Monday, 10 December 2012

Tutukaka Coast

Saturday 20 October
This is our final trip before I return to the UK and we thought we’d explore the Tutukaka coastline, not being able to resist a place with a name like that. We’d touched on it a little on our trip north with Anne and Andy back in July and it looked worth further exploration, so we booked ourselves 2 nights very cheaply in Ngunguru. We set off quite early driving north towards Whangarei, and this time we stop at the Café Eutopia, in Kaiwaka, which we’d passed many times but never stopped at before. A rather lovely, whacky NZ organic fantasy café: good place for a coffee stop.

. . . and it looked even stranger on the inside

Just before reaching Ngunguru we stop for a walk beside the estuary which has a wonderful turquoise river running down past a huge sandspit to the sea. We get to Ngunguru by lunch time and find our bach which turns out to be a small but self-contained space, close but separate from the owner’s house. He’s a lovely little chap, a quarry man (his hands were rough and seriously misshapen) and he has a great little dog called Maisie which Mike becomes very fond of: it has a very loud bark and uses it every time you rattle the front gate. After dumping our stuff we go in search of lunch and end up eating pies in the local café. NZ is famous for its pies but this is my first, smoked fish, and not bad at all.

The sandspit in the distance was impossible to get to without a boat but area surrounding Ngunguru was beautiful

As the day is bright and sunny we decide to shoot off asap on a walk to Whale Bay. The Tutukaka coastline is different from that around our part of NZ in that it has lots of little bays and coves instead of the enormous long pristine beaches we’re used to. We’d picked up a guide to local walks at the i-site in Whangarei and drove to Matapouri, the next village up the coast, which has a fabulous little crescent bay, typical of this area. There are quite a few people around as it’s a holiday w/e, even people in swimming, the water never gets too cold to swim up here.

Matapouri Beach with its turquoise water, much busier than last time we were here (at least a dozen people)

At the far end of the beach we find a track leading off to the left which takes us up onto the headland and along to Whale Bay, another beautiful secluded crescent bay without road access, but quite a few families here enjoying the sunshine. No whales though unfortunately. The walk is circular and we find a route back inland ending up back in Matapouri. Eat out in another local café and back to our little home. 

Looking back to Matapouri from the Whale Bay track

Approaching Whale Bay which was even busier despite there being no road access
Sunday 21 October
Weather’s not so good today and we try to walk around the coast from our village. Unfortunately there’s only a small window of opportunity during which you can avoid getting cut off by the rising tide, and in our case we missed it, so had to abort the attempt. Instead we do a coastal walk taking us north up from the village of Tutukaka. It’s a very hilly walk and the winds blowing fiercely. We’re following the many indentations of the coast and walking past some beautiful houses and farms down by the shore.

Lovely display of sweet-smelling manuka
An undulating path following the coastline up from the village of Tutukaka

Although the beaches aren’t private here in NZ none of these seem to have public access to them and we can only gaze lovingly down at them from the hills behind the ‘Private Land’ notices being prominently displayed.

Monday 22 October
To the Lighthouse today and the sun’s shining again for us. Set off after Mike’s had his whitebait fritters for breakfast in the local café and park on the headland from which it’s only an hour’s walk.

A short but steep walk from the car park and we're down on the causeway leading to the lighthouse
Looking north along the coast from the lighthouse

We walk along the headland then steeply down to sea level and across the causeway. The lighthouse is only accessible for a couple of hours either side of low tide but we have plenty of time. Over the causeway we climb onto an island which has the lighthouse at its summit, and it’s quite a struggle on a hot day to get up there. There’s a terrific view both ways along the coast from here, showing off the little coves, rocky promontories, and beaches of this beautiful coastline with loads of little boats out enjoying the wonderful weather and calm seas. The lighthouse itself is not much to write home about, not a patch on Jersey’s Corbiere for sure!  

Coming back down again to the causeway. Aperfect day for sailing round the Tutukaka, shame we didn't have a boat

So that’s the end of our little trip up the Tutukaka coast and now it’s just a week till I head back to the UK  for Christmas. So this will be the last of my little travel blogs for quite a while.

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