Day 10 – The Far North

My morning started super early today – and because of that, I had a lovely view as I drank my coffee.


The sunrises here in Kohukohu are just amazing!

I had a long drive this morning to meet my tour to go to the Far North, from Kohukohu to Awanui. The drive was uneventful and the road were pretty much empty, as it was Sunday morning.

My tour was meeting me at this cool little shop/attraction/cafe called Ancient Kauri Kingdom. Kauri wood is protected, so items made from it are very rare, and you can only use Kauri wood that has fallen – so they are rare (and expensive!).

I had lots of time to spare before my tour bus showed up, so I had a coffee in the cafe, then wandered around the really cool shop. Check out this awesomeness:

Then my bus arrived. This is one tricked out bus – made for the conditions we will encounter today:


As we drove north – our first stop was the Giant Te Paki Sand Dunes – which could be more accurately described as Sand Mountains. After a quick lesson by our tour guide on how to safely sand board, we were set free. Because of the concern that I might lose my phone in the sand I did not take any pictures from the top, or sliding down, but man – that slide down was crazy fast – and that climb to the top was no joke! Quite an adrenaline rush!

As we drove along, our driver pulled off the road at an interesting spot – it is the only spot from Highway 1 that you can see both the Tasman Sea to the West, and the Pacific Ocean to the East before you reach the top.

Our next stop was the “top of New Zealand” Cape Reinga. (It is not the furthest North point, just as Stirling Point wasn’t the furthest south, but it is where Highway 1 begins).

There was a brief (AND VERY BLUSTERY) walk down to the lighthouse, and it was a gorgeous walk. It was shocking to see the seas mixing together – I didn’t realize how clear it was going to be to see them merging together – no wonder the Maori had such interesting beliefs about this place! You can read about them on the signs and enjoy the stunning scenery here at the top of New Zealand!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After the blustery walk, we headed for our next stop – and the main reason we had such a tricked out bus – the drive along 90 Mile Beach.

We did pull to the side to take a quick picture of the white silicone sand off the coast of New Zealand (Pacific Side)- it was glistening.

90 Mile Beach is not actually 90 miles, it is much shorter, and is an actual sanctioned road in New Zealand – but it can only be accessed at low tide – and can be very treacherous. Most rental cars say you are not allowed to take your car on the road, but apparently people get stuck regularly, and in the worst cases, get swept away when they do not heed the warnings. I was happy to be riding along with the professional guide navigating the soft, bumpy sand.

We did get to pull to the side and get out – but it was so windy, so it was a short stop.

Somewhere in this story we did stop for lunch – I think before the beach – but this was the end of our tour. Once I was back at my car, I explored Kohukohu a little – including a visit to the “oldest bridge in New Zealand” which was actually just a foot bridge, but a fun stop none the less.

It was a fun day!


Day 8 and 9 – History, Culture and Giant Trees in the Northland

Day 8 was set to be a LONG day of driving, as I ventured from the beautiful Coromandel up through Auckland to the “Winterless North”.

I started by sharing breakfast with my lovely hosts, meeting a friend of theirs who stopped by to say hi (a common Kiwi occurrence), then I set out on my way.

I had a goal of making it through Auckland before 3 to hopefully avoid rush hour. The drive was pretty easy and thanks to some routing of Google Maps around a traffic incident, I made good time, and cleared through to Warkworth without much trouble, I stopped in Warkworth for a little stroll, snack, gas,  and bathroom break, and then I headed on my way. The only “scenic” stop I had planned for today was in Kawakawa – at some famous toilets, in fact.

The Hundertwasser Toilets are quite the famous road side attraction in the Bay of Islands – and the Hundertwasser inspired art style can be found throughout the region as a result.  The  Austrian-born artist found an anonymity and peace in New Zealand when he participated in an art show here in the 90s. He purchased a home outside of Kawakawa, and became involved in the local community. He offered a design to the local council, and the Hundertwasser public toilets were born.  Hundertwasser died unexpectedly in February 2000, and as a result the building is the only Hundertwasser structure in the Southern Hemisphere, and the last major project ever undertaken by the famous artist and designer. I have to say – they are the coolest public toilets I have ever been in! Interestingly, he engaged the local community in the construction, having students at the local secondary school create the clay tiles!

The influence can be seen as you stroll through Kawakawa as well.

I then drove on to my AirBnB – in a lovely peaceful location – and where I found I was renting from 2 lovely nuns. It was very interesting hearing their story and learning about their faith journey and how they ended up in the Northland.

Day 9 was a day for exploring – I started by heading to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds where I learned and got to experience more about the history of New Zealand.

Touring the grounds was quite fascinating – as was looking at the differences in the carvings for each Maori tribe.

The weather was sunny and beautiful – I was indeed in the “winterless north”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The cultural performance was great – and we were allowed to video the outside part.

The volunteer definitely had an experience!

After Waitangi, I ventured into Pahia, grabbed lunch, then set out to my next destination, the long drive to Tane Mahuta – the largest living Kauri Tree in New Zealand – but I made a stop on the long drive out to admire the views of the Tasman Sea at the Arai-te-Uru Recreation Reserve.

After my quick stop, I went to Tane Mahuta – located in the Waipoua Kauri Forest Reserve. I entered the path entrance, where you clean your shoes to prevent Kauri Dieback – as these trees are very sensitive.


I walked down the path, and was in sheer awe of the size of this tree – which almost sneaks up on you!

I had to use the panoramic shot to get the whole tree in the picture!

After walking around a bit more, I headed back to Kohukohu, excited for some new adventures tomorrow.