Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Kowhai Coast

Mansion House
Kawau Island

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In New Zealand, just a little north of Orewa on SH1, Waiwera is also a good place to stop if you’re RVing and want to relax in the mineral pools. Next door to the Wairewa Thermal Pools, a Holiday Park has campsites, chalets and cabins. If you’re traveling by auto and want to save a little on lodging, these campgrounds are ideal– remember to bring your own bedding for a reduced rate. Since you’re still fairly close to Auckland, the Thermal Resort with its 26 mineral pools and water slides is crowded in New Zealand’s summer– particularly on the weekends.

If you’re looking for something lower priced and lower paced,

Wenderholm Regional Park is nearby. Tent camping sites are available and there are a few sites for RVs. Both Orewa and Wenderholm Regional Park are on the Hauraki Gulf if you like sand and sea.

In the middle of the Kowhai Coast, Warkworth is about 1 l/2 hours north of Auckland on SH1. Warkworth is a town of a little over 3,000– not counting tourists. The Mahurangi River runs through Warkworth and drains into Mahurangi Harbour on the Gulf. The river is the home to many, many ducks. If you’re hiking along the river– watch where you step.

If you’re not rushing through the Kowhai Coast, spend a day on

Kawau Island– catch a small boat from Sandspit Wharf. The Maori lived on Kawau at one time. In the 1840's a manganese mine was established. Later copper was discovered and the partial ruins of the old copper mine are still on the island.

In 1862 Sir George Grey, one of New Zealand’s first governors, bought the island and turned the mine manager’s home into a mansion He also imported many plants and animals– including five species of wallabies. The wallabies still roam the island damaging the native vegetation. 10% of the island, including the Mansion House, are owned by the Department of Conservation (DOC). There are many native birds including wekas, bellbirds and Kiwis.

If you charter a sailboat in Auckland, you’ll probably visit the Kawau Island Yacht Club. If you’d like to spend a quiet night, bachs, holiday flats and bed and breakfast accommodations are available. Most are located on the water. The majority of the island has no roads. Book ahead in the summer season as this is a popular tourist area.

Lyn Harris

RV in NZ: How to Spend Your Winters South in New Zealand

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