Memoirs of Tarquin Part Two: Northland, New Zealand

The most northern point in New Zealand

For those of you that miss the first instalment of the  “Memoirs of Tarquin“, I was joined by a friend on my recent road trip around Northland in New Zealand. Not wanting to spend my time on my iPad I refrained from blogging and decided to just enjoy the moment. Little did I know, my friend Tarquin documented our adventures as we went along. Here is his side of our stories with snippets of my version also. Enjoy…


Winter sunshine

We headed up route 10 late afternoon via some free tasting stop offs. First, Mahoe Farmhouse Cheese. The cheese was ok but the grumpy lady instore meant no sale. This visit also reconfirmed my dislike for blue cheese.

“I agree, the lady was very unwelcoming and told me I could only buy what was in the fridge. With Tarquin being mean and not liking blue cheese, I could not share and there was no way I could eat over 200g of blue cheese alone. The moody lady dipped out there. – felicity

Campsite breakfast

Next was Makana Chocolate shop for a cheeky taster. There was way too many macadamias for me but an awesome orange truffle. We then did the standard shuffle around the store pretending to create scenarios in where we would spend ludicrous money and buy some. After a short drive we stopped off for a driver change and a cheese and chutney sarnie. This included some delicious ciabattas that tasted like nann bread, some begrundingly used chutney and Felicity’s choice in award winning Camembert which was awful.

“Regrettably, after putting up quite a public fight for Tarquin to buy the cheese I wanted, it tasted pretty foul. Oops.” – felicity


The most northern campsite in New Zealand

We continued up Highway 1 to Cape Reinga stopping at Tapotupotu campsite, the most northern most campsite in New Zealand. The drive was very windy and hilly with heavy rain which looked like hyperspace. We set up the tent in the dark with Nina as a pretty insufficient wind shield and also under a tree which we soon realised was in the way on our front door. We woke the next morning to the hilarity of swapped stripy long johns, realised by a joint confused look at each other before bursting into fits of laughter.


Beautiful walk to Cape Reinga

We did the campsite to Cape Reinga lighthouse walk, a gorgeous hilly 5k which DOC suggested 3 hours but only took us 1.5 hours. We managed to hitchhike back with the first car we saw leaving the car park. The Indian couple were also going to the campsite so we were lucky to get a lift the whole way.


Felicity posing in front of Cape Reinga lighthouse

On the road again, Highway 1 to Highway 10, stopped off at Te Koa for world famous ice cream which turned out to be just the standard Tip Top brand but in huge portions. Pushed on in the dark to Mangonui, home to the best fish and chips shop in New Zealand. Maybe because it wasn’t England but it was far too neat and no messy newspaper or grease but it was tasty none the less. If this is the best New Zealand has to offer then I am disappointed.


Felicity on a tractor

While stopped off for one of Felicity’s routine toilet stops (every hour) we were alerted to a flat tyre which although being the second time I had changed a tyre (prior to this ten years ago on a driving lesson) it was done with little hassle or fuss.

“Tarquin impressed me with his tyre changing ability which was made harder by the fact some idiot had given my the wrong sized lug wrench. Luckily a local mutton/bird butcher had a spare we could borrow”. – felicity

A supermarket trip was called for in Paihia, not for food but this time for shampoo/shower gel after someone, maybe me, left it at the previous campsite. We then snuck into a previous campsite for the night as we still had the code to get in and it was after hours. Woken up early partly due to me snoring and therefore receiving pokes from Felicity but mainly from two inconsiderate campers in their spaceship next door. They were talking, coughing and repeatedly slamming their sliding spaceship door.


Hundertwasser public toilets

Kawakawa is a beautiful spot, very tidy and quirky with the famous Hundertwasser public toilets. Another coffee and cake moment, this time a very nice carrot cake at 39 Gillies Street. Next stop was a lunch time curry in Kamo which was pretty average with an awful greasy undercooked pancake naan. Received from a rude host, another thing in New Zealand, is that hosts close to their closing time tend to loose their manners.

“I have to say, like Fish & Chips, Indian food in New Zealand isn’t a patch on that found in England. I can’t wait to return for a decent curry.” – felicity

Had a fun accidental entry into McDonald’s drive through after I took a wrong turn at which point Felicity left me for a pee. I bought a frozen Coke to avoid looking like a total twat. The whole day was a wash out but we still went to Abbey Caves. The first cave, named Organ, had deep rushing water which we avoided. Ivy cave was also flooded but luckily the middle cave was accessible by a few metres without getting wet. That was enough to witness the glowworms. A walk around the area showed some amazing rock formations and a creepy grave for a two year old who died in 1884. We also found a tin of memories left by fellow travellers.


One of the sunnier days

Onwards into Whangarei to see Felicity’s tramping pals Ann and Ed who took us in and shared a drink, conversation and sausage butties with us and also gave us a bed, the first one on this trip.  We left Ann and Ed’s later than expected after some beautiful well needed proper coffee and toast with homemade honey. We drove to Matakana Market and got there just in time for samples and a coffee and a selection of culinary treats; some Sicilian spicy meat rolls, a blue cheese rice ball, an Asian pork bun (last one left so Felicity’s), a lemon slice and custard doughnut for dessert. The slice was weird but good but the doughnut disappointing.


Smallest church in New Zealand

Felicity along the way needed (another) toilet stop and was refused by a (possible) Pakistani man in a petrol station so she politely told him to “fuck you“. Basically Felicity without coffee/food/sleep or urination becomes quite angry.

“I can’t understand people that won’t let me use their loo when I am close to peeing myself. My lack of functioning kidney means I feel sick if I don’t go when I need to go so I do loose my rag when I am refused to pee when there is no other toilet nearby. It was the first time I have told someone to “fuck you” and it actually felt quite good”. – Felicity

The last night we stayed at a tiny Air BnB close to Auckland’s CBD. It was only $64 but it was literally just a bed but does the job. After a bottle of wine we hit the town, first a craft beer bar for an apple crumble cider which did taste like Christmas in a cup. Then on to O’Hanagans for many more beers. Then onto G&T’s for me and CC and Dry for Felicity.


Life’s a beach

We stayed out until the end after meeting Felicity’s mates and their well trained finances/husbands. Last stop was BK (Burger King) on a meandering stumble home in which Felicity got given a random Hawaiian meal after saying “I’ll have what he had” and pointing to me, five minutes after I had ordered.

All together it has been a great trip. Seen some amazing places, ticked off some good things and spent time with some good people. Would love to return.


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