short walk from Doubtless Bay. In case I’ve not explained previously, NZMCA stands for the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association. Our campervan it seems is classed a ‘motor caravan’. There’s four of their campgrounds in Northland, where we can stay in a gated area with rubbish facilities for $3 each per night. This one was basically a large field, with an easy five-minute walk to the beach that I took advantage of.
Unfortunately, we spotted too late in the NZMCA ‘Travel Directory’ there’s a ‘Freedom Camping‘ spot not far away that we could’ve taken advantage of! Dammit! Never mind, we’re making notes as we go along. We’ll get the hang of this campervan travelling eventually and mark the spots to re-visit.
A Drive To Matai Bay On A Grey Day
As we were on the Karikari Peninsula, we decided to drive to the top as we’re unlikely to return. Like most of the places in the Far North, I suspect. Sadly the greyness didn’t help showcase any features of the two horseshoe-shaped beaches well. They’re apparently good for surfing, but also, they come complete with Tsunami warnings and where to head to should one be imminent. Scary stuff!
I do love the efforts going into making the foreshores here more sustainable. Kiwis are generally proud and protective of their natural resources. And rightly so.
Are These The Best Fish n Chips?
Moving southwards, we stopped at Mangonui – not to be confused with Mount Manganui – for fish ‘n chips. The Mangonui Fish Shop is purported to be one of the best places in NZ for this meal – being ‘world-famous’. I visited with mum and dad in 2002, and remember how much they enjoyed them. On this visit sadly, I felt the cafe/restaurant was looking a little shabby and tired in comparison. The servers weren’t terribly cheerful or welcoming – which I always find disappointing.
Good customer service makes a dramatic difference in experiences and recommendations. One of the reasons we loved working for Calendar Club for three years – as it’s such a big focus for them. It’s madness not to have a welcoming and friendly front of house staff. However, on the positive side, the snapper and lemon fish was delicious. Moist and tasty with a scrummy light batter. We chose beer battered chips which were also yummy. Sadly another downside was the price. Extortionately expensive! About $35 for two lots of fish ‘n chips – £17.50. Ah well. It was a necessary experience and expense, IMHO.
Another recommendation from my driving NZ guide was Whangaroa Harbour. It has a slice of NZ history neither of us had previously known. A ship called ‘Boyd’ sailed there in 1809, to collect kauri spears to return to England. For what sounds like a sound reason, to be honest, local Maori killed several crew members and then dressed in the sailors’ clothing and managed to get on board the ship after dark – then attacked the remaining crew. A barrel of gunpowder was exploded and the ship burnt to the waterline. There’s a memorial stone to them on the pleasant walk around the harbour.
“In December 1809 the sailing ship Boyd was anchored in Whangaroa Harbour, where it was to pick up a cargo of timber spars. It was attacked by a group of Māori who killed most of the crew and passengers in retaliation for the captain’s mistreatment of a young local chief, Te Ara, who had sailed from Sydney on the Boyd.”‘A Frontier of Chaos: Page 4 The Boyd Incident https://nzhistory.govt.nz/culture/maori-european-contact-before-1840/the-boyd-incident
The events caused many repercussions – for both Maori and European. I’m taking an educated guess that if the ‘white men’ on the Boyd hadn’t been cruel to Te Ara, the son of a Whangaroa chief, then this part of NZ history would be rather different. Regardless of his status, in my view cruelty of any nature is intolerable. It leads to karma, or ’cause and effect’ consequences.
The Bay Of Islands
I had a sinking feeling a few days ago we’d failed to allocate sufficient time to see the sights in this the famous Bay of Islands. In 2002 we stayed in Kerikeri, looking around the area briefly – so had hoped to do more this time. I guess I did in many ways, as Barry and I lingered in places I’d previously only experienced a snippet of.
We arrived late afternoon and chose to park up at Kerikeri Golf Club. The cost of parking overnight was $10, plus $5 for a shower which we were both in need of! Whilst we’ve got hot and cold water on board NZareandare, plus a useable shower, the water supply isn’t a patch on what we’re used to in NBAreandare.
I have to admit to finding it a tad disconcerting walking from the van to the showers at the Golf Club, the car park becoming chock-a-block with golfers cars and golfers by 8.30 am! It wasn’t my best experience to date that’s for sure.
Barry captured a few super images of this part of our journey to share: