Traversing the Te Paki & beyond: a journey to Aotearoa’s far north (part 2)

Leaving the Te Paki behind us, it was time for the ‘beyond’ part of our trip, time to clean up, reenter society, and slow down a bit exploring some of the cultural and historical aspects of Te Tai Tokerau Northland. We also had grand plans for some swimming time before winter arrived so we stayed east where the water is calmer as we journeyed south.

Mahinepua Peninsula – Bay of Islands 

Starving for some food that wasn’t camp food, we made a pit stop in Mangonui before heading to our rental bach. The Waterfront Cafe and Bar serves up freshly caught local seafood and handles of NZ beer. I don’t remember having much conversation as we stuffed our faces with this deliciousness.

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The bach we rented was a spacious, modern family getaway on the very quiet Mahinepua Bay. This area is rural, mainly consisting of holiday homes with little nearby amenities. We chose the place mainly for the plumbing (Bri loves his outdoor bath), but also for the 360 deck with views of the sunrise over of the Pacific and sunset over the far off Tasman Sea.

The Mahinepua Peninsula is just down the road from the bach. This little 3km walk is packed with archaeological sites, including Māori pā.  The swimming beaches are abundant as well. Despite it’s short distance, there is so much to discover on this peninsula.

If you are looking for a local feel in this sleepy area, head to Whangaroa Bay.  This little settlement is known for being a gateway to marlin fishing in the Bay of Islands. There is a little pub serving up fresh catches where you can chat with locals and hear tales of their fishing adventures too. You certainly won’t find many tourists in this little village.

Waitangi & Russell – Bay of Islands

Further south in the ‘true’ Bay of Islands we made our way to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, Okiato (the first capital of Aotearoa NZ), and The Duke of Marlborough in Russell (the first licensed pub).

Te Tiriti o Waitangi (Treaty of Waitangi) was first signed on February 6, 1840 by some Māori chiefs and representatives of the British Crown.  This moment is considered by many to be the birthplace of the nation as two cultures agreed to live in harmony.  While events beyond this day challenged this relationship, the site remains a place for government compromise and cultural celebrations. In addition to a world class museum telling the story of the indigenous people of Aotearoa, there is an informative guided tour across the grounds ending in a cultural performance where you learn about Māori traditions and culture.

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Aotearoa’s first capital, Okiato, is a short drive from the treaty grounds. The best way to reach Okiato from the north is via car or pedestrian ferry.  The pedestrian ferry is located in the tourist city of Paihia, while the car ferry is a bit further south in Opua. The ferry shuttles cars across regularly and quickly among the sailing community.

There isn’t much to do in Okiato, so most of the traffic continues on to Russell, which was our destination as well.  However, there is a small winery in Okiato, Omata Estate Vineyard & Kitchen.  This vineyard has a fairly extensive wine selection for its size and offers lovely views of the bay from above.  IMG_5192-1 Our stop in Russell was brief as it was simply our lunch destination and we had visited before. We had a fabulous meal at the historic Duke of Marlborough, the first licensed pub in NZ. Once home to whalers returning from sea and prostitutes, the clientele has changed a bit over the years. Russell is often referred to as ‘romantic Russell’ for its historic buildings and charming streets. There is quite a lot of history to explore here.

 Tutukaka Coast

Our final destination on our trip was the Tutukaka Coast where we would return to a tent, but this time glamping style.  We stayed at Maunga Iti, meaning ‘little hills’ in Māori. This glamping tent perched on the hills above the coast is surrounded by acres of native bush. The tent comes complete with multiple ways (two fires and outdoor tub) to enjoy a cozy night stargazing and listening to the 40 kiwis living in the bush.

 

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National Geographic deemed the Tutukaka Coast as one of the best coastlines in the world. There are endless bays and an unmodified sandspit to explore. The area is better known for its surfing and diving at Poor Knights Island. We are saving the later for the summer months when boat trips to the island are more regular. We spent this trip enjoying hikes to the lighthouse, swimming in the mermaid pools, and exploring the mighty trees throughout the bush.

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Our time in Te Tai Tokerau Northland was just what we needed, a bit of adventure, a bit of learning, and lots of relaxation. We will look forward to a return up this way soon!

 

Categories: New Zealand, TravelTags: , , , , , , , ,

angie campbell

I am an expat from the United States living in Wellington, New Zealand. My love affair with landscape, culture, and learning has led to a life filled with travel and academic institutions. Endowed with endless curiosity, I spend a great deal of time philosophizing about anything and everything, but very often pertaining to environmental issues. I should note that I am not formally trained in environmental philosophy, nor do I have the vocabulary competency to pass for someone who has. My writing is a somewhat tongue and cheek.

I am using this blog as a means to work through some of this thinking and to follow my own pathway of inquiry, while providing (hopefully) some meaningful insight of what it is like to live as an American in Aotearoa New Zealand. I am sure at some point there will be some interesting travel photos once I make the leap from iphone to fancy camera.

There is a secondary tab to the this blog spot. Reflections of the Watering Hole is an old blog I started during one of my academic stints studying the social and environmental impacts of oil and natural gas development in the Denver Julesburg Basin in the United States. While some of the information is a bit 'dated' (I started it in 2013), many of the conundrums remain relevant today.

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