The Sharky Road Trip: Northland

Sharky is my cobalt blue Nissan Prairie Joy 4WD. This is his NZ road trip.

(Click images to enlarge.)

Day 1

Left Auckland, drove off to Muriwai Beach. Put our feet in the sea, got surprised by a big wave that washed over my shoes, which were left on what I thought was safe territory. Went for a walk up the cliffs, watched the colony of gannets breeding there, they were pretty smelly. Surrounded by a group of Asians again taking selfies side by side. Walked back to car, sat at the parking lot drinking orange juice, chatted to a Canadian couple in their late 70s or early 80s. The couple had been going to New Zealand for he past 11 years to escape Canadian winter and travel around in their van. Note to self: be that couple when my hair is grey.

Continued trip, gorgeous scenery, beautiful windswept trees. Stop in Helensville to buy a pan at an op shop, stop in Dargaville to do some grocery shopping. Found camp site at Kai Iwi Lakes, nearly deserted, beautiful landscape. Cooked using tree trunk as table, drank some wine, it started to rain, got into the car. Found out the car isn’t water proof, got a little less excited about camping. Went to bed, woke up at sun dawn, misty clouds over the lake looked amazing, woke up later due to bright sun in my face. Noticed there was a huge bump in the air bed which screwed up my back. A little more less excited about camping.

Day 2

After getting up slowly, drove off to see the “God of the Forest”; the worlds largest Kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest. Found the second largest, the Father of the Forest first. Walked pathway, turned corner, BAM!, that’s a fat ass tree. Saw number one afterwards, were not so impressed, was a lot skinnier.

Next had lunch stop at Omapere with view over Hawkins Bay. Pretty great view. Took car ferry from Rawene and drove to Kaitaia for some grocery shopping. Ended day in Ahipara with stroll on 90 Mile Beach (which is actually 90 kilometres) and stayed at nice campsite with kitchen. Realised we now had more bumps in air bed and had a weirdly positioned night.

Day 3

Had a nice and hot shower, breakfast and packed up. One of Sharky’s side doors no longer wants to open. Oh well, off towards the far north with the Christmas playlist we had downloaded the night before. Quick stop at a pretty white silicon sand beach. Drove through gorgeous landscape with golden hills. Went to Te Paki sand dunes. We’d done sand dunes in Vietnam but let’s do it again. Whoa, hold on, these sand dunes are slightly larger. The word “massive” comes to mind. Rented a body board and sled belly down the dunes. Very windy, sand everywhere. Then drove Sharky the 4WD through sandy stream to 90 Mile Beach. Bumped up and down, skidded around, and splashed through water to the sounds of “Santa Baby” (I’ve been an awful good girl – skeeeeet splash splash splash). SO MUCH FUN.

Next stop Cape Reinga. Walked to lighthouse. Fantastic scenery and views. Here the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea meet, shake waves and go their own way. Kidding. The Maori say it’s a meeting of man and woman and life is created.

Lunch break at nearby beach, then to campsite for the night at Spirits Bay. Exhausted when we arrived. Little nap first. Had a go at boiling water to cook some pasta on our little has cooker, no luck. Never mind, we’ll eat the leftovers from yesterday cold. Went to beach to watch sunset, met some locals who just caught a whole lot of mussels. “Do yous eat mussels?” “Yeah..?” “Ya want some?” “Yeah…? But how will we cook them…” They offered to cook them for us and bring them over. And that is how we get our warm dinner. Winner! Had a little mosquito massacre going on in the car and went to sleep.

Day 4

Decided to deflate the airbed a bit which made it a whole lot more comfortable to sleep. Woke up in the middle of the night with view on the sacred mountain which contrasted black against the bright star-packed night sky. Incredible.

Quick cold shower in the morning and drove off again. Made a pit stop at the pretty Maitai Bay. Slightly disappointed due to absence of Maitais. Continued trip, people seem to use microwaves as mailboxes. Interesting. Ate “world famous” fish ‘n chips in Mangonui. Delicious. Stayed across the bay at Hihi Beach and watched a pretty sunset.

Day 5

Drove off today without a plan. Beautiful sunny and hot day. Stopped at a pretty beach. Continued driving, followed the signs that read “tourist route”. Drove past many bays, saw some sailing ships, got the idea to go sailing. Bought some oysters along the road. Crossed a bay with the car ferry to go to Russell. Found a tourism info and asked about sailing and a mechanic because of that locked door. Spoke to a mechanic on the phone, told us to stop by his house. OK, that’s weird. Finally found it, had a garage and signs from the AA. Right, now it makes sense. He fixed our door. No biggie. Went back to tourist info to book sailing trip. The one we wanted just sold out 2 minutes ago… Fine, we’ll go on the huge old tall ship. Which is pretty cool. Found a overpriced campsite, went to the beach, ate some of the oysters, they weren’t great. Had a proper dinner later.

Day 6

Boarded the R. Tucker Thompson and sailed away through the Bay of Islands. Gorgeous day again. Anchored in front of a small island, and swung off the ship on a rope to splash into the still very cold water and swim ashore. Laid in the sun, then went for little hike up the hill for some nice views, were a bit late coming back, ran down the hill again. Back aboard climbed the rig. While I was up there dolphins were spotted and the ship started chasing them, changing directions, rocking me back and forth. Slightly petrified. But a fantastic view!


Back on land, drove to my good old home The Farm, where we were warmly greeted by the Bennetts. Walked up the hill for a gorgeous golden sunset. Knackered from the sun and wind all day.

Day 7

Went back to Auckland today, but of course not before riding little motorbikes around on the land of The Farm. I may have crashed into a bridge. No damage. Went for a nice walk too. No pictures.

Long drive back, grocery shopping for Christmas, good night sleep in real bed.

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