We are in the Far North and the weather has been just glorious, perfect for riding and almost tempting and warm enough for a swim! We are in Mangonui and our accommodation is right on the water with spectacular water views that change continuously. It’s a “must” here to have a beer in the old hotel and to have fish and chips right next to the pub – so we do!
The ride out to the Karikari Peninsula is highlighted by stunning Maitai Bay, some say the most beautiful beach in New Zealand – and it’s easy to see why. Wow, this would have to rate as the best camping spot we’ve seen anywhere and we love that there are no shops, power or hot showers as it keeps visitors to a minium (no latte’s or smashed avocado here). It is such perfection that the waves break in a semi-circle…breathtaking!
We check out Whatawhiwhi and Tokerau Bay before heading north to Kaimaumau to visit my sister at her boyfriend’s farm.
Dean has a dairy farm right on the water so we head up East Beach at the end of the peninsula on the back of his ute – for a look into his world. It’s remote and good for fishing, with quite a few locals getting into it.
Julie is really getting into the farming, helping feed the calves and introducing the brand new ones to the “calfetaria”.
Dean tells us how the avocados are rapidly taking over the dairy farms in the Far North and already a lot of market gardening as the Pukekohe area in South Auckland is consumed by housing developments. It’s time to head to Cape Reinga, our last piece of road to the very north of New Zealand and it’s quite a momentous day for us. A small weather front has come over but it’s only producing light rain as we head up to the top and can see where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean.
It feels quite surreal to have now reached all the extremities of this amazing and spectacular country. As we walk out to the lighthouse it feels like the “ride” is over – five months of motorcycling and touring this land has reached it’s finale.
We head south and out to Henderson Bay, another pristine beach on the Aupouri Peninsula with a great surf break…is there no end to this magnificent coastline!
We decide to have our last “camp” with the tent back at Maitai Bay and it’s just magic. The camping area is protected from any breezes and is high above the beach. We cook our last “one-pot-wonder” while overlooking the bay until well after dark with a bottle of red wine to celebrate our day at Cape Reinga.
The countryside and the roads are now familiar territory for us as we come through the Maromaku Valley where Paul was raised on the family farm. Our first-born Mick was baptised at Moerewa but we are made to realise how long ago that was, as the church has now been replaced by a new one!
We stop for lunch and a wander round Kawakawa where Paul was born, the only town in New Zealand to have a railway track right through the middle of town!
It’s hard not to notice the colourful sculptures, mosiacs, copper and cobblestones of the town’s public toilets with golden orbs on the grass tuft roof. Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser lived in Kawakawa from the mid-seventies til his death in 2000, gifting the toilets to the town which have since been voted the best public loos in the world!
The Towai Hotel sits right on the highway and is where Paul’s Grandfather and later his Dad would call in for a beer with the locals on their way home from shopping or rugby.
Our last attraction is the Matakohe Museum which gives a fascinating insight into what life was like for our early pioneering settlers and the ultimate demise of the mighty kauri tree. The collections and displays are just amazing but we both come out feeling sad – such an incredible resource, that is no more.
So, as we wrap up our tour of New Zealand with a jam-packed agenda seeing as many friends and family as we can, the realisation begins to surface that the ride is over. We have chosen to air-freight the bikes back to Brisbane (details will be on our website in a few weeks) so they have to be cleaned and ready for a departure next week. Both of us are ready for home now as it’s a long time to be on the road. The thought of our own bed, ensuite, and cold beer fridge is very enticing…let alone a change of clothes and some dental maintenance!
Favourite of the Week
The Mangonui Hotel is an institution in the North and what a crack-up when we have the chance to share a beer with their sulphur-crested cockatoo called Barney! He’s 33, still very young at heart (cockatoos are known to live to around 100 years) and seems to enjoy the amber ale…
Show Me A Sign
The Chinese have bought a Winery and Golf Course on the Karikari Peninsula in the Far North and more recently an area of land nearby to build 800 houses for their people…with other rumours of an International Airport at Kaitaia, and on it goes! It seems that one local is not happy about this….
Story of the Week
So here we are, back in Auckland and with a chock-a-block schedule of catching up with everyone before we leave this land…it seems such a long time ago that we rode the bikes off the wharf at Auckland and began a 20,000 kilometre road-trip around New Zealand. From the beginning, we avoided main highways and embraced the mammoth national parks, the incredible beaches, the ever-changing intense green farmlands, the vast forests and native bush, mountain after beautiful mountain and the dynamic Maori culture. We’ve reconnected with so many friends and relations along the way – and the friendliness of the New Zealand people knows no bounds. The weather has been more than kind to us and the motorcycling has been a dream. So many were quick to say that five months was a long time to “ride” this country but it would be easy to see and do more. Has it been worth it to bring our motorcycles across the ditch? You bet it has…haere ra New Zealand and kia kaha. We will be back…