Sunday, 26 February 2012

Tawharanui and Mahurangi

Saturday 18 February
We set off quite early, stopping for a look round the Warkworth Museum which is larger than many of these local museums and rather fun, with an exceptionally  large collection of ladies underwear from the nineteenth century! There’s also a lovely kauri reserve next door with a couple of really big 1000 year old trees, so we wander through trying to memorise the names for the local trees. We have lunch and make our way over to the Tawharanui peninsula. Though a fair way north of Auckland it’s one of the Auckland Regional Parks and we pick up the relevant leaflets at the local i-site. The peninsula has a giant rodent-proof fence across its entrance, as it’s a kiwi reserve and they’re trying to keep it rodent free. We drive through the automatic gates to the end of the road, park at Anchor Bay and set off for a circular walk, passing a couple of fabulous bays, taking in the far point and returning along a stream through lovely cool native bush. We see and hear more bell birds than we ever have before, and the sounds as you walk through the bush are tropical and exotic.  It’s a glorious Summer’s day and we end by swimming in the bay. Fabulous clear water, quite a few surfers around, but waves not too big to swim. A perfect day out. We drive back to Snell’s Beach where we’re booked into a very cheap b&b for the night. The place hasn’t been renovated in about 40 years but the owners Roland and Alison are good value and full of local information.

Anchor Bay, Tawharanui
Looking across to Kawau Island

Sunday 19 February
We breakfast with them and other guests out in the garden next morning and watch the next-door neighbour raise the union jack in our honour. Alison shouts out the nationality of her guests every morning and the appropriate flag is raised apparently. This morning we’re off to the Mahurangi peninsular. We park at Scott’s Point and, as its low tide, we walk around a tiny island which has weird stone formations.

Scotts Point

Weird rock formation at Scotts Point with Mahurangi Harbour behind

The Mahurangi Harbour is very pretty with lots of inlets, islands, little boats, kayaks and so on. Makes us wish we were more boating types to have the freedom to sail around this lovely coastline. Setting off back south again we stop for lunch in a lovely old pub at Puhoi, the Bohemian town. It was settled in 1840 by a group of people from Bohemia (now Czechoslovakia) and today they still strive to keep their culture alive. It’s a town, like so many in New Zealand, that began life through European settlers being given land for free, which they then had to clear, floating massive tree trunks down river to sell. Within 20 years they’d built a church and a school, had a post office and a store. They must have been very tough, determined people, one can’t help but be impressed reading about their history in the local museum.

Mike paddling in the Puhoi River at Waiwera Beach

Still making our way south we stop next at Waiwera which is where the Puhoi river enters the sea. It has a lovely beach but is fairly shallow so we swim just where the river meets the sea to get a bit more depth. Wonderful warm water but strange because the tide’s coming in and there’s a strong current pushing you upstream. Across the river is the Wenderholm regional park, Auckland’s first park, which we’ll have to visit another time. Chicken Laksa for dinner back home in our favourite Malaysian restaurant. Don’t think I’ve ever seen a Malaysian restaurant in Oxford, or London for that matter, I wonder why, the food is terrific.

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