December 5, 2014 at 3:15 pm #5352
Looking at the skies we decide to skip the coastal option of the “Kauri-Coast” (been there some years ago) and tack north-east into the hills, hopefully finding some cover in the forests should the incoming blackbellies decide to dump their loads.
The wind’s picking up again and the Tiddlers are howling in 2. gear on some of the steep climbs.
And we’re on for a 2hr. gravel bonanza that’s trying hard to get the mighty CT’s undone.
Faced with the same choice again? Not a split-second’s thought: DO IT AGAIN! AWESOME!!
This is magnificent country!
Can’t miss New Zealand oldest pub, eh?
“Serving beer since 1826” has got a ring to it….enough, to go and have a look, hopefully even stay the night?
Some delicious, sealed twisties up the Horeke Saddle then gravel past the “Wairere Boulders” sign (we’ll leave that for the morning) down to the water’s edge of Hokianga Harbour….not having ANY idea what we’ll be in for.
Right at the Waihou River mouth is one incredible piece of NZ history.
Horeke, Hokianga Harbour…and the current publican-come-master-historian-and-magic-story-teller.
First things first though…
“G’day!…I’m after a pint (of Dark, it’s on tap, yeah?), a bed and some tucker, in that order…”
“No worries….I think we can arrange that. Had 27 riders here the other week, they slept on the dining room floor…. Where’re you from….?”
How easy was that?
Had to knock back the offer of parking the posties on the carpet in the reception area…
“ they don’t leak, do they?…they’ll be fine then, don’t worry”….
The carpet just looked too clean and new to park a bike on. Actually, too clean to not take the boots off.
The timber deck outside the “Waterview-Room” is fine, though…
Across the bay….own pier and all…I wonder…??? I’ll ask the publican!
How the hell have they managed to keep this thing hidden for so long?
The core of the building is the original ~200 year old tavern, a 140 y/o open fireplace as part of some renovations along the line….
.. ..the Douglas fir panelling from a tree felled onsite (pics and documentation on hand).
This is one unbelievable place to even just look at….then add the history…..then add the publican/ historian/ local businessman who himself should be put under “National Treasure” protection… and it’s just about too much.
Don’t believe it?
There are documents, photos and paintings to go along with all of it on every shelf and rack.
A true Jewel of the Northland!! DON’T MISS IT … if you’re ever anywhere close!
Oh…the signature lamb shanks are pretty darn good, too!
Being the only overnighters, we’re getting a 2 hr. “maximum-concentrate” NZ and Maori/ Northland etc history lesson of gigantic proportions….and all told in a way that’ll make me remember all of it forever.
This guy should be bottled….together with his place.December 8, 2014 at 10:03 am #5364
More grey skies at sparrow’s fart, the gusts across the water are whipping up the whitecaps.
Bikes are ready packed way before 7, the idea of an early start dissolves in another “puff-of-history” when our host joins us at the breakfast table with a steaming mug of coffee and a swag full of yarns, books and artifacts.
The hook is “Queenie Puru”, the local Maori-powerhouse-“ Auntie” and custodian of the Mission House a few kilometres up the road.
It only takes a couple of hours of age-old yarns and stories, old texts and discussions, names and place to throw our plans out the window… but if you ever get to visit the Northland, a stop here is a MUST!
Actually…make this place and its people the reason to see the Northland and drape anything else around it.
If you find the time.
It’s gone quiet here in Horeke…the sawmill has gone long ago, as has the shipbuilding yard and marine-refitting/ repair facility (using mostly Kauri timbers), all the other pubs, school and buildings housing the traders and dealers servicing the ships and boats coming up the harbour from the coast, Auckland and Sydney.
There used to be a “milk-run” here, a boat picking up the milk-cans from the farmers around the harbour and shipping them to a dairy at the harbour mouth….then the “post-run”, another boat that also acted as a “school-bus”…close your eyes and it all comes to life in an instant, the smells, the bustle, the voices… our host has a real gift!
