We had a bit of a sleep in on Saturday – but it was Saturday after all. It was a misty sort of morning; more like low cloud I guess. But it was calm at least – no wind is good. And warm enough, 18 degrees by 11am. We planned on a day of sightseeing, so packed our lunch and loaded up the car with parkas and stuff and headed off. We went north again, back to visit the Waipoua Forest visitor centre. It looks like an old Forestry Service settlement. The visitor centre had some interesting photos of the kauri extraction in the early days. On the way there we’d taken a side road to the ‘Lookout’. They probably meant look out for the road – it’s a shocker. It’s gravel or more like mud with a veneer of gravel. That’s OK. But the uphill side had some interesting undulations, more like waves than corrugations. When we got to the lookout, there was an old tower of the sort that might have housed a fire watch person, with a door that was shut and blocked. The vegetation around the lookout had grown up so that all you could look at was the vegetation – sort of like being on the Terraces at Carisbrook and 5 foot tall. The door to the tower was a mystery with no handle or lock to be seen and nothing to say no entry. So I tried a bit of a shoulder charge and found that it was open; it had just been jammed shut. Maybe a sign on the door indicating that access was OK would have been helpful. Steep stairs led to the lookout room, this time with a view over the top of the surrounding vegetation. It wasn’t a fabulous viewpoint; maybe it would be better on a better day.
From the Waipoua Forest we came south a bit and took the turnoff to the Trounson Kauri Park. From the north the road is unsealed. The Park is a large pocket of remnant forest with a track through it. It looks like it was gifted to the country by Mr Trounson back in the 1920s. Thanks Mr Trounson, it was a wonderful gift. Some of the kauris are almost as bit as the ones in the more famous Waipoua forest, but again it is the combined effect that is awesome. The walk winds through kauri forest as near to original as we’ll get. There must be hundreds of trees. It is very impressive.
From there the road south back to SH12 is sealed, and at Kaihu we stopped at the garage/shop for our Saturday Herald newspaper, and also at Nelson’s Kaihu Kauri showroom. There was kauri products of every type imaginable, and more. There was a video of the extraction of the logs from the swamps that fascinated us. These kauri products are not coming from trees cut down but are coming from trees dug up after being in swamps for tens of thousands of years.
A bit further south we took the turnoff to the Kai Iwi Lakes. Three lakes are the largest and deepest sand dune lakes in the country. I had a paddle between showers in the biggest one and it wasn’t that cold. We imagined they’d be very pleasant and popular in summer. On the way back to Aranga we drove down to the Aranga Beach, a tiny settlement of cribs/baches perched at the foot of Maunganui Bluff. The bluff is 450m high and has a walking track over it but we weren’t tempted; it was late in the day and a cold breeze was blowing. The bluff is the northern end of what is the longest beach in the country, generally called the Ripiro Ocean Beach. It is 100kms long and longer than 90 Mile Beach which is actually only 90kms long. We had a walk on the beach, and hope in a few days to walk on the other end of it at Poutu Point. It was after 6pm by the time we got back to Aranga and Suzi; we’d been off exploring for seven hours. It was a bit colder in the evening so we put the heater on; the first time for quite a few days.