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Touring New Zealand 2017 - part 5

Hokianga and the Kauri Coast, the Dargaville Museum and the Matakohe Kauri Museum

Leaving Orongo Bay in the early morning we aimed to arrive at the Manganui Fish Shop in time for lunch, but then found there was a special boating and sailing festival, with special large car parks. It was going to be impossible to eat in town so we continued to Cable Bay and stared at the nice yellow sand. The next stop was at Rawene, having driven through Kaitaia, then in slow and lumpy conditions to the ferry. We did not enjoy the drive but were sorry for all the cyclists who were racing on the same road in the same conditions. Some of them walked with their bikes along the rough gravel repairs. The ferry across the Hokianga harbour is only hourly and we were lucky to be the last vehicle loaded after waiting almost an hour. The cyclists had an escort and support network of vans and campers which almost filled the ferry. The following day continued along the Hokianga Harbour, through Opononi and Omapere, and then to Tane Mahuta, the famous kauri tree. Our destination was the Kauri Coast Holiday Park, where we stayed for two nights and got some writing done in the pouring rain. There was one short trip to Nelson Kaihu Kauri shop and then two hours spent in the Dargaville Museum, an excellent place.

The next day it continued raining and the forecast was bad, so we left early and drove through Dargaville alongside the Wairoa river with some nervousness. The river runs alongside the main road for many miles and was an unpleasant brown colour. Fortunately it is tidal and the tide was low. We were relieved to climb away from the river and there was a short drive to a nice motel unit, number 3, at the Holiday Park at Matakohe. We had stayed before, in one of their cheaper cabins, and like the site very much. There is a comfortable lounge and kitchen and the new owners are very friendly and hepful. It is like being guests in their own home. The advantage of our motel unit was that when the torrential rains started later we did not need to get wet in order to go to the kitchen or the bathroom. We should book motel units more often! When the weather is bad we like to spend our time in museums and the Kauri museum at Matakohe is excellent. After 3 hours we still had lots of things to see but the Museum closes at 1700. The museum keeps an interesting and important collection of photogtraphs and we noticed several from the regatta at Pahi which were mainly yachts but also included a seaplane from Sea Bee Air. We remember the days at Paihia twenty years ago when we paid for a ride on a seaplane. Our favourite objects are the various pieces of kauri furniture which are often incorporated into typical rooms. Since our last visit a new two-storey Boarding House has been built based on typical local buildings. This includes a tableau with models of famous people - we instantly recognised A H Reed. The other important local celebrity is the gum digger and photographer Tudor Collins. There was a special exhibition about the life and works of Tudor Collins, accessed separately from the front reception desk. The last part of every visit is to go down to the kauri gum display.

There were further warnings of severe weather in the Auckland area so it was time to head south before a second deluge arrived. When we stopped at the dutch cheese shop at Kaiwaka they warned us to hurry before more rain came because the road at The Dome had been closed the previous day due to flooding and there was no alternative route to Auckland. Pictures taken out of the car window are not very sharp but do show the enormous flooding problem. There was flood water close to the edge of both sides of SH1 at The Dome and a police car at the side of the road watching the water levels. We were glad to escape from the area and reach Warkworth. It was the first time we had used the Toll Road to avoid Waiwera and Orewa because we had been told of flooding problems there too. It was all a good excuse to have an unscheduled day with relatives who live in the hilly country nea Kumeu, before spending a few days finally packing to go home in Waiheke Island.

If you have enjoyed this journey through parts of North Island you may enjoy our much more comprehensive write up of Three months in New Zealand in 2016 mostly in South Island including the Warbirds over Wanaka Airshow

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Content revised: 18th July, 2020