It’s hard to keep Sarah and I out of Northland it’s close enough to home that I don’t have to drive all day and night to get there. Once there the diversity of what’s on offer makes us keep coming back. In the second half of 2019, we came North several times with the first trip making the first overnight stop at Tinopai. Here we took advantage of the NZMCA camp saver discount, great winter value. This area around the upper reaches of the Kaipara Harbour also includes Pahi. Also, there are some fabulous settler museums in this area with the one at Matakohe an absolute must-see.
Having already been visited Dargaville last year we cut back through to Whangarei. Our intention was to spend a night or two at what has become one of our favourite NZMCA Parks, Manganese Point. The road in here gets a bit narrow towards the end, but at least they have sealed the driveway since we got stuck here a couple of years ago. Once in place, it’s a magic view down the harbour with the sunsets a sight to behold.
From there, we headed over to the other side. We discovered some fabulous freedom camping areas around One Tree Point and Ruakaka before settling in at the Caledonian Sports Grounds in Waipu. From there on the way back to Auckland we spent a night squashed like sardines in Mangawhai. It was probably our fault for not speaking up at the time, although the allocated camping spaces certainly looked on the small side. This was exacerbated by some incorrect parking further up the lane.
Just before we headed back North, we made what turned out to be a very short trip. With Mr Blobby’s health deteriorating, we decided on one last trip heading off to do some of the cycle rides along the mighty Waikato. Sadly during the first night, he took a turn for the worse, and we returned home so he could see out his final days in familiar surroundings. He passed away shortly afterwards.
Back North again to visit a friend of ours who had, in his words brought himself a dingy. This “dingy” turned out to be an ex Fullers ferry that was 22 metres long and 3 stories tall. It’s been quite the process getting it in the water with an expected launch date now in early January. Some 5 months after we first saw it. Still. as they say “good things take time.”
From visiting Brian, we decided to head Bland Bay, this is a campground that we have driven past for 18 years and never stayed. All I can say is it won’t ever be that long before we visit again. What a fantastic campground, it would be great to see them become part of the NZMCA camp saver scheme in 2020. We also visited Elliot Bay, a place of serene beauty but didn’t stay.
Do you remember in your reckless youth when you used to drive for hours just to get a hamburger from another town? If you do, then you will relate to our journey to Hastings to buy some fruit trees for our son’s garden. We broke the tour with a stop in Taupo each way seeing the opening of the Aratiatia Dam while staying at the National Equestrian Centre and5 Mile Bay. The return journey across the Napier Taupo Rd was one of only two times we have driven in snow. There and back in what only seemed like a few days.
Once again I made the annual pilgrimage to the Motorhome Show in Hamilton taking the chance to be one of over 1600 motorhomes parked up for the event. Each year I have visited, I have been amazed at the variety of things on display and the sheer numbers of people prepared to part with many thousands of dollars to secure their dream.
Then it was back in the motorhome to head North once again. It seemed like absolutely nobody waved at us as we journeyed north, prompting me to write one of my most-read posts of the year about this. Arriving back at Ramp Road, the plan was to spend a few days here. Then travel even further north, stopping at various camping areas along the way.
The first night we stopped at Te Pua Reserve only to be woken at around 2am with the wind howling around the motorhome. Over the next couple of hours, the wind only seemed to increase in strength. As this camp and the ones further north are very exposed to easterly winds, we retreated back to the white sands and shelter of Rarawa Beach. I can tell you driving in the wind like that is not an experience I wish to repeat in the near future.
Sadly not long after returning from this trip north, my mum’s health seriously deteriorated with her passing away on the 7th November. Keeping my mum updated with our travels was the whole reason I started this blog, and she was probably the only person other than Sarah, who has suffered through reading every word I have written. She will be greatly missed.
We made a couple of other trips during the latter half of the year, including visiting Ray’s Rest(twice). We also spent the night at another of the fabulous Auckland Regional Parks at Tapapakanga. The second time at Ray’s Rest while getting our motorhome sorted so that the weight capacity went from 5000 kg’s to 5400 kg’s.
Finally, we returned north (again!) and back to what used to be our absolute go-to place the DOC camp at PuririBay. Then stopping back at the wonderful Wenderholm. It seems appropriate that we started 2019 at the same place as we almost finished it.
So 2019 finishes and its time to start thinking about 2020 and the places we might visit. I guess a lot will depend on which way we turn as we come out of the driveway. Although I do hope that we return to the South Island at some point. The cycle trails of central Otago are calling, and this time I would like to take it more slowly and see more. Hopefully, the health gods continue to shine with my Lymphoma remaining on a watch and wait rather than a treatment basis. No doubt you will read all about what eventuates in the months to come.
Finally, if you did miss out on part one of this blog click here to read.
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To view the places we have visited click here to see them on Google maps. You can click the links to read the blog about that area.
To view the Ratings, we have done for places we have stayed click here