Go North - Destination Broadwood
Turning left onto SH12 just before The Brynderwyn takes us back to an early 20th century New Zealand. Relaxing and refreshing. Maungaturoto, Paparoa, Matakohe (Kauri museum), Ruawai, TokaToka and Dargaville. Nothing much changes through this district except maybe the shade of the grass which today, in late June, is as green as you can imagine.
We have come this way especially to stay with our favourite north westerly hosts, Ruby and Noel at their delightful lodge - Wai Hou Oma, Kai iwi Lakes. The Wai Hou Oma ambience pervades, immediately calming as we pull up directly outside Lodge #1. The Lodges have all we require with 1 spacious bedroom, luxury bathroom and small, well equipped, stainless kitchen to one side of the living space. Floor to ceiling windows and sliding doors give visual and physical access to the terrace from where the manicured lawn slopes gently down to the glass still lakes. If we can think of any tiny reason at all to include Wai Hou Oma on a northern road trip we will, but then, it is a reason in itself.
Tomorrow, our drive to Mangonui, on the east coast, should take a leisurely 3 hours or so. No rush in the morning takes us back to Dargaville for an excellent mid morning coffee and sticky date muffin at Blah Blah Blah - the only place in town for a real coffee. Across the Island on SH14 - Tangowahine, Tangiteroria, Maungatapere, Whangarei where we turn north on SH1. Detouring to Paihia seeking a late lunch which we find charmingly delivered at Thirty30 cafe. Now on SH10 through KeriKeri and Kaeo with Totara North a 4km side trip. Usually good photo opportunities from this side of the Whangaroa Harbour with today no exception. Another 25kms to Mangonui and our accommodation for the next 2 nights in Mill Bay. A charming part of the Northland coast and steeped in history. A late afternoon, early evening walk along Silver Egg Drive provides some nice sunset shots.
Fish and chips tonight from the well known Mangonui Fish Shop. A rare treat for us with the fish super fresh. Even with the main road not so far away our apartment is very quiet and we sleep peacefully. In the morning we can see from the TV weather report that 2 days out, the weather is looking seriously bad, so we make the right decision to complete our drive to the west through Herekino and Broadwood today. This secondary West Coast road of about 50kms, starts at Kaitaia and runs through to KohuKohu where the Hokianga ferry takes you on the hour to Rawene. We are hoping for a flounder lunch at the famous Rawene Boatshed cafe.
There is some interesting and not so usual photography to be had along this route which is the purpose of our drive, but the road, even though sealed all the way, is similar to a corkscrew and in somewhat bad repair making our average about 35kms/hour. We are right on time for the 2pm ferry after a brief 'photostroll' around picturesque KohuKohu, arriving at the southern side (Rawene) about 2:30, worrying us about lunch availability and is the Boatshed up to it - yes, they have 2 fresh flounder left, which are baked for us in the Boatshed's signature mildly Asian style, which has ginger, spring onion and soy flavours. Perfect and delicious. By the time we have devoured our flounder, some Italian apple cake and 4 long blacks it is approaching 4pm and looking about realise we are absolutely the last customers by far and the 'long suffering' owners and staff are waiting on us. They seem not concerned but being late for lunch to start with, we apologise, settle up and take our leave.
During a short walk along the foreshore with our 4 legged pal, who was snoozing happily in the California, we note that Rawene has lost a lot of it's 'arty' flavour, leaving only the early history of the area - James Clendon's charming 19th century house, the original Courthouse, now library, and of course, the Boatshed Cafe, to attract. We hope it's enough but we fear for Rawene. The entire district which includes Rawene, Kohukohu, Mangungu and Horeke are a glimpse back to 19th century New Zealand still able to be enjoyed today when so much else of historical architectural merit is destroyed without consideration. Its back north to Mangonui taking us through Kaikohe on SH12. About a 60k run but with nothing to delay us or stop for, we are unlocking our door around 6pm. The forcast rain has gently started and we enjoy another peaceful night.
Day 4 starts badly with a flat rear tyre which I know I have to change sooner rather than later as heavy rain is threatening. Thank goodness this happened where we are staying as I have a flat concrete carpark to work off. Changing a wheel on the California is no mean task. Firstly the California weighs over 3 tonnes and the wheels are large and heavy. I claim success about an hour later and enjoy a well earned espresso. Checking with Manager Chris, I discover the best local tyre man is Ray at Coopers Beach, about 5kms north. Chris phones ahead and Ray's tyre man Luke is waiting. Excellent service soon has the puncture repaired - turned out to be a very large nail - and the wheels exchanged again, the hydraulic garage jack and air tools making easy work compared to my strenuous manual effort. Wall to wall rain now so it is a quiet day cruising south to KeriKeri where we have tonight booked at the KeriGold Chalets. First things first though - back to Mangonui in search of a much needed espresso which we quickly find at the 1904 Cafe on the Mangonui waterfront - recommended.
Arriving in KeriKeri near to 2pm a spot of lunch is becoming important. Our old favourite, Cafe Blue, has disappeared, so a New World stockup and check in at KeriGold sees us snug and warm in our comfortable chalet. These are very conveniently designed - freestanding and the California can be brought right to the front door and unloaded undercover.
A very wet afternoon, continuing into the night, but surprising us with blue sky peeking through early next morning. After breakfast and loading up we take our leave of KeriGold for a stroll around the nearby KeriKeri shops. Not much here but we do pick up a NZ made Blunt umbrella. We already have 2 but this one is their new mini, a convenient size for vehicle use. Fishbone cafe (very good) beckons for a long black and it is on the road south via Whangarei where we find lunch at the Town Basin located on the upper reaches of the Hatea River. This is an enclave of cafes and casual restaurants alongside the river and marina. One or 2 of the cafes are quite good but generally only average. There are some decent boats to look at though.
Lunch over, there is a boardwalk to investigate which Tammy thinks is most interesting, constantly peering over the edge at the riverbank seagulls. At least, unlike some other towns, the routes in and out of Whangarei are well signposted taking us directly to SH1 south. A 3 hour run and we are home in Mt Eden.