Friday dawned lovely at our road-side parking spot at the Matakoe Kauri museum. It was clear and calm and colder – only about 8 degrees. It was going to be a nice day. We wanted to make the most of it so we were back into the museum soon after it opened at 9am. We checked out the kauri gum collection and then Wyn made a retreat to the coffee shop down the road while I went to take a picture of the tree outlines before joining her. We had a look through the old post office outside the museum; it’s sad how many of the things in it we are familiar with. Wyn had worked in telephone exchanges and used equipment like in the museum (she says I can’t say that – it was similar but newer :-)). Across the road is a church dedicated to Joseph Coates, a local who was the first NZ-born Prime Minister of this country. And another pioneer church still used. And an old school, although there was a school group on a bus trip using that at the time. It is an excellent museum; a great way to end our trip down the Kauri Coast. We were familiar with many of the place names and the museum showed what went on there. It started as a local museum and has grown into something wonderful. And it is so clean and tidy – there was no dust on any of the stuff and there was an awful lot of stuff.
It was mid-morning by the time we made our way back onto SH12 to continue east. We made a detour to Pahi, a lovely little settlement on an arm of the enormous Kaipara Harbour. A plaque on the wharf advised that by water from there it was 75 kms to Dargaville, 75 kms to Helensville, and about 45 kms to the open sea. It is a big harbour. At Pahi there is a big tree, a Morton Bay Fig tree. It’s one of the largest anywhere, and is listed among the 10 most significant exotic trees in NZ. The roots are fantastic; like dinosaur tails or something.
Back on SH12 it wasn’t far to SH1, at Brynderwyn; completing a circle that had taken since the first week of July. We went south – heading for Auckland for a few minutes. But only for a few minutes! At Kawaka we turned off east, to Mangawhai and Mangawhai Heads on the coast. We thought we’d check out the camping ground at Mangawhai Heads. Finding it was a bit of a mission –there was one lamppost with two “Motor Camp” signs pointing in opposite directions. I chose the wrong direction, leading to a dead end and having to unhook the car to turn around. We’re getting quite slick at this now. Wyn had the good idea of getting Nev on the job, and found the camping ground straight away; I must get her to show me how she did that. The camping ground was said to have a “modest” charge but we thought it was a bit more than modest so decided to carry on up the coast to the DOC camp. We left the car in a reserve at took ourselves off in Suzi to the reserve at the heads. Here they are busy landscaping the area as part of a major upgrade. One good effect of towing the car around is that when we have just 8 metres of Suzi she seems quite nimble and manoeuvrable. We had some lunch and a walk on the beach and a walk up to a viewpoint from where we could see south to Cape Rodney near Leigh and north to Bream Head at Whangarei. It was a lovely warm afternoon.
We reunited with the car and carried on north up the coast. It is a lovely drive; bits of native forest with kauri trees; beaches and settlements agt Langs Beach and Waipu Cove. It wasn’t far back to SH1, and then we weren’t long on SH1 before the DOC camp at Uretiti. We’d stayed there on the way up and were happy to pull in again. Last time there were a handful of campers. This time there were motorhomes and vans dotted all over the place; several dozen. We headed back to “our” spot and found it vacant and were soon settled in a couple of metres from the beach access track. The breeze was easterly so it was cool on the beach. The access track was changed from when we were here before; a lot of sand had drifted over it. And the beach was eroded a bit. It looks like the easterlies have made a few changes.