Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Far North Travelogue - Day Five

OK, it's taking me a while to catch up, but I'll get there in the end. We had a leisurely start on Day 5, heading north once again to take in some of the bits we missed on the previous day. There were several stops on the roadside to take pictures of old Ratana (a Maori Christian sect) churches at Te Kao ...
Ratana emblem on church gate, Te Kao - 5 October
... and Te Hapua ...
Ratana church and view across Parengarenga Harbour towards the white sand dunes of Kokota - 5 October
...and another brief stop to photograph a bird on the telephone wires which Gill had seen in exactly the same spot the previous day, and identified later that evening after reference to Heather & Robertson's "Field Guide to the Bird of New Zealand" as a Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis aka Eastern Broad-billed Roller). I must admit that I rather disbelieved the ID, since the book describes it as a "rare Australian straggler". However, the photo just about proves it must be one!
Dollarbird or Eastern Broad-billed Roller on telephone lines north of Te Kao, Northland - 5 October
Then it was on to the northern tip of the peninsular again, where we wound our way down to the spectacular but remote, windy and deserted Kapowairua at the eastern end of Spirits Bay. There's a large DOC (Department of Conservation) camp site here, and I can imagine it must be very nice to stay here in late summer, after the holidaying hordes have retreated south to Auckland. The sea was just way to wild to contemplate swimming, but there's plenty of shallow, calm water in the estuary, if it were a little warmer. From here one can hike along the coast for some distance to the east, but also west to Cape Reinga and then south along the Ninety Mile Beach.
Wild waves in Spirits Bay, Far North - 5 October
The sand on the main beach was coarse and very colourful.
Beach sand at Kapowairua, Spirits Bay, Far North - 5 October
From here we retraced our steps back to the northern shores of the Parengarenga Harbour, where we investigated the sleepy and rather decrepit settlement of Te Hapua.
Abandoned caravan, Te Hapua, Parengarenga Harbour - 5 October
As we drove south we explored several of the small, mostly gravel - or as they say here, metal - dead-end roads going off to the east of the main road. This one to the village (not much more than a collection of half a dozen houses, really) of Paua had a sign pointing to "White Sand Adventures", but ended rather disappointingly at this old abandoned warehouse ...
Abandoned warehouse near Paua, Parengarenga Harbour - 5 October
and jetty. One hopes that it's a little more lively during the summer!
Old jetty near Paua, Parengarenga Harbour - 5 October
Even the swans - which are feral over much of the North Island, but particularly in the Far North - hardly turned to look at us as we drove past.
Herd of swans? Near Paua, Parengarenga Harbour, Far North - 5 October
Eventually we found a road that actually took us all the way to the famed "white sands" of the eastern part of the peninsula, which we'd seen a lot of from a distance. This is Rarawa Beach, just south of Paxton Point, where we found a nice spot sheltered from the wind and spent a couple of hours. Then the rain clouds built up and we hastily packed our belongings, getting to the car just in time before the showers arrived, and headed south once more.
Rarawa Beach, south of Paxton Point, Far North - 5 October
By the time we got back to Pukenui/Houhora, where we were due to spend a second night, the sun had come out again ...
Fishing boats in Houhora Harbour, Far North - 5 October
... so we stopped at the main wharf to watch the unloading of a large oyster catch from a barge ...
Unloading oysters, Houhora Wharf, Far North - 5 October
... and since we had some time to spare decided to make another short excursion to the western side of the peninsular at Hukatere, which is roughly a third of the way up Ninety Mile beach. Spectular scenery ...
Ninety Mile Beach (near Hukatere), Far North - 5 October
... but rather inhospitable, so we didn't spend long there, preferring instead to head back to the car, and home for "tea".
Hannah, Louise & Camilla escaping the wind and sand at Ninety Mile Beach near Hukatere, Far North - 5 October

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