Along the way

Going from Auckland to the Coromandel Peninsula normally doesn’t take too long – 1.5-2 hours depending on traffic getting out of Auckland. Since I have time to spare though, I took the more scenic route and camped at a couple spots along the way instead of heading straight there. The Auckland region (which extends north and south of Auckland city by…maybe 75km each way?) has over 20 district parks that are akin to provincial/national parks in Canada. In otherwords, quiet and peaceful areas with lots of activities to do.

I didn’t leave Auckland until the afternoon, so my first and last stop on my first day was Omana Park. It had an enjoyable camping area that somewhat overlooked the ocean.

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The weather really plays such a big role in the enjoyment of one’s day. When I went to the north end of Muriwai beach, it felt a cold, desolate place. Part of this was likely due to the weather because when I went 30km further south, to the town of Muriwai, the beach here was spectacular.

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The Black Sand Beaches

90 mile beach isn’t the only beach here you can drive on. In fact, there are quite a few, including one near Helensville called Muriwai.

Naturally, I didn’t dare take my car out on the beach – that’s just asking to get stuck using a FWD car. 4x4s only! And even then, when out by myself I certainly wouldn’t tempt fate anyways. So, I stopped at the car park and hiked over the dunes to the beach.

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The Glow Worms of Kerikeri

Forgot to post about this little last minute adventure I had while staying in Kerikeri. Glow worms are something you’ll hear mentioned a lot here in New Zealand for a tourist activity, but I had yet to see any. They are often found in caves or the like – they need very dark locations at night to be properly seen. My hosts in Kerikeri had a short walk to get to see some glow worms, sort of on an embankment/wall near a stream. I took the opportunity to go see them on my last night.

As you can imagine, it was a dark walk. I had my flashlight (or ‘Torch’, as they are called here), but even still you really notice how nice and dark things are. I didn’t have too much issue finding the glow worms down the path.

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The long drive

I left Kerikeri this morning and started my return trip out of Kerikeri in the Northland – it was a 230km drive today, which I figured would take about 2.5 hours.

It took nearly 3.5 hours. NZ roads don’t have many straight sections. Makes for interesting and involved driving though, no nodding off at the wheel for me. But at the same time it doesn’t allow one to enjoy the scenery quite as much as I might like – you have to be focused on the upcoming turn in the road. I do think this is probably the most common street sign I’ve seen in NZ:

Thankfully my Honda is a pretty decent drive, for a station wagon. I certainly miss my Mazda 3 for these kind of drives – tons of hills and curves with nary another vehicle on the road.

I’ve actually now left the Northland region and crossed back into the Auckland region, though I’m still 50km north of Auckland. I’m going to be WWOOFing for 6 days at an exotic fruit farm – they’ve got a very nice place up in the rural area north of Helensville, on the west side of the island. Hopefully I’ll get out to the western beaches once or twice this week – they are black sand beaches. Not going to go swimming anytime soon though – a wee bit too cold for that still! BUT, they do have thermal pools in this area. That might be a better option.

I met my new hosts just after noon and got to work after having a tasty avocado sandwich for lunch (eating vegetarian for a week – I will eat healthy!). Work will be outdoors once again – I was helping to clear brush yesterday and today will be pruning raspberry bushes. I just hope the weather will stay pleasant!