Northland and Bay of Islands Road Trip Day 5: 90 Mile Beach, Mangonui, Rainbow Falls, Kerikeri Stone Store

Northland and Bay of Islands Road Trip Day  5: 90 Mile Beach, Mangonui, Rainbow Falls, Kerikeri Stone Store

Day 5:  90 Mile Beach, Wild Horses, Taipa,  Mangonui, Rainbow Falls, Kerikeri Stone Store

Day 5 we departed Pukenui to head back to Kerikeri planning for lots of stops along the way.  90 Mile Beach was our first destination.  We’d been told horses roam wild in the recently cleared pine forests on the way to 90 Mile Beach so kept a look out for them and saw several groups right along the edge of the gravel road.  There were even foals and the horses didn’t seem afraid so we were able to easily slow down and take photos of them.


The dusty dirt road leading to 90 Mile Beach.


At 90 Mile Beach we were able to drive our cars right onto the beach.


I was so amazed by the low fluffy clouds sitting just inland from the wide sands of 90 Mile Beach and following the coast as far as the eye can see to the North and South.  I’d never before seen clouds over the land like this which were completely different to the clouds in the sky.  I was so blown away by it and could see why it was named Aotearoa – The Land of the Long White Cloud.


We stopped briefly at Taipa, the place where my Mother-in-law grew up.  We drove to the Peria cemetery (actually we went to the wrong cemetary first and this is where we took the first photo of the cute church below) and were able to find the graves of my husband’s grandparents and great-grandparents as well as the site of the old farmhouse where my Mother-in-law grew up.


Mangonui was our next stop.  Apparently the Mangonui Fish Shop is famous for it’s Fish and Chips so we planned to go there but the parking lot was completely full and we found a park next to a different Fish and Chip shop by the small town centre so went there instead.  Plus being gluten free I wanted to find a place which offers gluten free food and found a nice cafe next to the smaller fish and chip shop which had nice gf quiche and salads.
The historic buildings were beautiful, it’s a lovely wee place to stop and take a break.


After Mangonui, we drove down a winding road to another stunning bay, Taupo Bay. Again, the setting was beautiful and the surf was excellent for boogie boarding.
With the dark green hillsides surrounding this bay and the temperature of the day it felt like we were on a tropical island.


Just on the edge of Kerikeri are the Rainbow Falls.  There is an easy parking lot with toilets and a very short walk to the lookout over the falls.  A further 5 minute walk takes you down to the bottom of the falls where you can swim in the big pool at the bottom of the waterfall.  Kris and our son climbed over the rocks all the way around the edge of the pool and right around in behind the waterfall.  They found a good place to jump in and took turns leaping into the water.  I loved swimming in the pool, close enough to feel the spray from the waterfall on my face.  After a day of travelling and an afternoon swimming in the ocean it was wonderful to swim in a freshwater pool.


Our final stop of the day was at the Kerikeri Old Stone Store and Mission site.  The location of these buildings is picture perfect, next to the river and in a lovely park.  It was nearly 6pm when we arrived and everything was closed so we wandered around the buildings and explored the gardens.


We wandered around the old Stone Store and Kemp House and discovered the oldest exotic fruit tree in New Zealand, a Pear tree planted by Samuel Marsden in 1819, which is located in the middle of the carpark of the Pear Tree Restaurant.


Next to the restaurant buildings at the back of the carpark we spotted an old shed sporting a sign stating ‘Blacksmith’ which looked like it could have been a very early building (although now seems to be used as a shed).
We later discovered it was indeed the original Blacksmith’s Shop which also was home to some of the earliest settlers (excuse my daughter, she is wearing her swimsuit not a top with no pants)!



Northland and Bay of Islands Road Trip Day 4: Cape Reinga, Giant Sand Dunes, Rarawa Beach, Henderson Bay

Northland and Bay of Islands Road Trip Day 4: Cape Reinga, Giant Sand Dunes, Rarawa Beach, Henderson Bay

Day 4:  Cape Reinga, Giant Sand Dunes, Rarawa Beach, Henderson Bay

Cape Reinga is about 70km North of Pukenui.  The one hour drive takes you through farmland with only a couple of places you can stop to buy ice-creams and drinks.
We saw several farmers with their stock coming down the road toward us which was a highlight for me.
Unfortunately for us, on the drive to the Cape there was low cloud completely obscuring the view.  The low cloud had settled in quickly as we drove North so for much of the drive we couldn’t see anything to the left or the right which gave an eerie feeling of travelling along a mountain cliff top with sheer drops on either side (which wasn’t the case).


