Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bream Head


Whangarei Heads
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When you book a New Zealand tour of Northland, chances are you’ll leave from Auckland and head for Paihia in the Bay of Islands with a short stop at Whangarei Falls. By day three, you’ll be in Opononi on the west coast for a day in the sand dunes or another bus trip into Waipoua Forest and the giant Kauri trees, then back to Auckland. You’ll see a little of Nortland. But, there’s a better, cheaper way to see more and pay less– rent or buy an auto or RV. Either way, you can wander off the main road and find beautiful country any place you wander.


If you spend the night in Whangarei– which I think is one of the best towns in New Zealand-- you might as well pack up a lunch and drive the short distance around the north side of Whangarei Harbour, past the airport, to Bream Head, a high bluff at the end of a peninsula that juts out into the Pacific Ocean. To the north, you’ll find Ocean Beach with its pounding surf and miles of isolated beach. We won’t be passing nearby Whangarei Falls yet. We’ll find them on our way to Tutukaka.



View From
Parua Bay Tavern
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Riverside Drive takes you back over the Hatea River. Beyond the airport, you’ll find the Waimahanga Walkway, an easy 45 minute walk near the mangroves– remember nothing will bite you, so don’t worry about a snake with a bad disposition or an alligator hoping lunch will pass by. If you want to get wet then enjoy your lunch, Tamaterau is a good place to swim or windsurf. The Pines Golf Course, an 18 hole course with views of the harbour is also nearby. There’s a boat launch a little farther up Whangarei Heads Road at Parua Bay. With the airlines as fussy as they are now, you probably won’t bring your own boat, but you can have a beer in the Parua Bay Tavern on the water’s edge and watch the boats. Parua Bay is a small community about 2 kms from the boat launch. McLeod Bay, another swimming/picnic area is just across from Marsden Point, that spot where we checked out the harbour on our way into Whangarei. A small wooden church built in 1858 is still used for Sunday worship.




Bream Head
tramp
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Taurikura is easy to spot. It’s a natural volcanic rock causeway that disappears into the sea. Woolshed Bay is a popular anchorage for sailboats waiting for a daylight passage into Whangarei, a weather break, or just hanging out enjoying the scenery. From the car park in Woolshed Bay, you’ll find several walkways crisscrossing the Bream Bay Scenic Reserve. You’ll be glad you packed a lunch– or two– if you decide to explore. The entrance to these walks are at Urquharts Bay back a short way (see map), or Ocean Beach– where we’re headed. Like most New Zealand walkways, they’re well signposted. If you’re in really good shape, have the time, and brought a lunch or two, take the six hour (one way) walk and enjoy the view of the offshore islands and harbour views. There’s also a shorter 3 hour hike to Peach Cove and return. This is a kiwi sanctuary, so no dogs are allowed. You can find more information on hiking trails in this area at the Department of Conservation, DOC.






Ocean Beach
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Only 35 kms from Whangarei, Ocean Beach is a nice day trip along the largest enclosed harbour in New Zealand. Along the way, you’ll have a chance to enjoy the water, do some beachcombing or maybe watch dolphin and orca glide in and out of the water. At Ocean Beach, you can beachcomb for miles to the north or poke around in the rock tide pools to the south.

However you spend your day, whether working up a blister on one of those long hikes, swimming and snoozing on the beach, or settling back in the pub with a few brews, remind yourself how glad you are you took the time to rent or buy a vehicle so you could spend a day in part of New Zealand the tour guide forgot to mention as the bus zipped past on the way to the Bay of Islands.

If you’re all worn out from all that hiking, swimming or snoozing and have a self-contained RV, there’s overnight parking at Whangarei Heads at Ocean Beach. You can also find a place to park the night at Parua Bay opposite the hotel or at Pataua South past the public toilet.

Next, we’ll be headed up the road to Tutukaka, but we’ll have to get back to Whangarei so we can get around the Parahaki Reserve.

Lyn Harris

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

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5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm interesting in buying a car and maybe bringing a small tent and trying backpacker or economy lodging. Any tips for car hunting?
Brian L.

Lyn said...

I don't recommend any dealers in particular.
You might check out hostel bulletin boards in cities like CC or Auckland with international airports. Backpackers leave from there and need to sell their cars.
Check back in the archieves for car fairs, insurance, etc.
Lyn

Anonymous said...

Is it usually cheaper to rent than buy a vehicle?
Brian

Lyn said...

Depends on how long you stay. Rentals are expensive. There's a company called Transfercar. You might find a rental relocating deal. I've never used this company, but they were recommended by a friend who said there were no problems.
Lyn

Nancy McCarroll - Arts, Crafts and Favorites said...

Lovely scenery and a thoughtful blog. Thank you, Nancy
(PS: The Kiwi Dictionary is quite helpful!)