When visiting the Bay of Islands area we had to make at least one cruise to see at least a couple of the 144 islands. We decided to make the "Cape Brett Hole-in-the-Rock Cruise" with Fullers, leaving in the morning from Paihia for a halfday cruise.
Fullers vessel is a nice catamaran, but if you want to sit outside on the deck be sure to board early. We made a stop in Russell before leaving to the Bay. The journey continues along beautiful bays and islands, surrounded by crystal clear sea. Some of them are inhabited; must be like a fairy tale to live here. But it is also exiting to see the 'fight' between sun and clouds in the middle of these amazing scenery.
We didn't see the 'promised' dolphins, just a Gannet colony on Bird Rock.
Motukokako Island is the island with the hole in the rock. Although the waves were pretty high the skipper succeeded to manoeuvre his 'huge' boat through the 'small' hole. Further on we met schools of fishes, among them blue coloured ones (maomao fish ??). On the other side of the island we also entered a sea cave.
On the way back there is a long stop on an island called Urupukapuka. Here you can make a (extra) trip with a kind of submarine. We decide to have a lunch in the café on the island and to walk around and to enjoy the lovely scenery.
To be honest: we found this stop a kind of a tourist trap. It takes too much time, the coffee was bad and expensive.
Boarding in Paihia and Russell.
See for more info and pics my Northland page.
To get a better idea of the placement of the various towns in the Bay of Islands see: http://www.bayofislands.net/maps/
This is a summer holiday place for mainly Aucklanders.
I have been holidaying here since I was very little and my family has a caravan here at the
MANGAWHAI BEACH HIDEAWAY PARK
Tent sites, powered sites & tourist cabins.
Owners: Harold, Hazel and Neal, Moir Pt Rd.
Ph: (09) 431 4251.
This is the Ocean Beach and this shot was taken on the first sunrise of the new millenium.
For more information on Mangawhai click on the links
Rhianon's Mangawhai VT page
This link includes information on Bay of Islands, Mangawhai, Whangarei and the Far North.
Using Kaitaia as a home base, 90 Mile Beach is very accessible and an interesting place to visit. The beach isn't really 90 miles long, it's 60 miles or 96km. The name comes from the time it used to take a horse to get from one end to the other. Way back when, the average distance a horse could walk in one day was 30 miles. The locals didn't allow for the extra time it takes a horse to walk on sand, so when it took 3 days to get from one end to the other they figured it was 90 miles long and the name stuck!!
In calling this an off the beaten path tip one would expect the beach to be a quiet place to visit. Last time I was here I saw several different buses taking people out for a look so don't be too surprised or taken back if you hit plenty of traffic.
The beach curves its way around at the top toward Cape Reinga, the most northerly point of New Zealand and the places where Maori souls leave for their visit home to Hawaiiki. It is two stretches of beach broken up by a rocky outcropping that locals use to fish for Snapper.
If you get here at the right time of year you may also see locals digging in the sand for the prized Toheroa - part of the clam family and native to New Zealand. Very tasty!!
For the most interesting "comfort stop" in NZ head for Kawakawa in Northland. Heading north of SH1 the Hundertwasser toilets are on the right hand side of the road - you'll spot the columns, the roof garden and a group of tourists with cameras in hand!
Friedrich Hundertwasser was an architect, painter, ecologist and philosopher who was born in Austria in 1928, came to NZ in the early 1970s and settled near Kawakawa in 1975. The people of Kawakawa took him to their hearts, declaring him a Living Treasure, and he was asked to design the town's public toilets in 1997. Using local labour and skills and developing strong ties with the local Maori community, Hundertwasser completed the toilets in 1999 and in 2000 they were awarded the Premiere Award in Urban and Landscape Design by Creative New Zealand.
The design includes ceramic columns, old bottles, local bricks and tiles made by students in Kawakawa schools and is a delight of colour, texture and reflections. Well worth a few minutes of your time as you travel "up north" or back!!
The Bohemians travelled to Prague then on to Hamburg in February 1863. Here they boarded the ship War Spirit for their 106-day voyage across the seas to New Zealand. There were also Scottish and Irish settlers aboard. The voyage was mostly uneventful except for one death and seven births.