We left early so we could get to Cape Reinga before the tourist buses began arriving around 11am.  We found a park easily (when we left an hour later the carpark was packed and cars had to wait down the road before they could come and find a park.  There are public toilets at Cape Reinga but nowhere to purchase food, nor are you allowed to eat food there as the parking is at such a minimum they need people to keep moving) and walked the pathway down to the lighthouse.  At this point the cloud was so low and thick we could barely see more than a few metres ahead.


Eventually we saw the lighthouse up ahead.  We waited at the lighthouse lookout and were rewarded as the cloud began to lift and the stunning views out into the meeting place of the Tasman sea and Pacific ocean and the beautiful coastline came into view.


From Cape Reinga we drove a short distance south to the Giant Sand Dunes which are simply gargantuan sand dunes!  You can hire boogie boards for $15 and purchase cold drinks from a truck and there is a public toilet here too.
We ate our picnic lunch, hired a board and headed onto the dunes.
The sand dunes are huge and it is quite a trek to get up them.  The heat was oppressive.  It was about 29 degrees and out on the sand it was like being in a desert.  The sand was too hot for bare feet.
You can choose to boogie board down any of the dunes but of course the bigger ones take longer to trek up each time!
Kris and our nephew went up the highest dune and did two runs down each (too much of a hike in the heat to do more than that) and the rest of us found some smaller dunes (still big though!) which were closer and had some rides down them.
Because of the heat we didn’t spend long on the dunes.


We stopped at Te Kao for an icecream on our drive back to Pukenui.  If you expect to find cafes and eateries along the road to Cape Reinga you will be disappointed so packing your own picnic lunch is a must.

Just before we got back to Pukenui we turned off the main road and drove out to Rarawa Beach.  This is a long wide beach with white sand rich in silica.  The surf was good for boogie boarding and there was a river which had created a lagoon and was warm so the little kids enjoyed lazing about in there.


The earth way up North is red like you’d expect to see in Australia and unlike anything you see elsewhere in New Zealand.  The river which created the lagoon the kids played in was stained an orange colour due to the red earth.


Back at Pukenui we enjoyed the pool once more and went to the only restaurant (next to the Four Square supermarket) for dinner where we had a bistro style fish and chips meal, possibly slightly overpriced, before heading to Henderson beach to explore the rock pools which were full of fish and crabs.


Northland and Bay of Islands Road Trip Day 3: Cable Bay, Karikari Peninsula, Matai Bay, Pukenui

Northland and Bay of Islands Road Trip Day 3: Cable Bay, Karikari Peninsula, Matai Bay, Pukenui

Day 3: Cable Bay, Karikari Peninsula, Matai Bay, drive to Pukenui.

See Day 1 of our road trip here and Day 2 here.

We left Kerikeri, stopping at the supermarket for picnic lunch food, heading up to our accommodation in Pukenui.  We stopped briefly at Cable Bay to stretch our legs.  I would have been happy to sit all day at this beach with it’s beautiful golden sand and rockpools to explore.


We continued on our way turning right onto the Karikari Peninsula, driving all the way to the end of the peninsula arriving at Matai Bay.  This is a lovely calm beach with very gentle waves and beautiful crystal clear water, just perfect for swimming .  There are rock pools to explore too. You will need to bring your own food as there’s nowhere to purchase anything.  We took a picnic lunch.
There are public toilets and showers to rinse off the salt water next to the DoC camping ground.

IMG_4292IMG_4288IMG_4282SONY DSCSONY DSCIMG_4320IMG_4352IMG_4315

We arrived at our motel in Pukenui (Pukenui Lodge Motel) around 5pm and made use of the lovely pool before popping across the road to the well stocked 4 Square supermarket to buy ingredients for dinner (steak and salad making use of the impeccably clean bbq available at the motel).  The motel is basic but had everything we needed and was very clean.  The rates are very reasonable and the hosts are friendly and helpful.  The motel has a fabulous view over the Houhora Harbour.


Northland and Bay of Islands Road Trip Day 2: Matauri Bay, Paihia, Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Northland and Bay of Islands Road Trip Day 2:  Matauri Bay, Paihia, Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Day 2.  Matauri Bay, Paihia, Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Read Day 1 of our Northland and Bay of Islands Roadtrip here.
On Day 2 we drove around 30 minutes through remote farmland from Kerikeri to Matauri Bay for the morning.  The main road up North heads through the middle of the Island and to get to the beaches you need to take winding roads through farmland which finally turn to gravel roads through bush which open out to the most stunning beaches.


