Northland Giants

Tuesday 8th November 2016

We have good news and bad news. The good news is that we have run the engine for four days in every configuration possible with not so much as a splutter, the bad news is that no one has actually identified what the the problem post dirty fuel has been. We have decided that we will just have to hope that whatever the issue was it has resolved itself, time to move on.

Saturday, mid testing, we abandoned ship, hired a car and spent a day on the road. The marina has two carhire businesses, Rent a Dent and Cars for Cruisers, we opted for Cars for Cruisers and for $60 got ourselvess a wreck for the day. Not the most comfortable car but it started, managed the hills, just and the AC worked, it was good enough.

We headed west for the Waipoua Forest and its giant Kauri trees that lie on the opposite coast of North Island. As we drove away from the Bay of Islands the rolling hills gradually began to get bigger and steeper, the slopes were covered in livestock, partitioned with hedges and copses of trees. As we climbed higher, expansive views of the countryside spread out before us and tree covered mountains appeared in the distance.

In the hills near the small town of Oue

After an hour or so of driving we knew we were approaching Hokianga Harbour but it was surprisingly well hidden behind the hills. It was worth the wait, as we rounded a bend it finally appeared and the sight was amazing. The North Shore of the harbour is lined with giant sand dunes and in the midday sun they literally shone. We had lunch in the beach front cafe at Opononi and admired the view.

View of Hokianga Harbour from Opononi

We spotted in the travel guide a walk out to the headland, so we drove a few miles to its starting point in Omapere and the Ari-Te-Uru  Recreation Reserve. Again the track was classified as easy, a surfaced pathway lead out to the end of South Head. This is our type of landscape, rough seas, cliffs and rocky beaches. Bracken, flax and eight foot high hebe bushes lined the path, great views of the Tasman sea, the harbour and the miles of dunes greeted us at every turn.

Dramatic Ari-Te-Uru reserve, Omapere.

Suitably invigorated by the sea air, we turned South towards Waipoua. The road through the forest wound sharply, climbing steeply then dropping into valleys. Thick woodland encased the route, the huge Kauri dwarfing all other trees and the exquisite pre-historic tree ferns arched out of the undergrowth. Kauri Trees are another of Northlands giants growing up to 50m tall and 16m in girth, some specimens are believed to be over 2000 years old. Kauri forests were once common all over the North Island but over the last 200 years they have been decimated. Mostly to blame are the early European settlers who felled them for timber, exploited them for the rich gum they produce and cleared them to create land for pasture. All Kauri trees are now protected, Waipoua, saved by its mountainous location, is their largest surviving refuge and contains Tane Mahuta, thought to be one of the oldest and at 51.5m high with a 13.8m girth, the largest remaining tree in New Zealand. 

Tane Mahuta

Magnificent as the Kauri were, I was more taken by the numerous different ferns that were everywhere, their fonds gently unwrapping, fresh green for the start of summer. The fern leaf is of course a symbol of New Zealand, 200 different species grow throughout the islands and Waipoua Forest is home to many of them small and large.

Ferns of all different sizes amongst he Kauri trees

Back in the marina the weather has turned windy, the boats dance back and forth on their warps and their occupants hide below decks. We recorded a gust of over 39kts early Monday morning and it is approaching that again today. The forecast is for things to calm tonight so we are hoping to depart for the outer bay tomorrow and then down to Auckland overnight Thursday.

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