Monday, 4 March 2019

Matauri Bay- Northland


Once again I have struggled to keep up with my blogs, we've just had the most amazing summer up north and have only just returned to familiar territory (Mt Maunganui) where I don't feel the need to get 'Out There' every spare moment and shoot anything that moves (or not as the case may be). I shall now try and post regularly and catch-up a little before the next adventure begins.

And a side note; I couldn't not mention that this blog post is number 800. Yes, you read right, 800 blogs! My first one 'How it all began'  was dated August 2012, six and half years ago. And what adventures we've been on since then. Of course I probably could have doubled that number because my blogs aren't like other blogs; meant to be short & concise. Most of them are short stories! I've also recently passed 900,000 clicks (views), roll on one million!

We said a fond farewell to Kerikeri and headed north (little knowing we would be returning for an unplanned and lengthy stay in the not too distant future).

It was just 30kms to our next stop at the Matuari Bay Holiday Park where we parked beachfront, right on the edge of  the beautiful sheltered sandy beach of Matuari Bay...

...but not before having to do a 20 point turn with the rig on the back after Mr TomTom led us astray. 
He very rarely gets it wrong, or if he does I usually pick it up well in advance, but not this day. Mr TomTom decided to take us via the local whanau camp at the southern end of the bay. It didn't help that we had to continue on to find a wider area in the track to turn around after spotting the sign . I'm sure I saw several smirks on the faces of a group of locals sitting in the nearby shade. 

It was still early summer and other than a handful of full-timers in their last weeks of  wintering over at the camp, the holiday park was virtually deserted. Just us...

....a couple of hundred ever present, eagle eyed gulls...

'What do you think Charlie, you think they'll have food?'
...and several dozen rabbits who made themselves at home underneath and around our van; this one taking time out beside our power pole and letting me walk around outside without bounding off at the slightest movement.

I suspect that in fact we were intruding into their home territory, several baby rabbits lived under the caravan-come-cabin we were parked beside. It was fun to watch them out the tinted lounge window chasing each other, jumping and high kicking before racing back under the caravan as fast as they could when they spotted any movement.

A Rustic Kiwi Cabin
A few tourists arrived each evening to stay the night. These ones seemed to be so enamoured with their surroundings, they sat outside their van long after nightfall, wrapped up against chilly night air, reading their e-readers while soaking up the inky blackness and the stunning night sky. They were still there at 11pm when I stepped outside to check the rig over before going to bed.

At the north end of the camp and on the otherside of a small headland is tiny rocky Putataua Bay, an ideal place to snorkel, fish or launch a small boat or kayak from.

A walking track to the top of the headland leaves the camp beside Putataua Bay, it's a short sharp walk to the top but rest stops can be taken at the gaps in the pohutukawa trees that line the track. The views over the camp, the beach and out over Matauri Bay are magnificent.

The views from the top are also just as spectacular overlooking the Cavalli Passage & Cavalli Islands. In another life we spent a night anchored in Horseshoe Bay- the bigger bay to the right- while we were en-route to Whangaroa Harbour. The island doesn't look so big from up here.

The most important feature and the reason most people walk the track though, is to see the clifftop memorial to the Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior. The Rainbow Warrior, after being bombed by the French while it was moored at Marsden Wharf in Auckland (1985)- and with the loss of one life- was sunk beside the Cavalli Islands and now provides an artificial reef for divers.

A nearby boulder sculpture has engravings of the islands and a brass inlay indicating the resting place of the Rainbow Warrior (which is at the north end of the islands)

Just in front of the memorial, the cliffs drop away to the ocean below, there's only a small shin high wooden railing so do be careful if you have children with you.

Here's a pano of Matauri Bay, the campground and Putataua Bay.

I walked up the track several times during our stay, it also seemed to be a track that many of the locals walked for exercise; I captured this group of friends walking back along the beach one evening.

With the Cavalli Islands just 3kms offshore, Matauri Bay provides an excellent launching point for fishing and diving boats to be launched including local diving companies who take divers out to the Rainbow Warrior wreck.

I walked along the beach several times during our stay, capturing more 'friends'; a group of Black-backed gulls...

....the silky smooth sand and some amazing cloud formations.

At the south end of the bay, nestled below Matauri Hill on a rise overlooking the beach, is the historic Samuel Marsden Memorial Church (1896) named in honour of the missionary's arrival in the bay.

After Marsden's arrival on December 20th, 1814, he travelled down to Rangihoua and preached his first sermon on Christmas Day, 1814. You'll recall we visited Rangihoua Heritage Park & the Marsden Cross Walkway in the last blog.

Of course being on the east coast the sunrises were spectacular and always different, and being early summer, not too early at around 6am.

The sunsets weren't half bad either; the top 3 shown below are sunrises, the bottom 3 are the coral coloured hues of sunset.

Before long it was time to head off again, back on the road slowly making our way to the top of the North Island. Not far past the turnoff to Matauri Bay there's a lookout that gives a great view of the bay and islands.

Next up- Mahinepua and Tauranga Bay


  1. Congratulations on your 800th blog, Shellie. Bet you weren't thinking about 800 boogs and nearly clocking a million followers when you started out. You've showed many of us places to go, along with showcasing our beautiful country to those who may never get to see it all. A heartfelt thank you.

    1. Many thanks Carron for your lovely words, they are much appreciated. And you're right, 800 blog posts wasn't even on my radar! Of course now I've made a rod for my own back because I can't stop delivering them until we stop this journey! :)


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