Exploring Karikari Peninsula

Thursday 30 July started out cool by our new standards, 13 degrees inside and 8 degrees outside. It was sunny again, with a SW breeze that got breezier as the day went on. Plus the clouds got cloudier as well. We moved Suzi a few metres forward, retaining some view of the breakers, and boosting our solar power input by 50%. We were keen for some exercise and decided on exploring the walking tracks on the peninsula. We geared up for a big walk indicated on our map to Cape Karikari. However we only got 100m from the camp entrance to be greeted by signs making it very clear that Cape Karikari is Maori land and off limits and DOC was very emphatic that we’d be prosecuted as trespassers plus there were big STOP signs so we slunk away. We turned towards the scenic reserve on the south end of the peninsula, past the Merita settlement. Again we came to signs advising “Keep Out Private Maori Land” – we were starting to get the message. We had a drive around Whatuwhiwhi; there is a large empty subdivision with roads and lighting and a couple of show homes – testimony to different times. We had a walk on the north end of Tokerau Beach before heading along the central road almost back to SH10. Ramp Road took us back onto Tokerau Beach, looking out over Doubtless Bay. There is a large beachside reserve where we enjoyed our lunch while watching fishing people winching in a long line that’d been taken out by what looked like a mini-sub.

Then it was back up the central road before turning off to the northwest to Rangiputa, a settlement on the mouth of the very large Rangaunu Harbour. We drove through the settlement to the reserve called ‘Marginal Strip’ somewhat unimaginatively. The wind from the northwest was getting stronger and we were not tempted out of the car. At least not until Wyn announced “dolphins”. She’d spotted dolphins surfacing just off the shore. We were out of the car with jackets and hats and cameras and binoculars in a moment. A large pod of dolphins were moving past the point where we were parked, in no particular hurry. Some were leaping out of the water for whatever reason dolphins do; maybe just having fun. Certainly we had fun watching them. We enjoyed ice creams back in the shelter of the shop, before heading east to Karikari Beach and the Puwheke Reserve. Puwheke is a prominent hill with a track up it with almost no information to help anyone who might want to walk up it. It is well worth the effort; we had views in all directions. To the north we imagined we could see North Cape. To the south west was the huge Rangaunu Harbour and to the south east was Tokerau Beach and Doubtless Bay. To the east was Cape Karikari and we could even pick out where Maitai Bay is, even if we couldn’t see the camp. There is a trig on top, although it has had its legs chopped off and is now a sign board announcing “Ngati Kahu Whenua” and “Stolen 1859” Standing beside it is a taller pole with Maori carving. All very interesting and significant. A day that started disappointingly with access denied turned out well with nice beaches, a wildlife encounter and a wonderful viewpoint.

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