Monday, 15 October 2018

Auckland Regional Parks & More- Part 2

Continuing on from Part 1

After lunch at Opahi Bay on the Mahurangi West side of the harbour, we drove back to Warkworth, back down Sandspit Road, past our turnoff, past Snells Beach and on along Mahurangi East Road. Then it was along Ridge Road twisting and turning through some magnificent homes with magnificent views  until we finally arrived at Scotts Landing on the tip of a narrow finger of land, one of two fingers that make up the Mahurangi East Regional Park.

We were just in time to see one of  Bio Marine's barges arrive at the slip to offload. 

They have several oyster farms in the Mahurangi Harbour; you can see one (centre) in this photo I took from the other side of the harbour (click to enlarge). You can also see Scotts Landing at water level, on the right, on the other side of the water, 35kms by road away.

These are Pacific Oysters and they are farmed in the inter-tidal zone of sheltered harbours and estuaries. Two tides a day wash over the racks that hold the caged oysters. When they are ready to be harvested, the baskets are removed and taken back to the factory to be emptied, then they're cleaned and returned with hatchery spat inside them. Wild spat are collected on timber sticks in the summer months and the sticks are then attached to racks in the inter-tidal zone too.

While David watched the unloading, I walked around the corner and along a short boardwalk to have a look at another magnificent historic homestead in a regional park.

This is Scott Homestead (hence Scott Point) which was once the hub of the area. Mahurangi Harbour had a busy past with timber milling, ship building and firewood cutting trades. 

How's this for a view from your front garden? 

Thomas Scott Jr built the Georgian style house in 1877 on the site where his father, a shipbuilder, ran an inn until it was destroyed by fire. 

I just loved the colour of the clivias under the pohutukawas in the front garden. Being protected from the sun, they were a deep orange.

From Scotts Landing we headed back towards home but not before I twisted David's arm to drive down to Martins Bay to check out the beach and the holiday park.

Martins Bay was another lovely east facing beach with a backdrop of huge pohutukawas; come summer and New Zealand's very own Christmas trees would be in full bloom, what a beautiful sight that would be.

The large camping ground just about filled the bay with hundreds of sites, it's great to see that the casual camping sites are located on the water front (bottom right).  

There are rows and rows of  permanent caravans, all tucked up for winter. This is obviously a very popular place in the summer. No doubt a few of them will be getting a good airing this coming long weekend.

And then there was some more arm twisting to convince David to drive along the waterfront at Snells Beach to check out the two freedom camping sites; he was getting weary and thinking of home.

This is  Snells Beach East where there's a 2 night maximum stay, it looks great but we'd only fit in at the far end otherwise we'd stick out too much for people to pass.

The Snells Beach West site looks to be the better one if we ever come back this way, it also looks like it may be a little quieter (allocated sites at the back of the carpark) with the added bonus of a boat ramp. This also has a two night maximum stay. 

We had the next day off and then the following day (and our final at Sandspit) we headed north to check out the last of the regional parks in the area; Tawharanui which is located at the end of the Takatu Peninsula just south of Omaha Beach.

We were travelling along a winding country road not too far from the end of the road when David suddenly exclaimed 'That's it!" as he pulled to a sudden stop. He had spotted his brother's old business 'Sandpiper Lodge', we hadn't seen it in over 25 years and we weren't exactly sure we'd recognise it or in fact if we were on the right road. We just knew it was in the general area. 

It's still a lodge but with a different name. I remember the estuary that the grounds border, we did some bird watching along the edge and we spotted out first and only Kookaburra, a fairly rare Aussie import that hasn't spread much further than the North Auckland area.

Finally after another short length of narrow and winding road we came over the top of a brow and there below us was Tawharanui Regional Park, another park, like Shakespear, that is protected by a predator proof fence.

There's not many (if any) places in New Zealand that you'd see this sign cautioning drivers to the existence of three rare birds; Pateke (Brown Teal ducks), Takahe (a little like an oversized pukeko and very rare, they were thought to be extinct not too many years ago) and Kiwi. Unfortunately we didn't see any of them; not that we went looking any further than out the car window! According to the DOC Ranger we spoke to, the Takahe are frequent visitors to the surrounding paddocks.

The park has several beaches and a lagoon along with a fairly large campground tucked in behind sand dunes; this camp is another one that has a 8 metre size restriction- I'm guessing because of the narrow road in and sharp drop down to the park. A marine reserve also borders the northern boundary of the park.

There are several walks over the headlands, around the lagoon and along the beaches. We walked along the boardwalk around the end of the lagoon until we reached this noisy fellow, a male Paradise Duck/Putangitangi (can he read?). Paradise Shelducks like to rest on high spots, some even high up in trees. It's likely he was warning his mate that we were approaching, she would have a nest somewhere near by in the reeds of the lagoon.

And that was that, a little bit of the North Auckland area explored. Though not nearly in enough detail but at least we managed to tiki-tour a few places. Onwards and upwards....

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