DAY TRIPS AROUND NORTHLAND        


We based ourselves in central Whangarei, staying on Ascension and, aside checking out some of the attractions in Whangarei and doing a bit of hiking, we also took some day trips by car around the area. These included a Trip to Whangarei Heads, a Day at the Beach (Mangawhai Heads), the Kauri Forest and the Dargaville Museum and the Glow Worm Cave at Kawati.

December 28   Whangarei Heads

Although it had been cloudy, it looked like it might not rain so we took a drive to the mouth of the Whangarei River, an area known as Whangarei Heads. It's a beautiful drive as the road winds its way past picturesque bays passing small settlements. We drove right to Ocean Beach. Ocean Beach is a huge seemingly endless stretch of white crystalline sand and a popular spot for surfers. It was pretty windy and cold so we didn't stop to linger long there.

Parua Bay

We drove on to Pataua, a small settlement that lies on a shallow inlet. We took a pedestrian footbridge across the inlet and hiked out to another beautiful beach. Although the weather was very conducive to sun tanning we soaked up some rays on the beach, had some lunch and just enjoyed watching the waves roll in.

Smugglers Bay

We hiked over a hill and past the gun emplacement at Home Point. This was built during World War II as a defence against possible invasion. The six-inch naval gun was aimed with the help of a camouflaged radar station on the ridge above Ocean Beach. We looked down on Smugglers Bay which was a beautiful sandy beach. We walked through trees that were right out of Lord of the Rings.

Maritime Museum

Dargaville Museum

This impressive museum houses pioneer artifacts plus a kauri gum-diggers display. There's also a maritime section that included vintage Maori canoe and the masts of the Rainbow Warrior, the Greenpeace flagship blown up by the French. We visited the museum with the gang from Endless.

2000 Year Old Trees...

Kauri Forest
The highlights of the Kauri Coast are the magnificent Kauri trees north of Dargaville. The road winds through the lush forest of ferns and native trees for about 8km before you reach the area with the really big trees. After a quick jaunt to the lookout, which didn't afford much of a view in the rain, we took a walk through the largest remnant of the once extensive kauri forest of northern New Zealand in the pouring rain. A fully grown kauri can reach 60m in height. Te Maatua Ngahere, Father of the Forest (right) has a trunk over 5m in diameter and is probably 2000 years old. Pictured left are the Four Sisters, a stand of four trees clumped together.

Beach Day...
January 2  Mangawhai

It was a sunny day (finally) so we decided to make it a Beach Day. We drove south to Waipu, then took a long windy road along the coast, stopping at several beaches along the way. Mangawhai Heads had a beautiful beach in a protected bay and we relaxed there for a while and had some lunch.


Then we decided to take an off road, which was long, twisty and unpaved. We drove for quite a few kilometers but were rewarded with a beautiful pristine beach where we planted ourselves for the remainder of the day. Chris tried out his new boogie board and reported that the water was quite cold.

We returned via Warksworth, looping back to Whangarei on the main highway.

Back at the boat Chris examined his burnt feet...OOPS! Gotta be careful of that hole in the ozone that lies right over New Zealand!

The Glow Worms..

Kawati Caves

Gord and I took Chris, Ali and Bob (Twix) to Kawati Caves near Kawakawa. We had been there before with Norm & Marianne and really thought it was worth another visit. Everyone enjoyed the glow worm sightings and the interesting stalactite  and stalagmite formations.


We hiked through the forest and finished the day with a meal at Pizza Hut.


Ginny & Gord - Pizza Hut

Ginny, Bob, Ali, Chris