Monday, 21 January 2019

Two Bays, Two Camp Sites- Northland


Well, that short break became a long one. Unfortunately we had to delay our plans for a couple of weeks when David became ill while we were out on the boat. Luckily & thank God we have been able to stay on at our friends place in Kerikeri while he's been recuperating, parked up (like friendly gnomes) at the bottom of their garden. 

It has truly been a much appreciated life saver and especially being on power and able to run the air-conditioning during the hot & humid days we've been having. It was a worry when our tanks were getting full and David was not feeling like he could manage to drive the rig across town to the dump station. The solution? The shortest trip yet to a 'dump station'; across the lawn to connect up to our friends septic tank. The perfect solution!

David is on the mend although he does get very tired so we'll be doing much shorter trips as we head south down Northland's west coast.  But anyway, back to a blog (which is now a long way behind!)...

From Puriri Bay we headed south back along the long & winding dusty road, back towards Whangarei. The alternative was to continue on along the Old Russell Road to Russell and cross on the ferry to Opua but that involved a bit of co-ordinating; we needed to arrive at the top of a high tide so we could drive onto the ferry and not scrape our bum. It was also quite expensive for a 5 minute ride for a rig of our size, and besides, we had another DOC camp to check out before we went further north.

Otamure Bay is another beautiful little bay just over the hill from Whananaki, which is the seaside settlement on the north side of the longest pedestrian bridge in the Southern Hemisphere, which you may recall, we visited a few weeks earlier from Whananaki South.

The white sands and sparkling blue waters of Otamure Bay are fringed by huge pohutukawa trees which provide shelter and shade for visitors to the public reserve.

The large DOC campground, which stretches the full length of the bay, is behind the reserve.

Unfortunately, the boundary fence between the camp and the reserve would made it difficult for us to inflate the Takacat and get it down to the water so there was to be no fishing for David during this stay. He could have perhaps inflated it on the other side of the fence but then he'd have worried about it parked up over there at night and also it was still quite a distance to haul it down to the water.

As it turned out the fish weren't biting that hard anyway. Jocelyn & Murray (and one of their family members with a new 5th-wheeler) were also parked up at Otamure Bay when we arrived. That's Murray, 'fisherman extraordinaire', who manages to feed a camp with fish. Well, he wasn't having too much luck this time, just the odd one here and there.

The campground shared the bay with just one other property, a lovely holiday home tucked into the corner and surrounded by bush. This little folly- a tiny boat house and jetty- was at the front of their garden overlooking the beach.

And when the owners arrived for a few days the flag went up, the deck chairs came out and the lifebuoys were added to the hut. It looked like the perfect spot to relax, have a cool drink and enjoy the views.

At the other end of the bay a beautiful stream (naturally stained with tannin) flowed under the overhanging pohutukawas and out to sea. This is where I'd be swimming if the weather was a little warmer! 

Just along the road and across the bridge over the stream, is the entrance to a gorgeous hidden gem. It does involve a short sharp 200m walk up and over a bluff but it's well worth the effort. 

The Watkin Powell Track delivers the walker into the beautiful & secluded Tauwhara Bay with its white sand, emerald green waters and magnificent gnarly old pohutukawa trees. 

This would be the perfect place to take a romantic picnic for two, to sunbathe & have a swim and out of season you’ll most likely be the only visitors all day.

There are a few secluded holiday homes tucked into the bush and flax above the bay and at the far end, a large mown grassed area under a pohutukawa with this old dinghy waiting patiently for the summer.

We drove through Whananaki (north) on our way to Otamure Bay and of course I had to pop back over the hill to check it out in more detail later in our stay. 

I stopped at the top of the hill to take a photo looking down over the estuary. I also wanted to check out a camping ground after I'd seen a sign and a glimpse of it out the window as we were passing earlier in the week.

And wow, what a fabulous looking camping site, and this, according to the farm's website, is only one of several sites on the farm on both side of the headland that forms the northern border to the Whananaki estuary. I do see that it only mentions tenting on the website & I wonder if campervans and motorhomes are welcome too. I can see that access may be an issue to some of the sites.

Further on down the hill the small village- made up of permanent houses,  luxury holiday homes and classic kiwi baches- sits on the edge of the large estuary.

And this time I approach the pedestrian bridge via the front door!

Any road with 'wharf' or 'church' in its name is a major magnet for me when I'm exploring and of course I have to check them out hoping to find something interesting to photograph.

I drove to the end of the Whananaki Wharf Road which was rather short... and onto the bumpy part where it said it was no longer maintained by the council. There are a number of baches along the edge of the estuary here and it must be a worry for them during king tides and with the global warming threat hanging over their heads.

I walked to the end of the track and out onto the old wharf...

...which overlooked the estuary entrance and Ocean Beach which we visited from Whananaki South the other week.

This is looking back into the estuary, you can see the ute parked at the edge of the photo (click to enlarge)...

...and oh look, there's that bridge again!

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