We don’t really want to leave…
Trying to find Queenie Puru….
Some quite significant history around here….
…and quite a stunning place, too!!
Leaving the place with what we’ve just learned: throwing water over our shoulders on our way out to dispel any bad spirits. (the reason there’s a water container of some sort at the entrance of any cemetery that contains Maori graves).December 8, 2014 at 10:33 am #5366
Just up the road is the next stop… the Wairere Boulders.
Another spot certainly worth a visit, spending an hour or 2 in a different world. This time no words or recorded histories, just nature at its best.
Luckily we’re still early enough to have the whole place to ourselves. Sort of….
And since everyone sees things differently…here are some of Goodie’s.
The brilliant NZ-Frenzy guide had mentioned an interesting coastal walk about 35km down the road at the mouth of Hokianga Harbour.
Opposite the Great Dune on the north side, there’s a rock-arch right at the beach near Omapere.
Let’s have a look…but, of course, we’ll go via the Koutu Loop Rd. and try to find the fabled Koutu Boulders along the beach somewhere.
Koutu Loop Rd.December 10, 2014 at 9:02 am #5392
Puttering west along the main road, we seem to be running headlong into a massive wall of blackbellies, arghhhh….and at the end of the Koutu Loop Rd. some Austrian tourist has buried the front-half of his VW-Hire-Camper in the dark, loose sand of Koutu Beach.
Digging away furiously with a stick after we tell him that High Tide peaks in ~3hrs and pointing out the high water mark further up the beach, he’ll NEVER make it this way… help’s needed, pronto!
Trying for a local
The rescue takes about an hour involving lots of back and forth, Sid-the-Yugoslav, an old guy with a walking stick on an even older red Fergie-tractor and a relieved “yeeaaaaaah!!” when the wheeled snail-house finally moves backwards while the first gentle waves are lapping at the rims…made it, by a bee’s dick!
The drizzle starts in Opononi …and 3km later we’re swoop-skidding under the roof of the local servo, glad for any bit of cover we can find. Things change from one extreme to the other within minutes; look west and into blue skies before turning around to face a wall of black…the gentle breeze turns into 60-80kmh gusts in a heartbeat, just to entirely vanish 20 seconds later.
Better skip the idea of a 1.5hr beach walk….let’s try for some lunch.
Dead fish ‘n crackers…not exactly stylish (just fingerlickin’-good!)
…and it sure beats lunch at the office!!
Just spotted on the opposite North Shore….
Wouldn’t mind going there this afternoon to have a closer look! That steeple looks pretty much central-European, southern Germany or Austria or thereabouts…should be catholic then…
It’s a main-road-run to Rawene (point E on the map-link above) to catch the ferry.
The all-singing,all-dancing, all-automated public dunny’s down at the Rawene wharf.
It was all new when we came through in a camper ~20 years ago…
It’s still a damn pretty, little place.
Hihi?….okay! Want a postcode for that? Haha
A somewhat sad “farewell” to the Hokianga South Shore.
Hmmm…I hope the skipper sticks to this before we hit the ramp….December 10, 2014 at 9:09 am #5394
Another stretch of PUUURFECT!! racetrack in the middle of no-where….tacking west from the ferry on the West Coast Rd.
Squealing brakes, skidding GoldenBoys….HELLO, I KNEW IT!!
Catholic mission…. there’s my church steeple!
What a beauty!
And it’s getting better by the minute…but somehow I can’t see this being the right road. It’s getting too narrow and rough in patches for the kind of place this looked to be through the zoom-lens.
Clouds and sun turning the landscape into a chess-board.
End of the road.
A couple of locked gates.
And more than a prayer needed to re-float this one.
With more rain imminent, we abandon the search for the elusive steeple and tack north from Panguru for some quick gravel along the ridges to Runaruna under threatening skies.
