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  • Writer's pictureClaire

08/04/24 Rangiputa to Kauri Coast

Another beautiful sunrise to start our day off properly! We were in no rush to get going as it was still early, and after a leisurely breakfast we packed Ismene up and had another coffee. Dave came back from dropping his work buddy home, and Si went out and had a look around the patrol truck. Whilst he was out there he mentioned that we were having to retrace our tracks as the highway one was closed. The thing about cops is they know their way around their patch and we were very much on Dave’s patch! 

As a result, he gave us an alternate route which would take us through some lovely countryside, and some great attractions along the way. Outstanding, love it when a plan comes together and when you switch up the plans.  We said goodbye to Debbie and thanked her for a wonderful stay, they are visiting the UK in July so we’ve offered them a bed if they fancy it.  

Setting off we fueld up and headed south. The drive was a really nice, (sarcasm) easy road, only 24km of extreme bends. It was ok though, they warned us with a large sign before we hit them.  The route took us through Kohukohu and involved another ferry ride. We had to wait a few minutes for it and it was a bit bigger than the one we took previously. Being that much bigger there were obviously more vehicles on it and there were in all about 15 of all shapes and sizes. The trip across was about 10 minutes, and when we got to Rawene on the other side we decided to stop. For a snack would you believe? I know, it’s a shock isn’t it?!  We found a parking spot right outside a cafe and gallery that was split into sections books, art gallery, handmade jewellery and the cafe.  There was some lovely items for me to look at, all very shiny and sparkly!  Si really fancied eggs Benedict and oh my days I think it’s the best one he’s had all trip, indeed maybe ever! It was absolutely massive, two eggs, half a pig, and instead of on toast it was on hash browns. It looked really good, and the fact that I didn’t have a word out of him until his plate was licked clean merely goes to show how much he enjoyed it. Myself, I had the largest pot of tea, it was enough for 6 mugs, Si had to help me finish it. I’m clearly a lightweight on tea drinking now. 

A little walk around Rawene and we were back on the road. Our next stop was the Waipoua Sanctuary, which, without Dave’s local knowledge we wouldn’t have got there. The Sanctuary is the home to New Zealand’s largest living Kauri tree. To enter the forest you have to scrub and disinfect your footwear as you go in and when you leave. The forest is a tree huggers paradise, or even if you don’t want to hug a tree and just like them, this is the place to go. There is a wide boardwalk to the tree, which is shaded beneath the leafy canopy overhead. Now this is the best bit, the tree has a body guard. A man is paid to sit beside the tree all day, mainly to keep people from going near it, its root system is very shallow and walking on them causes irreparable damage, hence the boardwalk.  Unfortunately these giants of the forest are under threat from a fungus that they can’t get under control. Hence the boot scrubbing on the way in and out. The tree guard was very knowledgeable on his subject and incredibly passionate about the trees. At over 30 m tall and 16 metres around the tree stands in a clearing flanked by mature trees that look like spindly little matchsticks by comparison. He is officially the fattest tree in New Zealand. Well so far, there are acres and acres of forest that as yet are unexplored so somewhere there potentially be an even bigger one. 

The Forest is definitely one of the highlights of the Northland’s west coast, as it is the largest remaining of the once-extensive kauri forests of northern New Zealand. The forest has been returned to Te Roroa, the local Māori as part of a settlement for Crown breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi. 

Trying to get a photo that displays its size was really difficult, I couldn’t work out how to get it into perspective.  Even having Bob sat on the barrier fence protecting it didn’t really show the immense scale of it. Despite the tree having lots of visitors, they weren’t making much in the way of noise, everyone was whispering like they were in a library. 

As we moved away and back towards the car park, we noticed that there was a tree propped up with a huge beam to hold it out of the way of people’s heads. Funnier still was a tree growing up through the boardwalk. They’d actually cut a hole around it! A bigger hole was going to be required in the not so distant future! 

After scrubbing off our footwear on our way out we carried on down the Kauri coastline. Which, apart from the odd bluff and river, is basically unbroken and undeveloped for the 110km between Hokianga and Kaipara Harbours. It is a stunning part of the world. Our campsite for the night was just down the road from the forest and could only be described as simply  idyllic. No WiFI, no mobile phone signal, no cars, no planes, just the river trees and lots of other green things. The site was impressive, it had a big nature trail that you could follow and learn about the native flora and fauna. This also included eels in the river, and glow worms under the bridge. I mean glow worms under a bridge is preferable to a troll any day of the week! 

The spots were well spaced out and there was only us and a little tent cwtched into a corner under some trees in our patch which was perfect. We went to see if the Eels were about, and they just have heard us coming, because they were in the shallows waiting! They’re used to being fed so are quite happy to show themselves at any time of the day if there’s food on offer. I can’t blame them, I feel the same way about food.  They were enormous, and really the most unattractive creatures I’ve ever come across. They made me feel a bit ick to be honest, slithering all over each other with their big old mouths wide open. They are known to bite, but we didn’t get nibbled nor did we feed them, they are quite fat enough already!  

We set up the bed and retired to the kitchen lounge area for a drink and young Max came into the kitchen. We had a chat sound out a bit about him and where he was going. We told him  where we’d been, and offered him some general advice like getting a membership for the holiday park and staying in a hostel now and again for some creature comfort and to meet up with, and to talk to people. An offer was made to him for the big cwtchy blankie as he is off to the South Island and it was blimin cold there a fortnight ago. The temperature will only be dropping from now on overnight. He’s lovely young man, and travelling alone, hence his note on the car to us. He had messaged us this morning saying where he was headed and we were going to the same place, which was great. A very interesting individual for sure and to travel alone is a big deal in a place so from his home in the Netherlands. He’s meeting up with his dad in Australia in a few months time so by then he will be an old hand at this travelling lark!  

As it had got dark, it was time for me to finally see the glow worms that have alluded me on this trip up untill this very moment. It’s weird to get excited about worms I know but these really glow!! Fun fact, the ones that glow the brightest are the fattest ones. Anyway, under the bridge, amongst the moss and the ferns there they were. A staggering amount of tiny blue twinkling shiny glow worms. They were the colour of the ice white fairy lights you get, and once our eyes adjusted to the dark they became more visible to us. They are utterly magicaI and I’m so chuffed to have seen them! I want some! However,  I’ll make do with fairy lights. Lots of fairy lights, you know me! 

Happier than a happy thing I was content to go to bed, it was dark after all! 

Much Love

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