Cape Reinga has turned from the lonely spot at the tip of the island and the end of a sometimes lumpy dirt road into the full tourist-circus thing....time to bail quickly and look for quieter places.
Pick some gravel roads and there's half the rent.
Add a few extra miles of dust...and the world flips back to normal.
Spirits Bay 15k's to the east of Cape Reinga is exactly that.
Scuttling the boots and bike clobber....
The promised weather-change drives us south....
The skies turn leaden and the ferocious wind-gusts blow the riding jackets into balloons.
Overtaking cars or even a camper becomes a matter of when one dives from Michelin-Man-Mode into the deflating dead-calm of the lee, the jacket and helmet suddenly slapping onto the skin like a sheet of glad-wrap.
Waitiki Landing, the northern-most outpost in NZ offering Caravan Park, fuel and food is a sorry affair....while there's fuel, the distinct lack of even frozen pies says it all.
Deliberately ignoring the "no vacancy" board of the Pukenui Motel results in a couple of neat units that were cancelled by a boating party just as I entered the office...PERFECT!
Ant and Tim cook up a storm, the picnic tables offer some fantastic views across Houhora Harbour.
Through the night, the wind howls and the rain hammers onto the roof.
This is part of the walking trail from the top of the North Island (Cape Reinga) to the bottom of the South Island (Bluff)
Cape Reinga in the distance to the left.
We left this top spot and continued down the East coast this time, stopping at Pukenui on the shores of the Houhora Harbour.
I can remember seeing a signpost indicating that it was 10 km to Te Paki Stream. The Island isn't very wide up here.
That's East to West coast at 10k, possible less if it was straight.
After a hearty meal (thanks guys). I would have helped if my DR butt paralysis wasn't peaking.
We set off, and took a detour down to Wageners Holiday Park. This is the view out to the Harbour heads.
Then down to Awanui, where Pete had a crack at fixing Ant's Tyre, which the bead wasn't properly seated.
A quick look at Wagener Caravan Park, the old homestead is still locked...Houhora Heads look rather ominous in the gloom.
A few dozen k's south, the skies start to lift and brighten a little....re-seating Ant's front hoop at the busy servo in Awanui is only partially successful, the hoop has to come off to clean all the gunk from the inner surfaces (sloppy work by whoever mounted the thing in the first place)
Now at least good for lefthanders , I sail past the Tahanga Rd. turnoff twice as it's half-hidden by foliage and another turn-off....that mythical "grassy path" running parallel to the coast and tying into Wallace Rd. near Rangiputa....is....ahhh...just is no more!
The muddy boatslip in the stinking mangroves isn't too inviting, so it's up the Karikari Peninsula via the main road for a look at Rangiputa, a pretty, little place.
Time to get into those hills again....cutting south towards Victoria Valley.
Which one we gonna take?
Peria Valley Rd.
Now in "Doug"-Country, it's off to the Rangikapiti Pa that sits above Mangonui, controlling the Harbour mouth.
Mangonui Central...the famous "Fish+Chips on stilts above the tidal mud, the pier and Fishing Co-Op on the left and the 4-Square grocery store on stilts again, mostly covered by some trees.
Looks like much of the commercial ventures are barely tacked onto the narrow coastal road, like teeth of a zipper.
Doug's old home as a backdrop
After the shopping spree...."Where the fcuk we gonna stash all this stuff?"
Buzzing around the steep back-alleys of St. Paul's Rock in Whangaroa...." where'd you say this joint is?"
Whoohoo...they're OUR digs?
What a place!
The 140 year old former hospital up on the hill sure is impressive!