Matauri Bay has great surf for body surfing and boogie boarding and we kept our eyes pealed for dolphins as some had been spotted there the day before but didn’t see any.  Our kids had hours of fun boogie boarding and splashing in the waves.


The climb to the Rainbow Warrior memorial on top of one of the headland hills by the bay (camping  ground end) is well worth it for stunning views of beautiful bays, beaches and islands in every direction.


Later in the afternoon we drove the 20 minutes from Kerikeri to Paihia in the Bay of Islands where we visited the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.  Entry costs $25 per adult and kids under 18 are free.  The entry cost includes a guided tour, entrance to the museum and a cultural performance.
We really enjoyed the guided tour but unfortunately arrived too late in the day to take both the tour and view the cultural performance.  We had just enough time to go through the museum and take the tour before closing time at 6pm.


On our way back to Kerikeri we stopped in Paihia for Movenpick icecream and sushi.




Northland and Bay of Islands Road Trip Day 1: Drive to Kerikeri

Northland and Bay of Islands Road Trip Day 1: Drive to Kerikeri

Drive from Auckland Airport to Kerikeri

Many New Zealanders take their summer vacation (or holiday as we say in New Zealand) over the Christmas and New Year period and start back at work in the second week of January.  This is the peak holiday time in New Zealand so travelling later in January will avoid this peak holiday rush.
School doesn’t go back until the end of January or early February so a lot of families will still be away on holiday throughout the month of January.  The weather remains warm throughout February and into March.

Our family (my husband Kris and I with four of our children aged 7, 10, 13 and 14) decided we’d take a Road Trip around Northland and the Bay of Islands, a region only Kris has been to before (many years ago), together with Kris’s sister and her family in the second week of January.

Day 1: We began our road trip to Northland and the Bay of Islands in Auckland.
We flew into Auckland airport around 3pm and Kris’s sister and her family were there to meet us (with a vehicle for us) so we loaded up the car and set off by 3.30pm.

The drive to Kerikeri from Auckland airport takes around 3 hours.


There are several small towns you can stop at along the way but as with the rest of Northland I was surprised at how sparsely populated the area is so the majority of time is spent driving through farmland (once you leave Auckland city that is).


We stopped in Waipu for dinner. The restaurant my sister-in-law wanted to take us to was absolutely packed (on a Monday night!) so we ended up getting Fish and Chips for everyone except me.  I popped across the road and ordered a yummy Indian Biryani since I am gluten free.


We pulled in for another brief stop in Kawakawa to have a look at the famous Hundertwasser public toilets.  It is hard to see but there is actually a tree growing up through the roof (notice the tree trunk in the photo below?) so you can see the top  of the tree over the roof which is planted in grasses.


There were some neat mosaic murals and art works along the street including this neat New Zealand native birds couch in Kawakawa.


In Kerikeri we stayed with my Brother-in-law’s family.  All the kids slept in tents while the adults slept in the house.  It was so hot and humid at night, I think the kids may have slept better outside since it was a bit cooler than inside!


Kerikeri has a very sub-tropical feel to it, both in temperature, humidity and the variety of plants growing such as banana palms!  Everything was so lush and green.  This was my first time north of Auckland so it was a real eye-opener to see how tropical it is.
Our trip took place during the second week of January so was mid-summer and temperatures were around 29 degrees celcius each day, dropping to around 19 degrees overnight.



Mona Vale Homestead and Gardens

Mona Vale Homestead and Gardens

img_3972The Mona Vale gardens and historic homestead are a beautiful place to visit for tourists visiting Christchurch and local Cantabrians alike.
Accessed by foot from Fendalton Rd, or by car from Mona Vale Avenue (free carparking on site), these stunning gardens are situated on the banks of the Avon River near Hagley Park.

The gardens comprise of Rose Gardens, an historic Fernery dating from 1907, Lily Pond, Iris Gardens and significant plantings of European and English trees with well established woodland style plantings.  The daffodil gardens are a must-see in spring.

The historical Mona Vale Homestead was built in 1899-1900 and has been restored following the Christchurch Earthquakes in 2011.  Other historical buildings on the site include the Gate House and Bath House.


