Northland is a region north of Auckland and it was indeed our last destination in New Zealand. We kept this part for last, because it is also known as “The Winterless North”. In New Zealand, winter officially starts in June and probably not the favorite season to travel in a campervan – at least for us “sun kissed” travelers 😎. So, off we went to the North we didn’t know about so far.
Twin Coast Discovery Highway
On our trip through Northland we mostly drove on the Twin Coast Discovery Highway. This road follows mostly the coast line; in the east along the South Pacific and in the west along the Tasman Sea.
Shakespear Regional Park
Our first stop was at the Shakespear Regional Park (Shakespear indeed without the “e” at the end; unlike good old William 😉). The park lies on a peninsula and is a sanctuary for animals; most of all birds. We stayed on a campground right in the park; with only 100m distance to the beach the perfect location. From the beach we could even see Auckland’s skyline, even though we were in the middle of nature.
There are several hiking tracks in the park. We decided to go the Tiritiri track which didn’t disappoint. First the track goes along the beach and than over some grassland up a hill.
Then we walked through a thick forest towards a lookout and then arrived back at the campground. And despite it being officially winter, the weather was really great. Only the wind was a bit chilly.
Ruakaka Beach and Mount Manaia
If you drive the Twin Coast Discovery Highway, the sea is always close by. And so, to get to the Ruakaka Motor Camp, we only had to drive a 1 km detour.
The campground is located at a river outfall and at the same time has an endless white beach. Needless to say, that we ended our day with a long walk along the beach.
In the background, we could already see our destination for the next day: Mount Manaia.
But before we started climbing the next day, we had to clean and disinfect our boots. The precious Kauri trees are threatened by the dieback disease, which is why you find many cleaning and disinfection stations.
Due to a public holiday in New Zealand the track was quite crowded for a Monday. At times there was a traffic jam along the countless steps. But at the end, we were rewarded with a terrific view.
As the next item on our tour was culture. The little town Kawakawa was the residence of the artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser at the end of his life. And what could be better than helping the town building public toilets? We had fallen in love with the typical Hundertwasser architecture already in Vienna. So of course we had to visit those public toilets and “claimed the throne” 😂.
The little town Russel lies a bit far off. To get there we had to drive about 15 km on a gravel road. I think this was the worst gravel road in New Zealand so far. But in the end we were rewarded with a fantastic view of the harbour when we hiked the Flagstaff Hill / Te Maiki loop walk.
To get back to “civilization” we decided to take the ferry. The trip cost $13 but it took only 5 minutes to get to the other side.
Haruru Falls and St. Pauls Rock
Slowly but surely we came closer to Cape Reinga, our main destination in Northland. But on the way, there were also other points of interest worthy of a detour. For example the Haruru Falls:
Afterwards we hiked up to St. Pauls Rock. The path was very slippery, but again the view was fantastic.
Our day ended at Tokerau Beach – miles and miles of sand.