Summer in the Far North 

Takapuna Beach after our trip north
View over Tokerau Beach from friends, Kay and Ian’s house
After spending the last two summers in the South Island, we decided to get some sand and surf this year up north.

First stop was Ambury Farm near Mangere Bridge, Auckland. We always enjoy staying at this DOC Camp. Plenty of other motorhomes for safety in numbers, lots of grass where children big and small can run around, play ball games etc and it’s a working farm so animals galore. You can stay there in a tent too.

The following night we stayed at Pier Z, Westhaven, near the viaduct. This is paid overnight parking, but so close to the city restaurants and boating area it is a fabulous stop. The next day we walked 1 minute to hop on the Red Ferry for their popular trip to Riverhead Tavern. This is a really interesting commentated boat trip. 1 1/2 hours each way and a very nice lunch at the Tavern, a recommended way to spend time on the water in Auckland.

Parakai was the next stop. In previous years we have been to the Palm Springs hot pools there but these are closed for renovations with no reopening date in sight. A pity as they are lovely smaller pools. Across  the road to Parakai Springs it was to be. We stayed in the camp site adjacent to the pools. Very spacious and clean. Enjoyed the hot pools with our grandson, pools hot or not are so much more fun with youngsters.

On our way north with a stop in Whangarei. Biking / walking on  the new walkway by the waterfront in Whangarei was a pleasure. Popular too. Good parking for motorhomes by the new bridge right by the walkway. Keri Keri was the next stop. The NZMCA have a camp here for members. We walked into town from there, a nice walk, partially through bush, and passed the spectacular Rainbow Falls – well they  would be in the winter after rain! Even on this dry summer day they were a great sight and a popular swimming spot.

We called in to the famous fish and chip shop in Mangonui ( built over the water) for some fresh mussels. They sell them out of the shell but not in brine, so they are perfect for mussel fritters. Chop them up, add a couple of eggs, a little milk, a couple of tbs of self raising flour, salt and pepper, then cook by the spoonful in a little melted butter. Delicious. Made this way the mussels are only cooked once and are top of the line! Dinner – sorted!

Coco Cola Lake

Then an entertaining night ahead at the Hibiscus Coast Bowling Club. Motorhomes can stay here and there were a couple of us. They had played a tournament there that day and the winning celebrations continued into the night! We were made very welcome, dancing and pool were optional but you won points for participating!

Carrying on north we reached our destination – Whatuwhiwhi on the KariKari peninsula. This is a beautiful place and our friend’s house is in a spectacular position looking over Tokerau Bay. Amazing sunsets and always something to see way below. We collected tuatuas and made fritters, walked around the new subdivision and made ourselves hot! We visited, some of our group swam, Lake Ohia  – well that’s the name the photo came up with, but we thought it was Lake Rotopokaka!  Anyway the locals call it Coco Cola Lake due to the colour of the water ( golden, caused by tannins in it).

We returned to Auckland, stopping at Takapuna Beach Camp on the way. Many people have fought to keep this camp open. It’s iconic. A little piece of paradise on prime real estate right by the walkway and the water’s edge, while just a short walk from the Takapuna shops and restaurants. We were lucky enough to get a front row site.  A million dollar view for less than $50. Only one word for it : WOW! Cabins there as well for an easy holiday by the beach.