I’d love to stop twice-a- minute for another “mood”-shot, wet bum or not.
This goes under your skin…just superb!
A little drizzle, then it’s dry again for the lonely 35km twister of the Awaroa Rd to Herekino and north to Ahipara, the small “tourist” town at the base of the 90-Mile Beach.
South Island Roads??
The “tropical” Far North….prickly all the same!
A quick look at the beach, getting a first idea of what might be ahead tomorrow…
…a neat, little cabin at the caravan park (local: motor camp) for a reasonable NZ$85 and some pre-dinner nibblies to shorten the walk to the excellent, little Cafe/ Restaurant at the other end of town to seal the day.
WHOOHOO…that’s one pearler of a day in the bag!December 10, 2014 at 9:25 am #5396
With the Low Tide at 10.50am, the time-window for today’s run up the 90-Mile-Beach is 9.00-13.00.
Only being about 90km rather than miles, I figure about 3 hrs., depending on conditions, wind, stops, photos etc. It doesn’t give much of a buffer for possible breakdowns… and for the skinny-legged Midgets the upper edges of the beach are impossible to ride, there are no escape routes. A 4WD might get away with things, we certainly won’t.
The wind is howling from the South-West, the fine sand-storm choking the slightly cracked-open visors.
Trying to extend the time-window to create as much of a buffer as possible to deal with bad conditions, treacherous sands and/ or breakdowns we’re at the beach just before 8.
It also means we’re ahead of any tour-buses, which we might have to call on for help…just a little extra “insurance”.
“Sand-snakes”, whipped up by the wind, are chasing Goodie up the beach.
Slowly the views are clearing a little, the gusts dropping off.
Anti-Bike-Fallover-Insurance…aka “Sand-Stand”, keep it handy….and DON’T get off the bike without it under the sidestand!
90k’s….it’s a looong stretch of sand for a tiddler.
Driftwood…..alive again with mussels and some pale tubular “sausages” full of seawater.
The mussels pinch and burst the “tubes” for the water…until the next High Tide.
Nature at work.
25k’s in and the grey skies haven given way big, blue holes, proper day-light and some good, quick running…the beach getting wider and wider as the tide recedes.
The sand is firm, the going good….and apart from a couple of walkers trudging south, we haven’t seen anyone or anything.
Coming up to Maunganui Bluff…December 10, 2014 at 10:07 am #5400
Only 20k’s short of the northern exit and the first of the tour-buses has caught up.
Alone again at Scott Point, the northern end of the 90 Mile Beach.
Where to leave the beach?
Which one is Te Paki stream?
There are a few possible exit points up the creek-beds of some streams that have cut their way through the dunes.
Two backpackers on the beach…stripped to their shorts… backpacks and gear in the sand… dripping wet after a dip to freeze off the insane itching of 100’s and 100’s of sandfly-bites back and front, top to bottom, it’s hard to look away…
Asking if they’ve seen a bus turn inland here, the answer is “ Ay doon noh, zis is laik autobahn heer” while pointing to the dunes and some faint tyre marks.
The poor bastards!! (there are no sandflies in Karlsruhe/ Germany)…they’ve got a looong, painful way ahead of them and that doesn’t mean the hike down a long, empty beach.
Let’s give it a whirl…if either sand or water gets too deep, we can always turn tail and look for another exit….. there’s even nearly enough time to go all the way back to the start, if needed.
Awwww, shit..where am I going??
Oops…there WAS a hole there!
On my arse and in the drink.
But on the trigger!!
What’d he say?? Hang loose, hang on, and stay on the hammer… gas, gas, GAS!!
4k’s of going upstream in a creek bed are nearly over. Damn, gotta go back for another go…gotta splash the salt off those bikes, eh?December 10, 2014 at 11:59 am #5402
Te Paki Dunes tobogganing
The rest is a good dirt road out to the sealed main road…the northern end of SH1, the National Highway.
