Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Footbridges and Fine Sands- Part 1


While in Whangarei we drove a loop out to and up the coast exploring all the little bays and beaches along the way. It was a good 20kms of narrow winding road before we caught a glimpse of the sea and our first stop was at a lookout. A misnomer if ever there was one because the trees were blocking most of the view. There was nothing for it but to carefully climb the steel ladder up onto the tiny platform of a crows nest where the view was slightly better; here looking south towards Whangarei Heads. An older couple who stopped behind us had no way of seeing the view and drove off very disappointed.

The Tutukaka Marina was the next port of call, and a very quite place that was, not a soul in sight nor a boat on the move. The last time we were here we came in from the sea to refuel. 

Next came the first jewel in the crown of the golden sand beaches heading up the Northland coast; Matapouri Bay...

...where, being school holidays, there were several families enjoying the beach and swimming. I had wanted to walk around to the 'famous' Mermaid Pool, out on the reef behind the headland but the tides were wrong and I wasn't too sure how long I had. Next time maybe...

We carried on up the coast stopping beside a picnic table at Sandy Bay for lunch just as the sun disappeared behind the clouds and a chilly wind forced us to wrap up. A surf school kept us entertained while we ate our lunch.

We headed inland from Sandy Bay, the road winding uphill and very narrow in places until we reached the Whananaki South Road where we turned right and headed down and back out towards the coast. I was thrilled to catch sight of a seventy or so endangered Pateke/Brown Teal resting on the edge of a tidal stream as we neared the Whananaki Estuary. Pateke are restricted to several Northland & Coromandel sites where predator control is active.

The road finished at an overgrown gravel turnaround and I'm sure David wondered why on earth we were here.

At 395 metres this is the longest footbridge in the Southern Hemisphere; we're on the south side of the bridge and it's 13kms of narrow gravel road to the north side. 

The bridge is also part of the Te Araroa Trail, we keep criss-crossing the trail as we move north.

Of course I have to walk the bridge there and back just to say I've done it so I leave David bird-watching. This is looking south back towards David. The house on the left belongs to one of the 'famous in New Zealand' Peters families; Whananaki South is Winston Peters childhood home, he and his 10 siblings were bought up on a farm in the district and still have homes and baches in the settlement.

Not far now as I approach Whananaki North and cross over the river, it would have been good to have seen the estuary at high tide with water covering all the mudflats.

Looking back to the south...

...and down-stream, across to the beach side settlement of Whananaki South...

...which I took from the high point on the bridge. A young mother and her son followed me over, he told me Mum was showing him where she grew up and how she had to walk to school over the bridge each day. He was more keen on going to the beach for a swim.

The bridge in it's entirety....well nearly, I've missed the north end.

Just a short way back up the road we took a side road out to the Whananaki Recreation Reserve where there's another beautiful white sand beach.

Here's a great tip for the campers amongst my readers; freedom camping is allowed in the DOC run reserve for self contained vehicles...

...and the best bit is that the site doesn't appear on any camping apps! So you're likely to have the place to yourself. Out of the high season of course, I suspect that this would be a traditional family camping spot for the locals over the summer holidays.

We had afternoon tea sitting on the tailgate in the warm sun and then spent half an hour retracing our steps and re-driving the last few kilometres when I realised my lens cap was missing. It wasn't until after about the sixth stop and search, including the mudflats in front of the Whananaki South baches, that I found it. In my pocket! I'm sure I double checked that before the call went out.

We headed off back to the main highway and home to complete the loop.

Here are the two churches I added to my collection; this one was way back at the beginning of the trip, just out of Whangarei; the Pehiaweri Maori Church near Glenbervie...

...and this one, the Holy Name of Mary Church in Hikurangi; I love the shadow the Phoenix palm fronds cast across the front of it.

To be continued... Part 2


  1. Always enjoy your writing and pictures, especially as it's a cold, windy and wet night here in the uk, reminds me of past adventures and warm days.

    1. Many thanks, pleased you can reminisce via the blog, and I hate to tell you this but this summer has been an exceptional one and it's still giving us long hot days! :)


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