The War Spirit arrived in Auckland to let off the settlers. The Bohemians were then transferred to a smaller boat and sailed up to the mouth of the Puhoi River (where Wenderholm is today). Here the Bohemians had their first encounter with local Maori who paddled them up the river in their wakas. It was night time when the wakas reached Puhoi. There was a small clearing at the edge of the river where two Nikau whares had been built. The Bohemians were cold and hungry. This was not what they expected in New Zealand. In the morning the Bohemians saw how isolated they were. The only way in and out of Puhoi was via the river. The entire area was heavily forested. They had very few possessions, no food, spoke a different language, and did not have many tools.
Yet they managed to eke out an existence and you can still see some of their architectural efforts.
None of which explains how Rosemarie happened to be holding a stick at an outside table at a rustic cafe. It's actually to ward off the chooks who may pester you while eating.
I'm also being friendly with the host in picture 2
Puhoi is a small settlement north of Auckland reached by doing a small detour off the main highway.
The people who settled in this area were from Bohemia, now part of the Czech Republic. The story of Puhoi starts with Captain Martin Krippner.
He was born in Bohemia and married an English woman, Emily Longdill. Her brother had migrated to New Zealand in 1859. He wrote to his sister and brother-in-law and encouraged them to move to New Zealand. These letters encouraged Krippner and his wife to migrate to New Zealand as they liked the sound of the place - not many people, lots of land, and a nice climate. To start with the Krippners found life in New Zealand difficult as they had to work hard on their land that they had settled on in Orewa. Captain Krippner did not make his fortune in New Zealand but he had discovered that it was a land of freedom and equality. The Krippners sent letters to family and friends in Bohemia telling them of this wonderful new land where they could be granted 40 acres of land.
At this time in Bohemia, the people lived a peaceful life, yet there were no opportunities for them. They could not make much money, there was poverty, hunger and extreme coldness during winter. Eighty-three men, women and children decided to leave Bohemia for New Zealand, a land where they believed that they could make money and own some land. This small group scraped together enough money to pay for the voyage to New Zealand. Many had chosen to leave family and friends, which must have been a difficult decision as there was no guarantee that they would ever see them again.
If you're like me and don't mind a bit of dirt then, just13 kms up the unsealed Waipu Gorge Road South of Waipu you'll come to Piroa Falls, as I did when I found I had an hour to spare.
There's a walk when you get there, it's listed as 10 minutes. Frankly, if it takes you ten minutes you've probably stopped to have a cup of tea en route.
Whatever, it's a pleasant place and, with enough water going over you might get a nice shot or two.
Quite near the falls is a delightful picnic spot which I could certainly recommend if you are looking for a place to take your hamper (pic 3).
This is one of the least advertised attractions I came across, but one of the best.
Situated around half an hour north of the Bay of Islands it normally involved a guided walk and then a pick up at Pekapeka Bay for the return journey home.
Cost is just under $100 but I can wholly recommend this if you want to see an unheralded part of New Zealand.
The landscape is so different to that nearby with odd shaped volanic plugs all over the place. The total population of the bay is probably less than double figures so you'll find yourself alone for much of your visit and, when you've finished, you'll have guaranteed boasting rights.
The start is at Totara North, a small village located on Whangaroa Harbour.
The name of the company is Wairakau and your host is Tony Foster who has lived in Totara North for around 20 years. He shares his love of the forest and sea conveying a strong sense of knowledge and care for the environment --stories of the flora and fauna, geology, history of the land, the people and the harbour. B.Sc Botany and Dip.Tch
Bushmansfriend 73 Campbell Rd. Totara North RD2 Kaeo Northland New Zealand
The worlds most remarkable 'public loo' can be found in Kawakawa.
A little town situated about 15 km's from Paihia.
They are designed by Friedrich Hundertwasser in 1999, an Austrian artist who lived in Kawakawa, and nowadays a 'must see' for Hundertwasser fans.
More information and pics on my Northland or Omapere/Opononi page.
To get a better idea of the placement of the various towns in the Bay of Islands see website: http://www.bayofislands.net/maps/
Opononi and Omapere:
Just two little towns at the beautiful Hokianga Harbour. Opononi is famous for 'Opo', a dolphin who lived in the harbour in 1955. It is also starting point for a visit to the huge sand dunes on the other side of the harbour.
Great views on these 'golden dunes' from a look-out called: Arai-Te-Uru. Accesible from a car park at the end of the Signal Station Road near Omapere.
Hokianga Harbour is situated alomg SH12 between Dargaville and Kaikohe.
For more info and pics see my Northland or Omapere/Opononi page.
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