Prior to the earthquakes the Homestead was a popular wedding venue and cafe.  Following repairs after damage sustained in the earthquakes, the cafe has reopened as The Homestead Pantry and I would highly recommend a visit.  We recently enjoyed a lovely brunch but they also serve breakfast, lunch, morning and afternoon tea and indulgent Boutique High Teas (including gluten free).

We have been visiting Mona Vale Gardens since we moved to Christchurch in 2002 and have many happy memories wandering through the gardens with our children and in fact our eldest daughter who was married this year had her wedding photos taken at Mona Vale!





COGranger_568_of_784All wedding photos taken at Mona Vale in the gardens and in the Homestead
are by the very talented Agnes, of Agnes Grace Photography

img_3973-1The land on which Mona Vale Homestead stands was once owned by the Deans brothers whose own homestead was Riccarton House.  Frederick and Alice Waymouth purchased 4 acres of land and commissioned architect Joseph Clarkson Maddison to design their homestead now known as Mona Vale which was originally named Karewa by Waymouth.


In summer there are often Shakespeare plays held on the lawn which forms a perfect outdoor theatre with performers on one gently sloped lawn and the audience reclining on fold-up chairs and picnic blankets on the other side.

Take your time wandering through the gardens, following pathways and exploring this gorgeous historic homestead.  The weir built in the Avon river in the 19th century, which became the Mona Vale Mill Pond still exists today.  This was built by William Derisley Wood and the Riccarton Flour Mill was situation on the site that is now Christchurch Girls’ High School.

Looking through and archway to the Rose Gardens with the Fernery in the background.

img_4009-1Lush green Rose Garden in spring with peonies in the foreground.


img_3994-1Looking through the open gates to the historic Fernery which was reassembled on this site following it’s display at the New Zealand International Exhibition held in Hagley Park in 1907.  The owner of Mona Vale at that time, Annie Quayle Townend, purchased the Fernery complete with it’s plants and had it reassembled here.  Annie renamed the homestead Mona Vale, after her mother’s house in Tasmania, when she purchased it in 1905.

img_3997A towering fern inside the Fernery which also has a pond with stepping stones.

img_4001Cool and shaded, the Fernery is like a secret garden, begging to be explored.  I love these cast iron window grates through which you can look out into the Rose Garden.

img_4003-1The underside of a silver fern in the Fernery.

If you’ve never been to Mona Vale I would highly recommend you pack a picnic and spend an afternoon relaxing on the lawn and exploring the grounds.  A visit to the cafe The Mona Vale Pantry is also highly recommended (review post coming soon!)

Quick trip to Queenstown 

Quick trip to Queenstown 

One can never get enough of the beauty ,South Otago region offers. When my cousin visited New Zealand with his friends, we decided to tag along on their two day trip .

First stop was Lake Tekapo. About three hours drive from Christchurch, the deep turquoise waters against the backdrop of the rugged brown Southern Alps is just breathtaking.lake tekapoOn the banks of the lake adding charm to the scenery ,stands the Church of the Good Shepherd .Apparently a favourite spot for wedding photographers.DSC_0499.JPGEnroute to Queenstown, stopping at various Scenic Outlooks to admire the magnificent beauty of the landscapes meant our supposedly six hour drive from Christchurch to Queenstown ,was stretched by a couple more hours. DSC_0542.JPGHence we reached Queenstown late at night  .

Ready to crash ,The Scenic Suites hotel where we stayed, with its spacious bed and clean self contained utilities ,offered just the cozy comfort we needed. DSC_0570.JPGThe stunning views of the lake and town were an added bonus.DSC_0551.JPGOh ,the breakfast of eggs benedict  with english muffins and bacon we had at the hotel restaurant was large , filling and scrumptious.

Of all the adventure sports that Queenstown offers, DSC_0645

DSC_0681.JPGDSC_0660.JPGmy favourite past time at Queenstown is people watching , canva-photo-editor-6having a juicy burger at Fergburger , IMG_0784

(one  of the best tip we received and found immensely helpful to avoid the serpentine queue ,was to order beforehand on phone and then go get the burger . )

Or grab an ice cream at Patagonia. Not only do they have a wider variety to choose from but you can also create your own cone , add things you like . So fun and so so yummy !IMG_7102

or walk on the side path gawking at all the sights and sounds enjoying the touristy vibe of the town.

Looking at the pictures  just makes me want to go back there.