Week Trip - Monday 7 November 2011 to Sunday 13 November 2011 (7 days)

A phone call on Sunday that Big Blue had wheel problems led to some quick thinking and alternative plans just in case they couldn’t be resolved.

A very big thanks to Keith for his timely investigation and for taking Big Blue to Beaurepaires early Monday morning. Two tyres later contingency plans were scrapped and Big Blue with 12 passengers was on its way to Kerikeri to meet with the other 16 at Woodlands Motel. This proved to be a great place for our week’s stay.

Day 1: Tuesday 8 November - Totara North, Wairakau Stream

At 8.30am we set out for Totara North on the Whangaroa Harbour, an old timber milling and boat-building town. On arrival, Tony Foster, our boat driver, gave us a brief, interesting history of the old buildings and relics before we set off for Lane Cove. We had a two-hour, undulating walk on a well formed track through beautiful native bush with two easy stream crossings. After lunch at Lane Cove, several climbed the Duke’s Nose tackling the vertical chain to get on top of the rock. The last bit was not for those who don’t like heights - not bad for the three octogenarians. They assured the rest of us that the view from the top was fantastic and well worth the effort.

Many of the group returned to Totara North by boat from Lane Cove, taking the opportunity to have a tour via the entrance to the harbour while the rest walked back the way we had come. The first arrivals back to Totara North had time for a beer at the local pub.

Day 2: Wednesday 9 November - Paihia to Opua & Okiato to Russell Walkway

Information on the walkways indicated that the total walk took five-and-a-half hours (generous as it turned out) so Cherie provided options to suit all. One group set off from Paihia to do the whole circuit, a smaller group was dropped off at Opua to undertake the Okiato-Russell Walkway, while Keith Williamson took a carload to do selected sections.

The track from Paihia to Opua followed the harbour’s edge. It was gently undulating and easy-going and provided great views, including a large cruise ship anchored off Tapeka Point. It took just under two hours to reach Opua and then a short ferry crossing to Okiato. Ten minutes up the road we searched in vain for remains of the historic site where, in 1840, Russell was declared New Zealand’s first capital. We gave up and had lunch.

The Okiato-Russell Walkway was varied, with boardwalks through wetlands and mangroves, bush tracks steep in places, wooden staircases and grassy reserves. Manganese was at one time mined on nearby Mt Tikitikioure and carried down to Orongo Bay by flying fox for shipping overseas. The last section of the walk was down the road, and we reached Russell mid-afternoon, joining the other party for the ferry trip back to Paihia. Fine, mild weather, excellent scenery and interesting historical features - in all, a most enjoyable day.

Day 3: Thursday 10 November - Puketi Forest

We set off in drizzly rain for Puketi Forest. First stop was the Manginangina Reserve board walk around marvellous stands of enormous kauri. Then it was a short drive to the Puketi recreation area. The keenest headed down the Upper Waipapa River track, reaching the river before turning back. Those less energetic went part of the way and the ‘XYZ’ group did the nature walk - a very well managed track with lovely bush.

After lunch (now in sunshine), we moved to the Waihoanga Gorge going around the loop track through fine bush with a magnificent kauri. A bonus was seeing the rare white rata in full bloom and Pauline spotted the uncommon monoao trees.

The Crew

Day 4: Friday 11 November - Urupukapuka Island

A trip to the Bay of Islands wouldn’t be complete without visiting Urupukapuka. Because of the cruise ship, we had delayed the trip from Wednesday, as originally planned, to Friday and luckily today turned out to be a stunner - hot and sunny with glorious views of the Bay of Islands and the Pacific at their best.

We had an early start to catch the ferry which, on the way, treated us to a ringside performance of more dolphins than most of us had ever seen - swimming on the bow wave of the boat and then thrilling us with their antics while the boat drifted amongst them. At Otehei Bay we were taken to shore by a flat-bottomed barge.

Luckily for us, DOC staff had begun work on the tracks - otherwise the kikuyu that provided a cushion at the lunch spot would have been difficult to walk through. One group went around the full circuit, well under the five hours on the brochure. The other group did the south and middle circuits. Back at Otehei Bay we all had time to relax on the lawn for refreshments from the restaurant, watching ferries unload people for their hour on the island. Three even had a swim.
A late return to Kerikeri, so no happy hour.

Day 5: Saturday 12 November - Whangaroa

Keith took us north again to Whangaroa. First stop was to climb St Paul’s Rock. From the top we had a great panorama of the harbour. The climb to the top completed the double for those who’d already gone up the Duke’s Nose on Tuesday.

From there we went to Mahinepua where we puffed our way up and down the recently upgraded walkway to the end of the peninsula. This track also has spectacular views, but the weather was overcast so we didn’t have the same beautiful blue sea and sky that we had yesterday at Urupukapuka.

Then on the round trip back to Kerikeri. Big Blue took us down the winding road to Matauri Bay. We did a bit more ‘up’ to check out the Rainbow Warrior memorial - apart from Jo, who took the plunge in what little surf there was at the beach.

And to top off another good day - in fact, a very good week - the whole contingent went as a walking bus to the Kerikeri RSA and proceeded to undo much of the good from several days of exercise by polishing off the very generous dinner served up by the cook.

Our thanks to Cherie for organising such a good November trip. And a special thanks to our drivers, Keith Ayton and Bob Lawes.

Scribe: Cherie Cook

With: Keith Ayton, Jean Barton, Dougal Campbell, June Cripps, Maureen Harris, Jeanette Howie, Howard Johnston, Pauline & Bob Lawes, Brian Lynch, Wes Nicholson, John Norris, Pat & Jo Scott-Wood, Brenda & Eric Sewell, Trevor Sharp, Anne Stone, Brenda Simpson, Ann & John Simpson, Lindsey & Ray Vickers, Linda Webber, Karen Wesley, Ruth & Keith Williamson.