New Zealand – Northland
The weather was terrible in Auckland and it was constantly raining with regular showers. We couldn’t wait to start our road trip so after one week in Auckland we took the road heading north (Northland) seeking for the last beautiful days before winter.
Yes, unlike Europe, because we are in the southern hemisphere, the further north we go, the warmer it gets.
Because we didn’t really have an itinerary, we were looking for free camping areas on « Campermate » and were planning our days according to it. Campermate is priceless and an absolute must-have when you travel. It’s a free app that gives you all the informations you need when you travel in NZ or Australia. It locates free campsites, public toilets, public showers, supermarkets, gaz stations and much more.
On the top north of Auckland in the North Shore, is the small town of Gulf Harbour.
It has one of the country’s largest marinas and is home to some of the country’s top golf courses. The town is calm and full of fresh air.
We can even catch a sight of Auckland’s city from the harbour. The city seems to always be under the rain while it’s all shiny in Gulf Harbour.
We had chosen to head north through the east coast passing through the Bay of Islands and to go down Northland through the west coast and its kauri forests. Here are some photos of our many stops along the road.
WAITANGI TREATY GROUNDS
The Waitangi Treaty Grounds is NZ’s most significant historic site.
It is where, on 6 February 1840, the first 43 Māori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi with the British Crown. It resulted in the declaration of British sovereignty over New Zealand.
There was no better place to expend your knowledges about NZ’s culture and history ! The entrance fee includes a guided tour, an acces to its new museum and a Māori cultural show.
We enjoyed it a lot.
Région de Doubtless Bay
We then went all the way to Taipa and Doubtless Bay. The area is gorgeous and the beaches were empty (one of the great advantages about travelling low season). We were fortunate enough to be hosted by Max & Chrissie for a couple of nights. They are Amélie’s in-laws (whom i’ll talk about later in the blog). They have a beautiful farm and are almost self-sufficients. We had never met them before but it didn’t stop them from welcoming us as old friends.
After a couple of days there, we took the road again to Cape Reinga, the northwesternmost tip of the Aupouri Peninsula, at the northern end of New Zealand.
It is considered to be the separation point between two big seas; the Tasman Sea on the left and the Pacific Ocean on the right. From the lighthouse you can witness the tidal race, as the two seas clash to create unsettled waters just off the coast.
The area offers a wide range of hikes, from the two hours walk to the 4 days trek. It’s well worth the sweat and the soar legs the next day cause all the views along the tracks are just breathtaking!
Our first stop on our way south was at Awanui. The small town is known for its famous Ancient Kauri Kingdom. Inside you’ll find a huge staircase carved inside an giant ancient kauri tree log. It was so fun to climb those few steps, you litteraly feel like a child in an imaginary world.
Max & Chrissie had advice us to take the Hokianga Harbour ferry to Opononi and the Waipoua Forest.
South Heads’ point of view near Opononi has a spectacular panoramic view of the ocean, giant sand dunes and on Hokianga Harbour.
Waipoua Forest is known to be home to two of the biggest kauri trees of the country:
Tāne Mahuta (« Lord of the forest » in Māori) is the largest known living kauri tree; its total height is more than 45 meters and its trunk volume is about 245m³ wide when Te Matua Ngahere (« Father of the forest » in Māori) is stouter and with a girth just over 16 metres (52 ft), has the biggest girth of any tree in NZ.
Our last stop before heading back to Auckland was in the beautiful area of the Kai Iwi Lakes. These crystal clear freshwater lakes are a true safe haven. It’s a famous destination in summer, it’s a great place for family holidays and offers a wide range of water sports such as kayaking or paddleboarding. Unfortunately for us, we were traveling in the beginning of winter and the weather didn’t allow us to try any of them.