All sealed to the carpark of Cape Reinga nowadays, we’ll give it a miss this time and tack south amongst packs of Harleys cluttering the magnificent landscape… unbeknownst to us, it’s the Annual TTT Poker Run attracting upwards of 300 bikes.
We leave ‘em all stumped when turning off the highway to Te Hapua without backing off, dropping the tassle-danglers in a cloud of dust amidst the coastal greenery, some nearly following in the attempt to “finally nail that little shitter”.
Missed out on this one, suckers!!
Another turn-off towards Hooper Point, which is actually a little further north than Cape Reinga
The wide gravel road stops at the DoC camp site (Dept of Conservation) at Spirits Bay…and what a MAGNIFICENT SPOT that is!!
Peace on Earth …starts here!
The rest of the afternoon is spent tootling down the Peninsula under blue skies and big, puffy clouds, looking for a place to stay along the way….wondering how all those cruisers made it up and down through all those sweet sweepers without decorating the fences with evidence and filling ditches brimming with chromed skulls and other knucklehead! paraphernalia.
Looking for a bed, we even meet a few of them at a standalone pub in a paddock somewhere, tipping the foamies down the gullet not from pint-pots… but jugs.
We snare the last (and only! ) cabin at the Pukenui Motor Camp right on Happy Hour, which makes us the “stars of the show” for a minute while the oldies are getting royally pickled, cackling their pacemakers into a fit over a barrage of filthy jokes.
Life’s good in Northland.
Let’s join in!
TIME OUT for a few days, off to Yanakie it is!
See youse after!December 10, 2014 at 1:39 pm #5407
Wageners Holiday Camp at Houhora Heads is just a few kilometers down the road and apart from some dairy cows there’s still no living soul around. Houhora Heads are the northern entry point to the East Beach ( left red line in map above), a place that EddieB from ADVriding NZ had recommended : “ it’s far narrower and more treacherous than 90Mile, sometimes barely a meter of rideable hardpack”).
He’d also mentioned the need to ford an estuary first to even get onto the beach.
Didn’t say anything about the thick layer of squishy mud and deep, loose, foul smelling gunk up the other side, did he?
Luckily those 2 come along….and we ask the girls on horseback to “go first” to give us an idea about depth and which line best to take.
Watching the horses wade to above mid-leg and remembering this is salt-water, we decide to rather dawdle down the main road and try our luck from the south. We’re well ahead of our 4hour-Low-Tide-window anyway…
One last look over the shoulder…
A few houses at Kaimaumau, a Pa set back in some Nikau palm grove…the southern access to the beach is floury and dry…and blindingly white! 10m of pushing the Tiddlers and we’re on hardpack.
Oh YEAAAHHH Look at this!! (looking north)
Having a quick look at the southern end fringed by the mangroves brings back the “treacherous” bit…undetectable, big softpatches where the front digs in and the mighty 7.5 Honda-horses die-in-the-arse, leaving the applecart with a bucking and flopping tiller that’s suddenly come to life. That’s the sand-boooooogie, shabba-dabba-dooh!
And we’re not even at the Rangaunu Harbour mouth yet, the real East Beach is still to come, all 20k’s of it!
LOOOOOVING IT!!December 15, 2014 at 2:48 pm #5446
Already binned too many of today’s pics, just to keep the numbers down.
It’ll still be a MASSIVE amount of shots coming your way.
I’ll try to separate the pics enough to show ‘em off… but some will cancel each other out as there are just too many nice shots in a row.
Tag along for one hell of a day, riding some glorious beaches… some hidden, little backroads..dense, tropical “tunnels”… delicious twisties… have a great coffee and buy some just-picked avocados…face down a pack of stags…. check out a volcano on a beach… have an icecream at Doug’s old home….and dream away the coppery sunset amongst the thunder-clouds with a bottle of red at the Whangaroa Harbour.
Hop on…eyes and hearts wide open!
7am…and ready to roll.
