Memoirs of Tarquin Part One: Northland, New Zealand

Northland
The most northern tip of New Zealand

“It’s rare I travel with someone by my side for longer than a day or two so my recent road trip with Tarquin (you can’t be in the blog unless you have a pseudonym) was a new experience. With company I didn’t want to spend any time blogging but luckily Tarquin documented our trip in a little notebook of mine. Here are his memoirs of our Northland road trip.” – felicity  

……

As soon as I stepped off the plane in Auckland Felicity suggested we go for wine tasting at nearby Villa Maria Winery. It was only 10:30am but we were on holiday and certainly not the time to deny oneself of life’s pleasures. After the first of many cheese boards on top of Mount Eden (256m, not really a mountain if you ask me) we decided to say goodbye to the city and get our road trip underway. Waitipu Campsite ($7.50pp), slightly south of Auckland along the west coast of New Zealand, was our first stop for the night.

 

Northland
Felicity at Karekare Falls

Felicity was raving about these Jed coffee bags (like tea bags but coffee) which are meant to be a travel friendly/quicker alternative to filter coffee. I agreed that at even 70 cents a pop they were worth it.

“I keep reminding Tarquin of this memoir each time he moans about our poor quality morning coffee. It’s hard work travelling with such a coffee snob I tell ya!” – felicity

 

Northland
Whatipu Caves

After breakfast Felicity and I took a walk exploring Waitipu Caves, we headed to Huai General Store for cake and coffee. It was the owners birthday and to our surprise we each received a huge piece of his birthday cake which was better than ours. We visited nearby Karekare Falls which were beautiful and would be amazing in summer when it is hot enough to swim.

 

Northland
Sunset at Mercer Bay

Sunset was enjoyed at Mercer Bay with red wine and some peanuts. Although it was cloudy, the sunset was good

“I can assure you, Tarquin does get more inventive with his adjectives. Please be patient” – felicity

After sunset we headed to Opanaku Pipeline campsite down a supposedly closed road. The camp was a fair walk from where we had parked the car so we ended up just pitching our tent in a small clearing as it was dark.  Little did we know we were only about 50m from the proper campsite which had a proper toilet.

“I did tell Tarquin a closed road sign probably meant we shouldn’t continue but he assured me that it was one of those road signs that had been forgot about after the work had been completed. This seems to happen a lot in New Zealand, road signs are everywhere” – felicity

In the morning the closed road we had come down was actually closed so we had to do a rather long detour to get back on track.

“Told ya”- felicity

We went to Bushells Beach and had a cheeky wash in the outside cold shower by the beach. It was a lovely beach, busy with locals and we met old dog, our new friend. Stopped at Wellsford for a kebab. It was a busy town and quite bogan. Then onto Glinks Gully Campsite ($9pp) overlooking the sea with hot showers included. Things to note: Felicity with no food/coffee = grumpy. Felicity needing the toilet = grumpy.

 

Northland
Northland’s famous Kumera

We went to Warren’s Kumera farm called Ernie’s Kumera Box and learnt all about Kumera (sweet potato). We also saw his fossil collection and had afternoon tea at his house with his family. Afterwards we went to Ernie’s playground which was home to the smallest chapel in New Zealand. Then back to Glinks Gully Beach for some Speights Old Dark beer, artisan bread and dukkah (Felicity’s favourite) while watching sunset.

 

Northland
Sunset beers on the beach next to Glinks Gully Campsite

Drove up through Dargaville on Highway 12 which is a windy road through a rainforest. We never got past 60kph as there were a fair few hills which Nina (felicity’s car) doesn’t like. Went through Waipoua Forest and saw the four sisters, four kauri trees growing together. Then onto Tāne Mahuta, the largest living kauri tree at 2000 years old.

 

Northland
Tane Muhata – the oldest kauri tree in New Zealand

Onto Opononi to the Landing Café for a full English and coffee and chilled out watching the waves, finishing with an ice cream on the beach. Continuing on highway 12 to Kaikohe to stay at the Cow Shed ($10pp), a quaint old farm camping conversion ran by a motherly lady with her two dogs Lucy and Ceasar. That evening we went to Ngawha Springs natural hot pools. Open 9-9 and only $4 it was quite busy but amazing. Mix of cold and hot pools with the hottest named Bulldog about 55c, you can barely dip in a toe. Super relaxing and set us up for a good rest.

 

Northland
Opononi

The next day onto Paihia for some fish and chips and a wander around town. Checked in at Waitangi Campsite ($13.50pp). Watched some TV whilst very slowly roasting a pumpkin which I agonisingly carved out with a cheap knife and filled with a whole onion (thanks to Felicity) and a tin of ratatouille. It was nice to have a hot meal but the pumpkin could have been smaller.

 

Northland
The pumpkin

Accompanied by some Monteith Pilsner it went down well.

“I was close to eating my own arm by the time our pumpkin was (questionably) soft enough to eat. It was fun watching Tarquin struggle with carving it but not so fun when he snapped both my spoon and bottle opener in the process” – felicity

The next morning we went back to Jed’s Coffee bags after trying out a cheaper brand. Once fuelled we headed into Paihia via a Christian Op shop. After chatting to the two ladies in there we were gifted with some plastic cutlery and a pot.

 

Northland
Views of Paihia from Russell

Across to Russell on the ferry ($12 return) and straight into another op shop packed with more staff than customers. Lots of bargains, I got socks, Burton shoes, a cuttable knife and an awesome winter coat for $23.

“I got two pairs of winter trousers, a merino turtle neck and a bowl for $7” – felicity

Next stop, Sally’s Cafe on the waterfront for coffee and cake. We shared a lemon meringue pie and plum/apple crumble which I had to cut in half because Felicity is weird to share with. Took a climb to Flagstaff Hill, it was an OK view of the Bay of Islands but nothing to write home about. On the way down we went into a secluded bay. Just us there and it was quiet and beautiful with the sun out.

Northland
Walking back from another supermarket shop in Paihia

Grabbed some sushi back in Paihia and filled Nina up with a tank of $1.77 per litre petrol, the cheapest we have found in NZ.

“I’m not sure whether it’s an English thing but if there was one thing Tarquin and I got more excited about than a decent weather forecast, it was the price of fuel. Why do some of us drive out of our way for cheaper petrol? We probably spent more on the drive than the actual saving. Duh.” – felicity

The drive continues. More of my memoirs coming soon..

Tarquin

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