Saturday, 27 October 2018

Stunning Beach & Uretiti DOC Camp

Catch-up. Well, my good intentions of keeping up to speed with blogs didn't last long did they? I think I'll just give up on that idea and just plod along as per usual.

After Sandspit Holiday Park our next stop was at the Uretiti DOC Camp located between Waipu and Whangarei and tucked in behind the sand dunes of a beautiful ocean beach.


The Hen & Chicken Islands (centre & right) lie just off the coast in Bream Bay and Bream Head (left) forms a prominent headland and marks the entrance to the large Whangarei Harbour. The DOC camp is one of the larger camps we've visited on our travels, there's plenty of space for everyone to spread out with wide open grassed areas and smaller bays which you can tuck into if you're wanting to get away from it all. 


There's a one-way road loop around the camp; we drove around twice before we chose our site and for the first few days we had the whole section to ourselves. Once school holidays started, a few more campers arrived and many of them stayed at the other end of camp where the one hot water shower ($2) was located. There are also cold showers available at each of the toilet blocks. Our area began to fill too although we still had plenty of room.


It was lovely surprise to see another fifth-wheeler arrive and find out that it was Jocelyn & Murray who also live on the road. We'd last seen them at the NZMCA Park at Ohau B canal in Twizel a couple of years ago. It was great to catch up with them again, and then their friends who also arrived and other RVers who decided they couldn't miss out on a few happy hour drinks too. It wasn't going to be the last time we'd see Joc & Murray either.


Over the glistening white sand dunes...


...was the most magnificent beach...


...that stretched for miles in both directions.


I walked towards Waipu one morning and had the whole beach to myself for quite some time. Well, almost to myself if you don't count a resting pair of Variable Oystercatchers/Torea Pango who didn't move a beak as I passed but kept a wary eye on me. And a pair of NZ Dotterels/Tuturiwhatu who also watched carefully, not wanting to leave the dead clam they were poking and prodding. 

I turned around at the 4km mark and found a number of people along my return; a couple exercising their Weimaraner and two horses being exercised...


...along with the local horse trek company out early with a couple of clients...


...and several fishermen...

Cute mode of transport, beats a quad bike for shelter from the weather
...trying different ways of fishing. These guys had a Torpedo which is an electric long line that can send the baited line up to 2kms out to sea. After a certain amount of time the line is winched back in with hopefully fish on the end. I love the four gulls lined up above waiting for the by-catch.


And this guy sent his line out by kite, he told me he preferred being able to feel his line (and catch) once it had been released into the sea from the kite. He wound it back in by hand. 


And there was that Te Araroa Trail sign once again. New Zealand's Trail, a 3000km walk from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island (the Long Pathway). We haven't seen it so often in the North yet but criss-crossed it dozens of times in the South Island. We're doing the cheats trail, it takes a lot less energy but one hell of a long time!


I also found this interesting creature with a vicious set of teeth on the beach. At first I thought it might be the remains of a sea snake but after a bit of research I've found out that it is actually a Sea Serpent or Serpent eel. 

They are quite possibly the longest eel in New Zealand at an average length of 1.3m but can reach up to 2.5m in length. They live underwater in sand burrows with just their heads poking out waiting for food to swim by. They very wary critters and divers report that they are hard to get close too. They are fast movers and disappear back into their burrows as fast as they can swim forward.


We spent most of our time at Uretiti relaxing in the early summer sun although we did manage a couple of days exploring north and south of the camp. We visited the Marsden Cove Marina and wharf area where it was a surprise to see actually how close Whangarei Heads was across the harbour.


It's no wonder some workers from the Marsden Point Oil Refinery boat to work each day from across the other side (including my sister's boyfriend many years ago), it's just a hop, skip and jump!

Marsden Point Oil Refinery- the only oil refinery in New Zealand 
On our way home we drove by the local dump station at Ruakaka, checking to make sure access was ok for when we visited it later in the week (fellow big rig owners will understand this ritual). It was a thrill to spot this beautiful old Harrier Hawk/Kahu holding onto his road kill hedgehog nearby.

Hawks are very shy and will usually fly off as soon as you approach them. Not this one though, he stayed on the edge of the road and we were able to turn around and cruise by very slowly as I took photos of him through the open window. He has stunning white 'underpants', something not often seen in a hawk. Did you now the lighter the feathers the older the bird?



Next up- exploring south of Uretiti and a rare sighting


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