A wet blanket covers little Pukenui…the heavy sea-fog turns the town silent, no rumbling Harleys of the Poker Run, no bird-song, no wind….and our new-found, well-pickled, Happy-Hour friends, are still fermenting away in their sleeping bags.
Just down the road the “Yellow Peril” stutters and farts… to get off the main road we quickly pull into a side-road leading down to the docks and boat-ramp….
…and luckily one of those automated, card-operated bowsers for the local boaties….91octane will do fine, thanks!
A minute later the Midgets kick back into life…while the sun starts to burn some ragged holes into the rapidly disappearing fog-blanket up there.
Woww…what an entrance!! This could be the local Pa (meeting house)!?
I like that sort of stuff….and those pine-roots would’ve just been mulched or left to rot, otherwise.
This morning’s crop…we’ll grab a bag and use ‘em as “green butter” for the next few days of breakfast toasts…no refrigeration required.December 15, 2014 at 2:59 pm #5448
Houhora Heads just ahead….the narrow entrance to Houhora Harbour is cradled by the hills of the narrow, eastern peninsula.
The estuary again..this time from the south.
Hey….how about we just skip the watercrossing and run back down the beach again, rather than taking the SH1 main road… nice as it is up here.
Now…THAT’S a good idea!
The strip of hardpack here at the northern end is pretty narrow…just the darker strip along the water’s edge.
Houhora entranceDecember 15, 2014 at 3:04 pm #5450EddiebKeymaster
Rank: Round the World Adventure Globetrotter
- Bike: Suzuki DR650 ADV
You got a lot more sand to ride on than me had when we did it.December 15, 2014 at 3:12 pm #5451
Hey!….THIS is a SUNDAY!
You know, the day of the week when the locals are out to play and fart around, mingling with the busloads of tourists, choking all the nice spots on a magic, sunny day. I just can’t believe we haven’t seen dozens of 4x4s, fishermen… boaties, floaties and sand-castles.
What is it about deserted beaches and going stoopid on bikes?
16 or 60….all the same.
That’s it, seeya!
This time we ride + paddle the beach exit to Kaimaumau and a herd of very curious young stags along the way.
Time for a cuppa and some munchies….the Big River Cafe in Awanui peddles some $6.50 bacon+ egg rolls as their “specialty”….and both those and the coffee turn out absolutely excellent!!
What a pair of awesome bikes the tiddlers have shown to be!! Bloody FANTASTIC!
Heard of another beach from EddieB….just a shorty…we’ll just go and have a look, we’re still at the top-end of the tide-window.
Tokerau Beach, Karikari Peninsula (the other red-line in the map above)
After the morning’s run, this is a bit like a very poor cousin, but still a more interesting way to get to Tokerau than the main road. There’s also a bank of puffy, dark clouds massing up in the west…
NZfrenzy has a few entries for the Karikari…let’s try to find that crater-on-the-beach!
Maitai Bay Rd. peters out in a carpark…
Trying to get closer from the western side (Puheke Rd.)December 15, 2014 at 3:36 pm #5453
Keeping a wary eye on the slow-moving, dark cloud-banks to the west, it’s south again, down the Karikari Peninsula towards the SH10 main road. The hills to the south look tempting …. there should be some good stuff hidden away in there….
The gravel of the Pekerau Rd. doesn’t disappoint …barely off the highway, the narrow gravel road starts climbing onto the ridges.
Made in heaven…the ~35 km of the Pekerau and Duncan Roads along the ridges to the asphalt at Fairburn.
A look back…the Karikari Penin in the background….and the GREEN is BLINDING! No Photoshop, no “toning/shading/cropping/whatever”…it’s real!
Snap pic, upload, link…that’s it.
Are they watching us?
Dancing the Thick Gravel Shuffle
What an unbelievable stretch of travel this is!!
Bummer…too early to book in for the night yet.December 15, 2014 at 5:32 pm #5462
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